- Contributed by
- Barnsley Archives and Local Studies
- People in story:
- Frank Aubrey Varley
- Location of story:
- Hoyland, Yorkshire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 05 April 2005
"This story was submitted to the People's War site by the Barnsley Archives and Local Studies Department on behalf of Frank Aubrey Varley and has been added to the site with his/her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions."
I lived at Market Street, Hoyland and was 12 when war broke out. Everyone had to take their gas masks to school everyday. The blitz at Sheffield was over two nights, Thursday and Sunday. One of the days we were in the kitchen. We heard a swish and we all dived under the table but nothing happened. But next day Market Street opposite the Old Post Office (Little Leeds) an anti air-craft shell had gone down a chimney and was unexploded! We hadn’t a shelter as only council houses had free shelters, private houses had to pay.
We carried on going to school through the Blitz, I was at Kirk Balk School, all the glass was peppered with shrapnel. We went to see the war damage in Sheffield on our bikes. Went to Warren Street first, a landmine had landed in a ploughed field near the houses, there was a crater as big as this room, but the field took the blast.
Went on to Sheffield on my own, there was some damage before Wicker Arches but Wicker Arches to Fitzallen Square was complete devastation. There was a smell of gas and all the damage made me realise what war was and I came straight home.
In 1941 Mr Rowley the Headmaster sent me to the Town Hall to represent the school. In Warship Week Hoyland had reached their target of £20,000. Phyllis Thorley represented the girls. We had our photographs taken with the Mayor for reaching the target and it was in the newspapers, Keith Hopkinson has a copy.
I left school at 14 and went to Newton chambers as an apprentice. It was 12 hour night shifts at 16 doing a man’s job with only an apprentice’s pay.
I was called up 6 months after the war had finished and did 2 years in the army in National Service. We were in charge of German Prisoners of War. They were divided into blue and brown caps. Brown caps were nazis. One brown cap in particular had picked up enough English to have a conversation. We asked him why he was a nazi. He replied that he’d been a manager of a bridge building firm and got a letter to join the nazi party but said no. then he got a second letter telling him to report to Nazi HQ. He got told join the party or lose your job. He didn’t play any other part. There was probably thousands like him.
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