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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Peter Anthony Hunter, Arthur Hunter — Snr., Arthur Hunter — Jnr, Hauptmann Ernst Wiggers, Flt Sgt. William Higgins
Location of story: 
Uckfield
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4519118
Contributed on: 
22 July 2005

For the duration of the war my father, Arthur Hunter, born 1896, was a serving constable (No. 197) at Uckfield. My brother, Arthur Hunter, three years younger than me, lived in a Police House, with our parents, behind the Police Station. I was aged eight during the Battle of Britain.

In the Great War, my father fought on the Somme with the Second Battalion Coldstream Guards.

In the Second War he served as a Police Constable (No. 197) with the County Force. By the time, late 1942, conscription was allowed, he was too old.

On 11th September 1940, my father, on his Police bike, my brother, on his fairy cycle and I cycled from Uckfield to the foot of the Downs. We hid our machines in the bushes and climbed to the top of the downs.

My father’s Company Commander was Viscount HR Gage, whose Country Estate was in the weald below us. I recall an element of excitement and suspected we should not be there: if it was a restricted area, my father ignored it.

On reflection, my brother and I think father was considering an approach to his former officer to discuss re-enlistment.

Whatsoever the motive, it was terminated by overhead gunfire. My father pushed us into the grass and lay across our bodies. Low over the downs, East to West, we saw a German plane, followed by a Hurricane. The firing continued until the enemy plane crashed, burst into flames, in Houndean Bottom, Lewes, adjacent to the road to Brighton.

We saw the smoke, watched the Hurricane circle and return overhead. The pilot acknowledged our waves by waggling his wings in a victory salute.

The German pilot, Hauptmann Ernst Wiggers, was buried in Lewes Cemetery. The English pilot, Sgt. William Higgins was killed in action three days later.

My father hurried us home and instructed us not to tell mother what we had seen.

He retired from the Police in 1946.

This story was added to the People's War website by CSV Volunteer Pat Latham on behalf of Peter Hunter. Peter fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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