Military => Wartime Memories => Topic started by: peterchall on January 09, 2010, 16:48:19

Title: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 09, 2010, 16:48:19
After 3 months membership of KHF I realise that I am possibly one of the few members having personal later-childhood memories of WW2. I was 10 when the war started and lived throughout that time in the Medway Towns and would be happy to share memories with anyone who would like any particular aspect of them. I am thinking of personal recollections of everyday life and the attitudes of the times, etc, rather than facts and figures that can be looked up in archives.

I hope that doesn't sound pushy, but there are several things that I would like to know now and wish that I had asked mum, dad, aunts, and uncles about them while they were still there to ask. But please bear in mind that 70 year old  memories can sometimes be a bit vague.

If there are any other 'oldies' out there who would like to join forces with me, please let me know.

From a few posts I've read since I joined I think there might be some doubts about how we reacted to air-raid alarms, so let's start there. I don't mean that as a criticism, because I'm sure that some of my beliefs about WW1 are not always right.

By and large, life carried on as normal when the sirens went. It's true that schoolchildren went into the shelters, but took their work with them and tried to carry on with lessons, and workers stayed at whatever work they were doing. In the evenings the pubs and cinemas stayed open. In the 'pictures', as we called it (is it still called that today?) the words "Air-raid Warning" were flashed on the screen, but there was no point in leaving because there was normally nowhere to go - there were public street shelters but they were not all that plentiful. During the nights of the 1940/41 blitz we slept in the cellar. By later in the war, when raids were less frequent, we had moved to a house with an Anderson Shelter and generally slept indoors until the sirens went. Then it was a case of getting up and awaiting events. Many an hour was spent in1942/43/44 chatting to neighbours in the garden in the middle of the night, perhaps listening to an aircraft and wondering if it was one of theirs or ours. When things did happen the over-riding memory is of the blinding flash when the AA guns fired, the ear-splitting noise of the guns, and the 'clank, clank' of shell fragments hitting the ground. Then it was time to take cover!
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on January 09, 2010, 17:05:21
you have some great memories peter... i love reading them cos you mention two aspects of history that are my most interest.. ww2 and medway. whenever another memory returns either write them down on the forum. but if you are not at your pc then on paper, then when you are please share them with us.

i have one question, i where were the public shelters in the medway area? i can find no info online, i only can find out about the shorts tunnels through this site.
i have read somewhere that there was one at the bottom of jenkins dale in chatham, near the old chalk pit, and the sir robert peel pub, there are flats on a higher piece of ground to the road and i have a feeling, although not been confirmed, it was under this. if you know where this shelter was id be grateful, and if you can remember of any other public shelters, please do let me no..

many thanks again
Amie, aka ChathamGirl85
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: kyn on January 09, 2010, 17:10:58
As the others have said your posts are very interesting and I do hope there will be many more to come.  Alot of information around is second or third hand and it is very refreshing to hear from someone that remembers how things were.  You have become a very valued member of KHF and I am looking forward to reading more of your posts!
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 09, 2010, 18:39:26
Oh 'eck, looks like I've got myself a full-time job! But thanks for the compliments, folks. I'll try to post memories as they come to mind, or try to answer specific queries. That'll give me an excuse to get out of the washing-up :)

Regarding public shelters - I cannot at the moment remember any. My wife says the one in Jenkins Dale chalk pit was an ARP Warden Post; her dad was a warden based there, and public shelters were often associated with warden posts. I think the problem with unsupervised public shelters was they could be used for other activities than sheltering from air-raids! The Shorts tunnels you mention  I think were for Short's employees, and most factories had their own shelters. There was the 'jim-crow' warning system for factories and I can say a bit more about that if I collect my thoughts and put them in another post later. But if anyone else has information, please chip-in; I never intended that this topic would be solely my own.

So far as personal sheltering is concerned, I have two memories:
On the afternoon of 7th September 1940 I was with my mother in the 'Picture House', a cinema under the Empire Theatre, Chatham, when the 'Air-raid' signal went up on the screen, then the noise of aircraft could be heard even in the cinema, also the crash of guns. When we came out we discovered that it had been the opening of the attack on London and a large formation of bombers had passed over. We had missed one of the most impressive sights of the war!

One evening mum and I were walking along the High Street from the Empire Theatre towards Rochester when the guns opened up and there was the 'clank' of falling shrapnel - time to take cover! The nearest was the pub near Gundulph Road (I'm sure somebody will remember its name). I don't think anybody else worried, and she didn't buy a drink, but for mum it wasn't quite the done thing for a lady to go into a pub alone.

 
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 09, 2010, 21:22:55
Before we go too far I think I'd better correct any impression that we were brave heroes with the guns banging all round us and not caring less.

During the day raids it was mostly hearing planes in the distance and we were aware that the battle was about knocking out our fighters and not aimed at us; the bombing of Short's factory at the airport was a surprise so wasn't a scare till it happened, then the most frightening thing was the deafening noise. Also I think we had great faith in the accuracy of bombing - if you didn't live near a military objective you would be safe (how little we knew!)

Then when the night blitz began on 7th September 1940 it was evident straight away that the target was London and not us. Occasionally there was a local incident (there is a list of incidents in Rochester on the Forum) but otherwise it was mostly hearing a German plane go over now and again. Medway was one of the most heavily defended areas of the country, so I image any enemy aircraft in this area was off course.

Then on 14th November Coventry was blitzed, and we realised that what happened to them could happen to us. So it was stomach churning each night when the sirens went in case it was our turn. I can't remember for sure, but I expect people stopped going out in the evenings except to the local pub where they could get home easily. Even then we realised after a while that if nothing serious had started for about an hour after the sirens then they weren't coming for us.

Later on when the Germans began to attack places like Canterbury, Norwich, Exeter, etc it caused some apprehension - anybody was vulnerable. But then the comfort was that Medway was a defended place, so they would keep away from us.

So, no, we weren't gung-ho heroes sticking two fingers up at the Luftwaffe, just that it rarely occurred to us that we could be the target (although we were one night, but that's another story). I was fortunate that my dad was an ex-soldier who could always think of a reason why it would be the other bloke who would get hit.

The biggest danger most of the time was getting hit by a piece of shell splinter, but you were safe from these if indoors. Shell nose caps were a different matter - these usually stayed in one piece and could easily go through a roof . Now and again there would be an unexploded AA shell, although I don't remember one. Nowadays called 'friendly fire'!
PS: See http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=4665.msg41737#msg41737
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: kyn on January 09, 2010, 22:46:09
I guess that after a while of nothing happening you get a bit too confident of nothing happening to you.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 10, 2010, 09:41:15
Yes, I suppose that's how we tend to cope with life - the nasty things always happen to other people.

But I am writing from the Medway Towns aspect. People from London, Dover, Coventry, Southampton, etc, all seeing more action and damage, may well have different views. Also, the West Coast of Wales, for instance, would have experienced the opposite extreme.

What affected everybody was rationing, and having friends and relatives in the forces and not knowing what was happening to them. It's hard to imagine in these days of instant communication that a letter to/from the Middle East or Burma could take weeks to arrive.


If Britons and Germans could have talked to each other as easily in 1910 as they can in 2010 perhaps they would have realised that the others were not two headed monsters and most of the horrors of the 20th century could have been avoided.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Stewie on January 10, 2010, 10:18:08
Peter

I would like to tap in to your memories with respect to 'ordinary' life during the war. I have always been fascinated with the idea of travelling to various periods or events in time. Let us assume that you could travel back to your nominated period but could only observe and not 'interact' at all (perhaps a potential new thread).
I would love to walk the streets of the Medway towns (Chatham) both during 'wartime' and also at the turn of the century because I would like to see what buildings and structures I could recognise. However, I should think that the differing customs and social protocols of the period would make it almost a 'foreign' country.

With respect to the 1940 - 45 conflict I would love to know what the prevailing atmosphere of the time was particularly with the threats of potential invasion in the south east. Was this really ever considered a threat to the public at large? Did you look for German paratroopers dressed as Nuns dropping from the sky? The early period following the fall of France must have been quite worrying.

We see the programmes like 'Dads Army' and even 'Goodnight Sweetheart' that show the normal human traits continuing under these conditions, but also that everyone is bound together in a common cause. Did this community focus really exist? My parents have told me stories of collecting bits of shrapnel after air battles, and my grandmother whilst still alive described watching streams of bombers with the fighters weaving around them passing over. This in itself must have been a spectacle.
Look forward to reading this thread in the coming days.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 10, 2010, 17:31:18
Hi Stewie,

I need to marshal my thoughts regarding your request, so will come back to that later. In the meantime, here are a few more thoughts about my earlier posts.

Houses with cellars didn't get Anderson shelters, it being considered safe enough to shore up the cellar and shelter there (with the whole weight of the house above you!!). Later in the war they introduced Morrison shelters mainly for dwellings that didn't have cellars, or a garden for an Anderson. The Morrison was made of steel and was the size of a dining table, which it replaced in the living room, the idea being that you ate off the top of it and slept underneath it. To give some protection from debris coming in from the sides, they were closed-off by steel mesh screens. You got into bed, and then raised the screen behind you, but I don't know exactly how it was fixed.

I mentioned in my opening post about standing in the garden talking to neighbours, and two 'flashes' of memory come back to me: Watching the twinkle of AA shell bursts away to the north, over the Thames Estuary, as they followed an E/A along. I can never watch a firework display now without it reminding me of that. Then there was one advantage of the blackout that you don't get today - no lights! The result was the astonishing display of stars you could see. If you haven't already done it, get to some completely dark place on a clear moonless night; I think you will only gaze in wonder at the sight of the sky.

We kidded ourselves that we could tell 'ours' from 'theirs' by the sound. It's true that German pilots often ran their engines at slightly different speeds to give a 'woom-woom' sound, supposedly to confuse our sound-locators, but since these were obsolete there seemed no point to it. A British plane with de-synchronised engines made the same noise anyway. There was a government propaganda campaign at some stage, called 'Famous Last Words', the most memorable one being "It's OK, it's one of ours"!

I mentioned the gun flashes and the noise. Anyone who has seen that 3.7in AA gun outside Fort Amherst would be astonished at how much light and noise such a small thing could generate. The gun flash could be seen by an enemy pilot, who would have a few second to 'jink' before the shell reached him. Later in the war a flashless propellant was developed to prevent this and, boy, did it make us jump without the warning flash!

It was during one of these night sessions that I had the moment mentioned in my posting in 'Fireservice War Heroes':
QUOTE: "My defining moment of WW2 came one night standing in the garden during an air-raid alert. Some aircraft were going over when there was the 'brrrr' of cannon fire and a moving light appeared in the sky, which burst into flaming pieces as a German plane came down. I was yelling "Hooray, they've got him" when my father, an ex-regular soldier who'd fought in WW1 and not known for his love of Germans, said "Shut up, there's men in that!". Suddenly those flaming pieces said everything about the awfulness of war!

On another occasion we were watching a German plane caught in searchlights, with AA shells bursting all round it, when dad said "poor b*****s"; we were actually pleased that it got away!

A favourite hobby was collecting shell fragments and boasting at school about who had the biggest. I ditched my collection after the war, I wonder if it would have any value now.

When the flying bomb attacks started in 1944 it became a new ball-game, and any complacency we had went out of the window, but I'll leave that for later.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on January 10, 2010, 20:19:34
i look forward to your stories about the doodlebugs :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 11, 2010, 09:59:35
Now to round off things I've mentioned already before I go on to other things.

Re 'Jim Crows': Factories, the Dockyard and Short's being the ones I know of for certain, posted lookouts so that work could continue during a raid. When, in their judgement there was imminent danger they would sound an alarm. In the case of the Dockyard it was the dockyard hooter; for Short's it was probably bells. Since the alarm was only given at the last minute workers had to take cover where they could. I believe that in some cases there were sandbag shelters actually inside the workshops. I would imagine that on a dark night it would be the 'Judgement of Soloman' for them to decide when to give the alarm.

I think it was New Year's Eve 1940/41 when there was a heavy fire raid on London. I particularly remember the night because my father had invited 2 ATS girls from his place of work to spend the evening with us. The fires were big enough to cause a red glow in the sky that we could see from Rochester, and were made worse by the City of London being mostly unoccupied at night so that fires could start without being seen. Also the attack was timed to coincide with low tide so that the fire brigade had difficulty in getting water from the river. As a result a system of compulsory fire watching was introduced, whereby businesses had to arrange for an overnight watch to be kept, and residential streets had to have a firewatch rota that I imagine it was organised by the ARP Warden. Whoever was on duty had to keep a lookout during a raid.

I mentioned in an earlier Reply that we were the target one night. Dad, granddad and an uncle were in the local pub and the siren had just gone when from the noise of aircraft it was obvious they were not just passing over. Mum and I were in the cellar when there was clattering noise like machine gun fire, followed by yelling from the street. We went out to find incendiary bombs everywhere; there was one in the back garden that mum put a sandbag on (part of the firewatch scheme required every house to have one). I was calling to her to come away because a proportion of the bombs had an explosive charge to deter that. The roof of the builder's offices a few doors away was alight and the customers from the Morden arms tackled it. With hundreds of incendiaries all over Rochester the fire brigade was only concerned with bigger things. Normally the incendiaries would have been followed by HE bombs, but something must have gone wrong (or right, depending on which side you were on!) because that didn't happen.
There was an unexploded bomb behind the Foresters Arms pub, and if that had gone off I wouldn't have been putting posts about my dad being landlord there in 'Disappearing Pubs' topic - it would have disappeared there and then!

I've tried to identify the date from the Rochester archives and all the entries for 1941 are:
January
10th: Incendiary bombs Rochester. Houses slightly damaged.
February
21st: HE Borstal. Sea wall damaged.
April
8th: Parachute mines Rochester. Houses demolished and damaged. Shop in Short Bros damaged. 12 fatal, 94 injured. Incendiary bombs Strood.
19th: HE Rochester. 2 houses demolished, gas main burst. 4 fatal. Incendiary bombs Rochester, ARP HQ, houses, store house Fort Clarence, all damaged by fire.
August
6th: HE Rochester. Houses damaged. 4 injured.

I think the most likely date was 10th January.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Medway Buoy on January 11, 2010, 11:58:35
The results of a working tug picking up a parachute mine just above Shorts factory in 1941 while towing four loaded petrol barges to Aylesford. The incident was in the area where the M2 Motorway Bridge is now.
(Picture and extract taken from my web site.)

(http://riverman.gotdns.com/WebPics/Silverstone-0001.jpg)

 Silverstone

On the night of 4th March 1941 the Medway Towns was under heavy attack by German bombers, one of their targets being the Shorts Aeroplane works in Rochester. It was noted in the log book of an Air Raid Warden that a parachute mine dropped close to the Shorts Aeroplane works but did not
 explode (later to find it had dropped in the River Medway).
On the following day's tide four of Knights tugs passed the spot where the mine dropped towing their craft up river, but the next tug to pass - SILVERSTONE with four oil lighters for Aylesford - took a slightly different course and in doing so picked up the parachute in its propeller dragging the mine up from the river bed and exploding it against the bottom of the tug. The explosion seriously damaged the stern and turned the tug upside down. All tug and barge hands (8) were killed instantly.
JP Knight were engaged by Cory Tank Lighterage to lift the tug and two lighters, this was completed in three weeks. The Silverstone was then put on a strand until a decision on her future could be made. In the meantime JP Knight purchased the Silverstones engine for spares but later found that they were able to refurbish it, which they did and re-engined the Kara with it.
In 194? the Silverstone was was repaired and re-engined with a 480 BHP
 Crossley
1945 acquired by William Cory re-named MERCEDES and remained in service until she was scrapped in 1969.
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More pictures of this incident can be seen at...............
http://riverman.gotdns.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=52 (http://riverman.gotdns.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=52)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 11, 2010, 12:43:17
Thanks Medway Buoy, you've answered my question from 'Fire Service Heroes' topic:

QUOTE: "While in school one afternoon there was an almighty 'THUMP', and when we came out just after there was a great pall of black smoke overhead. A tug and some oil barges had been blown-up by a mine in the Medway, and some mates and I went to what we called the 'Back Fields', next to Short's, to see a patch of burning oil on the water a bit further up-river. My memory tells me it burnt for several days, but common sense says the tides would have dispersed it.

4th March is not mentioned in Rochester archives, presumably because there was no incident on land. There may well have been in Chatham or Gillingham, of course.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 11, 2010, 13:46:15
I thought I would try to give an idea of attitudes at the outbreak of war before answering some of Stewie's queries.

When the war started I lived in Chatham Gun Wharf and there was a German Jewish refugee employed as a labourer. He made and fitted the blackout shutters for our bungalow. He must have been reasonably well educated because he could speak reasonable English. My father called him 'Jew Boy' with no sense of disrespect, although he would probably be in trouble for that today. As a 10 year old he was my first contact with people who 'talked funny'.

And that says it all about communication in those days. French people were normal - they had recently been on our side in a war, and anyway you could go to Calais on a day trip. Germans were those horrible bullies that we'd recently been fighting. Apart from that, while we might have learnt of their existence in geography lessons, we (and I mean my mates and family - others may have been more enlightened, but I doubt it) had no idea what sort of people Hungarians, Greeks, Danes, and all the rest of them were. And as for Africans or Chinese - no comment! I don't mean we considered them inferior, but they lived in a different world that we were never likely to meet. Dad was a bit more worldly wise, because he had served in the army in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and India, and anyone who came from a place on the map that was coloured red must be OK because that was the British Empire, although they probably needed a bit of guidance. In fact we had 24th May off from school each year for Empire Day.

So I think that was our general attitude to foreigners; we didn't like or dislike them because as working class people we never met them. It was in that frame of mind that we started WW2.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Lyn L on January 11, 2010, 14:01:50
Peter,
Somewhere on the forum ( for the life of me I can't find it now ) there's a CWGC list of all the people who were killed and the addresses they were living. Only looked at it last night too,  I think it was an early post , 2008 seems to ring a bell. Shall have to jog my memory a bit more. The names are ALL civilians killed on those dates between 1941 and 1944.

Lyn
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: seafordpete on January 11, 2010, 14:43:29
You can search by date of death on http://www.hut-six.co.uk/cgi-bin/search39-47.php (http://www.hut-six.co.uk/cgi-bin/search39-47.php)
I  ahve found if you put too much info on there it dies, so date & country only  is best, then just pick through the list for civvies or whatever. Pete
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 11, 2010, 17:48:33
Stewie, now to answer some of your queries.

In the part of Chatham High Street between Military Road and its junction with the Brook, I don't think you would see much difference. The Pentagon has replaced the maze of streets round Fair Row but the shops fronting the High Street are much the same.

Most of the shops have, of course, changed hands and most of what were pubs are now shops. There were two cinemas, one in the passage between Waterstones bookshop and where Woolworths was (Fullagar's Yard?) and I think the other was the shop next to Holland & Barrett's. One was the 'Invicta' and the other the 'National', but I can't remember which way round. On a Saturday afternoon it would have been crowded with shoppers and it was also open to two-way motor traffic, and it was such a situation that caused most of the casualties when Canterbury was bombed and machine-gunned on 31st October 1942. Between the Brook and Luton arches there was the 'Regent' and 'Ritz' cinemas that have now gone, otherwise the small shops are much the same. Going from Military Road towards Rochester there are many changes but none, so far as I can remember, due to bombing. The 'Theatre Royal' has just been demolished of course and, about where Gray's is now, there was the 'Empire' theatre and the 'Picture House' cinema underneath it, reached by a passageway down the side.

Regarding customs, things were much more formal.
There was no fear about being in the High Street at pub closing time. There was always civvy police, Military Police and Naval Pickets (is that the right name?) about. Older persons were usually addressed as Mr or Mrs especially by children and teenagers. When I was a student (after the war) at Medway College I addressed my lecturer as 'Sir' or Mr Goodyer. A few years later I became a lecturer myself and he was my colleague - it was some while before I could bring myself to call him 'George'. Men always removed their hats when in somebody else's house and often raised their hats on meeting a lady. Swearing in public was restrained and NEVER would you use the F-word in mixed company.

Is today's informality better because it allows more freedom to communicate? When I was in the RAF in 1950-1952 I was posted to a new unit and went to report to the CO. I marched into his office and saluted, and he said "you can cut that b****y lark out, we're not like that here". I found that disconcerting; I don't think I was alone among the rankers in not knowing quite where I stood with him. During the firemen's strike in the 1970s the army took over one of the classrooms at Gravesend College for their Green Goddess crews. I was surprised to hear the soldiers call their officer, admittedly only a 2nd Lt, by his first name. What do our forum members who are, or were, in the forces think?

