- Contributed by
- CSV Actiondesk at BBC Oxford
- People in story:
- T Peter Franklin
- Location of story:
- Kidlington, Oxfordshire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 16 August 2005
“This story was submitted to the People’s War site by a volunteer from Adult and Community Learning, Woodstock, on behalf Peter and has been added to the site with his permission. Peter fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.”
I was 12 years old when the war started. I remember the evacuees arriving at the old school. They were all girls from East Ham Grammar School and aged form 11 upwards. Some had their younger brothers and sisters with them.
I was with a group of lads watching them arrive, and the headmistress asked me to carry one of the cases. It was bit heavy and I was relieved when someone came along in a car and took it from me.
The evacuation was not very well organised and the girls were just taken around the area, looking for anyone with a spare bed to take them in.
At first we shared Gosford Hill School. The locals went to school one half of the day and the evacuees went the other half of the day. Later they converted the Old Zoo on Gosford Hill Farm and the evacuees went there. We played in the streets with them and when summer came we all dashed down to the river to swim. A few girls married local lads and stayed in the area.
We used to stand on Bateman’s Corner with the Air Raid Wardens and watch the searchlights and the flashes of the anti-aircraft guns in London. Everywhere was in blackout so that the lights of bombing in London stood out so that you could see them from Kidlington.
In 1943 three of us lads were watching a formation of three Spitfires training, swapping positions, going over and under one another. In the distance, we saw 2 of them colliding as they both went under at the same time. We got on our bikes and raced to where bits of machinery seemed to be falling in Heathfield near Bletchingdon. We saw the RAF ambulance and followed it to the field and saw a man carry a body back to the ambulance
Me and my friend joined the National Fire Service. I was only 15 years and you had to be 16 so I told them I was 16. We became messenger boys. When London was bombed, all of our fire engines were sent there and we had to make do with one old fire engine.
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