- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Reg Curtis
- Location of story:
- St Eval
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 24 May 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War website by Sandra Beckett on behalf of Mr Reg Curtis, the author, and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
At the outbreak of war I lived in a little hamlet named Engollan in the Parish of St Eval. My dad was a farmer on a smallholding named Brinns. I was 3 ¾ years old when war was declared but I can remember it as though it was yesterday. My parents, sister and myself were in the kitchen by the wireless set and heard Neville Chamberlain saying we are now at war with Germany.
Every time the air raid siren sounded, we went in the coal house under the stairs, the coal was loose and matting was put over it and we sat on wooden stools.
Dad, as a farmer, had a working dog; it was a mongrel, part Collie, Sheepdog and one or two others. It would never look to come indoors, but when dad put on his home guard uniform for the first time, picked up his rifle, opened the back door, it was winter time and dark, the dog lying down outside got up looked at dad and walked indoors. It came through the kitchen where the rest of us were sitting around the old kitchen range and lay down with back against the kitchen range and stayed there until dad came home, then got up and walked out. It seemed to know about the war and was guarding us and the house when dad was out on home guard duties. It did that until the home guard was disbanded.
On summer evenings it would lie down outside the back door and come inside when darkness fell.
I can remember hearing the first recording of a German doodlebug on the wireless set.
On Saturday, 25th January, 1941, a bomb hit the air raid shelter and killed 21. I remember the following Monday of going to St Columb Major with mother by bus and the road takes us right by the side of the Airfield and could see the aftermath. I remember seeing 2 or 3 R.A.F. ambulances, and beyond them big canvas awnings were rigged up at the mouth of the shelter. One summer I was playing in the garden and my parents were working in the garden when we heard a huge explosion from the airfield. I remember dad saying something had happened up there. That memory came flooding back in 1989 when reading a book about wartime R.A.F. St Eval. A Whitley aircraft fully laden with fuel and depth charges, whilst taking off, veered off to the port side and collided with a Liberator also fully laden with fuel and depth charges. Both planes burst into flames and exploded. Debris was scattered all over the airfield. This happened in August 1943. I’m quite sure that was the explosion heard on that day.
The local school I attended children from the families of R.A.F. came, they arrived each day by bus and were driven by a German P.O.W. Sometimes when picking the children up after school, he would carry on to the local shop and then let the local children on the bus and drop them off on the way to the shop.
On the build up to D-Day I can remember a few troops taking a rest in the school playground.
Funnily enough I cannot remember much about V.E. day — just going to a Church service and huge bonfire.
Time flies by, but memories linger on.
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