I hope that's dealt with the streets and customs, and I'll be back later with more.

Peter.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Stewie on January 11, 2010, 18:40:05
Thankyou Peter for that vision.
I am intersted about the position of the  cinema located "in the passage between Waterstones bookshop and where Woolworths was (Fullagar's Yard?)" because I have heard this space also descirbed as a dance hall which was popular with the forces personnel and with a bit of a 'reputation' for fights. This must have been post war or probably the fifities, when presumably the old cinemas were in decline and maybe it is the same building modified.
My father says he went dancing at the town hall, but used to get drinks in a pub on the corner of Military road and the Brook because they were cheaper there!
The thing that fascinates about the buildings and being able to recognise them is the presumption that they would be less colourful at this time (before the fad for DIY), and not modified away from their original construction, giving a more consisitent approach to a terrace or row.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: numanfan on January 11, 2010, 19:50:54
Peter, the cinema next to Holland & Barrett's was indeed the National. Images 5 & 7 show the cinema in the 1920's & last year:

http://www.move2medway.co.uk/index.php?main=results&id=134

Keep the memories coming, very interesting.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Lyn L on January 11, 2010, 19:53:15
The cinema in Fullagers Yard was the Invicta, don't know when it stopped showing films but it was 'the' place to go when I was a Mod in the 60s, we saw great bands there. I have a library book at the moment which shows the demolition of it in 1987, all for a car park ! The book is called a Century in Chatham and shows pics of all sorts of buildings which have now sadly all gone. If I can scan the pics I'll try and post them.











Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 11, 2010, 20:52:05
I got the name Fullagar's Yard from the 1907 map of Chatham. I think there are a lot of differences between that and how it was in 1939, but not much difference between 1939 and now. I have no recollection of a hotel near to Meeting House Lane, for instance. I would like to see a modern map overlaid on the 1907 one so we could see where the Pentagon is in relation to Fair Row.

Look at: http://cityark.medway.gov.uk/query/results/?Mode=ShowImg&Img=/cityark/Scans/Unofficial_or_Privately_Originated_Collections/DE0402_Couchman_ephemera_and_MSS_/DE0402_16.html/DE402_16_16.jpg

Picture 22 shows as it was in 1939 or thereabouts. Hinds was, I think, a well known pawnbrokers as well as jewellers. Pictures 1, 20, and 21, and perhaps others, show 'turn of century' views and make interesting comparisons.

I can't remember going to either of the cinemas and I can't say when they closed, except that it was post-war as Lyn L says. For some reason some cinemas were called 'flea pits' but I don't know if they were of that kind.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 11, 2010, 21:08:48
My father says he went dancing at the town hall, but used to get drinks in a pub on the corner of Military road and the Brook because they were cheaper there!

I'm puzzled about the pub. Barnards Army & Navy Tailors were on the corner. There was a pub called the 'Eagle'? a few doors away in Military Road, could have been that.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 12, 2010, 12:37:54
Now about our fears regarding invasion. Medway wasn't affected by the evacuation of Dunkirk. I remember being on Jackson's Fields at Rochester and looking down on the station where a trainload of troops was standing, and my dad mentioning that some of his acquaintances in his old regiment had been taken prisoner, but that was it. There was a government publicity campaign to urge us to always carry our gas-masks.

Then there were air attacks on channel convoys. One of the first, if not THE first, live radio reports came from the heights above Dover, describing such an attack; we could hear the guns and diving planes and thought it was the ultimate in information technology. There was a newsreel, sometimes repeated today, showing bombs bursting round ships in the channel and a plane flopping upside down into the water - but there's a snag; a close look shows it to be a Spitfire! The attacks moved to coastal airfields and then to inland ones, by which time we'd got the idea that it was a Luftwaffe-v-RAF affair and we were mostly by-standers. So it all crept up on us slowly. Not until 9th August 1940 was the first incident of the war recorded in Rochester City archives. The first big event came on 15th August when Rochester Airport was heavily bombed and our forum member Fred's uncle scared the wits out of me! See http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=4665.msg41737#msg41737

So I don't think there was any particular fear of invasion. I imagine the adults tried not to worry we kids, but I'm sure we would have sensed it if they had been unduly concerned. After all, what was there to worry about? We were shooting the enemy down by the hundred according to the daily news, which we believed. The army had got away from Dunkirk and we didn't know it had left most of its weapons behind. Then there was the navy; how could the Germans, with their puny little fleet, get past that? We didn't know just how serious was the loss of destroyers at Dunkirk, and we hadn't yet had the shock of the Japanese sinking the 'Prince of Wales' and 'Repulse' with just a few aircraft off Singapore in 1942. Not until after the war did we realise what a close-run thing it was.

Of course there was the possibility of a 'commando' type raid, and sentries could get a bit nervous. I lived in Chatham Gun Wharf at the start of the war and there were sentries patrolling at night; my dad emphasised how important it was not to spook them. When dad, mum, and I came home at night and were walking from the gate to our bungalow there might be a shout of "Halt. Who goes there?" We would STOP and dad replied "friend", and the response would be "advance one to be recognised", and the sentry's torch would switch on. Only then would ONE person dare move. It could have its funny and its tragic side. We heard of a chimney pot getting shot at Fort Amherst one night because it wouldn't come down from a roof when a sentry challenged it. On the other hand, people did get shot because they didn't react as they should have when challenged.

I was going to mention Germans dressed as nuns, but as I've been writing I've thought that could be the basis for a post about propaganda, so I'll be back later.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 12, 2010, 14:51:51
Some more thoughts that I should have included in the last posting. There were tank traps and pill-boxes being built everywhere, and in many places there were cylindrical concrete blocks with holes through the centre, placed on the pavement. The idea was they would be put in the road and a steel rod be driven into the road through the hole, to hold them in place.

One of the problems our troops had in the battle for France was refugees clogging the roads, so our government issued instructions to the civilian population to 'Stay-put'.

So I suppose there must have been some thoughts that 'Jerry' might come, but all the preparations probably made us even more confident that we could beat him.

                                A couple of pictures that show the atmosphere of the times, from 'Front Line County'.
                                       (http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/img068-1.jpg)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: seafordpete on January 12, 2010, 15:30:31
The Town Wharf building was still selling pets etc in the early 1960s think it was Honnors or more likely Cramphorns
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 12, 2010, 17:47:17
Here's something about propaganda and what we believed. The stories about German soldiers dressed as nuns were about quite early in the war and probably were purely rumours. There were other stories such as German tanks going into action with prisoners of war tied on the front of them. I think more attention was paid to stories of light signals given to German planes, when it was perhaps nothing more than somebody forgetting themselves and opening a front door with the hall light on. Someone asking for directions was likely to arouse suspicion, despite all road signs being removed in 1940. Anyone with a dubious connection was regarded with suspicion, and thousands of so-called 'aliens' were interned on the Isle of Man. I'm now wondering what happened to 'Jew Boy' mentioned here: http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=5154.msg41866#msg41866 But speaking personally I have no experience of anything like that.

My feeling is that the government got its propaganda about right. There was a Ministry of Information (MoI) that told it as it was. If a ship was lost there would be a radio announcement "the Admiralty regrets to announce the loss of HMS xxx", perhaps after a delay for security reasons. If there was a battle by the army there could be a statement such as "casualties may be heavy". Aircraft losses were not hidden. I distinctly remember the news bulletin of 31st March 1944 (OK, I had to look up the date!) "Last night our bombers attacked Nuremburg. 96 of our aircraft are missing". That really shook us; it was the biggest lost ever suffered by Bomber Command in a single night. The only thing they didn't say was that they were talking of missing aircraft; there were another 10 that crashed in this country!

So I think the policy of honesty paid off, we trusted what we were told. We were allowed to listen to 'Lord Haw-Haw' broadcasting from Germany and treated him as a joke. Unless there was a D-Notice issued for a piece of news, the press was more or less unrestricted, except that it was an offence to distribute deliberately false information that could help the enemy.

Government information campaigns tended to be humorous. There were the 'Careless Talk Costs Lives' cartoons that became quite famous. There were the 'Famous Last Words' cartoons that I mentioned earlier. That particular one showed a man walking past an air-raid shelter as a German aircraft was approaching from behind him; someone was beckoning him in to the shelter but he said, "it's OK, it's one of ours". The RAF had its own 'hero' named 'Pilot Officer Prune', who showed in a series of cartoons, made public, how NOT to do things. Because they were funny people looked at them and the message got across
.
I know this might seem corny, but a big inspiration was Churchill's speeches. I remember everybody listening when he was making a broadcast - no attempt to make things sound better than they were, just a straight message saying it would be tough but we would win.

And that was the essence. I remember the disasters of 1940/41, and the gradual getting of the upper hand. With the D-day landings in France many of us thought it was all over bar the shouting, not realising just how much it was going to take to beat the ordinary German soldier.

But in all that time I cannot recall anybody having any doubt that we would win.

So to answer Stewie's earlier question - yes, there must have been a common spirit. The in-fighting could wait, even to the extent that there were no elections during the war. That didn't mean we were entirely selfless, of course. I for one would always rather the bomb fell somewhere else than on me. But people would muck-in if needed, just as they do today in floods or snowstorms.

Just a last bit about Churchill. He was a great leader but, from what I've read since the war, we could have lost if the Chiefs of Staff hadn't put the lid on some of his more ambitious plans.

I'll probably be back tomorrow.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 13, 2010, 12:02:29
About the Home Guard and Dad's Army. The general background of the TV series caught the spirit of the times. The parades in the church hall (Our local unit met in Troy Town School, Rochester), and the mixture of the professional ex-serviceman and the 'non-military' civilian too old or otherwise unable to commit to military service was accurate enough. I think there was even an unstated theme in the episodes that if it came to it, they would fight to the end, and I'm sure that was true. They were professional enough to run the AA Rocket Battery at Gillingham, among many others, so to portray them as a bunch of bungling idiots worries me a bit. I have laughed at their antics as much as anyone else, but does everybody realise that it wasn't really like that? Comments would be welcome.

PS: Many Home Guard units kept their weapons at home. There was a rifle or Sten Gun in our living room for part of the war!
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 13, 2010, 15:20:06
To put my comments about daily life in the Medway Towns in perspective and to give an idea of the intensity of events, I've dug out some figures.

These are the numbers of incidents from Rochester City Archives, and may be no more than bombs on open ground:

1940, from 9th August = 25:   1941 = 5:   1942 = 0:   1943 = 2:   1944 = 7 'conventional' & 5 V1:   1945 = 1 V2.

Full details at: http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=388.msg2790#msg2790

From 'Front Line County', figures for Gillingham, Chatham, and Rochester/Strood urban area are:

Incidents resulting in fatalities:

1940, from 18th July = 14:   1941 = 6:   1942 = 0:   1943 = 1:   1944 = 5 'conventional' & 3 V1:   1945 = 1 V2.

There were 780 HE bombs/parachute mines: approx 5500 incendiaries: 8 V1s: 1 V2.

Casualties were: Fatal = 179:  Injured = 970.

741 premises were wrecked, 2034 badly damaged, and 17838 slightly damaged.

I'm surprised at how things seem to have 'hotted-up' again in 1944, even before the advent of V1s.

I would like to know the total numbers of Red Air-raid alerts.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: alysloper on January 13, 2010, 16:59:30
About the Home Guard and Dad?s Army. The general background of the TV series caught the spirit of the times. The parades in the church hall (Our local unit met in Troy Town School, Rochester), and the mixture of the professional ex-serviceman and the ?non-military? civilian too old or otherwise unable to commit to military service was accurate enough. I think there was even an unstated theme in the episodes that if it came to it, they would fight to the end, and I?m sure that was true. They were professional enough to run the AA Rocket Battery at Gillingham, among many others, so to por
tray them as a bunch of bungling idiots worries me a bit. I have laughed at their antics as much as anyone else, but does everybody realise that it wasn?t really like that? Comments would be welcome.

PS: Many Home Guard units kept their weapons at home. There was a rifle and Sten Gun in our living room for part of the war!

Peter

Your memories are invaluable to someone like me looking back in time from the comfort of an armchair!  I love Dad's Army - like all good comedy there was a lot of truth in it but exaggerated for effect. The more I have looked into the Home Guard the more I appreciate that the chaps (and women!) in it were brave enough to be prepared to fight to the last and - in later years at least - as well trained and well equipped as the regular army. Whenever I can, I try to squash the idea that the HG was like Dad's Army for all of its life - though things must have been pretty desperate in the summer of 1940!

thanks again
- keep the stories coming!

Ian
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 13, 2010, 17:13:19
Thanks for the compliment,

I'm sure the HG were amatuerish to start with. I can remember my dad coming home from a parade and going on about how he'd found some of them practising bayonet fighting with bare bayonets. Apparently he'd told them in soldiers' language that even the regular army didn't do that!

You mention women in the Home Guard, and I think I've heard about that before, but don't know where they served. Do you know any details?

Peter
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 13, 2010, 22:14:44
Those rumours were early in the war. I'm not saying our government started them, but they probably wouldn't discourage them because if the public thinks the enemy is a 'bad guy', so much the better.

Until late August 1940 Hitler hoped to make peace with Britain, which is why only military objectives were bombed up to that point. So, while it was always possible that there were 'rogue' troops, I don't think that would have been officially approved. Some time about mid-war some captured British Commandos were shackled and badly treated, and in response a number of German POWs were put into chains and Germany was notified. So armies are generally restrained from ill-treating prisoners because of the possibility of retaliation, and soldiers who do commit atrocities are usually unpopular with their comrades for that reason. At least, as you say, those Canadians were Court-Martialled.

Fighting between the Germans and Russians was different - it was savage on both sides. I believe one reason was that Russia was not party to the Geneva Convention. When the Japanese ill-treated their prisoners they had no fear about retaliation because there were literally no Japanese POWs in Allied hands. I think it was General Slim, our CO in Burma, who said "we hear much about soldiers who fight to the last bullet and the last man, but the Japanese soldier is the only one to do so as a matter of routine".

So to come back to my personal memories, I do remember the news bulletins of how our prisoners were being treated by the Japanese, and how horrified we were, and I wonder now if it was good policy by the government to make a lot of this; did they think of the effect on the prisoners' relatives?
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: alysloper on January 13, 2010, 22:31:17
Thanks for the compliment,

I'm sure the HG were amatuerish to start with. I can remember my dad coming home from a parade and going on about how he'd found some of them practising bayonet fighting with bare bayonets. Apparently he'd told them in soldiers' language that even the regular army didn't do that!

You mention women in the Home Guard, and I think I've heard about that before, but don't know where they served. Do you know any details?

Peter

Peter
Although women had been unofficially helping out in the Home Guard virtually since its inception, from April 20th 1943 a limited number of women were formally accepted for a range of duties including driving, operating telephones and clerical duties. The only uniform issued to the Home Guard Women's Auxiliary sections (as they were known) appears to have been a plastic badge!

regards
Ian

P.S. Was your Dad in the local Home Guard? I am intrigued by his slight sympathy for the german aircrew - it sounds like an attitude stemming from WW1, when many Tommies seemed to have hated the War itself rather than the Germans? My Grandfather was in palestine in WW1 but he died before I was born.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 14, 2010, 09:43:01
Morning Ian,
Here is the best of my recollection after 70 years.

Dad came out of the army (Royal West Kent Regiment - the badge of the Dad's Army lot) as a Sergeant. The local HG unit was in Troy Town School and it was there that the 'bare bayonets' event occurred. But my main memory is of him belonging to the unit in Chatham Gun Wharf and the RAOC Depot at Darland, where he worked. He was a Sergeant, probably by virtue of his army service, which is why I think 'Jonesy' of Dad's Army should have been more than a Lance Corporal. At some stage he moved to the AA battery at Gillingham and eventually became a Captain. (No, he wasn't like Capt Mainwaring!). On reflection, the AA battery would be just the place where the HG would employ women, but don't know if that was so.

He was in Mesopotamia in WW1 and fought the Turks (as it seems your grandfather did - could he have been a RWK?) and they were 'good soldiers'. Yet to him the only good German was a dead one, and this was sometimes the subject of family arguments. So it was a bit of a surprise to us to hear his comments about the German planes. Perhaps, it was the respect that I think professional soldiers have for each other.

Peter
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 14, 2010, 13:13:56
i look forward to your stories about the doodlebugs :)

Fieseler Fi103, V1, Flying Bomb, or 'doodlebug'.
(http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/250px-V1-200408301.jpg)

They came in a continuous stream, one at a time. You couldn't relax between air-raid alerts, because there was no 'between'. They were going to crash, and whether they did it as programmed, or were shot down, the effect was the same. We had got through the Battle of Britain and the blitz being frightened only now and again, we had got the upper hand and we were now on the way to certain victory. Then this inhuman thing came that couldn't be frightened away but which frightened me all the time. It was like having climbed a mountain only to fall back down again. Even today I can't listen to a recording of those V1 engines without getting the creeps.

We had to go about our daily routine, of course, but did so with one ear cocked all the time for that awesome noise. At night we slept in the Anderson shelter. I can remember listening to many V1 engines, and you could generally tell if they were going past or going to come over the top, in which case you hoped they would keep going before the engine cut (1944 version of 'Not In My Back Yard').

When the propeller on the nose had made a set number of turns the controls tipped the V1 into a dive and usually gravity caused the engine to cut, hence the few seconds silence before the big bang. Sometimes the engine failed and the V1 simply glided to earth. We didn't know it at the time, but deliberate information was fed to the Germans that the bombs were over-shooting London. This caused them to reduce the range so that they fell short of London and on us instead!

After a while the defences got organised and the number of V1s getting through was reduced. They put a balloon barrage west of the Medway, and I remember the howling noise of the wind through the balloon cables. After our armies occupied the launch sites in France the Germans continued to launch the V1s from bombers over the North Sea, and the final casualties from V1 occurred at Dartford on 16th March 1945.

Here are my personal memories of the V1:

The first V1 on the night of 12th June (I think). I was in bed when I heard what sounded like a motor bike overhead, and called to my parents "that plane's in trouble". Then later there was the distant 'thump' when it crashed at Swanscombe. Then a week later they started the full attack.

Being in the garden when a V1 came straight over the house with a fighter behind firing at it. Luckily for the good of our health, he missed!

Here is a quote from my Topic 'A Civvy RE', when I worked as a Trainee Electrician for the Royal Engineers, listing the places I worked in:
"Watling Street TA Drill-Hall: Opposite Woodlands Road, now the site of some flats. It was the Gun Operations Room (GOR), controlling all the AA guns in the area, and it made my day if we had to work in the actual ops room - unfortunately I think this only happened a couple of times. It was at the peak of the flying bomb attacks, so there was continuous action with a plotting table etc, just like the RAF ones familiar in films. The message "diver, diver, diver" was a code related to flying bombs. We definitely made the job last while we were there and it was tempting to break a light switch so we would have to go back next day! We serviced the emergency generator there."

Seeing one hit by AA fire and explode in the air.

Watching exhaust flame of a V1 at night as it flew right over us from the direction of the Thames Estuary, evidently having been released over the North Sea.

And that's about it. I saw and heard lots of them that obviously weren't coming my way, and I think that shows the difference between what you can sometimes think and what actually happens. The fatal incident rate from V1s was less than that from bombing in 1940 (5 in about 10 weeks as against 14 in about 22 weeks), yet we were far more affected by the V1s as far as morale was concerned. Perhaps it was because the Battle of Britain came to its peak slowly, whereas the V1 attacks were a surprise (at least to the civilians) and until the defences got organised were very intense and continuous, and we were war weary. What's more, the V1s were robots, giving us our first idea of the world to come.

A bit about V2s to come.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: unfairytale on January 14, 2010, 19:53:55
What a great read. Some of the things I hear from my family who lived in Dover during the war, leave me dumb-struck. I expect people today would react in just the same way if put to the the test but I'd rather not find out.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 14, 2010, 20:35:39
I am writing from the viewpoint of the Medway Towns, as you know. When I think of what it must have been like to live near the coast, especially in the Dover area, it makes me feel very humble.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 14, 2010, 22:03:22
I don't think there's a lot I can say about V2s, and looking at Paul's map in Topic '2 V2s hit Sheppey', I can see why - there wasn't more than a half dozen within hearing distance of Medway. If I remember rightly there was one or two news reports of gas main explosions before the Government came clean and told the truth. Thereafter there was nothing we could do. They could be seen lifting from their launch pads by observers on the continent and a warning issued, but I can't remember if this actually happened.

They were supersonic, so one consolation was, if you heard it, it hadn't hit you! I might have heard some 'thumps' in the distance, but the only close one I can remember was when I was out on my bike with a mate and there was an enormous bang, followed by a rumbling as the sound of its approach caught up with it. 'Front Line County' lists a V2 falling at Rochester on 18th February 1945, so I suppose it was that. Rochester archives say it was Strood, and I can't find out where.

