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15 October 2014
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Memories of my Uncle and my childhood

by cambsaction

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Sheila Beck, and Ronald J Munford (Uncle) 655837
Location of story: 
Peterborough, Cambs
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
21 December 2005

Sheila Beck with her father's cousin, Ronald J Munford in his early 20's.

My maiden name was Morley. The first thing I remember was hearing sirens from the kitchen door, it meant the war had started; I was 3. I remember collecting ship ha’pennys at school, the infants used to draw tanks and planes. My dad, Horace Morley, was in a reserved occupation, in engineering, working for Baker Burkins in Peterborough. This firm changed from Baking equipment to the war effort, my dad ended up working on tank turrets. He used to do shiftwork of a month on nights and a month on days; it upset his stomach and he used to become ill. Although very ill, he kept working as he saw it as his bit of the war effort. He used to go on Home Guard parades at the weekend, and I remember his heavy coat with brass buttons and huge boots. I lived in Peterborough. I remember when we walked to school we went passed a POW camp with Italian prisoners in. I once heard a heavy droning of aircraft overhead, it was the German planes on their way to bomb Coventry. I remember realising these planes could drop things out of the sky that might kill me, and was quite frightened. I remember a brick air-raid shelter outside my house. There were shells for bunk-beds, but we didn’t use the shelter more than twice, we tended to stay at home and hope for the best. We had a street party on VE day, with people in fancy dress and trestle tables. Everyone contributed and it seemed like a lot of food. After the war I was surprised when sweets and chocolate came back into the shops, as I had never seen them before. Houses were painted up, and areas that had seemed shabby were much more colourful.
My Uncle was in the RAF. He started in the Army, but after witnessing civilian refugees being strafed by the Luftwaffe, he transferred to the RAF. He joined Bomber Command, and trained at RAF Shipping Warden, at the Operational Training Unit. One letter sent from RAF Bourne in 1942 mentioned getting only 12 hours sleep in 3 days. Another letter was sent from RAF Waterbeach. He died on September 16-17 in 1942 on a night mission. People came to tell my Aunt what happened, but it was too painful for her to listen to. His name can b found on the RAF Memorial at Runnymede. One memory of my Uncle was him visiting our home when he had a few hours leave; at breakfast he covered up the word ‘Flakes’ on a packet of Corn Flakes, so that it read ‘Corn-Flak’! He was a talented, kindly person who played the violin and loved classical music; I always remember him being very kind to me.

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