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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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My War, Jack Deacon

by cambsaction

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Jack Deacon Dennis Gilligan and Paddy Gilligan
Location of story: 
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Contributed on: 
12 December 2005

St. Colombas Church, Holderness Road, Hull-reduced to a shell after a direct hit

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Mike Langran of the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Story Gatherer Team on behalf of Jack Deacon and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions

I was five years old when the War started. The first thing I noticed was more and more men and women wearing uniforms. My mother worked in the margarine factory, wore clogs and worked from 6.00am to 6.00pm.

My uncle Dennis was in the RAF as a tail gunner in Wellington Bombers. He came home on leave once and he said he would take me back to his squadron. I got prepared with my Wellington boots on but when he got his sheepskin flying boots on I felt small!! The last time I saw him he was home on leave, it was thick snow outside. All the women in the street pelted him and uncle Paddy with snowballs. He returned to his squadron based in Alamien but failed to return from a raid in February 1942. His grave is in Alamien War cemetery.

Hull was regularly bombed and we would spend many nights under the stairs. The first we would hear was the Air Raid siren, people would go into the air raid shelters at the end of the street or the Anderson shelters in their gardens. Later we could hear the droning whooom, whooom of the German Bombers. The first wave of bombers would drop what we called Chandelier flares that would light up the whole area, after that you could hear the bombs whistling as they dropped through the air followed by the big explosions that would shake the ground, windows would be blown in. As a child I wasn’t frightened, it’s only when I grew up and looked back that I could see the danger. If the air raid “All Clear” went off late in the morning, we would get the day off school. Then us lads would go looking for shrapnel and swap with others if we thought there’s was better than ours.

When the war ended and people returned to a so called normal life, it was interesting to note how many babies were born.

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