There was actually a V3. This was a gun being installed in France. It would have had the range to reach London, but I think it only fired a 6 inch shell, so wouldn't have been very effective. Someone may know more.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 15, 2010, 09:57:32
P.S. Was your Dad in the local Home Guard? I am intrigued by his slight sympathy for the german aircrew - it sounds like an attitude stemming from WW1, when many Tommies seemed to have hated the War itself rather than the Germans?........

As so often when putting something on the forum I find it brings back other memories, and I'd like to add to my previous reply to the above.

I remember before the war, as a boy of about 7, being rebuked by my father for the enthusiastic way some friends and I were playing soldiers; something like "if you knew what it was like you wouldn't be playing at it". He disliked violence and saw his 21 years of soldiering as helping with a deterrent, as per the saying 'if you want peace, prepare for war'. So, as Alysloper says, his hatred was of war itself, but he saw the Germans as starting both world wars. This was the subject of the family arguments; some said that not all Germans wanted to fight, he said they were all in it as a nation.

So, while his sympathy for those German aircrew may have been partly due to respect for a professional enemy, it was also his dislike of the violence involved, rather as you might say to a naughty child, "look where your stupidity has got you".
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Lyn L on January 15, 2010, 12:29:29
Peter, your stories have made great reading, I was born 1946 , a demob baby, my Dad having been in the RAMC, most of his war years were spent in Iceland, but he was in Germany and received his  Oak Leaves form 'Monty' himself,  it wasn't until he was almost 90, that he ever spoke Army life,  the only ever reference to his medals being " I went ashore for a dozen eggs", we did eventually find out how he got the leaves. My sister and 2 brothers were evacuated from London to Banff, Scotland, they were on a farm there, but 1 brother wasn't at all keen on the farmers wife, ran away one day, and they eventually found him asleep in a barn, surrounded by Highland Cattle, their recollections of WW2 are mostly peaceful times, but my sister had a great time back in London when peace was restored there , she was 17. All I can remember is ration books, when  did they finish.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 15, 2010, 15:48:56
Lyn L, thanks for the compliment.

Your dad not mentioning his army life until he was 90 is typical and I think a great pity, because it's vital that future generations know enough about the past not to make the mistakes we did. I am far from being a war hero, as you have probably learnt by now, but if I have made a modest contribution to making it known what it was like to grow-up during a major war then I am satisfied.

I think I've covered most of my 'warlike' experiences and have it in mind to go on to subjects like school life and entertainment, including rationing, but before I do, there's this:
Some of the things I hear from my family who lived in Dover during the war, leave me dumb-struck.
Here is a summary of a snippet I've just found in 'Frontline County': Mr William Harris and Mr Reginald Blunt became the first people in the county to receive the George Medal. For nine weeks they worked from dawn to dusk on farms near Deal at the height of the Battle of Britain. They operated their threshing machine within range of guns in France and while enemy aircraft were constantly over the area.

Earlier I outlined some statistics for the Medway Towns. Here are some for the whole of Kent, taken from 'Front Line County':

In the following list, the first figure is the number of incidents resulting in fatalities caused by bombs, mines, machine gunning, plane crashes etc; the 2nd by shelling from the continent; the 3rd by V1s; the 4th by V2s.

            1940 = 147/10/0/0
            1941 = 60/4/0/0
            1942 = 30/3/0/0
            1943 = 19/10/0/0
            1944 = 24/22/34/2
            1945 = 0/0/1/8

There were 29,272 HE bombs/mines:  approx 728,000 incendiaries:  1422 V1s:  V2s not stated.

Casualties were: 1608 fatal:  7894 injured.

5209 properties were wrecked, 16,170 badly damaged, 181,267 slightly damaged.

On 19th and 20th November 1940, 8 shells fired from the French coast landed near Rainham, and on 24th November 2 landed near Bearsted. On 13th June 1944, several fell in the Maidstone area, killing one woman. Nobody seems to know the reasons for these isolated incidents.


Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: kyn on January 15, 2010, 16:55:50
I think I've covered most of my "warlike" experiences and have it in mind to go on to subjects like school life and entertainment, including rationing.

I will certainly look forward to anything you are happy to share!  Your posts are very interesting, I tend to be more interested in the social side of history so I really do enjoy your posts  :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 15, 2010, 16:56:39
Another flashback about the V1s. The opening attack happened overnight, and the AA gunfire was continuous; no sleep that night. News bulletins next day talked of "attack by pilotless aircraft" and we actually thought that they were 'real' aircraft capable of picking out individual targets without a crew on board, rather like the drones used in Afghanistan today, and that didn't help our nerves. Not until we saw some in daylight did we realise exactly what they were.

These flashbacks keep interrupting my afternoon kip :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on January 15, 2010, 19:14:25
ive read in a book on the v1 and v2's and according to the author he says that the first v1 fell on Fareham in hampshire? but records say it was in London

im not sure what to believe, the account is very plausible
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Paul on January 15, 2010, 19:37:53
The first V1 on London fell here.

http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=51.5277871~-0.037218&lvl=17&sty=h&sp=Point.skn517gzx67s_Untitled%20item____

Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: unfairytale on January 15, 2010, 20:29:58
Some V1s were carried close to thier targets on the south coast by Heinkel HE111s.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 15, 2010, 20:45:43
The first V1 on the night of 12th June (I think). I was in bed when I heard what sounded like a motor bike overhead, and called to my parents "that plane's in trouble". Then later there was the distant 'thump' when it crashed at Swanscombe. Then a week later they started the full attack.

I've broken my rule that I would mainly mention only my personal memories for this topic and have looked up some info:

At 00:40 on13th June 1944 shelling started at Folkestone, and an hour later several shells fell on the southern part of Maidstone and a woman was killed in Hayle Road. At 4:18 a V1 crashed at Swanscombe, which must have been the one I heard. Then within the next hour V1s crashed at Cuckfield, Sussex; Crouch, near Sevenoaks; and on a railway bridge at Bethnal Green, where 6 people were killed and 9 injured. So there was the first ever V1 and the first on London, on that night, as in Paul's post. I had previously thought the one at Swanscombe was the only one. Also, I didn't know where the shelling in Maidstone was. So it shows we never stop learning!

There were no more V1s until the main attack started a week later.

At first V1s were launched from fixed sites all aimed at London, until the RAF destroyed them and portable sites were developed. V1 range was 150 miles, so could one have reached Fareham, even from a portable site?

Agreed it could have been launched from a He111, but my understanding has always been that wasn't done till all sites in France had been over-run
.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: unfairytale on January 15, 2010, 23:30:58
From what I know I don't think a German shell could get within 25 miles of south Maidstone. The Lindermann Battery had a maximum range of 56km which wouldn't even reach Ashford and that's with long range shells. The standard shells could only be fired 42km which would only just reach Hythe.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: seafordpete on January 16, 2010, 10:09:12
Fareham is under 100 miles from a large section of the Normandy coast.  I remember surveying a pub in Porchester and the cellar was much older than the building (1960s Whitbread standard glass & woodpanels) and was told the original pub was a V1 casualty.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 16, 2010, 10:11:48
On 19th and 20th November 1940, 8 shells fired from the French coast landed near Rainham, and on 24th November 2 landed near Bearsted. On 13th June 1944, several fell in the Maidstone area, killing one woman. Nobody seems to know the reasons for these isolated incidents.
At 00:40 on13th June 1940 shelling started at Folkestone, and an hour later several shells fell on the southern part of Maidstone and a woman was killed in Hayle Road.

Information is from 'Front Line County' which states the splinters found at Rainham were examined and found to be from an 11 inch shell. Book 'Conflict Across the Straits' lists German Batteries in France and shows the 'Grosser Kurfurst' battery to be equipped with 28cm (11 inch) guns, also that Germans "brought up" .......28cm railway guns.

Casualties lists in 'Front Line County' are stated to be from Civil Defence War Diaries held by the County Archives at Maidstone, and there is this entry:
13th June 1944. Maidstone. 1 fatal casualty. Cross-channel shelling.

Perhaps the 28cm guns used a booster charge. There seems to have been some puzzlement as to why these long range shellings were so infrequent.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 16, 2010, 11:53:59
Re the V1 on Fareham, I've found some snippets in 'Blitz on Britain' by Alfred Price:

"Attacks on London by V1s, from ground launching sites in France, began on 13th June 1940. Most were intended for London, though as the attack progressed a few were also aimed at Southampton. The attack by ground-launched V1s continued through July, supplemented after the first week of the month by air-launched missiles fired from He111s of III/KG3, based in Holland".

There is then a description of how the aircraft had to position themselves over the North Sea to within an accuracy of 6 miles in order to hit London.

So it seems possible that Fareham could have been hit by a ground-launched V1, either from the Pas-de-Calais (question of range arises), or from Normandy (question of it being in D-day invasion area arises). Air-launched ones seem to be ruled out. Intriguing!

What is certain is that the first ever V1 didn't fall on Fareham. Perhaps the report meant that the first V1 to fall on Hampshire fell on Fareham.

Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: seafordpete on January 16, 2010, 12:26:42
Cap Gris Nez is 117 miles to fareham as is the mouth of the River Somme. So any sites firing along coast could have taken Portsmouth etc, 150 miles from Cap GN  takes you almost up to Leicester
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: grandarog on January 16, 2010, 15:01:16
Very interesting post you are running Peter.
  Now Doodlebugs and V2.s are being mentioned members might like to look at these 2 sitesfor a few statistics etc.
                                                                              Cheers Rog

            http://www.zenza.se/vw/                  http://www.v2rocket.com/start/deployment/timeline.html
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 16, 2010, 15:09:16
Many thanks Grandarog, and this was supposed to be a topic about my personal memories. :)

A bit more from 'Blitz on Britain'.

Up to the end of August 1940, about 8600 V1s had been launched against London and Southampton from ground ramps in N France. During the same time III/KG3 aimed about 300 at London, 90 at Southampton, and 20 at Gloucester, but it was some time before we realised that some V1s were being air-launched. The attacks against Southampton were so scattered that British Intelligence thought the target was Portsmouth, and Gloucester was not even recognised as a target until German records were examined after the war.

The last V1 from ground ramps in France was launched on 1st September 1944. The book then gives a description of how the units launching V1s were re-organised and increased, and how their operations were hampered by lack of fuel. 50 bombs were launched against Manchester on Christmas Eve. A total of 1700 V1s were air-launched before the last one crashed at Hornsey on 14th January 1945, all but about 150 against London.

I've had the book for over 30 years, so it seems daft to say that a lot of this is news to me, but it is!
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 16, 2010, 16:42:17
I'm surprised at how things seem to have 'hotted-up' again in 1944, even before the advent of V1s.

Here we go again, thinking about one thing has brought back memories of something else. This time it is of finding strips of metal foil, about a foot long and an inch wide, on the ground after a raid. This was designed to swamp our radar so that it couldn't locate individual aircraft, and has an interesting history that I'll mention separately.

The increased activity was what became known as the 'Little Blitz', a series of attacks using the new Heinkel 177 bomber, a new radio navigation system copied from the RAF systems being used against Germany, new heavy bombs filled with a more powerful explosive (the 'England Mixture'), and new incendiary bomb containers. The attacks copied the RAF method of concentration to swamp the defences (compared to the 1940/41 blitz, where the raid would be spread over several hours). (I'm getting a lot of this information from 'Blitz on Britain', and again some of it is new to me :)).

The first attack was on 21st January 1944 and there was a total of 11 raids before the last on 24th February. The attack on 29th January started 343 fires in London, yet of 245 incidents in the last attack, only 64 were in London, 110 were in Kent, 53 in Sussex, and 18 in Essex. Of the approx 250 raiders that night, 25 were shot down and another 18 crashed at their bases due to the inexperience of their crews, a total loss rate of 17%.

For comparison an RAF raid on Germany was commonly about 800 aircraft and a loss rate of more than 5% was considered serious.

The result was the destruction of the Luftwaffe's heavy bomber force, but a British Government report (summarised) is interesting: 'The population was more jittery than in 1940 due to the belief that there were no more air-raids to fear, and to war weariness. There was no sign of panic, but people were less able to help themselves than in the old days'. And this after just 11 attacks, compared with ?? in 1940.

I suppose I must have been as much affected as anyone else, but have no specific memories of any incidents.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 16, 2010, 17:01:02
The story of the metal strips known to the RAF as 'Window'.

Metal strips of a certain length, dropped from an aircraft, would match the wavelength of radar signals and completely swamp radar screens. Despite the obvious advantages for Bomber Command, the War Cabinet would not let window be used until we had developed radar that would not be affected by it, because the enemy would copy it and overcome our defences. Eventually the radar was developed and window was used.

The irony is that the Germans didn't need to copy it; they had also developed it themselves but didn't use it for the same reason as we didn't!
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 17, 2010, 17:31:45
All I can remember is ration books, when  did they finish.

Briefly, food was rationed from 8th January 1940 to 4th July 1954. Which items were rationed, and their quantities, varied at different times. Clothes were rationed 1st June 1941 to 15th March 1949. There's more information in this link: http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/Homework/war/rationing.htm

Bread and potatoes were not rationed until after the war. In some respects post-war conditions were worse than during the war.

I can't remember much about buying and preparing food (there's a surprise!) but I can say we were never hungry, although food was basic and dull. We never had anything like an orange or banana for the whole of the war. Some foods, like fish, were never rationed but usually had to be queued for. I remember powdered egg, mixed with water to make a sort of omelette. I also remember whale meat, rather like liver (or leather!); it was off-ration but after trying it I don't think we bothered any more.

You had to register with a specific butcher and grocer, which caused problems for people moving about.

I remember we had to take our own newspapers to get food, especially fish & chips, wrapped.

Restaurant meals were a bone of contention because people who could afford it could eat out as often as they liked. There was some control on this by limiting meals to 3 courses with a maximum price of 5/- (25p). Even so, that was about 4 hours average wages.

There were 'British Restaurants' serving a very wholesome 2-course meal for 9d (about 4p). The only one I remember was in the Paddock in Military Road, Chatham. There were still cafes where you could get a cup of tea and a bun, and we got cakes at break time from the shop near our school. Pubs didn't usually serve food other than crisps, but that was not an effect of the war - it was much later before pubs became the 'restaurants' that most are today.

There were virtually no toys on sale. Model aircraft kits were available, but the shapes had to be carved by hand from balsa wood.

There were salvage collection drives, and many parks lost their railings. If anyone wonders why, even today, there are stumps of cast-iron in the low wall in front of some houses, it's where council workers with an oxy-acetylene cutter nicked the decorative railing.

There were fund-raising weeks, with exhibitions: 'War Weapons Week', 'Salute the Soldier Week', 'Wings for Victory Week', and 'Warships Week'. My first ever visit to London was to one of these exhibitions, held in the basement of bombed-out premises.

Just before D-Day access to coastal areas was limited to people who had reason to be there, and one of the local check-points was at the 'Coach & Horses' at Strood, and I remember being there on a bus from Gravesend while police examined Identity Cards.

A trip to Gravesend and a walk along the promenade was the ultimate 'day-out'. No way could we go to the seaside, other than Gillingham Strand or Safety Bay, a little beach on the river at the bottom of Manor Lane, Borstal.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Lyn L on January 17, 2010, 18:28:36
Thanks for that Peter, and I remember the Restaurant in the Paddock, we had our wedding reception there in 1964 ! The 1st they had there, the floor was red Cardinal polish which didn't do a lot for my wedding dress either. I hadn't realised it was there in War time though, too young for that.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 18, 2010, 09:11:24
My impression was opposite to yours. I didn't realise they were still there in 1964. I thought they closed at the end of the war.

A bit more info:
They were started in June 1941 and run by local councils with government guarantee against losses. Prices seem to have varied:
Ashford: Soup & bread - 2d; Meat & 2 veg - 8d; Sweet - 2d; Tea - 1d.
Maidstone: Soup - 1d; 2-course meal - 9d; Tea - 1d
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: afsrochester on January 18, 2010, 17:29:25
Hi Peter.

The Paddock Restaurant was there up until the time that Paddock Gardens was re-developed which would have been around the mid-70's.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 18, 2010, 19:54:42
Isn't memory strange? I vaguely remember the Paddock Restaurant but didn't associate it with the British Restaurant. Do you know if it was still council owned? Is 'Paddock Gardens' the official name? Local press calls it 'The Paddock' which can cause confusion with the road near New Road. The 1907 map of Chatham calls it 'The Shrubbery'.

Thanks,
Peter.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 18, 2010, 20:50:00
A bit about schools.

Schools were on holiday at the start of the war and, for those of us who were not evacuated, did not open again until about Easter 1940. I am assuming that date because we moved from Chatham Gun Wharf to Rochester after the heavy snow of the 1939/40 winter, and I ended at St Johns School, Chatham, and re-started at Troy Town School, Rochester.

At first it was just going in to get homework, then it became half-days, and finally full-time for September 1940. I imagine it was related to the fact that during the 'Phoney War', when the expected raids didn't develop, evacuees drifted back home.

I'm a bit vague about procedure for air-raids, because I can remember having lessons in the school shelter, as well as my mother collecting me outside the school and taking me home. We only lived 'round-the-corner', so perhaps there was a special arrangement. I also remember getting into trouble for not going back on one occasion when the all-clear sounded.

In those days there were Elementary Schools where pupils stayed throughout their school time unless they went to one of the selective schools. The selective schools I remember were:

For Boys:
Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School (Grammar School) in Rochester High Street.
Rochester Junior Technical School in Rochester High Street/Corporation Street.
Chatham Junior Technical School (Holcombe) in Maidstone Road, Chatham.

For Girls:
Rochester Girls Grammar School in Maidstone Road, Rochester.
Chatham Girls Grammar School at the top of Chatham Hill.
Girls Technical School at Fort Pitt, Chatham.

Starting ages were 11 for the Grammar Schools and 12 for the Technical Schools, and there was a separate entry test for each for free 'Scholarships', or parents could pay. Leaving ages were 14 for the Elementary Schools, 15 for the Technical Schools, and I'm not sure about the Grammar Schools.

I took the Math School test and (look away now :)) failed, and the Rochester Tech School test and (OK to look again :)) passed, for starting in September 1941. We had the individual school uniforms, but Rochester and Chatham Techs were combined, with class members mixed, and we spent some days at Rochester and some at Chatham. We also had some lessons in the Math school.

I can't remember much about qualifications. There was 'Matriculation', via Grammar Schools, for university entrance. There was a 'Dockyard Apprentices' exam, which I didn't take because I didn't want what I thought would be an indoor job, and there was an 'RAF Apprentices' exam which I didn't take ( I now wonder why, because I was a mad keen aircraft buff). The Tech schools entered for exams run by the College of Preceptors, but I didn't enter those because I left school 6 months early to start work, as per the topic 'A Civvy RE' (so, as in 'The Weakest Link' I 'left with nothing' :)).

I can't find much relevant information about the College of Preceptors, except this extract from Wikipedia: ?The college initially awarded qualifications for secondary school teachers and pupils.?

About the only other thing I remember was being in school about 1943 at Holcombe when there was the noise of a diving aircraft and gunfire, and the teacher made us get under the desks. It turned out that a lone enemy aircraft had dived out of the clouds, and sirens were not sounded for lone raiders. Also, a classmate died of polio, which caused a big shock in the class. I even remember his name was Fox, and he travelled daily from Faversham.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 21, 2010, 12:51:06
This is from the 1942 edition of 'Pear's Cyclopaedia', to provide a snapshot of life in Britain in the middle of WW2. Money has been converted to decimal currency.

Normal letter = 1p; Dog licence = 37.5p/year; Driving licence = 25p/year.
Car tax was by 'nominal' horsepower calculated by a formula. For an 8hp car (roughly today's Ford Fiesta) it was £10/year.

Income tax (simplified):
Personal allowance of 10% of earned income with extra allowances according to the size of the family, if any. The result was that a single person earning less than £110/year, or a married couple with 3 children earning less than £322/year, paid no tax. The first £165 of taxable income was taxed at 32.5%, and the rest at 50%. Surtax was payable on taxable income above £2000/year. To put this in perspective, £200/year would be a good 'manual' wage.

National Insurance (simplified):
All manual workers, and non-manual workers earning less than £420/year, paid NI, but non-manual workers earning more could pay voluntarily. Rate was 9p/week for men and 7p for women, of which the employer paid 4.6p/week.

Benefits:
Free medical attendance and treatment, and free medicines (See note below).
Sickness/unemployment benefit/OAP: 75p/week for men, 60p for single women, and 50p for married women.
Maternity benefit: £2 for an insured woman or the wife of an insured man.

