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- 09 December 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War Site by Three Counties Action and has been added to the site with permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
It was from mid-June 1944 when I was working at Princess Christians Farm colony. This was an establishment for high-grade mental defectives who could do manual work under supervision. It had a farm attached and coppiced woods, mainly of Chestnut. It was manned by a Dr Taylor (D.D), an ex hospital matron always known as ‘sister’, a farmer and staff and local women who kept the kitchen and cleaning going — plus two conscientious objectors who helped out at anything and everything.
Mid-June became Doodlebug alley for this part of Kent. It fell to us to do fire-watching — us being the two conchies.
In no time at all we had a barrage of balloons along the North Downs and Anti-aircraft guns between us and the sea.
Fire-watching really meant something then, and for about three months we were on daily — 36 hours on, 12 hours off. With the possibility of panic with the MD’s, we could not do anything else. As it was, the chapel attached to the colony was wrecked by an anti-aircraft shell which went astray.
On one occasion when things were quieter, I took about twenty of the lads for a walk across the fields (we called them lads, but they were from about 16 to 60!) We were heading south towards a wood with a ditch in front of it. About 20 yards from the ditch I was suddenly aware of unusual noises above. I looked up and about 60 feet up was a Doodlebug with its engine cut off. I yelled at the lads, “Get in that bloody ditch!” They moved more quickly than I thought possible. I jumped in afterwards. The Doodlebug dropped down and exploded in a field about half a mile away.
Shortly afterwards the powers that be moved all the anti-aircraft equipment down to the coast where I understood they were much more efficient.
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