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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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A Sad Payday in Kent

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Penny Summer (formerly Penny Chambers)
Location of story: 
Strood, Kent
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
20 April 2005

I was seventeen years old, living in Strood in Kent. I had just married a regular soldier, Sgt Lionel Chambers. After five weeks, he was sent to Dunkirk, and was missing for six months, believed killed. I later discovered that he was in fact alive, and after five years as a Prisoner of War he returned home to me.

One of my strongest memories is one Thursday. It was my first day as a Fire Girl in the Auxiliary Fire Service. I was on an afternoon shift, from 2pm to 10pm, at the headquarters at the top of Strood Hill, opposite the Coach and Horses Pub. My job was to liaise with the firemen who went out to incidents, and log their location. One of the firemen, Bill Beer, rang to tell me he was in position. The next thing I knew was that, moments later, he had been killed by a bomb. He had lived in Darnley Road. He had four children. That day was payday — I remember seeing his paypacket left untouched that evening.

I felt dreadful, and cried for days. I broke down, but had to pull myself together, and come back the next day. There were to be many more days like that ahead of me.

This story was submitted to the People’s War website by John Young, of BBC South East Today, on behalf of Penny Summer, and has been added to the site with her permission. Mrs Summer fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Fire Duty Category
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