- Contributed by
- The Fernhurst Centre
- People in story:
- Paul Shove
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
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- Contributed on:
- 19 December 2005
This is Paul Shove’s story: it has been added by Pauline Colcutt (on behalf of the Fernhurst Centre), with permission from the author who understands the terms and conditions of adding his story to the website.
I didn’t have a very ‘exciting’ war if that is the right word to use about a war but I can still remember very clearly war being declared. We were on holiday in Partridge Green and I can picture the old radio in the living room adjoining the conservatory — albeit I don’t think it was called a conservatory in those days - everyone was crowded round the radio, and there was absolute silence as Mr Chamberlain spoke, I was impressed even though I couldn’t have really appreciated what it all meant.
My father had returned from the Navy in the mid 30’s, but was called back into the Navy and posted to a Navy Training Camp in North Wales, HMS Glendower. The Camp was originally built by Billy Butlin as a holiday camp, but was requisitioned by the Navy during the war.
A number of small memories stick in my mind of the time I spent in Wales. I can remember my father setting off each day in uniform, complete with cap, to cycle the six miles to the camp and I remember old Mr Roberts, a civilian employee at the camp who used to clean and polish my father’s bicycle each day.
I must have been a spoilt little brat as I was allowed sometimes (under supervision) to go into the camp with friends and shoot at aeroplanes projected onto a sort of astra dome and we would also shoot submarines all this by means of an air rifle mounted on a 4.7mm gun — just fun for us but I’m sure a pain for those detailed to supervise us.
The war was a long way away, the only occurrence of enemy action was related to the Pwillheli/Chwilog train. A stray German aircraft attacked it as it left Pwellheli, whereupon the driver opened up the throttle to the maximum thus leading the aircraft directly towards the Naval camp near Chwilog. I don’t remember the end of the story, but I do remember my mother’s delight in relating it.
I was at school in Liphook in Hampshire, the journey by rail from Liphook to Wales can’t have been fun but I can only recollect one such journey when on the way back to school I was put in the charge of two Chief Petty Officers who, for whatever reason, were travelling from Wales to London. I’m sure they did not enjoy the journey but I did listening to their stories was fascinating and I learnt some new words which occasionally slipped out despite their best efforts to avoid doing so.
My family was little affected by the war, or at least I was, although I’m sure some of my schoolmates must have lost fathers or brothers. I do remember on a couple of occasions we were woken in the middle of the night and taken in pyjamas and dressing gowns to the school air raid shelter for the rest of the night, this was an adventure not war!
Whilst at school my parents came to see me and told me they were sending me to my Aunt in America for the rest of the war. I can remember lying on the floor of the Headmaster’s study and kicking my heels on the floor shouting and screaming ‘ I’m not going, I’m not going’ (obviously I was a horrible little brat!). Why I was so adamant that I didn’t want to go I don’t know — it may have been for fear of being called a ‘coward’ for ‘running away’, whatever it was I didn’t go. In hindsight I realise how different my life would have been had I gone. I have two further memories: on occasion we used to stage our own war in the school changing rooms. In our imagination were tanks, searchlights, aeroplanes and all the equipment of war. The battles used to go on for some time and, of course, the British always won — at least I’m sure they did.
My other memory is of my brother coming to see me, he was in the Royal Marines and in uniform — I was very proud and basked in his reflected glory. It was on this visit that he told me how he had been going to Portsmouth and arrived at Portdown late at night to see, as he put it, ‘Portsmouth in flames’ after an air raid. That picture remained in my mind for some time.
Whist my war was not very exciting the memories remain vividly with me to this day.
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