Taxes were payable on a vast range of items: Rental agreements, cheques, sale of stocks and shares, marriage licences, carriages according to the number of horses (that's what the book says!), and many others.

Life expectancy for males was 66 years, and for females it was 69 years.

As well as entry exams for Navy, Army, and RAF Colleges, there were exams, among others, for the Civil Service, Indian Police, Colonial Police, and Municipal Councils.

Note: I think this refers to GP services. We had a 'Hospital Box' in which a few pence was put weekly. This was emptied and re-sealed by someone who called at intervals, and entitled us to treatment at St Bart's Hospital.
There were also sick benefit societies like the 'Oddfellows' that paid sick-pay etc.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 24, 2010, 17:54:07
I don't think there's much more in the way of specific themes that I can write about, so here are some odd memories that have come to mind recently.

If the target was in N France there would be mass formations of US bombers setting off on a raid. Similarly, at night there would be a continuous roar as RAF bombers set off. In any case, there were always aeroplanes about, mostly small formations of fighters from local airfields.

In the town centre it seemed as if every other person was in uniform, many with their nationality shoulder titles: 'Canada', 'Poland', etc. The most outstanding were the US uniforms of a quality that our own forces could only dream of.

This is not really a memory, because I didn't find out till after the war, but the Poles had their own hospital that used to be alongside the A2 at Dartford.

Military vehicles seemed to outnumber civilian ones, especially in the run-up to D-Day. It was about then that I first heard the explanation of why the south of the country was generally flat and the north was more hilly: The land had tilted under the weight of military equipment! There was a similar story about airfields in Lincolnshire; it didn't matter if a plane overshot the runway - it simply ran onto the next airfield!

Apart from the telephone, which most people didn't have, the means of rapid communication was Telegrams delivered by 'Telegram Boys' on their bikes, and a knock on the door by one of these was the event most feared by people with relations in the forces.

Getting about was generally easy, although it was common for a bus to be full and you had to wait for the next one. There were no driving tests, only provisional licences being issued, but you didn't have to be accompanied by a licensed driver or carry L-plates. After the war those who'd held a licence for more than a certain time were exempt from the driving test - I missed the deadline by 3 months and had to take it. (Bearing in mind my age, that must have been 1947 or 1948, well after the end of the war).

British Summer Time (BST) continued from autumn of 1940 and Double British Summer Time (DBST) was introduced between spring and autumn each year from 1941. It meant going to school in the dark in the winter. We went back from DBST to BST in July 1945, and to GMTin October 1945.

I've mentioned this previously, but one thing the black-out did was to show up the difference between a moonless night, when you couldn't see a hand in front of your face, and the full moon, when you could almost read a book in the street. The stars on a clear moonless night were a sight to behold! Sadly that is a sight spoiled by light pollution today.

Hand torches were allowed but had to have a layer of tissue paper inside the lens, and vehicle headlamps were masked, with just a narrow slot for the light.

Shortages meant that if anything broke it generally had to be repaired, because it couldn't be replaced. As a result, many people of my generation are still reluctant to throw anything away.

I remember getting a ride up Star Hill one Sunday morning, with lots of other kids, on top of a Churchill tank after an Army - v - Home Guard exercise. It was a bit unrealistic (a) because the 'Battle of Star Hill' had been watched by civilians standing further up the hill and (b) the tank we rode on had been 'destroyed' by a Home Guard throwing a bomb - a bag of flour - from the flat roof of a nearby shop!

An assault landing craft in the water looks small, but on the back of a low-loading trailer it is huge, and one toppled off its trailer one day and ended up against the wall of what I think are alms-houses at the top of Star Hill.

I've heard it said that war is 1% terror and 99% boredom, and while I think that's an exaggeration, I've tried to give some idea of what life was like during the times they weren't terror. But I was writing about the Medway Towns seen through the eyes of a 10 to 15 year old boy; there are many people whose proportion of terror was much greater than mine, and probably some whose proportion was less. However, even living in the extreme west of the UK didn't guarantee safety: Cardiff, Swansea, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Belfast were all blitzed.

I'm happy to continue this thread for as long as anyone wants.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 24, 2010, 23:06:07
Re the Lincolnshire (and Norfolk and Yorkshire) airfields. I believe it is standard practice for aircraft to circle an airfield anti-clockwise after take-off and while waiting to land. Some airfields were so close together that their circuits overlapped and one of them had to have a clockwise circuit to prevent aircraft between them flying in opposite directions, and we are talking of night flying. Sounds a bit dicey, but wartime safety standards would horrify todays regulators. In deciding the degree of concentration of RAF bombers over a target, for instance, in order to swamp the defences, there was actually a mathematical calculation of how many collisions would occur and how many bombers would be hit by bombs dropped from above.  Provided that figure was less than the likely loss through enemy action without such concentration, it was acceptable!

Thanks for the compliments. Thinking of things to post on the forum has certainly improved my memory (a case of 'use it or lose it') and I'll certainly come up with some more posts.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 25, 2010, 15:52:02
This isn't entirely about WW2, but I think one of my strongest memories is the change in communication since I was a child.

There was a TV service before the war but it stopped when the war began and the first TV I ever saw was about 1949. It had a screen of no more than about 10 inches and was in a free standing consul with the speaker in its base. There was only one channel and broadcasting didn't start till about 7pm.

Radios required an aerial that was usually rigged between the clothesline pole in the garden and the house, with a lead in just like today's TV. An earth lead was also needed, connected to a metal stake driven into the ground outside. If it was not mains powered, and not all houses had electricity, it relied on batteries. My earliest recollection is of glass 'accumulators' about the size of a 1-litre carton that was taken for charging, in our case to a bike shop opposite Troy Town School, Rochester. I think we had 3 of them: 1 in use, 1 in reserve, and 1 on charge at the shop. A later development was to have a dry battery about 8 inches square and 2 inches deep with a plug-in socket for one lead and about 4 sockets for the other lead; this connection was progressively moved from socket to socket as the battery lost power, presumably to bring extra cells into use. I also have vague notions of a 'grid bias' battery, about the size of a 20-cigarette packet; does this make sense to any radio engineers out there? Then we progressed via the so-called 'portable', not because of its small size and could be carried about, but because it had a built-in aerial, to where we are today.

Telephones were out of the price range of the average family, but I remember one in my dad's office at work with a little generator that he wound to call the exchange. The first telephone I had at home was about 1970, with a rotating dial. I think 'Subscriber Trunk Dialling' (STD) had just been introduced. Previous to that you could only dial local numbers; for longer distances you had to dial the operator and ask, for example, for 'Barchester 3526'. Now we have the situation where I'm sure some youngsters would rather go out naked than go out without their mobile phone.

To me the ultimate in communication is to sit at my laptop and pass pictures to and from the rest of you as easily as if we were sitting next to each other, yet to my 11-year old granddaughter this is just how it's always been, so "what's clever about that?". I wonder what she'll be amazed by when she's my age.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 27, 2010, 17:17:52
Today being Holocaust Memorial Day has set me thinking of what we knew of such things during the war.

As a 10-year old in 1939 my interest in politics was no more than the school playground 'My dad votes Labour'/'My dad votes Conservative - so ya boo' type dispute. Even that must have been pre-war, because there were no elections to argue about during the war.

But I understood enough to know that some obscure MP named Churchill had been speaking in Parliament about the dangers of Nazism, and that there had been fights in Chatham High Street between the Fascist and Socialist Parties, and that Socialist = good, and Fascist = bad. I knew about the Spanish Civil War and had seen enough newsreels to know that war was something to be avoided. We had heard of concentration camps but thought they were merely places were they kept people who disagreed with the government. We knew of the Hitler Youth and believed that German kids were encouraged to report on their parents' political views. We knew about the Jewish refugees (as I've said earlier, one came to work in Chatham Gun Wharf) and had heard of 'Kristalnacht' in Germany, when Jewish businesses were wrecked. Yep, Fascism/Nazism was bad but, apart from a few extremists led by Sir Oswald Moseley, it was nothing to do with us.

But after 'Senor Mussolini' had invaded Abyssinia and Albania, and 'Herr Hitler' (as the media called them) had marched into Austria and Czechoslovakia, and now threatened Poland, the feeling grew that they had to be stopped. Conscription began just before the war and I think we knew then that war was certain, although dad said, "no, that'll stop it happening".

So the war began and Canada, Australia, India, and all the rest of the Empire declared war on our side (as well as France, of course), so it must have been the right thing to do; certainly in my circle of acquaintances there was no doubt about it. I can't remember hearing much about Nazi atrocities during the war itself; so far as we knew our POWs were treated reasonably well in Germany, and I can even remember a newspaper report and pictures from POW camps. The way the Japanese treated anyone, soldier or civilian, who came under their control was well known - no comment!

After D-Day we got news of French villages being destroyed by the SS, and the inhabitants slaughtered, because the French resistance had been active in the area. Then we heard of conditions in the occupied countries generally, and the ultimate horror was the discovery of the real conditions in the concentration camps, as seen on TV in today's news. We now finally had confirmation that all we had been through over the past six years had been for a very good reason.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 29, 2010, 10:39:34
I've just read in the paper that an internet sales organisation has banned the sale of a Dad's Army board game because the box has swastikas on it, on the grounds that it will incite racial hatred. So that's the way to ensure anything like the holocaust doesn't happen again - hide anything connected with it.

So was I inciting racial hatred by mentioning Nazism and Fascism in my previous post?
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: unfairytale on January 29, 2010, 18:13:51
Conscription was introduced after we declared war on Germany although the military training act had been passed in april 1939. Conscription came in October, after Poland was annexed. The Swastika being banned from that game seems to be a bit over the top: The country that fought under the sign of the hammer and sickle commited more murders than the Nazis could dream of. Russia also prvided half of the weapons used in the latest Holocaust: That of Dafur with casualty rates higher than that of Nazi Germany...400,000 in six months!
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 29, 2010, 20:25:06
Conscription was introduced after we declared war on Germany although the military training act had been passed in april 1939.
Yes, I should have said that "conscription was authorised just before the war". I think the first registrations for conscription were in the summer. But it was when the Act was introduced that we felt war was inevitable. It actually became inevitable on 24th August 1939 when Germany and Russia signed a non-aggression pact, giving Hitler a free hand to invade Poland.

As to attrocities committed by the Russians, we didn't know about those at the time. All we knew was that at long last we had another country fighting on our side. There was even a film, I think made by the MoI, showing what a wonderful country Russia was.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: seafordpete on January 30, 2010, 11:14:31
My Polish daughter in law always says  that the Russians were far more brutal than the German forces, taking or destroying everything they came across.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 31, 2010, 11:54:30
Because this thread is about my personal experiences in the war, I've been trying to remember what we knew about Russia at the time, but it's difficult to separate it from what we learned afterwards, but I'll try.

About 2 weeks after the war started, Russia invaded Poland, and then in November 1939 invaded Finland. I have vague recollections of talk about having to fight Russia as well as Germany. (After the war we learnt that the British and French Governments were actually considering sending troops, via Norway and Sweden, to fight alongside the Finns. Only the peace deal between Russia and Finland in March 1940 stopped that happening). So at that stage of the war the Russians were bad guys and the Finns were heroes.

Then in June 1941 Germany invaded Russia, and I remember it was welcome news - the Russians would make mincemeat of the German army. Some mincemeat! - they were at the gates of Moscow within weeks. Nevertheless, the Russians were on our side, so they were now good guys, even if we did have to send them aid via the Arctic convoys. The Finns joined in on Germany's side, so they became baddies overnight. After the European war ended we still had to deal with Japan and when Russia declared war on Japan they remained goodies, although I think some people wondered why they hadn't done that before.

So by the nature of things all we heard about was the German ill treatment of Russian POWs and civilians. We also heard about hostages being shot in other occupied countries, as reprisals for activities of the resistance. But of the fine detail of concentration camps, whether in Germany or Russia, I don't think we knew much.

After the war we heard that the Russians actually delayed the liberation of Warsaw until the Germans had defeated the Polish uprising, so they wouldn't have any opposition to deal with, and other Russian atrocities came to light. Churchill wanted to prevent the Russians from advancing too far west, but US President Roosevelt wouldn't support him.

So, we beat one oppressive regime with the help of another repressive regime. One of the western leaders said "Stalin is a b*****d but, while we're fighting the Nazis, he's our b*****d". That might not be quite right, but it about sums it up.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on February 03, 2010, 17:28:57
In previous posts I've said that we didn't know much about German atrocities during the war, but here is a re-print, from today's Telegraph, of that of 3rd Feb 1940. So I suppose we must have known, even if it didn't really sink in.
                                                           (http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/img080.jpg)
If there were any reports about Russian atrocities they would have stopped when Russia became an ally.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on February 20, 2010, 16:18:30
I've just remembered the Sunderland flying boats that were moored in the river on the Strood side, opposite the Esplanade, attended by the same type of dinghy that the RAF used. There were about 4 moorings for aircraft awaiting test flights or delivery to the RAF.

They always came up close to the bridge and took-off towards the south, regardless of wind direction, or perhaps could only take-off when the wind was right. Presumably to take-off the other way would have been too risky in case of engine failure.

They usually landed (if that's what flying boats do) by coming in over the bridge, and that seemed to need a pretty good judgement by the pilot.

I recall being in the Castle Gardens terraces with a pal when a man asked us some questions about the Sunderlands. We thought this was a bit suspicious (no, he didn't have German accent :)) so went into the town to find a policeman. Well, you know the saying about 'when you want a policeman'..?. So, if you ask me what I did as a schoolboy towards the war effort, that was it - I looked for a policeman to come and arrest a spy :).
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: busyglen on April 26, 2010, 14:37:17
Just come across this thread, and found it really interesting.

I was born in the middle of the War, but have quite a few memories (believe it or not) at the age of 2-3.

We had a Naval officer and his wife lodging with us during this time, and I can remember the lady pushing me in the pram down to the local shop, so that she could use it to carry her provisions.  Whilst outside one day, a huge sandy coloured dog came and put it's front paws up on the bottom of the pram and looked at me.  I can remember screaming, and the lady running out to see what was wrong.  I now know that it was a labrador, and this event caused me to be scared of them for several years.  I encountered one on my way home from school when I was 5 and stood on the pavement crying until a little boy of my own age, took my hand and walked me along the road until the dog disappeared.  Chivalry at 5!  Wonderful.

All of the family used to sleep downstairs in a large room, so that we were ready to go into the shelter when the sirens went.  The Anderson Shelter was just outside the back door, and you went down two steps to get in.  It had two bunks on one side and it was a bit cramped.  I can remember going to sleep in bed and waking up in the shelter, wondering where I was.  My mother was pregnant around this time, and I can remember her sitting in a chair in her dressing gown, knitting baby clothes.  One night she lost a needle, and I remembered that it was turquoise in colour.  It slipped through the floorboards, and when the shelter was eventually pulled down, we found it!

I have a vivid memory of standing on the back steps with my mother in the dark, watching the searchlights over Sheerness Dockyard searching for planes.  I also have vague memories of the ack-ack guns firing.  

Strangely, I can't remember much after that, but it did quieten down a bit.

Another memory relates to the fact that we lived in a large wooden house, which was a fire hazard, especially during the War.  So....we had a red fire bucket of water placed around the outside of the house at 4' intervals and another with sand. There was also a large water container on wheels, and two large tin water tanks in the garden.  Luckily we never had to use them.

It's surprising how much one remembers when your memory is given a jog.  :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: kyn on April 26, 2010, 17:20:50
 :)  Thank you for your addition, I do like to read about other peoples life!
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on April 27, 2010, 11:36:17
Hi Busyglen,
It's nice to hear from someone else who has memories of WW2. From your description I imagine you lived on Sheppey, or in that direction.

Has anyone been watching Tony Robinson's series, 'Blitz Street', on TV, where they built an isolated street of about a dozen houses and set off simulated German bombs to see what effect they had on the buildings? Am I alone in thinking how false this exercise was?

First, the 'bomb' was placed on a platform about 4 feet above the ground, whereas in reality the bomb fuse would not be activated until it hit something fairly solid, followed by a delay (even with an instantaneous fuse) before the bomb exploded, by which time it would have penetrated into the ground so that much of its energy would be directed upwards.

Secondly, the 'street' was isolated in open country, whereas in closely packed streets in a typical inner city I imagine the blast effect would be totally different.

Perhaps I'm being pedantic, but to suggest that the programme's set-up represented real life seems to be going a bit too far. It made for some spectacular photography, but that's about all.

If they wanted to show the effect of HE bombs on buildings, there are thousands of photos that could have been used. Here is just one:

                       (http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/Untitled.jpg)
                         Original photo from Kent Messenger

It shows the effect of a bomb dropped on Ross Street, Rochester on (I think) 26 October 1940, when I lived 6 houses further down the street. My memory is of a 'thump' felt through the ground, rather than any big bang; also of seeing the living room windows falling in in slow-motion - time really did 'stand still'! The bomb was one of two dropped by an Me109, so it was 50kg or 100kg (110lb or 220lb). That gives food for thought - imagine what an RAF 12000lb blockbuster did!
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on April 27, 2010, 13:35:43
PS: A member who contributed several posts to this topic requested that they be deleted. This has caused the remaining posts to be re-numbered so that cross-references to other replies are now wrongly numbered, and some replies seem meaningless because they refer to a post which has been deleted. This also applies to references to another topic where that member contributed.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Paul on April 27, 2010, 14:20:41
Ive been watching Blitz Street and agree that a lot of the blast would be directed straight up.
And the second one they exploded had no casing?
The fragmentation from the second one would have demolished most of the roofs and walls....

Ah.. but theve got more to explode, they dont want to demolish it yet :)

They are going to do a V1 and V2..
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: busyglen on April 27, 2010, 14:25:17
Thank you for your comments, glad you found it of interest.

Yes Peterchall, I do live on Sheppey, and at that time I lived at the RN Sports Ground, which is mentioned here on a thread about the Grounds.

I have recalled a couple of other bits during the War, but not that exciting.

As I mentioned previously, we kids slept in a large downstairs room, and my Mother & Father, slept in the living room next door.  The door between was always left open, and one night just as we'd gone to sleep, my mother gave a shout and said `John Snagg'!!  We all jumped, and wondered what had happened, but it was nothing serious.  She'd been trying to think of the name of (I believe) a news reporter on the Radio and couldn't remember his name.  She suddenly remembered it and shouted it out when almost asleep.  We did laugh.

On one other occasion: we had a spare room upstairs, which had a mattress on the floor, which us kids used to jump about on.   All of a sudden there was a very loud noise of a plane flying really low and it sounded as if it was going to hit the house.  I threw myself onto the mattress, but it went overhead and flew on.  Later when I thought about it, I wondered at the `urge' to throw myself to the floor, when I had never experienced anything like that before.  Inbuilt self preservation?  Normally I think I would have run as I was frightened little child.

NB: I haven't been watching Blitz Street, so can't comment, but as Paul says, if they've got more to explode, they can't afford to keep rebuilding, so really, it's not actually a take on the real thing.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Aspidestra on May 06, 2010, 22:03:53
I was 14 when war broke out, in answer to the question of public shelters the one I remember was a rectangular brick building in the middle of the road at the bottom of Rock avenue Gillingham. If you look to the left today you will see a row of flats? these replace the small row of shops that were bombed. I still have my collection of shrapnel and crashed bomber parts etc including the nose cap of a 3.7" AA shell and it weighs just under one pound. This was the main gun used in defence, including some mobile ones. The other being the 4.5" operating from a fixed site, one of which was at Dillywood lane, roughly where the aquatic site is now. Later on a new weapon was used namely the "Z" batteries. One of which was situated on Gillingham Golf links. These were operated by the Home Guard and consisted of a simple frame which had two sets of rails pointed skywards. On these were placed Two unguided rockets which were fired by throwing a switch, supposedly powered by number 8 batteries (which were in short supply to the public). The rockets then took off with a roar  sounding like an express train hurtling up, to burst at a pre-set height or by a proximity fuse. As a battery consisted of possibly 40 or 50 the effect from the ground was to say the least, impressive. They all burst about the same time and was referred to as  "The Devils Tattoo"  More later including Flying bombs and Rockets    
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: colin haggart on May 06, 2010, 23:05:20
One of my photos I took this year, where the bombed out shops were in Rock Avenue.

(http://i278.photobucket.com/albums/kk90/colinhaggart/Photos%20volume%20two/RockAve2010.jpg)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on May 07, 2010, 10:54:06
It's nice to know that there are still other Forum members who have personal memories of WW2. I think Aspidesta's description of the rockets as 'unguided' is about right; they were aimed at a general area in the sky rather than at an aircraft, and I wonder if they ever did hit anything. There were 64 projectors, each firing two rockets. My father was a member of the Home Guard complement of the battery.

