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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Memories of Wartime Experiences

by gloinf

Contributed by 
gloinf
People in story: 
Derek Moorton
Location of story: 
Eastbourne
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3094418
Contributed on: 
06 October 2004

"Hell Fire" Corner Moorton's Hardware Shop-Corner of Langley road-Bourne Street also the "Rose and Crown" public house

I was born in Eastbourne 1935.These are some of my memories of wartime experiences which are not necessarily in correct time sequence.

My home was in Melbourne Road and that area became known as "Hell Fire Corner" due to the whole area having been bombed repeatedly, as the allied fighters waited for the German bombers, and they subsequently dropped their bombs and fled across
the channel.

We also owned a hardware shop called "Moorton's" but it was bombed, above see photograph.

After the destruction of the shop and the local houses, these properties were utilised by the allied soldiers for training in house to house fighting in preparation for the invasion of France .We kept the soldiers continually supplied with mugs of tea in return for tins of milk and tins of food.

The seafront was heavily protected with razor wire, but the soldiers permitted us to go on to the beach. I remember seeing a German fighter pilot parachuting into the sea just at the back of Leaf Hall, and another occasion where a parachutist landed on the top of a church steeple but was killed before he landed. The pier was cut into sections and the soldiers would allow us to walk across the planks to the end where we would have handlines with which we caught fish.

To make some pocket money we would go to the woods and pick Primroses,and Bluebells. We would also pick Blackberries as people would make jam with the sugar that they had saved from their ration allowance. We would also cut up rafters from the bombed houses, chop it up for firewood as coal was scarce.

We had a Canadian soldier billetted with us and he drove a jeep. Sad to say as we watched Pathe News at the cinema we saw him drive over a bridge in France, as he passed over the bridge it was bombed, but we never knew if he survived or not.

At the back of our house, was a warehouse with a flat roof, with a Bofor gun was situated on it. A German plane came over and machine gunned it and the bullets went across our backyard and up the walls of the house.

As we were a large family we had a double Anderson shelter, under the front room window, when the sirens went off we would pick up our bundle of clothes and proceed downstairs as quickly as possible to the shelter, and remain there until the "All Clear" sounded.

When the flying bombs (doodlebugs) came over, and the siren sounded, we did not take much notice, ultil the engine stopped
and then we ran for the nearest shelter. I have in my possession two original "SHELTER" signs, - one with an "S" and an arrow
on it, the other has "SHELTER HERE "

On occasions we would watch allied fighters attempt to position their aircraft so that they could tip the wing of the German Bombers
and cause them to flip round so that the German aircraft would go back over the sea, and then the allied fighters would shoot it down.

I also remember a ship being bombed and it ran aground on the "Crumbles" and local men began to loot it. Whilst my Father went down to see what he could find I sat on the groyne and watched the police stop the men as they came off the ship and onto the
beach, the police instructed them to put down the items they had taken, but as the police turned and left, the men would gather up the items and run for it.!

Another memory is that of Marks & Spencers on the corner of Langney Road and Terminus Road, being hit by a bomb and the firemen using a tannoy to ask for quiet, to enable them to listen and hear if anyone was alive underneath the rubble. My Mother-in -Law took shelter in a shop on the opposite side of the road, the name of the shop was Bobby's, now known as Debenhams

When the sirens sounded their warning that an attack was imminent, my Brother who was an A.R.P. Warden would patrol the streets and sometimes I went with him, to check the blackout of the houses. Any properties that were showing chinks of light
had their doors banged on and told to "put that light out" in no uncertain terms, the wardens checked the houses until the all clear sounded.

Although we were very young the war taught us to grow up quickly and it is important that we should relate out experiences to our children, so that the lessons learned from the war are not forgotten.

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