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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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People's War - A Schoolboy's Perspective

by BBC Radio Norfolk Action Desk

Contributed by 
BBC Radio Norfolk Action Desk
People in story: 
Cain Herbert Morley
Location of story: 
Penzance, Cornwall
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
24 May 2005

This contribution to People’s War was received by the Action Desk at BBC Radio Norfolk and submitted to the website with the permission and on behalf of Mr. Cain Morley.
Much has been written about the contribution made by members of the civilian population throughout the course of the Second World War with reference made to a number of organisations including WRVS, ARP Wardens, Home Guard, Fire-fighters, Ambulance Drivers and Volunteer Nurses etc: all who played important roles.

One particular group who rarely if ever get a mention are the very young who at the time were attending school. They were to find themselves engaged in a variety of activities which benefit the general community. Many received training in one of the three cadet forces which helped prepare them for their eventual call up to one of the three armed services.

I was one such schoolboy who in 1942 at the age of thirteen found myself eligible to serve in the Army Cadet Force. Before long I had experienced Army style discipline for the first time in my life. I also underwent instructions in the use of weapons which included the Lee Enfield 303 Rifle, the Bren gun and the use of Hand Grenades.

At the age of fourteen I left the Army Cadets and joined the Sea Cadets (my main choice) there I was to remain until 1945 the year I joined the Royal Navy. The training I received as a cadet went some way to preparing me for a life at sea and this coupled with the discipline I had experienced as an Army Cadet meant that I had a good grounding for what was about to come.

Whils’t attending the local Grammar School at Penzance in Cornwall a number of us were released each year to assist farmers with the harvesting of the potato crop. This was to prove back breaking work, however essential to the war effort.

During the long hot summer holidays I along with others gave up our time to assist in the gathering in of the harvest which hours of toil in the fields full of corn. The work proved rewarding and we felt very grown up as we toiled alongside experience farmers.

At Xmas a number of us worked as relief postmen and found ourselves carrying huge sacks of mail for delivery in our particular areas of responsibility. On occasions I found myself striving to hoist the delivery sack to my shoulder, its weight almost unbearable. Despite everything I managed to get through my round without too much trouble.

An important function carried out by teenager boys was that of A.R.P Messengers to local Wardens. Dressed in long navy blue overcoats, a gas mask slung across our shoulders and a steel helmet we must have looked quite a sight as we peddled our way between warden posts.

Growing up as a schoolboy during the Second World War proved to be an exciting period in my life, one which despite it’s horrors I shall never forget. I feel the total experience helped prepare me for many of the challenges which I was to face later in life. For that I shall always be grateful.

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