- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Terry,Titch, Boner,Buster, Ernie
- Location of story:
- London SE22
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 12 June 2004
BIG WAR, LITTLE WAR. by F.W.HARKET (London SE22) email@example.com
I called for my mate Terry just like many other days. As usual he was not ready and I had to sit on his outside door step and wait for him. He eventually emerged, his hair neatly brushed down with a neat side parting, he was wearing his corduroy lumber jacket, gray flannel short trousers, gray socks drawn up to his knees and black plimsole shoes. I was dressed the same but my mum would not let me have plimsoles, instead I had leather sandals with a strap and a buckle, I always wanted plimsoles but mum said they were bad for the feet.
“What we gonner do?” he said , “Go to the bomb site” I replied. We went to the bomb site nearly every day. We were 7 years old, free spirits, no police, no social workers, no school, we could do as we liked.
Our bomb site was along the road, it was where three houses had stood before a bomb dropped by the Germans had flattened them to the ground about two years earlier. There were three bomb sites in our road , one on the corner of Sylvester, one on the corner of Whately and there was our one in our road. Luckily, despite his best efforts, Hitler and his huge war machine, had not been able to hit our house despite three attempts. Of the three bomb sites , ours was the best. It was bounded by a brick wall to the rear, an Emergency Water Supply Tank (E.W.S.) to the left and a derelict house to the right. There was only a small frontage on to the public road so the area was well concealed. No one wanted the bomb site on the corner of Sylvester and the site on the corner of Whateley was taken by the Whately gang who always wanted to take over our bomb site. Their bombsite was open to two sides but they did have a bombed out bakery building. There were several battles between us and we held them off. The battles mainly comprised name calling and throwing a few stones and pieces of salvaged wooden poles. No one got hurt but we took it very seriously. Due to the narrow frontage of our site we could defend fairly easily.
When we arrived our friends , Tich, the two Ernies, Buster, Billy and Bonar were already there . They were all busy , lighting little fires , building camps, digging holes .When they saw us we all said “wotcher” and we joined in the general activity. The other boys in our group were older, about 9 to 11 and they did the more daring things. We all built camps from the salvaged bricks scattered about. I made a small model of an air raid shelter by digging a shallow hole, placing three bricks as walls and a large piece of slate as a roof, it was then covered with a mound of earth and sand leaving a small aperture as a door opening, it looked pretty good. Other older boys tried again to get into the derelict house but they could not get pass the coils of barbed wire. Sometimes, if we were lucky, we would get some potatoes and cook them on an open wood fire. We all went home to get some food from our mums.
When we returned later a rumor had started that the Whately gang were going to attack sometime in the afternoon. Panic all round.
The Whately gang had a reputation, they were generally older and bigger than us, and sometime they would attack with broom sticks and using dustbin lids as shields. We started to make barricades with old bricks, pieces of floor boards and sheets of corrugated iron. All of these things were readily available on the bombsite. We collected stones and small handsize pieces of bricks, we made small piles of this ammunition along the flank wall of the house under the graffiti saying “WOT NO FAGS”. We practiced our aim on tin cans and old pieces of glass bottles. I was getting pretty scared. The big boys discussed strategy. Should they hold out from the barricades or go out to meet them in the road , falling back to the barricades if they proved too tough. Tich was posted as look out by the side of the water tank. Every so often he would call out to frighten us then he would just laugh.
We grew increasingly nervous and an unusual quietness developed. Then, suddenly out of the blue, some one shouted “GET DOWN” ( during the war if you heard “GET DOWN” you threw yourself to the ground without hesitation, it could save your life) A huge almighty explosion shook the ground. I lay with my face down against the dirty ground of the bombsite , the air was full of smoke, debris, pieces of shattered glass, clouds of dust , chimney stacks toppled, the blast was tremendous. I was terrified. I looked up and saw Terry was ok. When the air finally cleared , I got up and ran as fast as I could over layers of broken glass, fragments of tiles and slates which looked like a mosaic over the pavements and road, I ran back to my mum.
Later we learnt that a German V2 rocket had fallen from the sky ,without any warning, on Melbourne Grove which was a nearby residential area. A large number of people were killed and injured, whole terraces of houses were flattened. It was a disaster.
Our little war with the Whately gang never did take place due to the intervention of Adolf Hitler’s obscene weapon.
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