Aspidestra, have you read Replies#5, 10 & 11 in this link?
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=6511.msg52549;topicseen#new.
You seem to have lived in the Canterbury Street area, and I wonder if you might remember what was next to the Ashtree pub. Could it be that you are my guardian angel? :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Aspidestra on May 11, 2010, 22:41:14
I am afraid I can't answer what was next to the Ash Tree pub although I cycled past it every day during the war on my way to Kent Alloys where I served my Short Bros apprenticeship. There were hundreds of bikes with perhaps 80% turning down Canterbury street on their way to the dockyard. I actually lived in Cleave road. Doodlebugs I remember very well, right from the first to arrive, cheering thinking it was a bomber in the process of being shot down. One in particular as I was coming up Canterbury street about quarter past nine on my way home from night school just beside the old Municipal buildings by Gillingham park when I heard one approaching very loud, the whole sky was lighting up. Eventually I saw it very low over the park. I thought it would strike the tower on the buildings, so dropped my bike and got in the gutter covering the back of my head with my hands. The noise was making my chest throb. as it went over I looked up and saw the jet pipe was riddled with bullet holes with flames spurting out. Then it looked as if it was going to hit the Jezreels tower, but it cleared that. It must have been a bit higher than it seemed. Then the engine cut, followed seconds later by the explosion. It had ended up  in Haigh Avenue Rochester.
Another one gave my pal the fright of his life, he had been courting on the Darland Banks when this one cut out and blew up just below him, he remebers it rattling his trouser legs. When we went up next day looking for parts it had mad a crater no more the nine inches deep and was roughly30 yards from where they lay, he was saved by the curvature of the hill.  
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Aspidestra on May 11, 2010, 22:54:45
You mentioned the Morrison shelter, we had one and I thought it was great especially in winter as you turned in at night in a warm living room with the cosy glow of the fire embers (no central heating then)
until one night I thought what happened if we had bomb damage and we were showered with hot coals!
Along the top sides were a series of bolts with a spacer and washer, and after you got in you just lifted the side and hooked it over. It made a super base for my train set. 
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: ellenkate on May 12, 2010, 09:17:50

I can just remember our Morrison shelter, which we had our meals off, and getting into it, and all I thought did it feel like this to be a chicken in a run! with the wire across the front. (I love chickens - miss mine).    And the very long  bakelite "shade" over what looked like a torch bulb, giving a tiny light.
And packets of dried egg - excellent for cooking so mother used to say -  were the packets khaki colour or was this my imagination... (everything seemed khaki during the war )....   and cotton bags with flour in (blue?) which grandma always washed and saved to make into things, like drawstring bags.

Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on May 12, 2010, 12:49:05
Aspidestra, I've discovered that, in 1937, there were 6 shops between the Ashtree pub and what was then a Girls' Training Home, which must be the house that I worked from, probably having been requisitioned by the RE's. It seems to have been where the far end of the present parade of about 10 shops is - so much for my memory of it being next to the pub! Does this refresh your memory?
See Reply#17 of http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=6511.msg52864#new.

Re the V1s: They were programmed to go into a dive after a pre-set distance had been covered, when negative G forces caused the engine to cut and there was only about 5 seconds of silence before the bang, and that was bad enough. But because it was designed to last for only one flight of about 30 minutes the engine often failed prematurely and the V1 would sometimes glide for quite some time and that was really nerve-wracking, especially if the sound was still getting louder when the engine stopped! I think the first one recovered intact had glided to a perfect landing in an open field.

For the pundits, the official designation for the V1 was Fieseler Fi103, and the engine was the Argus 109.

                           (http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/Pulse_Jet_Engine1-1-1.png)

The combustion occurred at about 43Hz (hence the'motor-bike' sound) and the failure was caused by the shutters falling to pieces. It could not develop enough thrust until it had sufficient forward speed, so it had to be launched by catapult or in the air.

Ellenkate, when I was in the RAF in 1952 I used to call at a farm near my unit to purchase fresh eggs before coming home on weekend leave, because they were still almost unobtainable for normal townies. And that was 7 years after the war ended - in some ways there were more shortages then than during the war! I think we used to preserve the eggs in a bucket of 'isinglass', whatever that was. Does anyone remember?
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: seafordpete on May 12, 2010, 14:11:43
Water glass, sodium siicate, seals the egg making it airtight . Isinglas is an extract from fish swimbladders (originally sturgeon but now various)  used to clarify wine & beers- who the hell thought of doing that?
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: stewyrey on May 12, 2010, 14:37:27

Morrison shelter.

I think this is it,

(http://i737.photobucket.com/albums/xx17/stewyrey/morrisonshelter.jpg)

  stewyrey.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on May 12, 2010, 16:26:37
It took up a lot of space in an ordinary sized living room. I imagine that nowadays, with the H&S regulations, you'd have to wear a hard hat in case you tried to sit up in bed :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: ellenkate on May 12, 2010, 18:31:40
Thanks peterchall, seafordpete, stewyrey  -
   -- yes that was a Morrison shelter, and top and frame were indeed very hard.
    Re eggs, my parents kept a few chickens in the 50s, in a run in the back garden, and then after I moved down to Kent I kept free-range bantams, silkies and Marons, and hatched some new ones most years.     In the 50s, I remember my grandma using waterglass as she called it in a tall terra-cotta panshion, to preserve eggs for the winter, when the hens were not laying, waterglass looked like a thick clear gelatin.   Also I think she salted runner beans down in similar panshion for the winter (no freezers then!) and of course French beans were dried and stored in jars.   She made jars and jars of blackberry and apple jelly, after our days out to an isolated cut down woodland she knew, with 6 buckets to fill with blackberries, four of us in an old car borrowed from a friend.   With the usual flasks and sandwiches.
     Father had the (obligatory) allotment during the war and grew lots of veg which was most useful, roots, greens and salads - I remember taking a (washing up) bowl of salad around to a group of soldiers billeted in a new (empty) house near us, and all they had between them was one fork to eat it with.  As there was no furniture in the house I picture them all sat up the stairs.  "Dig for Victory" campaign meant that shortage of supplies was not nearly so devastating as the First War Was (so he said),  but manageable.
   After the butterfly bombs fell in Grimsby I was only allowed to walk down the path of the allotment, not to wander into the greenery.  And our house metal railings had been taken off for the War Effort.    Father, a skilled engineer, worked on damaged blood-stained warships at the Graving Dock, Immingham during the war and worked long hours, in dark difficult conditions and he never would talk about what he saw on the damaged ships.
He was in the AFS, (have a photo of him in uniform), did fire-watching etc. and attended the Home Guard (but only a few times due to his long working hours).  When I was young I didn't see him very often because he left the house early and returned late, I remember him usually getting washed stood at the kitchen sink, surrounded by black and white tiles, with his Lifebuoy soap and the noise of the Rolls-Razor on the strop.    
   Mother had her own hairdressing business including a mens' department  - the latter was depleted due to men going into the services, and then all her girls went, leaving only one apprentice and herself and she sold the business after the war ended.  How times have changed!

Ellenkate

Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Aspidestra on May 18, 2010, 10:59:00
I have just read the comments on trams in Medway, I was lucky to have ridden these trams up to the age of about five. To me they were an exciting ride especially when they got a lick on along Dock road, clattering and clanking, swaying about, before slowing down at St Mary's church on approaching the Town Hall, where we got off to visit my Grandma's in the Brook, almost next to the Stonemasons building and just before Fair Row. We always rode on top, and they were all open deck, four wheel types. The seats were of the slatted type with the back rest reversible so you could always face in the direction of travel. In wet weather there was a canvas sort of apron you could pull up to your necks and hook on to a couple of projections on the top of the back rest so protecting most of you with your face uncovered. Up there you had a grandstand view of the conductor changing the pick up round for the return journey. One time we travelled over to the Town Hall in a real pea souper of a fog, not like today's varietie's with the conductor walking in front with a flaming brand and the driver constantly clanging his bell. This time we chose to ride inside so I could watch it being driven, using the two levers controlling the rheostats and brake  living in Albany road Gillingham at the time we caught the tram at Livingstone Circus  
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Aspidestra on May 19, 2010, 22:41:51
  (http://i765.photobucket.com/albums/xx292/ASPIDESTRA/Kent%20History/37shrapnel.jpg)
 I thought these illustrations might help members who are not familiar with AA shrapnel.  Most of it is from  a 3.7" AA gun, the nose cone (top left) weighs about 1lb. I am not 100% certain regarding the V1 injector
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Paul on May 20, 2010, 13:42:32
Nice collection :)

I think the Fuel Injector would have a part number on it?
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Aspidestra on May 20, 2010, 21:16:40
It was very rusty but on emerying the large end face some numbers showed up. As far as I can make out they are   14 II AP4   3G, and on the opposite side   264
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on May 30, 2010, 17:39:20
I mentioned in my opening post about standing in the garden talking to neighbours....then there was one advantage of the blackout that you don't get today - no lights! The result was the astonishing display of stars you could see. If you haven't already done it, get to some completely dark place on a clear moonless night; I think you will only gaze in wonder at the sight of the sky.
I know this is not WW2, but an article in todays 'Sunday Telegraph' rates Romney Marsh as the 5th best place in the UK for stargazing. It recommends taking a deckchair. It lists coming meteor showers as 22 June - 2 July: 28-29 July: late July - 12 August. Make sure you go on a moonless night, of course.
Speaking from my 65-70 year old memories, I can thoroughly recommend it.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Maid of Kent on June 01, 2010, 16:07:59
As it is raining this afternoon I have been able to sit and read, fairly carefully all that has been writen in this topic so far and to say it has jogged some memories and confirmed others.

Yes, Peter you are quite right I do remember the war. Although I was only 3 years and 6months old 'the day war broke out' so many memories seem to be seared into my brain, but where do I begin for this topic. The beginning, I suppose. But you must all remember that 'My War' is seen through the eyes of a younger child.

A little back ground - I was in Cumberland on holiday when war was declared, came south to Whitstable at Chris
tmas, and then to  Lower Rainham in time for the Battle of Britain.

How exciting! How fascinating! Sitting outside the scullery door on the mounting block (now gone) in the hot sunshine watching this marvellous aerial ballet going on over my head, planes weaving and diving and climbing, leaving contrails of white, grey and  and now and again round puffs of smoke appearing amongst it all. My own very private airshow. How long I was there, some time I imagine, when all of a sudden I was grabbed by my Aunt and hauled indoors as it was dangerous because of the shrapnell, whatever that was. I hadn't seen any! I was most miffed.
 But some small children donot have any concept of fear. I suppose it is how it portrayed. Generally I had more trouble with the Witches in Wizard of Oz and Snow White than I did with the war - though there were moments. There was one occasion when I was out in the front orchard when I heard soldiers marching along, turning up the lane so I ran to wave and HORROR!!!! They waved back, their Swastika Arm Bands showing. I nearly died of fright , running and stumbling to tell my Mother that the Germans were here. She was able to reassure me they were just pretending.I dont think I knew about differences in uniform colours. I didnt know grown-ups played war games too! I cant put a date to that incident.
 

Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Paul on June 01, 2010, 20:27:03
It was very rusty but on emerying the large end face some numbers showed up. As far as I can make out they are   14 II AP4   3G, and on the opposite side   264

It looks possible :) fuel injector nozzle, Kraftstoff Duse = Fuel Nozzle

(http://i297.photobucket.com/albums/mm223/Paulwp/gh308a_b.jpg)

Theres a pic here  http://www.zenza.se/vw/vw%20bilder/vw0014bb.jpg
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Bryn Clinch on August 15, 2010, 15:38:14
The lack of bananas, oranges, etc. during WW2 brought back memories of my mother making `mock banana`. Parsnips were boiled until soft and then mashed with banana essence and sugar added. A sandwich was then made with one slice of bread and margerine spread with the mock banana and the other with Marmite. At Sunday School parties these sandwiches were the kids favourite. Most people find this concoction revolting but I still have the occasional banana and Marmite sandwich today. I often wonder where this recipe originated or whether it was Mum`s own.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on August 15, 2010, 20:30:15
I did a bit of surfing but couldn't find any reference to mock banana in WW2, but there is a modern mock banana pie made with real bananas. I found mention of a recipe (but not the recipe itself) for 'squirrel tail pie' - the mind boggles!!!

I also found this website that I think is interesting: http://www.ukhomefront.co.uk/6.html
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Robin on August 15, 2010, 21:18:53
During the war, we had a local butcher come round with a mobile shop, one of the items that I remember my mother buying from him occasionaly was a rabbit, this was a delicasy.  Not having eaten rabbit since the war, I was at the County Show recently, and on one of the stands selling Kentish produce was a rabbit cut into portions, so I got one and made a casserole, I am no Jamie Oliver, but it was excellent.

Robin.   
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Robin on August 15, 2010, 21:38:55
Seeing the photograph from Aspidestra of the shrapnel reminded me of of my father who was a policeman during the war, he used to bring bomb fragments home when he had been on duty during a raid, I remember that the edges of these pieces of shrapnel were like razor blades.  My mother used to wrap the pieces in newspaper, and I was forbidden to touch them in case I cut myself.  I often wondered what happened to them, and I shudder to think what it would have been like to have been hit by a fragment.

Robin. 
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on August 15, 2010, 22:46:48
I've just realised that today is the 70th anniversary of the first 'big' event that I remember of the Battle of Britain.

About 4pm the sirens went followed by the sound of aircraft. Nothing unusual in that because up to that time any planes were usually just passing over, and my mother and I went into the garden. A formation of planes was approaching from the south and there was the sudden crash of bombs and guns; we dashed indoors and down the cellar. It turned out to be the attack on the Short's factory at Rochester Airport, when the Stirling bomber production line was destroyed. The book 'Front Line County' says there were 18 Dorniers but, from the awesome noise, I thought it was the whole Luftwaffe.

It was the day that Fred's uncle scared the wits out of me, Fred being a German whose uncle was on the raid. See:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=4665.msg41737#msg41737 Reply#9

We heard that some stray bombs had dropped on Delce Road, Rochester, and Mum and I went to see a friend of hers who lived there. It was the first bomb damage I had seen, although only some broken windows and slates off. If anyone saw the program 'Heroes of Biggin Hill' on the 'Yesterday' channel the other night, they may remember mention of how German raids were clearly divided into morning and afternoon events, with an apparent knocking off at lunch and tea time, and this is an aspect that I remember. However, on this day the Luftwaffe did some overtime and came back in the early evening, while we were with mum's friend. Although nothing happened I remember it as an example of people inviting passers-by into their shelters, but I think we became a bit more blase as time went on.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: afsrochester on August 15, 2010, 23:06:18
I?ve just realised that today is the 70th anniversary of the first ?big? event that I remember of the Battle of Britain.

We were lucky enough to have 2 visits from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at the Combined Ops weekend at Headcorn. What a magnificent sound the Rolls Royce Merlin engine produces! Makes the hairs on my neck stand on end everytime I hear it.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Leofwine on August 15, 2010, 23:46:06
The best Merlin roar was from the Mustang on its low level high speed blast along the length of the Runway - very impressive!

(and what a great sound it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2nlGN6aS8g)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on August 16, 2010, 17:31:36
The Me109s and He111s often shown in today's newsreels as BoB shots, are actually from the film 'Battle of Britain' and were hired from the Spanish Air Force. The irony is that thay were fitted with Merlin engines!!
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on August 17, 2010, 13:01:11
I thought it would be interesting to compare how events were reported at the time with post-war records.

                    This is how the Daily Telegraph reported the BoB events of 16 August 1940 (from today's Telegraph):
                    (http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/img128.jpg)

                    This is reproduced from 'The Narrow Margin' by Wood & Dempster:
                
   (http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/img129.jpg)

Apologies for the quality of the 2nd report, but to summarize:
At the time it was reported that 71 German planes were destroyed, for the loss of 18 RAF fighters and 8 pilots.

'The Narrow Margin' states that 45 German planes were destroyed, for the loss of 22 RAF fighters and 8 pilots, plus the loss of over 50 aircraft destroyed on the ground, and many more damaged, although most were not fighters. The fact that 46 aircraft  of 2SFTS were destroyed in the hangars must say something about 'security' at that station!
 
Interestingly, the attack that the Telegraph reported on Eastbourne is not mentioned in 'The Narrow Margin'.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on August 17, 2010, 15:44:37
The book 'Battle of Britain - The Jubilee History' gives more details of the raid on Brize Norton. The Airspeed Oxford trainers of 2 Service Flying Training School had received their daily inspections and been refuelled for next days flying and put into the hangars (9-5 hours even at that stage of the war!). In the evening 2 Ju88s appeared, lowered their undercarriages, and made a landing approach. They were not challenged and at the last moment raised their wheels and dropped 32 bombs on the hangars, destroying 46 Oxfords. Due to earlier damage to the radar stations their presence inland was not known and the ROC was not tracking them, so not a shot was fired at them the whole time they were over England.

Because the masts generally appeared undamaged and they were usually back on air quickly, the Lufwaffe didn't appreciate how vulnerable we were immediately following attacks on radar stations. If they had put on a mass raid that evening, instead of a sneak raid by just 2 aircraft, the consequences don't bear thinking about.

A further example of how chance can have an undue influence was the case of a 266 Squadron pilot whose body was washed up on the French coast. Against all regulations he was carrying an unposted letter to his parents describing how he had been bombed at Eastchurch, causing the Germans to conclude that this was a fighter station instead of a Coastal Command station, when in fact he had been caught there while on a temporary stop. Consequently many tons of bombs were, from the BoB viewpoint, wasted on this airfield. Thus did a breach of discipline turn to our advantage.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: moggyrud on August 17, 2010, 18:27:10
l have enjoyed reading your memories of ww11 in chatham.l wonder if you have any memories of the Empire Theatre? l recently read the will of my 2xgrt aunt.....Beatrice Wilson...and at her death in 1941 it said that she lived there. Is that possible? Was there living accommadation? l read what you said about the air-raids and wondered if perhaps she had been injured orkilled in one. l would be very interested in any memories that you or anyone else might have of the theatre and/or of my aunt.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on August 17, 2010, 20:34:52
The Chatham Empire was a 'music hall' type theatre with a cinema underneath it, called the 'Picture House'. I don't know if it had accomodation but it could possibly have had a flat for the manager, etc. I can say that the Empire survived the war, so if your aunt died there it was not due to an air-raid.

I'm sure there is more information on the Forum, and I'll look to see what I can find.  

In the meantime you might lilke to look at the photos in this link. I've started at No25. No27 shows the Empire with the Picture House entance next door, although the cinema itself was underneath the Empire, reached down a long corridor. Photos from No31 show some Empire programmes:
http://cityark.medway.gov.uk/query/results/?Mode=ShowImg&Img=/cityark/Scans/Unofficial_or_Privately_Originated_Collections/DE0402_Couchman_ephemera_and_MSS_/DE0402_15.html/DE402_15_18.jpg

Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: afsrochester on August 17, 2010, 20:51:45
I heard over the weekend that someone is going to re-make the film " The Battle of Britain."
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on August 17, 2010, 21:29:03
It'll probably be one of those re-writes of history that sets out to prove:
(a)it didn't actually happen, or
(b)if it did happen, the RAF did it all wrong, or
(c)if the RAF didn't do it wrong, we shouldn't have fought the battle anyway because some innocent people got hurt.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: moggyrud on August 17, 2010, 21:34:39
Thank you for that. l will look at the photos. So....if the Empire wasn't hit then she wasn't  injured there! She actually was on the music halls herself....with her sister...my grt gran.....and in the 1901 census she was down as an actress......so l wasn't surprised to find her at a theatre!! l did try to find an obituary or something...but couldn't. It's hard for me to do lookups at librarys as l don't live in kent.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on August 17, 2010, 22:19:48
PS to previous but 1 reply. Possibilty (b) has actually happened to some extent. Keith Park, AOC 11 Group that bore the brunt of the battle, was criticised for sending his squadrons into action in 'penny packets'. This led to a dispute with 12 Group, to the north, which often took time to assemble its squadrons into big wings, even while 11 Group was sometimes pleading "we want help NOW!" This culminated in the unedifying event portrayed in the film, where Douglas Bader, a Squadron Leader in 12 Group, was allowed to argue in a meeting with Keith Park, an Air Vice-Marshall. Whatever happened behind the scenes may never be known, but ACM Dowding was 'rested' soon after the battle and was never given another operational command. The next C-in-C of Fighter Command was Leigh-Mallory, previously AOC 12 Group, who supported Bader's 'Big Wing' theories. These theories proved successful when the RAF took the fight over the channel in 1941, because there was plenty of time to assemble the formations. Hence Bader was supposedly vindicated and Park was given a job in Training Command and later made AOC Egyptian air defences..

