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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Herbert Cecil Hill (known as Ernie)
Location of story: 
Brede, Rye, Udimore
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
11 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Wendy Wood of Hastings Community Learning Centre, a volunteer from BBC Southern Counties Radio on behalf of Herbert Cecil Hill and has been added to the site with his/her permission. Herbert Cecil Hill fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

I was 13½ years old when war was declared, and the only thing that happened before I left school at 14 years was that at our village school in Brede, Near Rye, East Sussex we had to dig for victory. A field near the school was given over to grow vegetables. We all thought it was great fun, better than being in the classroom. My first job was delivering milk and eggs for a local farmer, and in 1940, early one morning in the village of Udimore, going round the back of the house I saw a yellow nosed Messerschmitt. It had crash landed into an outside toilet. The good thing was that there was no one in there at the time. I couldn’t wait to get home from work to tell my family and friends. We heard later that the pilot was a WW1 veteran and wanted to give up. He was taken prisoner of war. Nothing must seemed to happen after that so when I was 16 years old I heard that if you joined the Fire Service as a messenger boy you would be given a motor bike. My friend and I joined up, but 2½ years late we were still waiting for them! However we were taken out in an open back fire engine in all weathers as far as Brighton some nights on exercise, we also attended local fires, and in those days there were very few fire hydrants about, and as messenger boys it was our job to report to the Chief Fire Officer how much water was required. We started work at 9 pm, finished at 6 am, and often after being out all night I then had to return to my day job working with horses on the land and in the woods. Long hours and heavy work. I attended the plane crash at Doleham Halt, another time a German plane landed on Camber Sands in flames, the pilot was burned to death which was not a pretty sight for us young boys, and being in a mine field it was very dangerous. Due to a terrible bout of flu and stress due to lone hours I had to leave. Not long after this the war ended.

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