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15 October 2014
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Wartime Brighton

by My Brighton and Hove

Contributed by 
My Brighton and Hove
People in story: 
Bob Wells
Location of story: 
Brighton, East Sussex
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
20 April 2005

This story was submitted to the Peoples'War site by My Brighton and Hove and has been added to the site with Bob Wells' permission. Bob fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

War came, along with a lot of restrictions. No more beach, blackout curtains, so lights were on all the time at night, and rationing. The people muddled through and mostly helped each other out. If the butcher had any sausages (off ration) or other titbits word soon got around and a queue soon formed. The same applied to other things as well, like coal (we were allowed 14 or 28lbs each) to stop hoarding. The war struck in our district, with a bit of machine gunning by Germans back to their base, a lot were shot down over the sea, but some didn’t make it, like the one brought down about 200 yards away from our house in St Nicholas` Churchyard. The pilot is buried in Bear Road Cemetery. The people had to go to an A.R.P station at the top of Gloucester Road to be fitted for their gas masks, which were to be carried at all times, in a little cardboard box around our shoulders. Sometimes there were spot checks to see if we were carrying them as the boxes were often used to carry other things. In school we sometimes had to do lessons in them, to get used to wearing them.
On VE day the war in Europe was over. People went wild, laughing, singing and dancing in the streets and public places. I spent that night up till about 11 o’clock sitting up a lamp post outside the Quadrant pub at the Clock Tower. My brother had put me up there out of the way and so that I could see what was going on. Things got a bit easier after that, people got more light-hearted even though the queues were still there, and some rationing stayed well into the fifties. In those days when you had the money, you could go to the cinema. A lot of the films were about war and heroics, therefore they were "A" certificated, which meant you had to be over 16 to go in on your own. I used to ask people to take me in, after I had paid them my money. Usually they would, all it meant was we had to sit with them. I don’t think this could happen in these days, because of the threat of being molested. All the servicemen from all nations suddenly left our town, and things slowly began to get back as they had been. The army took away their BOFAR guns, which were all along the seafront and the beaches were cleared of mines and the barbed wire on posts were taken down. On the seafront the only thing that remained of the war were the gaps in each of the piers, put there in case of invasion, the enemy would not be able to use them to unload supplies. About 5 months later, the atom bomb was used, and despite the horror of the pictures
seen in the cinemas, it brought about a speedy end to the war.
On VJ day the people who had gone wild on VE Day, went even crazier, banners were flying, flags everywhere and the lights coming on in the streets. Down came the blackout curtains, gone were the ARP men shouting, "Put that light out" or knocking on your door to tell you under threat of jail.

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Message 1 - Wartime Brighton

Posted on: 21 April 2005 by Ron Goldstein

Hi Bob
The Bofor Guns you refer to in your article were provided by my then Regiment, the 112th Light Ack Ack Rgt. R.A.
In March 1943 I was a humble wireless operator and billeted in the road opposite to the kids paddling pool facing Wish Road in Hove where one of our Bofors was stategically placed to catch sneak Luftwaffe raiders.
Before being posted abroad in April '43 to join the 49th LAA I spent many a sleepless night guarding the same gun in what should have been my off-duty hours.
Best wishes


Message 2 - Wartime Brighton

Posted on: 21 April 2005 by Audrey Lewis - WW2 Site Helper

Hello Bob,
Thanks for your story. I lived in Brighton twenty years ago - so your story got my attention. Pleased you survived those days - they were pretty grim sometimes for we young - but the experience made us what we are today - don't you think?
Kind wishes,
Audrey Lewis

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Family Life Category
End of War 1945 Category
Sussex Category
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