Re the new film: If the Americans are going to make it there is a 4th possibility. Guess what that is :).

Moggyrud, there are members of the forum who know more than me about researching details of individual persons, and I expect someone will be able to help you. The other info I promised is 'in the oven'.

PC
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Leofwine on August 18, 2010, 00:55:00

Re the new film: If the Americans are going to make it there is a 4th possibility. Guess what that is :).


I thought everybody already knew that the few American pilots in Britain single handedly won the Battle of Britain. It must be true, it was in the Pearl Harbour film....
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on August 18, 2010, 10:01:13
It'll have a short battle.... great big love scene in the middle where the American gets the girl and a battle at the end.....  :)

And where would they get the planes from to make a new film today?

There was a film shown during the war called "A Yank in the RAF" starring Errol Flynn, during which his bomber over Germany (a Lockheed Hudson!!!) on a leaflet dropping mission, was caught in searchlights; he dealt with this by throwing the still tied-up bundles down the searchlight beams - I kid you not. I think there was an outcry that such rubbish was shown in British cinemas during wartime; the worrying thing was that it would have been shown elsewhere in the world. And I think Errol Flynn also won the war in Burma.

However, we must be fair. Seven US pilots flew in the BoB. Regulations prohibited enlistment of nationals from neutral nations, so most of these claimed to be, and were accepted as, Canadians. The most famous was Pilot Officer Billy Fiske of 601 (County of London) Squadron, who claimed one kill before crashing on 16 August 1940 and dying next day.

Eventually 3 'Eagle' squadrons were formed in Fighter Command, made up of American (or 'Canadian, etc') pilots, before the US entered the war, and I don't think any of them claimed to have 'won the war'.

There was a British film, I think called "The Way to the Stars", starring John Mills et al, that included a much more true to life portrayal of the US Air Force in the UK.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on August 18, 2010, 11:55:09
Back to Moggyruds query about the Empire.
There's some photos of the Empire here, at Replies#6 & 9: http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=2348.0
I have 2 specific memories of the Empire. (a) Being in the Picture House on 7 September 1940 (see Reply#3 of this thread), (b) passing the Empire with my Mum and Gran when a man came out and asked directions to somewhere. We realised afterwards that he was one of the Crazy Gang ? does anyone remember them?

As a publican after the war, my dad got two free tickets a week for displaying Empire posters in the bar, and a mate and I generally used those. Occasionally there was a so-called 'strip-show', where the curtains opened to reveal some girls in static pose (and little else), but before our eyes could pop out of our heads the curtains closed again. So it went on for a dozen or so poses, each having a title such as 'The Waterfall' or 'The Flower'.

So thanks, Moggyrud, for reviving memories of my youth. :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: moggyrud on August 18, 2010, 18:07:12
Thank you for those memories!! According to my dad she was quite a girl.....and perhaps she was in the theatre in 1940! l know that she wasn't married to the man she was with....a William Cutler......but that she might have gone by his name...Beatrice Cutler. Might be one of those things in life that l will never know. l am actually waiting for her death certificate to come back...so may find out more. She had lived in battersea as a child....so may have moved out to run the Empire.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Leofwine on August 18, 2010, 18:53:31
Some films should just never be re-made.  BOB is one of them.

I agree completely, although a digital remaster where they put proper Me-109 and He-111 engine sounds over the Merlins the Spanish Air-force aircraft they used in the film would be a nice improvement! :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on August 18, 2010, 20:47:21
But they couldn't hide those deep 'chin' radiators which didn't look right on the Me109s and He111s.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Bryn Clinch on November 04, 2010, 09:50:51
The Chatham Empire was a 'music hall' type theatre with a cinema underneath it, called the 'Picture House'. I don't know if it had accomodation but it could possibly have had a flat for the manager, etc. I can say that the Empire survived the war, so if your aunt died there it was not due to an air-raid.

I'm sure there is more information on the Forum, and I'll look to see what I can find.  

In the meantime you might lilke to look at the photos in this link. I've started at No25. No27 shows the Empire with the Pictu
re House entance next door, although the cinema itself was underneath the Empire, reached down a long corridor. Photos from No31 show some Empire programmes:
http://cityark.medway.gov.uk/query/results/?Mode=ShowImg&Img=/cityark/Scans/Unofficial_or_Privately_Originated_Collections/DE0402_Couchman_ephemera_and_MSS_/DE0402_15.html/DE402_15_18.jpg

I`ve just been looking at picture No.25 showing the full length picture of Florrie Forde on a Chatham Theatre. I assume it is Barnard`s not the Empire. I have a recording of her singing "Swing me up a little bit higher, Obadiah, do" on a very fragile cylinder. Apparently a number one hit of that era. I remember my father playing it on an old machine which I still have but, unfortunately, the spring has broken. It starts with a very `crackly` voice saying "this is an Edison Belle recording". I ought to have the machine restored!



Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Guest on November 04, 2010, 12:22:02
I have just sat and read right through this from start to finish and can only thank all those who have contributed first-hand memories, especially Peterchall, from the bottom of my heart and urge anyone with personal memories from WW2 to write them down, either here on the Forum, or on paper which is then given to the local museum or reference library. Personal memories, although perhaps not always as accurate as accounts gathered from official documents and contemporary newspapers, are so much more vivid and give far more of an insight into people’s feelings at the time.

I can contribute very little to this, and that at second-hand because I was born in 1947, but it was sparked by the Google Earth map of where the first V1 came down on London, practically on the junction of Antil Rd and Grove Rd in Bow. It always sends a bit of a shiver up my spine when I see, or hear, this spot mentioned because my mother’s elder sister (Auntie Barb) lived at 108 Antil Rd with her husband, Joe Ruby who was a London postman, and my parents and I usually went and stayed with them for a week in the summer when I was a child. And I loved to stand on that corner and watch the trolleybuses go down the dip in the road under the railway bridge because there were usually sparks from the overhead collectors. The junction was completely empty, as far as buildings were concerned but it never struck me as odd because, after all, Dover was full of empty spaces…

It wasn’t, I think, until I was in my thirties that my mother spoke of it, but she was living with Barb and Joe at the time and heard that V1, and the AA guns, and saw the glow from its tail and the flashes of the AA shells reflected on her ceiling. And she heard the engine stop and grabbed the bedclothes and yanked them up over her head just before there was an almighty bang and the window was blown in, scattering glass all over her bed.
 
Alex Milton, the next-door neighbour who was an electrician (a reserved occupation) dashed off along the road to offer assistance and, apparently was gone for some hours before returning with tears trickling down his face and muttering, “Those poor kids,” over and over.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: ellenkate on November 06, 2010, 17:18:18
Here are a few of my memories:

              My parents and grandparents must have found it very hard to accept another time of war was starting, in the late 30s, after living through the Great War and its devastating effects when shoretages of food and clothing were severe and so many men died.      It meant sticking rigidly to wartime regulations, rations, make-do-and-mend, dig-for-victory,  and raising money for "the war effort" whenever possible;   coping with the stressful effects of air-raids, husbands away fighting and families more isolated due to restrictions on travel.   However, community life prospered and the ethics and importance of "helping others"  gathered momentum in everyone's neighbourhood, and increased over the populace in general.    Sometimes people made their fortunes in these difficult times, providing a much-needed necessity or service, but all had to work hard to survive.  Women took on new work in factories, making armaments, uniforms, and in farming, doing many jobs of the absent men.    

        I have some very clear memories of my parents first house.    It cost about ?300 and he bought it new when they married.     It was semi-detached and had a "half-circle"  wooden deco porch at the front door, and metal railings around the front garden, with a metal gate.  After only a few years, because of the need for raw materials for armaments,  railings including ours were burnt off and carted away on lorries, to go towards the  manufacture of armaments.    I remember mother held some kind of sale (on table in front garden) "for the war effort", and made treacle toffee, sold magazines, vegetables from the allotment,  and other things given by neighbours.    In the hall, on the newel post at the foot of the stairs was a metal 'deco'  nude lady, elegantly balancing with her hand on a ball, with feet upwards!  
  
     One day I was given a little "fairy cycle", with two wheels, the frame was a plum colour, and in those days we never had anything new. I thought it was wonderful.   I had had a tricycle for some time.   I learned to ride the fairy cycle along the road in front of our house - not many people had cars then, and especially not during the war when petrol was rationed and only essential journeys were done in private cars.   Cycles and shanks's pony were the main means of mobility.

Father knew all about cars, having served his apprenticeship in mechanical engineering;  when young he worked on hundreds of "Model T Fords" and knew car engines backwards.    When first married he worked, 5 minutes from tour home, and very near to mother's shop, the garage specialised in Humbers, Wolseleys and Morris cars.    When we were out in the town, if he saw a car could tell you who owned it - there were so few cars on the road.  And most were black.

      Working at Immingham Docks during the war, he left home at about 5.30am to get a bus to Corporation Road, then a tram to Immingham Graving Dock, and got back home after 6.30 and often later.   He worked on repairs to war-ships which came back into Grimsby damaged and blood-stained.  Working in cramped, hot and cold conditions, there were things he would not talk about.   He returned home about 6.30 or much later in the evenings so I didn't see him very often because of his long working hours.  But I do remember him washing at our kitchen sink, with his Lifebuoy soap, and the noise of the Rolls-Razor being worked.    I was a little bit nervous and frightened of him and regarded him as being the boss and rather strict.   His parents were disciplinarians and there was never any excuse for bad behaviour, bad language or not "pulling your weight" or "working hard".  The family were always very critical - one of the family traits.  

       "Dad's Army", or the Home Guard, didn't feature highly in father's life, he was only able to attend their meetings a few times because of his long working hours at the docks.   At the second meeting the man in charge brought father a "stripe" to add to his uniform - " I'm going now, I'll leave you in charge, and take the men through their drill"  he said to father.  Father knew absolutely nothing about drill or how to load or put a gun together.    After a few sessions, his work at the docks long hours prevented him from attending more of the Home Guard meetings.  I can just remember seeing his uniform in the wardrobe, and mother saying, after the war,  it had to be returned.   Father was also on rotas for fire-watching duties, and was in the AFS, the Auxiliary Fire Service.  I have a photo of him in uniform.  

more later...

Ellenkate
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Bryn Clinch on November 06, 2010, 18:09:45
My Ration Book, Identity Card, Gas Mask and the pre-WW2 Phonograph which my Dad brought out at Christmas to amuse us. Fortunately we didn`t suffer any gas attacks as I believe these gas masks would have been useless. Has anyone got a Mickey Mouse Gas Mask? They were issued to the very young children.
I think I saw the Doodlebug which came down on the railway bridge near Rainham. I can remember seeing it and a Spitfire. I stood in the middle of the road watching whilst Mum came running down the road to get me in as I was quite oblivious of any danger.
 
(http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff426/bryn2/100_0262.jpg)
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(http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff426/bryn2/100_0263.jpg)

(http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff426/bryn2/100_0265.jpg)

(http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff426/bryn2/100_0264.jpg)







Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: busyglen on November 07, 2010, 16:58:43
I've still got my Identity Card.  :)

Regarding the Mickey Mouse Gas Mask, my baby brother had one (I think it was red) but goodness knows what happened to it after the War.  I hated gas masks as they smelt of rubber.  It also reminds me of when I had my tonsils out when I was 10 years old.  When they put the mask over my face for the anaesthetic I struggled as it reminded me of the gas mask!
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on November 07, 2010, 17:09:02
Wasn't there a gas mask for babies-in-arms that was like a carry-cot with a gas mask built into its cover - it didn't actually fit over the child's face? Was that the 'Mickey-Mouse' mask?

We were told to test our masks by putting something over the end to block it. If you could still breathe the mask wasn't fitted properly. But I don't remember carrying them after the first few months of the war.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: busyglen on November 07, 2010, 17:20:18
Wasn't there a gas mask for babies-in-arms that was like a carry-cot with a gas mask built into its cover - it didn't actually fit over the child's face? Was that the 'Mickey-Mouse' mask?

We were told to test our masks by putting something over the end to block it. If you could still breathe the mask wasn't fitted properly. But I don't remember carrying them after the first few months of the war.

I may be wrong, but I thought the small red mask was Mickey Mouse, which my 1 year old brother had.  We all had plain brown ones.  I have heard somewhere that there was something for babes in arms, but am not sure what it was.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on November 07, 2010, 18:05:29
Some questions are answered here.

The first one shown, with the double eyepieces, was issued to the Civil Defence. The others are all labelled. The one the lady is wearing is not the basic civvy one - that didn't have a separate 'flap' for breathing out - that was done as described above the picture. I think the second of the Army Gas Masks was German - British ones had a separate canister. I wonder if the one in the link is British, and I can't see how it was closed at the bottom.

http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/Homework/war/gasmasks.htm
Gas was the WW2 equivalent of the nuclear deterrent, neither side used it for fear of retaliation.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Bryn Clinch on November 07, 2010, 18:44:49
I've still got my Identity Card.  :)

Regarding the Mickey Mouse Gas Mask, my baby brother had one (I think it was red) but goodness knows what happened to it after the War.  I hated gas masks as they smelt of rubber.  It also reminds me of when I had my tonsils out when I was 10 years old.  When they put the mask over my face for the anaesthetic I struggled as it reminded me of the gas mask!

I had exactly the same experience when I had my tonsils out in the `old` Maidstone Hospital. That smell of the rubber mask I shall never forget. Wh
en they put the mask on me I fought like a tiger and managed to rip it off three times before I succumbed.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: busyglen on November 08, 2010, 11:37:46
Ah, so it was the red one....I didn't know what it was called back then, too young to know.

Strangely enough Bryn Clinch, exactly the same thing happened to me when I had my tonsils out when I was ten years old.  :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on November 08, 2010, 12:08:34
You mention women in the Home Guard, and I think I've heard about that before, but don't know where they served. Do you know any details?
Peter

Peter
Although women had been unofficially helping out in the Home Guard virtually since its inception, from April 20th 1943 a limited number of women were formally accepted for a range of duties including driving, operating telephones and clerical duties. The only uniform issued to the Home Guard Women's Auxiliary sections (as they were known) appears to have been a plastic badge!  
regards
Ian

Did anyone see the TV programme 'Apocalypse; WW2 in Colour' the other evening?

It stated that women joined the Home Guard and showed them in battledress with 'Home Guard' shoulder flashes. They were wearing P-40 pattern battledress with the buttons exposed, which was not issued until 1942 (earlier battledress had the buttons covered by a fly), so this dates the shots. Another sequence showed women doing arms drill; they were in civvies, which suggests the early part of the war.

Another shot showed Chelsea Pensioners, in their red uniforms, stating they also joined the Home Guard. I suppose it's possible, but?..!?

I recorded the programme and have just had another look at it to confirm what I saw.

This is a copy from the Home Guard entry in Wikepedia:
The Home Guard did not, initially, admit women to its ranks.
Some women formed their own groups like the Amazon Defence Corps. Later a more organised but still unofficial Women's Home Defence (WHD) formed with many groups across the country. Limited female involvement was permitted later on the understanding that these would be in traditional female support roles and not in any way seen as combatants.


It seems we live and learn.

Incidentally, recent repeats of 'Dad's Army' episodes are about the unit's formation in 1940. Yet they are shown wearing P-40 battledress. But then I suppose I'm a pedantic old b****r.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Leofwine on November 08, 2010, 12:59:39

Incidentally, recent repeats of ?Dad?s Army? episodes are about the unit?s formation in 1940. Yet they are shown wearing P-40 battledress. But then I suppose I?m a pedantic old b****r.


I'm sure I remember reading somewhere that their uniforms were copied from photos of the Chatham Home Guard, right down to the unit insignia, even though they are nominally on the south coast in Sussex.  But who cares, it's still a great series!
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on November 08, 2010, 15:19:43
The cap badge is that of the Royal West Kent Regiment, but I don't know what the sleeve insignia under the 'Home Guard' flash signifies.

Agreed that it is a great series and I laugh as much as anyone else at their antics, but I sometimes worry that people who are less interested than KHF members will take it as a true representation, and not realise they would have been the first line of defence against an experienced and well-equipped enemy, and became professional enough to run AA batteries. While not an 'operational' duty, they were considered good enough to mount guard at Buckingham Palace on the anniversaries of their formation, on 20th May 1941 and 20th May 1943.

There's some info about WHD here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/23885771@N03/3697134339/
Note that it says they were not issued with uniforms, so who were the women in the 'Apocalypse' film with 'Home Guard' shoulder flashes?

Apparently the Amazon Defence Corps was organised by Marjorie Foster, a champion target shooter, in London. It was a 'private army' that may even have had its own uniform, but was always regarded as illegal and never supported by the British authorities.


Incidentally, my daughter's partner's father was a POW with Clive Dunn (Corporal Jones); apparently he was much the same character in real life and did a lot to organise entertainment and maintain morale.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on November 20, 2010, 21:39:04
Ref Replies#137 & 138: I've just watched an episode of 'Dad's Army', and the  sleeve insigna of the unit is CP1. The Royal West Kent badge is, of course, well known, but has the sleeve insignia any basis in reality, and if so what does it signify? 
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on December 29, 2010, 20:13:24
I've just been reminded by BBC News that tonight is the 70th anniversary of what came to be called the 'Second Great Fire of London' (not New-Year's Eve as I originally posted). So far as the Medway Towns were concerned it was a 'normal' night of the Blitz, with the occasional enemy plane passing over, and it wasn't until my father went outside and called "come and look at this" that we realised there was anything unusual. The sky in the direction of London, 30 miles away, was brilliant red, which could be seen above the rooftops even from Ross Street, Rochester, in the 'valley' of Troy Town. We thought that somewhere near, like Gravesend, must have 'copped it'; not till next day did we learn that it was London.

Being a Sunday the City was mostly deserted, so many fires went unnoticed until too late, and it was the night that the famous photo of St Paul?'rising above the flames was taken.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Bryn Clinch on December 30, 2010, 10:00:47
Possibly on the same night as the `second great fire of London` when the skies were red over Medway, the skies over Sittingbourne were ablaze. It is believed that an enemy bomber, with unused incendiary bombs aboard, ditched the whole lot over Sittingbourne  on his way home. They fell on the Methodist Church, where I was baptised, and totally destroyed it. I remember, as a very young child, emerging from the air raid shelter and seeing the crimson skies above and later being told the the Methodist Church had taken a direct hit. My Grandad took me to see the devastation the following morning. The church had disappeared. On second thoughts, I don`t think it could have been the same night as the`second great fire of London`, probably nearer the end of the war. There is a picture of the church on the Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne (HRGS).

www.hrgs.co.uk

(http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff426/bryn2/100_0287.jpg)

Interior 1930s

(http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff426/bryn2/100_0286.jpg)

Rebuilt church on the same site, mid 1950s





  
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on December 30, 2010, 10:32:48
I don't think it was the same night. I remember a glow in the sky towards Sittingbourne one night and talking about it with schoolmates the next day at Rochester Tech School, and I didn't start there until September 1941, although it may not be the same incident as Bryn's. As an indication of the increasing effectiveness of our defences, and hence the likelihood of a damaged bomber dumping his bombs, I think the following figures are amazing: Between mid-November 1940 and end February 1941, the Luftwaffe lost 75 aircraft in raids on the UK; in the first half of May 1941, when the Blitz virtually ceased, it lost 127.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Dovorian on February 09, 2011, 16:22:51
Loved this forum and can relate to all the comments made.
Did all of those things earlier in the 40's whilst dodging the shells, bombs and dive bombers that regularly visited Hell Fire Corner in WW11.
My mates and I did our bit for the war effort (we were 9 & 10 at the time) by targeting Messerschitts and mentally shooting them down from the back of my dads redundant Jowet van that he kept in the back yard for spares.
The old van had a canvas roof through which we poked broom handles and we made the obligatory rat a tat tat sounds as we gleefully took aim at the enemy.
Forget your Playstation these sorties were for real.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on March 17, 2011, 12:13:46
Extracts from Daily Telegraph of 17 March 1941:

“From today there will be a total allowance of 1/2lb a month for jam, marmalade, syrup, and treacle.

Poultry: To encourage cutting down of stocks, a step made necessary by lack of feeding stuffs, producers’ prices for boiling fowls are raised today by 2d to 1s 6d a lb, and the new retail price is raised to 1s 10d.

Maximum prices for home-reared chickens weighing not more than 1 1/2lb, rough plucked, trussed, and undressed are fixed at 3s each to producer, 3s 2d wholesale, and 3s 6d retail.

