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15 October 2014
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Laurence's mystery plane

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Laurence Poole, Lesley Poole
Location of story: 
Gillingham, Kent
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
13 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War website by Jacky Hayward of Hastings Community Learning Centre for BBC SCR on behalf of Mr Laurence B Poole and has been added to the site with his permission. Mr Poole fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

I was 4 years old and living in Gillingham Kent in 1940, when I was evacuated to Neath in Wales with my 13 year old sister Lesley. We were staying with the local vicar, my sister loved it and managed to pick up the welsh language very easily, but I was very home sick and suffered many child hood complaints, so it was thought best that I return home to my mother and father.

We lived in Shakespeare Road, Gillingham and at the bottom of the road was the Gillingham Conservative Club. One evening we were on the first floor of the club where children were allowed. when the sirens went off and we were all put under the tables. The planes were aiming for the Chatham dockyards but as so often happened they missed and hit (H)Ewitts a large ladies goods store. In the middle of the road between the club and store was a large bomb shelter which was built to absorb blasts, which luckily it did but some of the blast went over the top of the shelter to where we were. We were all covered in glass and debris, my father went to help a Wren who had shrapnel in her thigh but this did not go down well with my mother and she was not amused.
When we got home which was 50 yards down the road, many of the windows were blown out. Later that week with some friends I went to Gillingham Park where we were told one of the raiders had been shot down and crashed. As youngsters we were very good at distinguishing different planes but we did not recognize the markings and shape of the plane We later found out it was an Italian bomber on a very rare raid.

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