- Contributed by
- Chepstow Drill Hall
- People in story:
- GILBERT DOWLE
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 14 May 2005
This story was submitted to the People’ War by a volunteer from The Chepstow Society on behalf of Gilbert Dowle and has been added to the site with his permission. Gilbert Dowle fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
“I can only write of the period between 1939 and April 1941 when I was called up' for service in the Royal Navy. My most vivid recollection during this time was when the big German bomb fell in Ditch Wood, which is between the present Dell School and the Wye, about 150 yards from the west entrance of the Castle.
It happened about 8p.m. and I was in the Gaumont Cinema at the time. There was a terrific explosion and we all dashed out into Beaufort Square, where we were told a bomb had landed at Elmdale. I ran down Bridge Street, and was challenged by the H ome Guard; and after identification I was allowed to cross the bridge to my home at Elm Villa. My Mother was alone, and I was very relieved to find her well.
During the darkness the fields were searched; but the bomb was not found until the following morning across the river. The following week-end I went to the spot and found that the blast had torn a hole in the wood; and exposed the limestone rock beneath. It was thought that the bomb was released when the aircraft was being pursued by British fighters.
Another memory is of children being evacuated from Folkestone which was being shelled and was unsafe. The children arrived at Chepstow Railway Station on a special train, and were taken to the Drill Hall for refreshment and sorting out. My friend Mr Thomas Birbeck, was the Billeting Officer and he asked me to come along to assist. I remember each child had a card hung round the neck giving the name and other information. I am pleased to say that the people of Chepstow and District responded and voluntarily gave the children shelter.
Chepstow Racecourse was at first commandeered for military training and later as a prison for German prisoners. I am told that mock Wellington bombers were put there and lit up at night, but they were never bombed.
The only war-time casualty I heard of was a boy at Station Road, Rogiet. He was killed when he ran out of his home to see a German aircraft which dropped a bomb.
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