After 3 May, maximum producers’ prices for roasting chickens, ducks, and geese will be reduced to 1s 6d a lb with corresponding reductions in wholesale and retail maximum prices.”


It’s interesting that prices were fixed and I wonder how they were enforced. Poultry would have been beyond the means of the average worker (1s 6d would have been about an hour’s wages), but may not have been rationed. To a person rearing chickens in their garden, it would seem to have been a lucrative business.

Normal meat was rationed to about 1s in value per week (it varied from time to time), and the choice was between a little bit of expensive stuff or more of the cheaper stuff, but I don’t know who decided how much you got for your shilling. I think offal was off ration.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on March 24, 2011, 11:58:34
There are lots of complaints about commuting today. I wonder what it was like then.

From the 'Daily Telegraph' of 24 March 1941:
                (http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/img160.jpg)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on April 23, 2011, 11:29:22
From the 'Daily Telegraph' of 22 April 1941 (Press CTRL & + to enlarge);
                                        (http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/img165.jpg)
The majority of working class people were tenants, so wouldn't have been concerned with this, but it gives a bit more insight into the background of home life in WW2.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on August 05, 2011, 21:27:04
70 years ago Chatham Council published a leaflet advising people to make arrangements in advance to stay with friends or relatives if they were made homeless by an air raid. It suggested that they should leave a spare set of indoor and outdoor clothing at the friend's or family address. Report in this week's Medway News, and seems to have been a local initiative of Chatham Council. I wonder how the advice to deposit clothes was received, because clothes rationing had started a couple of monts earlier.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: ashwood on August 06, 2011, 16:36:21
I lived in Sandwich throughout the war years, being eight years old in 1939. My father a veteran of WW1 scoffed at any idea of shelter, spent the air raids sitting in the garden, oblivious to the bits falling around.  I remember on one occasion a red hot chunk of shrapnel landed less than two feet away from him.  We had several cannon shell holes in the roof from frustrated German pilots.  One evening four bombs landed 100yds up the road. laid on top of the ground like empty bottles.. The plane dropping them flying about 100ft, they didn't have time to land on their nose. Also happy memories of playing with Sten Guns etc at the army camp over the road, (no health and safety thank goodness).Princes Golf Club was used as a training area with live Ammunition,much to the horror of my mother they used to bring me back Thunderflashes, marvelous effect when put under a bucket. Also 303 cartridges, the cordite in them like thin sticks of pasta, at ten years of age I could breakdown a bren gun and put together again. great days.   
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: chenab on September 13, 2011, 10:41:53
Some questions are answered here.

The first one shown, with the double eyepieces, was issued to the Civil Defence. The others are all labelled. The one the lady is wearing is not the basic civvy one - that didn't have a separate 'flap' for breathing out - that was done as described above the picture. I think the second of the Army Gas Masks was German - British ones had a separate canister. I wonder if the one in the link is British, and I can't see how it was closed at the bottom.

http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/Homework/war/gasmasks.htm
Gas was the WW2 equivalent of the nuclear deterrent, neither side used it for fear of retaliation.


Just found this on a google search and joined to comment on this - hope no-one minds.

The second Army Mask is a UK one - it is the later type which were a lot lighter and was initially used by paratroops and other forces before becoming more widely available after the war.

There was a type of civilian one with the same outlet valve as the Civil Defence ones (which is what the lady is wearing) but these were for people with breathing problems - such as Asthma and are very scarce. To be honest I don't think I've ever seen a wartime picture of one.

Tony
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on September 13, 2011, 13:08:10
Just found this on a google search and joined to comment on this - hope no-one minds.
Of course no-one minds – the object of the forum is to share information, and you have answered some of my questions. So many thanks and welcome to the forum :).

While the Topic is open, here are some proposals that the Ministry for War Transport made in September 1941. I've shown to the best of my memory which ones were put into effect, but don't know for sure about them all. However, it gives more background as to what was expected of us in WW2:

1.   Travel Permits for workers and reductions in workmen’s rail fares to relieve pressure on public road transport. (There were no Travel Permits in Medway Towns when I started work in 1944 - PC)
2.   Extending the staggering of working hours. (I think that partially happened in large factories like the Dockyard, Short's, etc - PC)
3.   Manufacture of more buses. (There were new buses with utility bodies and wooden seats - PC)
4.   Release by the army of 700 requisitioned civilian buses.
5.   Early closing of shops and closure of cinemas during peak hours in certain areas, to relieve pressure on public transport.
6.   Institution of minimum bus fares to discourage using buses for short journeys. (It happened on some parts of long distance routes where there was a 'local' route over the same stretch of road, and this still existed post-war - PC)

Efforts were being made to encourage the use of trains instead of buses where possible by raising bus fares to equal train fares, and by employers paying the difference between bus and train fares where the train journey was longer  (some employers were already doing this).
From reproduction of Daily Telegraph of 12/9/1941
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on March 05, 2012, 16:37:55
Reading 'The Real Dad's Army' by Rodney Foster, I've been reminded of another bane of wartime life - from sometime in late 1942 the buses stopped running at 9pm each evening, and didn't start until 1pm on Sundays. It would have been to save fuel and not for public safety, because cinemas, pubs, and dance halls, etc stayed open.

Belonging to the Scouts in the Medway Towns was one thing, but for the Girl Guides to keep going in Hythe and Folkestone (and presumably other places round the south coast), as I learn from the book that they did, was a vastly different thing. Scouts were restricted to indoor meetings - there were no camps or outdoor activities (unless there were and I didn't go), and with clothes rationing there were no uniforms that I can remember.   
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on March 08, 2012, 12:13:49
An indication of the severity of wartime regulations is ‘Regulation 84 of the Defence(General) Regulations', summarised:

The order automatically comes into effect when any district is declared an ‘operational area’, which will happen if there is any actual or immediately expected enemy action on land in the UK. Declaration that an area is ‘operational’ will be made by a Regional Commisioner in consultation with the military authorities. All men and women may be called on, except members of the forces, police, civil defence etc, and will come under the orders of the armed forces, a public authority, or a public utility.

They may be called upon to perform any work short of actual combatant duties, and will be paid at a rate appropriate for the district. Penalties for disobeying the Regulation is up to 10 years penal servitude and/or a £500 fine (about 2 years working class wages!!!). The Trade Unions were consulted and agreed.

I don't know if this regulation was ever invoked - certainly the code word 'Cromwell' was issued in the south of England on 7th September 1940, indicating 'Invasion Imminent' - but thus were we prepared to lose our freedom in order to fight for it!
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on March 14, 2012, 12:53:32
On 13th March 1942 the Government announced that the basic petrol ration was to be abolished from 1st July for cars and 1st October for motor cycles; while it didn’t concern the average family it was another nail in the coffin of optimism for the future.

At the time the ration was 2 gallons/month for cars up to 10hp, then on a sliding scale up to 3.5 gallons/month for cars of 20hp and over, enough for about 60 miles/month. I don’t know if the ration could be saved for later use (food coupons could be used only at the specified time), but it must have been tricky to judge just how far you could go and still be able to get home. The Supplementary Ration for essential use was cut by10%.

At the same time new restrictions on horse and dog racing and similar gatherings were introduced to reduce demand for public transport. With bus services stopping at 9pm, late night travel was a nightmare, although it was possible to hire buses for factory social events. I remember going to a dance with mum and dad at the Ordnance Depot where he worked at Darland, and one of the buses took us home to Rochester; it went via Military Road to drop people off and there was a fracas as some men tried to ‘gatecrash’ the bus – I think it was my first experience of violence outside of the school playground.

I don’t know what train travel for leisure purposes was like. The line was electrified as far as Gillingham and the service to London was similar to what it is now. While people obviously didn’t go to London during the blitz, they must have done later because the theatres etc stayed open. My first ever visit to London was to the exhibition for ‘Salute the Soldier Week’ in 1944, held on a bomb site somewhere in central London. But that was during the day – I wonder what the late night train services were like for getting home from the theatre. But there was a Government slogan: "Is your journey really necessary?"  

Entertainment for most working class families was the wireless, the pictures, and the pub, plus the ‘Empire’ theatre and the ‘Theatre Royal’ in the Medway towns, and the dance hall (and blacked out streets!) for those of the right age.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on March 14, 2012, 16:40:41
Faced with posters like these, perhaps we didn't travel any more than necessary. Plus a couple to show why, even today, we oldies are reluctant to waste anything:
(http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/A1-1.jpg)(http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/A2.jpg)(http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/A3.jpg)(http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/A4.jpg)(http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/A6.jpg)(http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/A5.jpg)

Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on March 20, 2012, 16:43:58
For an insight into daily life in WW2, Rodney Foster’s ‘The Real Dad’s Army’ takes some beating, the more so because it is set on the Kent coast and more subject to warlike activities than further inland. Its great merit is that it is a contemporary account and not dependant on memories many years old.

Even so, much of it is still an account of his interpretation of incidents which, with wartime conditions and the primitive communication of the times preventing verification, may not be quite accurate. It is my belief that the more hectic the action the less reliable are accounts of it, so apart from indisputable incidents such as “bombs fell on Xyz Street last night”, it is best regarded as an account of attitudes of the times.

However, another merit is that, where appropriate, he usually qualifies his writing with “I hear that….” or “So-and-so says….” and does not present doubtful stories as fact. Thus we are left with a fascinating account of the uncontroversial events of everyday life written at the time of their occurrence – all the more so because it happened almost within sight of the enemy. They still went shopping and had social events, his wife still ran a Girl Guide unit, and so on.

Also interesting are the mid-war entries about the conduct of the war – how we were leaving Russia to do all the fighting, that our defeats in the Middle East and Far East were a disgrace, how our armies should be landing in Europe. That accords with my own memories of graffiti stating “Start the 2nd front now”. It was never that the enemy was fighting well, but always that our leaders were incompetent!

The following article on the subject of army commanders appeared in the ‘Daily Mirror’ in March 1942:
“[All they need to be chosen is to] be brass-buttoned boneheads, socially prejudiced, arrogant and fussy. A tendency to heart disease, apoplexy, diabetes and high blood pressure is desirable in the highest posts”. Was the editor taken out and shot? No – he received a warning from the Home Secretary that, if they hindered the war effort, further articles of that sort might result in the paper being banned!

Yet even Rodney Foster’s private diary entries would have had dire consequences elsewhere in Europe, had they been discovered.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on May 23, 2012, 15:22:24
Some of the things I hear from my family who lived in Dover during the war, leave me dumb-struck.
Here is a summary of a snippet I've just found in 'Frontline County': Mr William Harris and Mr Reginald Blunt became the first people in the county to receive the George Medal. For nine weeks they worked from dawn to dusk on farms near Deal at the height of the Battle of Britain. They operated their threshing machine within range of guns in France and while enemy aircraft were constantly over the area.
It seems there were others. From the Daily Telegraph of 23 May 1942:
(http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/GeorgeMedalReport001.jpg)
I wonder why Mr Mitchell got the George Medal and the ladies got the British Empire Medal, they all seemed to be taking the same risks - any ideas?
(Apologies for small size. Press 'CTRL' and '+' to enlarge)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on June 26, 2012, 11:52:11
Today being Holocaust Memorial Day has set me thinking of what we knew of such things during the war.
After D-Day we got news of French villages being destroyed by the SS, and the inhabitants slaughtered, because the French resistance had been active in the area. Then we heard of conditions in the occupied countries generally, and the ultimate horror was the discovery of the real conditions in the concentration camps, as seen on TV in today's news. We now finally had confirmation that all we had been through over the past six years had been for a very good reason.
An article in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 25 June 1942 gave details of a report that had just been smuggled out of Poland to the Polish National Council in London. It gave details for the first time of the systematic extermination of Jews that had begun in November 1941, with figures and locations, and gruesome details.

So it seems that we did have some idea of what was happening, well before the war ended, although I don’t remember it, nor what the national reaction was.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: seafordpete on June 26, 2012, 13:11:36
Chose to ignore is probably more accurate. Searching "Dachau" in The Times for 1933 onwards gives numerous references to Jews being ill treated and sent there, references to Juliuis Striecher as "Jew Baiter" etc
I have read elsewhere that Edward V111 had no particular liking of or sympathy for the Jews
At least 2 Britons wrote of visits there in 1933 &36 and of the conditions. By 1934 there were 65 camps holding some 45k prisoners under "protective custody"
A Catholic Priest Fr Muhler was arrested Nov 1933 for spreading stories about atrocities and conditions in Dachau, Imprisoned there by the following November he was reported dead , killed during "clean up operation" After the Battle 27 has an article about Dachau and its history.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on June 26, 2012, 14:52:51
We certainly knew of the existence of concentration camps – which at that time were not ‘death camps’ - and of the pre-war persecution of the Jews, and gave refuge to thousands of them. It was one of the factors in the decision to go to war, and ignored by everyone else except the UK (and Commonwealth) and France.

In 1943 I was only 13 so didn’t really have adult interests and that’s probably why I can’t remember the general reaction to that report, which was about a vast escalation from general persecution to genocide. However, I think there was later criticism that, while there was little of a practical nature we could do, we could have made more of it from an international propaganda point of view.

The Duke of Windsor (ex Edward VIII) was accused of having Nazi sympathies and, whether true or not, he was definitely kept out of the way during the war, by being made Governor of the Bahamas.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: seafordpete on June 26, 2012, 15:04:22
The Time regulary reported from 1933 on of various politicos being imprisoned and then committing suicide or dying by unknown causes and the ashes being returned to the families.. In his 1936 visit Christopher Sidgwick asked outright if executions took place and was told "not now, but in the early days torture and death happened".  By 1936 The Times is talking of trains from Austria carrying 700 Jews at a time to Dachau. Probably a number of causes why little concern - it was only 15 years after WW1 an feelings were that a German was a german even if a Communist or Jew. It's overseas and nothing to do with us. The class system being what it was the ordinary man only had what the papers & BBC radio chose to tell him (if he was interested) and it wasn't his place to query it
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on June 26, 2012, 17:13:50
I understood enough to know that some obscure MP named Churchill had been speaking in Parliament about the dangers of Nazism, and that there had been fights in Chatham High Street between the Fascist and Socialist Parties, and that Socialist = good, and Fascist = bad. I knew about the Spanish Civil War and had seen enough newsreels to know that war was something to be avoided. We had heard of concentration camps but thought they were merely places were they kept people who disagreed with the government. We knew of the Hitler Youth and believed that German kids were encouraged to report on their parents' political views. We knew about the Jewish refugees (as I've said earlier, one came to work in Chatham Gun Wharf) and had heard of 'Kristalnacht' in Germany, when Jewish businesses were wrecked. Yep, Fascism/Nazism was bad but, apart from a few extremists led by Sir Oswald Moseley, it was nothing to do with us.
That was the post in full from which I based my previous entry, and I think we are both saying the same thing. The point I was making is that we as a nation did as much, if not more, than any other to recognise the situation and give such help as we could without actually going to war, which we did in the end, of course. I don’t know how many other nations did so, but we also gave refuge to victims of the Spanish Civil War.

We were probably in the position of the guy that knows the man next door is knocking his kids about but, because he is bigger, not much can be done about it. There was no ‘police’ (United Nations) to report it to.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: YonderYomper on February 20, 2013, 12:27:58
Sorry for intruding on your thread, but found these in the shed.  They were my grandad's from the 1943, and the second from 44, and part of the "Dig for Victory" campaign, and, as he told it, everyone in his neighbourhood had them... thought they might be of interest to you:
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on February 20, 2013, 12:53:24
Sorry for intruding on your thread,.....
Why? Anything relevant is not intrusion and is welcome.
Thanks for the post :) :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: YonderYomper on February 20, 2013, 15:56:55
Well, thank you,

...It's just that it feels like walking into someone else's conversation, but glad you like them.

Been thumbing through (gently- very fragile now), real detail on growing things on shoestring budget and wartime conditions.

Re-prints are available on Amazon I see.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on February 20, 2013, 16:22:39
For my part I am pleased when a reply is posted in a thread I'm interested in - it could mean the start of another line of discussion. Please share with us any particular points of interest.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Barry 5X on April 05, 2013, 15:40:15
Doodlebugs V1s and V2s.

The following information I noted on the internet whilst carrying out a non-related search.

At a presentation for the Wadhurst History Society, Bob Ogley stated that:

The first doodlebug landed at Swanscombe in Kent, on open farmland in the early morning of June 13th 1944.

The last V2 fell in Orpington on March 27th 1945 and the last V1 landed at Iwade in Kent on March 29th of that year.

http://www.wadhurst.info/whs/newsletters/whs10/page3.htm

“Doodlebugs and Rockets” a book by Bob Ogley.

Note 1: Wadhurst is a market town in East Sussex, England.
Note 2: Reply 47 refers to the V1 event at Swanscombe on 13 June 1944
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on June 19, 2014, 17:50:48
So it was 70 years ago the night before last that I was kept awake all night by that first major V1 attack, as this article shows:
(http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/img090-1.jpg) (http://s622.photobucket.com/user/petec-photo/media/img090-1.jpg.html)

It seems that the common name ‘Doodle-bug’ had not then been coined, but interestingly 5 different names for the V1 was used in one article:
‘Raiders’, implying that they made an attack then went home: ‘Pilotless Planes’ and ‘Robot Planes’, implying that they could manoeuvre and carried a weapon rather than being the weapon: ‘Flying Bomb’, the description of what it actually was. The name ‘Bumble Bomb’ is new to me and I don’t recall seeing or hearing of it before.

Also interesting is the statement that it was believed that ‘much larger types', were in production. I remember an Aircraft Identification Poster produced soon after their advent showing several different types – I’m not sure about sizes, but the main difference seemed to be in their wing shape, varying from the actual parallel one with square-cut tips, to tapered ones, and even a crescent shaped one. In reality, of course, there was only one V! – the Fieseler Fi103.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on July 07, 2014, 12:53:47
Adapted from the Daily Telegraph of Friday 7th July 1944:

It ws announced by Mr Churchill in the House of Commons yesterday that the evacuation from London of vulnerable people has begun. Notices were served to schools on Saturday (1st July) and the first parties began leaving on Monday (3rd July).

The Ministry of Health announced yesterday that the scheme was being extended to those other areas most vulnerable to attack (Kent, Surrey, Sussex, etc)

As well as schoolchildren the scheme applies to children under five and their mothers, expectant mothers, and the aged and infirm. The facilities available are being made known through information centres, schools and official posters. Most of the evacuees are going to the North Midlands and the North, with extra trains being run where necessary.

Registration and a medical examination are required for schoolchildren, as in the early days of the war, and evacuated children who have seeped back home since then must re-register and pass another medical.

Facilities for mothers and children in London who wish to go to friends or relatives in safer areas have been available since the start of the flying-bomb attacks, and facilites are now being extended to the new areas.

I was never evacuated, so cannot comment from first hand experience, but this is the first I remember of hearing of the need for a medical. My wife, who was evacuated in 1940, can’t remember having one. Has anyone any further details? - PC
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Ted H on July 07, 2014, 19:53:42
I was evacuated, together with most of Chatham Tech., from the Medway Towns to Faversham in 1939, we certainly did NOT have a medical. Came home at the end of '39 when the schools re-opend in the Medway Towns. We shared what was then the Arts College at Rochester (by the museum). Attendance was "as and when" they could find someone to teach us - a lot of the younger men had been drafted into the armed forces. Later they got some retired teachers to take on the job and full time schooling restarted.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: John38 on July 07, 2014, 20:46:00
 As I mentioned on countless occasions, my parents evacuated me from Wales to Kent in the mid 1940s. The hypothesis was based on sound data, but their application was abysmal  :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on July 07, 2014, 20:55:21
Thanks Ted H.
I can’t see the point of a medical for schoolchildren who were obviously fit enough to attend school, but the article (reproduced in today’s Telegraph), definitely states “Registration and medical inspection are {required} for schoolchildren, as in the early days of the war. Evacuated children who {returned home} must …..pass another medical” (my bolding).

Could the paper have mis-reported, and a medical was required to distinguish the ‘infirm’?

John38, could your evacuation from Wales to Kent have been a private arrangement by your parents?
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: John38 on July 08, 2014, 15:14:47
Oh yes. Their intentions were good ... their sense of direction flawed  :) :) :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Ted H on July 08, 2014, 21:00:52
There is a remote possibility that the "medical" was in fact a result of the first evacuation when many children from the London slums were reputedly found to have "nits" [lice?]. At least that was the story circulating after the war ended. I don't know if  there was any truth in it.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on July 09, 2014, 12:38:00
Yes Ted H, I think that's it! :)
Inspection of schoolchildren’s heads for nits (louse eggs) makes sense, with the reporter probably interpreting some scrap of information as a ‘medical’.

