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During World War II, I was a young boy living with my family in a small village in Norfolk, England.

At night, it was quite common to hear aircraft droning in the night sky. I had a single bed next to my parents and we would lie awake listening to the sound of their engines and trying to determine whether they were German planes or English ones. The sound would be very faint at first and Dad would say ‘Listen, can you hear a plane?’ We would strain our ears and eventually the sound would become louder. It was easy to tell if it was a German plane or not because their engine noise was very different from the noise made by our English ones.
It sounded as though their engines were unsynchronized because they gave off a low frequency beat that was unmistakable.
We would listen to them with bated breath until the sound receded and we could breath easier again.

My Dad and his two brothers, Billy and Frank, had dug and completed a perfectly good underground air raid shelter complete with seats etc., at the top of our garden during the early part of the war.
Now you might wonder why we were lying in bed with German aircraft overhead and didn’t take to the shelter. It was a source of great stress to me as a child because, I felt, with some justification, that we would have been much safer in there. But Dad would not budge. He would not allow the Germans to get him out of bed. Quite stupid, I thought, because I was really scared on many occasions.

On one particular night, we were listening to German bombers droning away overhead when suddenly, one released his bomb load. The screaming sound of the bombs became louder and louder and I remember very clearly, as though it was yesterday, looking at the ceiling and waiting to see the bombs penetrate it and fall on my head. Dad shouted ‘we’ve had it tonight!’ and threw the bedcovers and then himself on top of me. There followed a series of explosions but nothing hit us and we fell back in relief.
The next morning I was up at the crack of dawn to see what had happened. It was amazing! The bombs had fallen in the gardens of the Council houses, about 100 metres from our house, leaving large craters and uprooting trees but no houses were hit and no one was hurt. They also fell in the Orchard at Low Farm devastating the orchard. How lucky we were!

An American bomb disposal crew arrived that day (or maybe the next day) in a number of big trucks, stuffed with food the likes of which we’d never seen. There were tins of meat, condensed milk, sugar, butter, chewing gum and many other items of food that was unbelievable. Us boys struck a deal with the soldiers – at the end of each day they would exchange their surplus food (and there was a lot of it) for freshly picked apples and pears. It was September time so our garden, that had about 40+ apple trees packed with fruit, enabled me to meet the needs of the Americans and we collected huge amounts of food.

The American soldiers were extremely friendly and most kind to all of us. They left us with fond memories and we were sad to see them go.
Shortly after that, my school friend, Dorothy, who lived nearby, had a bomb fall on her house and completely destroy it. They lost everything but were safe because they were in their garden shelter!!

I stressed this point to Dad, but it never changed his attitude. We continued to lie in bed at night listening to the German bombers. Those old villagers like my Dad were pig headed and stubborn!

More memories from Ray Brister

This memory was added 1st September 2007

Keywords: Norfolk BBC Norfolk BEING BOMBED

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