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15 October 2014
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A Civilian’s Angle on the War

by HnWCSVActionDesk

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Wilf Mound
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31 January 2006

I started life as an apprentice and eventually became a qualified electrician. I worked for Abell and Smiths in Angel Place in Worcester. I worked at their Malvern Branch. When the war started there was about 70 electricians employed with us. The electrical trade was so new that there were only young people working in it. Obviously they all went off to join up. Those who did not leave straight away stayed and had to carry on as before. We had to do a lot of work for the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Works. One day we would be working on a hotel and the next on a hospital, everything that was needed to keep the wheels turning. We also did basic maintenance work, wiring air raid shelters and sirens etc. everybody had to get a permit if they wanted any work doing and we couldn’t start a job unless they gave us the permit.

Once we gave a firm a quote for a job and when it was accepted we ended up in Newport, South Wales. We were installing the electrics for a firm that made aluminium from raw materials. This was made into ingots and later rolled to make aircraft skins. Just after we finished the job and left the factory and surrounding area was bombed.

Then in Malvern HMS Duke arrived on the scene. HMS Duke was a navel training depot in a huge field. Over the three and a half years they trained over 80 thousand sailor. We used to see the trucks carrying the new recruits up the depot. You should have seen them, bank managers, tramps, tall or short, though they all looked the same after a bath and a hair cut!

When you went through the gates it was like boarding a ship and there was a huge brass bell. you would hear the call, ‘Liberty men fall in to go ashore’ and a short while later you would see the sailors ‘coming ashore’ into the town. If someone was a little late he had to wait until the ship came in again on the tide. This sounds silly when they were only in a field but it taught them discipline.

During the Blitz the Royal Military School of Music was based in Deal. They didn’t just play music, they all had an important job as well. They got bombed out so came to HMS Duke, so Malvern had lots of men!

At the end of their training, those who had passed out had to go on a route march through Malvern, a 5 mile round trip with the full band in front. The sound was beautiful.

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Jacci Phillips of the CSV Action Desk at BBC Hereford and Worcester on behalf of Wilf Mound and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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