Routine head inspection by the visiting school nurse - known as ‘Nitty Nora’ – was a  feature of my schooldays and, according to my ex-teacher daughter, was still a feature of school life until about 30 years go.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Signals99 on July 09, 2014, 15:31:22
Peterchall, I haven't heard the term Nitty Nora for many a long day, how it brings back memories. I was evacuated to Pickering in Yorkshire from Rochester; can't recall any dates but 'twas late in the war, 1944/45 maybe. Reason:- buzz bombs. One thing I do recall is we certainly did not have a medical.
Did have nits though. Can you still get "dust combs" and lavain oil? :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on July 09, 2014, 19:44:41
Signals99, there were 3 official evacuations during WW2:
At the outbreak of war in 1939, after Dunkirk in 1940, and after the start of the flying bombs, in July 1944. So yours would definitely have been the latter, in 1944, as per these recent posts.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: John38 on July 11, 2014, 23:01:42
I'd always assumed there was one evacuation circa 1940. Thanks for the gen PC.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on July 12, 2014, 10:28:51
There is much more about evacuation in WW2 here:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=14082.msg114499#msg114499
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Signals99 on July 13, 2014, 01:14:35
Hi! A wee bit about being evacuated, may be of interest to younger forum members.
Peterchall has dated my evacuation as circa 1944, thanks for that.
I would have been four years old then, I recall three of us toddlers being allocated to a young student nurse, for some reason we ended up at the military sidings Chatham vie Strood? Then by train to "somewhere " in Yorkshire. Ihave since been told it's not possible to do that, but we did.
I was allocated to a family called Beryman at Railway Cottages, Pickering. A whole new world opened up to me, fresh food and plenty of it, roaming the countryside at leisure, three afternoons a week, school.
Did I miss my family? Not one bit, I did not want to return to Kent .
But on reflection, my whole life was affected one way or another by that experience. There was never a real bond, family wise, after my return, which probably accounts for my two failed marriages. I suppose I could not understand I was sent away for my own good, in later life I recognised what I felt at the time was betrayed. It was all a long time ago now.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Dave Smith on July 31, 2014, 13:55:22
I was a 9 year old at Barnsole Road School in 1939. We were evacuated by train from Gillingham to Herne Bay the day before war was declared, complete with gas mask, small suitcase & name label. Two of us were billeted with the Duncans in New Street ( I've kept in touch) & had a happy time as we didn't really understand what war was all about & H.B. had been one of our "days out"  holidays during the summer (my Dad had 1 week's annual holiday, standard before the war). I well remember the morning that war was declared, for the air raid siren "went off" just round the corner on the roof of the fire station and it was LOUD! Schooling was part time as we shared with the local school and we had parent visits every 2/3 months. At the end of the "phoney war", the school was re-evacuated in mid 1940 to Bargoed, S. Wales. I was lucky, as an Aunt who lived in Shepperton, Middx. offered to have me, for there was no way my parents could have visited that far. My friend went with his Brother ( G'ham County Sch.) to Sandwich initially and then Rhymney, S. Wales. Very remote " up the valleys", I remember him saying they had a travelling picture show on Saturdays, probably in the church hall where the " tuppenny rush" really was that, to sit on a mat at the front! We all came back home in late 1941/42. At that age, the real war was remote and, if anything, exciting. We had an Anderson shelter in the garden into which we went when there was a raid (mostly at night), aircraft (friend or foe), even " doodlebugs", (as long as the "engine" was still running!) were there to be watched and we ate reasonably well (my Dad had an allotment). In 1945, I became a Shorts' apprentice, building Sunderlands, etc. so did have just a tiny bit of input toward the war effort. DaveSmith55.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on July 31, 2014, 16:32:31
Did you come home from Herne Bay before being re-evacuated to S. Wales, or did you go there from Herne Bay?
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Dave Smith on August 08, 2014, 20:35:04
peterchall. I don't know specifically what the school did, my Mum & Dad came to collect me on the Sunday & then on to my Aunt's on the Monday. I suspect that the rest of the school went en bloc straight to S.Wales otherwise there would have been so much confusion going to G'ham, then home & then re-training onwards- with losses on the way! DaveSmith
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on December 03, 2014, 20:59:43
Extracts from a booklet on wartime Christmases, published by Royal Engineers Museum:

Christmas parcels had to be posted by December 18th.

Christmas decorations were mostly home made. A frosted look could be given to pine cones, holly and other greenery by dipping it in a strong solution of  Epsom Salts and letting it dry.

In the week before Christmas 1940 the tea ration was doubled and the sugar ration increased from 8 ounces to 12 ounces. For 1944 there was an extra 1&1/2 ponds of sugar, 8 pennyworth of meat and half a pond of sweets.

Christmas Dinner Recipe (Mock Turkey)
1 loaf bread with crust removed and torn apart (can be stale)
2 pints milk
1 carrot, grated
1 onion, minced or finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash of pepper
1 pound sausage meat
1 teaspoon seasoning.

Put ingredients ingredients in a buttered baking dish, add milk and mix well.. Bake at 180c for 1hr 30min..

It looks really appetising!

Personally I don’t remember much about wartime Christmas Days and Boxing Days. Who among my fellow oldies does?
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Dave Smith on December 13, 2014, 19:33:15
peterchall. By Christmas '40, bread would have been "national wholemeal", so your " mock turkey" would be turkey coloured!  At that point in the war, rationing hadn't really begun to bite. I remember late in the war -'44/45 - butter ration was reduced to 2oz/p/week; 1/2lb block (smaller than the current 250grm block) between 4 of us!  As I remember, the only thing off ration was snoek ( whale), but my Mother didn't buy that. Dried egg, I much preferred scrambled than fresh egg & we had saccharin in our tea - sugar was for cooking. We kept a couple of rabbits in a hutch in the garden so that was our Christmas dinner, except for one year when my Dad won a small turkey in a raffle in the Dockyard. He had an allotment so we did well for veg. & the peelings, boiled up with bran, fed the 6 or so chickens we kept for eggs. Soft fruit from the garden to make jam. No oranges, etc. but plenty of apples, pears, plums from the orchards/gardens in Grange Road (Gillingham). Incidentally, the tinned Spam we had then was really flavoursome, much more so than that on the market now. Although I suspect that my sister & I had a bit more than our fair share, I think one can say that generally, we never really went hungry. Dave Smith (b 1930).
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on December 14, 2014, 17:53:58
Dave Smith, I think we tried whale meat once, then never again. But considering the difficulties of obtaining it I’m amazed that it was obtainable at all, although that applied to fish in general.

That RE Museum booklet stating that the sugar ration at Christmas 1944 was increased to 1&1/2 pounds seems dubious – that was 3 week’s ration. The meat and sweets were about a1/2 week’s extra ration, perhaps more believable. I’ve always thought there were no extra rations at any Christmas during the war but – perhaps hard to believe – I took little interest in food beyond eating it, so may be wrong. But I agree that, dull though the food may have been, we never went hungry, although by the ‘working class’ standards of the day food was pretty basic in peace time anyway.

Regarding bread, I have a confession to make. On one occasion when working as a Trainee Electrician for the RE’s we got a job in the army bakery at Southill Barracks and my mate, Bert Poole, chatted up the ATS ‘Queen Bee’ in charge. As a result we each acquired an RASC produced white loaf of peacetime standard. That has been on my conscience for 70 years!
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Dave Smith on January 19, 2015, 18:54:25
peterchall. I seem to remember that cooking schnoek (whalemeat) was rumoured to smell pretty strong - which is probably why we didn't have it! I don't think you need to worry about that loaf, if you hadn't had it someone else would. Was Southill barracks in Brompton? My cousin trained as a Sapper there in the early 30's & when he left became a surveyor for the LCC. During the war, he was in the RA, sighting gun positions. Got injured soon after D Day & convalesced at Leeds Castle. As you say, the working class had basic but pretty good food before & during the war but, like you, I wasn't much interested in the complexities. The one thing I do remember specifically was my Mum adding a spoonful of " curry powder" to a stew - great! Wonder what she'd make of the Rhogan Josh's/Dupiaza's etc. now!  Dave Smith
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 19, 2015, 21:14:36
Southill Berracks was on Chatham-Maidstone Road, on the left going up from Chatham Station, starting just after Westmount Avenue and ending at Southill Road Laundry – so literally on ‘South Hill’.

It is now the site of a small housing estate but was then a Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) barracks, hence the bakery. RASC were the army’s ‘domestic servants’ and transport, and a driving school was located at Southill Barracks as well as a Transport Company. It was by working there that I learned of the army’s ‘Task System’ for maintaining vehicles; all the routine maintenance was broken down into ‘Daily Tasks’ for the driver – check engine oil, tyre pressures, coolant, adjust brakes, etc, on specified days, and a notice would be displayed on the garage wall stating something like ‘Task Day 2’, Task Day 3’, and so on. I devised a Task System for my bike as a result!

Another memory comes back to me – that of stores of foodstuffs presumably for distribution to local units. The was a room with a 3 or 4(?) potato peelers – not soldiers on ‘spud bashing’ fatigue – but drums about the size of a domestic copper with a very coarse lining. When these rotated at high speed the skins of the spuds were virtually ripped off. So potatoes were issued already peeled, although not to other static barracks like Brompton Barracks (where your cousin would have trained as a Sapper), because I remember seeing spuds being peeled manually in the cook-house at such places. Or more correctly ‘womanually’ because, unsurprisingly in those days, such tasks fell to the ATS. The ready-peeled spuds were probably destined for small units with limited cooking facilities, such as AA gun and searchlight sites.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Dave Smith on January 22, 2015, 13:04:31
I have a local map where Southill Barracks is shown. ATS were billeted in houses along Sally Port Road by the Lines in late 40's. I used to cut thro' that way when it was foggy - roads dangerous - on my way cycling home from Shorts Seaplane Works to Cornwallis Ave. No doubt a lot of your cooks/spud bashers would have been living there. Have Brompton B., St. Mary's B. & R.S.of M.Eng.(& the NAAFI Club) also all gone the same way? I was very much involved with the new, very large, REME barracks/workshops over the Medway, up Frinsbury Hill to ? ( no sign of it on curent maps!) in 1966/67 when I briefly came back to work in Kent - also ditto at Arbourfield in Berks.(that is still very much there). Dave Smith.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on January 22, 2015, 18:08:21
I don’t know the current status of Brompton and St Mary’s Barracks. What was the Royal School of Military Engineering (RSME) is now the Royal Engineers’ Museum. What was the NAAFI Club is now a hotel.

The REME Workshops you refer to were at Wainscot, in Islingham Farm Road, and are now the RSME.

For all three services the girls were usually the ones moved out into billets when the permanent barracks became full during the war, often into what were the peacetime married quarters, hence the ATS being billeted in Sally Port.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Dave Smith on February 12, 2015, 13:35:57
As a relatively new member, I've added to various threads & now spent some time going back to the beginning of this (Jan.2010). So, having read peterchall's "book", as I was also there, I'll add a few of my own recollections. Peter's memory is, to me, phenomenal & my excuse for not being that good is, "what a difference a year makes"- but that's pretty lame! As Peter says, "if it's not written down now, no one will know in the future what it was like". Born 1930, (in the Canadian Maternity Hosp., near G'ham park), I lived in Cornwallis Avenue until Jan.'47 when I joined the RAF as an Apprentice. In 1939, the day before war was declared, I was evacuated with the school (Barnsole Rd.) to Herne Bay (8, New St.). We shared our schooling with the locals, each having 1/2 days.The rest of the time we were looked after by teachers or "helpers" -  mothers who had come with us. As somewhere that I knew from holidays, I had a great time there. I specifically remember on the Sunday am when war was declared, the siren, on the roof of the fire station just round the corner, went off & wasn't it LOUD!!  At the end of the " phoney" war, we never saw an aircraft, the Germans were just across the Channel so our School was re-evacuated to Bargoed in S. Wales. My parents didn't want me that far away, so I went to live with an Aunt in Shepperton, Middx., coming back home in July 1942.  tbc
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Dave Smith on February 13, 2015, 20:28:13
We had an Anderson air raid shelter in the garden, dug into 3ft. of chalk with 3ft. above ground covered by spill from excavation. When the siren went, we moved out from the house to spend the night there; unless the all clear sounded before we'd got back to sleep, then it was back to the relative warmth indoors. Later in the war we'd become a bit blase & only went out if there was a lot of " activity" in the area. Mostly, enemy aircraft were overhead - a constant heavy drone, whoo, whoo, whoo on their way elsewhere - but there were a few incidents of bombs being dropped locally. I only remember once hearing the sudden whooosh as a "stick" of bombs landed in Beatty Avenue, less than 1/4 mile away. Toward the end of the war, we had V1's (Doodlebugs) coming over in profusion day & night but again, mostly on their way elsewhere. We would watch them during the day going "like a bat out of hell", very occasionally the engine stopping in mid-sentence so to speak but all those I saw glided on, didn't drop vertically. The sound was unmistakable (granderog, thanks for the link, altho' that BBC sound isn't quite right - the pulsing was much more definite. I've found a better one on www.PeriscopeFilm.co "V1 The Robot Bomb" by the Crown Film Unit, which is excellent). I can hear their sound now! When I look back, I don't think at any time we were worried that we wouldn't win the war, optimism by my parents I suspect, which was conveyed to us children. tbc DaveSmith
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on February 13, 2015, 22:30:21
Toward the end of the war, we had V1's ( Doodlebugs) coming over in profusion day & night but again, mostly on their way elsewhere.
They were intended by the Germans to be on their way elsewhere – London. But our own people kept trying to bring them down on us! Though I don’t think we saw it that way at the time.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Dave Smith on February 27, 2015, 21:50:51
Peter, well it was open country compared with 20 miles further on and, of course, 30 miles further back. In those days Gill'm, Rainham Mark, Rainham, etc. were all completely separate with orchards/agriculture (as was most of Kent) etc. between. To continue my recollections. Our neighbour was a Marine (based at Chatham Bks.) & captured in Crete. He was repatriated in '44 with T.B. & said the German guards were so sure that Britain would join with Germany to fight the Russians! Someone asked who the Home Guard were - "Dads Army"? Well, yes & no. All those I knew were dedicated to the task that might befall them; very serious. They didn't have any weapons until late '42 when they were all issued with Browning.303s, kept "under the stairs". I remember my Dad coming back from the firing range in the chalk pit, Woodlands Road & saying he could see the target but had to put on his reading glasses to see the sights & then couldn't see the target!! Just ordinary chaps, many being ex forces from WW1. e.g. mid.1912. My Dad was an indentured apprentice Fitter & Turner to Richard David, Artois Works, 366 High Street, Chatham (a 581/2 hr. week! 1/-wk.1st year, 2/-, 3/-, 5/-, 7/-, 10/-). In 1918, he joined the Navy as an ERA & was on HMS Walpole in the Med. until demobbed. Various jobs ranging from Naval Depot in Berks., etc., then back to Medway, Shorts & finally the Dockyard in 1938 where he was an electrical fitter on submarines until he retired in 1962. H.G. 2 evenings a week (1 at "Z" battery & 1 day at w/ends; also all night fire watching from the roof in the Yard once a month.  (tbc) Dave Smith.         
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on February 28, 2015, 17:16:01
The policy of trying to stop V-1s reaching London had at least one tragic consequence. In the early morning of 30th June 1944 one was shot down by AA guns and crashed on Weald House, Westerham, where 30 children aged under-5 (ironically evacuated from London) and 11 female staff were sleeping. 22 children and 8 staff were killed and all except one of the other occupants injured
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: ann on March 01, 2015, 12:00:47
 
Even more of a tragedy when you read this.
 
The tragedy at Weald House, Crockham Hill, during the last war.
In 1944, Little Mariners at Froghole (Crockham Hill) was being used by the LCC as a home for evacuated children, but the house was severely damaged by incendiaries and the children and staff moved to Weald House (now Hoplands) on the edge of Crockham Hill Common.
 In the early hours of Friday 30 June 1944 a flying bomb (doodlebug) came over, apparently struck a tree on Mariners Hill and was deflected onto Weald House. Twentyone children and eight female staff were killed in the tragedy - Kent's largest single civilian loss during World War II.
(Oliver Fielding-Clark's autobiography, Unfinished Conflict contains a piece about this - he was Vicar of C Hill at the time and one of the first on the scene.)
All the victims were buried in Edenbridge churchyard, where you can find the memorial.

There was one survivor Peter Findley, then a year-old infant with measles who had been put in another house for isolation. Over the years Mr Findley has been trying to find details of his mother, who was killed in the tragedy. He lives in Yorkshire and has visited both Edenbridge and Crockham Hill several times with his wife, and has so far managed to locate a woman who worked at Weald House at the time and knew his mother well.
Thanks to Mr Kev Reynolds for the above details.'

:

 
 
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on May 23, 2015, 15:09:49
An indication that everyday home life didn’t improve with the end of the European war were these government statements in the Daily Telegraph of 23rd May 1945.

1.   There is no immediate prospect of an increase in the clothing ration.

2.   Countries better supplied with food than Britain will make sacrifices to help liberated allied countries. USA and Canada have adopted a ‘share-and-share-alike’ policy.

3.   Britain will reduce food stocks by 300,000 tons and will consume less than in 1944.

4.   Rations for Prisoners of War not in working parties will be reduced to less than civilian rations.

5.   On the brighter side, supplies of fish are expected to improve, more fresh fruit will be imported and more eggs-in-shell obtained from Canada.

The effect on specific rations included:

Bacon: Reduced from 4oz to 3oz per week.

Cooking Fat and Oil: Reduced from 2oz to 1oz. Trade supplies of cooking oil to be cut by 10%. Suet to be rationed later. Fat content of biscuits to be cut.

Sugar: It will not be possible to issue the Christmas bonus of 1/2lb per head.

Cheese: 2oz ration to stay the same.

Meat: A cut in the ration of 1s 2d worth will be avoided by having  butchers take 1/7th of their supplies as corned beef for 5 months of the year. Meat for manufacturing will be cut by 1/3 for the rest of the year.

Skimmed Milk Powder: Stocks will be heavily drawn upon and trade supplies almost stopped.

Evaporated Milk: There will be cuts for the services and caterers.

Rice: No prospect of resuming civilian supplies.

Soap: Reduced by 1/8th except for babies and children.

Compare to today’s definition of ‘austerity’.

On top of all that the war continued in the Far East, with every prospect of fighting for years against a skilful and determined enemy.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: millership on October 31, 2015, 11:28:39
I was at Barnsole Road too. I was evacuated to Herne Bay but came back home after a month. re-evacuated to Maesycwmmer in May 1940 and came back in time to start my scholarship at Gillingham County School in Sept. 1940.and stayed in Gillingham for the rest of the war. Anyone who wants to hear more, let me know.
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: peterchall on October 31, 2015, 12:42:33
I'm sure three's plenty of us who'd like to hear more
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Bilgerat on October 31, 2015, 12:53:24
I'm sure three's plenty of us who'd like to hear more

Same here......
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: conan on October 31, 2015, 19:09:29
Carry on,you'll always have an audience here :)
Title: Re: Home Life in WW2
Post by: Dave Smith on November 02, 2015, 22:10:44
millership. A friend who went to Barnsole Road school was re-evacuated from Herne Bay to Bargoed- also " up the valley's" in 1940. Was the scholl split up when you went to S.Wales? The County school, where my (next door neighbour)particular friend went with his elder brother, went to Rhymney ; he was billited with the local clergyman. We visited Rhymney when I was at St. Athan W. & he, doing his Nalt. Service, E. by cycle in 1950 & met the son of the clergyman. He'd done his Natl. Service, seen a bit of " how the other half lived" & no way was going down the pits! We might have known each other at B. Road, either in Gillingham or Herne Bay. In 1940 I went to live with an aunt in Shepperton, Middx.for 2 years as my parents weren't keen on me being as far away as Wales- for they never would have seen me. Came back in '42 to the County S., so we may have met there? I was in the Scouts ( 43rd Medway) , were you F or G or L Class?- I was the latter. Although we had brick built air raid shelters at ground level, I don't remember using them very much, not like "every day". See some of my earlier posts re Doodle Bugs, etc. I've read peterchall's latest list of the reduction on food when the war ended- how did we survive? I think bread was not rationed- National Wholemeal ; 10d (4p) - for I remember eating a lot of that with just jam on ( fortunately we grew raspberries/ gooseberries/ blackcurrents in the garden to make the jam).Also in 1945, I became an apprentice at Shorts seaplane works where we had a good canteen, so presumably I stoked up there ; 1/6 (71/2p) for a main & pudding for apprentices!