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Outbreak of World War Two

My father wasn't impressed - he was busy with the roses in the front garden.

1st September, 1939 (my birthday) was a sunny Sunday, but what a rotten birthday present, the German’s attacked Poland.

A policeman walked down the street about 10am telling everyone to stay indoors and listen to the news on the wireless.  My Father wasn’t impressed, he was busy with the roses in the front garden, but my Mother put the warning to good use.  She got him to peel the potatoes and shell the peas for lunch while she made the Yorkshire pudding and kept an eye on the roasting joint.  Five days later, as Hitler would not leave Poland, we declared war on Germany.

My Father made plywood shutters so that light from the room would not shine outside to guide German bombers. All cars got lamp hoods to smother their lights and direct a little light only on the ground in front.  All school windows had bandages glued over them.  I helped do this, the idea was to limit splintering if a bomb blew the windows out.  Miss Burdon our teacher showed us and helped us do this even up high ladders.  (The Health and Safety nowadays would have a fit).

Council workmen quickly built brick sheds with concrete roof as air raid shelters behind Bygate School.  We practised evacuating to these shelters about once a week, several classes in each shelter.  They had bench seats around the walls, the overflow folk just stood, we sang nursery rhymes and “All things Bright and Beautiful”

The army had an assault course along the cliff top from Briardene to Trinity Road.  When they were not using it us kids thought it great, clambering over poles over wide trenches climbing up 10 ft of knotted ropes then swinging across to the next stage and sliding down 15ft of rope at 45 degrees.

One day some soldiers had a Vickers heavy machine gun in pieces.  We watched from a distance as they put it together, they pointed it at us and fired it for some seconds.  We scattered and lay down flat on our faces fast!  They were firing blanks to test the gun and thought our antics very funny, but we did not know they were only blanks.

All the rich people in the big houses on Marine Avenue cleared off to their country cottages when the bombing started, so the army put their soldiers in the empty houses.  True to style they did not give them enough coal in the winter, so the soldiers tore up the upstairs flooring and used this for fuel.  Hard luck on the house owners when they finally returned in about 1944.

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