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Boilers and Bombs in Swindon Railways Works

by billgeorgeburgess

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Bill Burgess
Location of story: 
Swindon railway works
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
17 May 2005

I worked in the L2 shop in the GWR works in Swindon from 1935. I started as a hammer boy for a blacksmith. Then at 16 started an apprenticeship as a boiler maker.

My job was to weld the 2,000 and 4,000 lb bombs. I was small enough to get inside the 2,000 lb bombs to work whilst the 4,000 where big enough to sit in quite comfortably and eat my sandwiches.

I had to weld at least one bomb per day. There was plenty of overtime. I was on apprentices money but with war work and overtime I got more money than the boiler makers. They didn't like that much.

All this saved me from getting called up until 1943 when the second front opened. We were stationed mostly in London. The flying bombs were in full operation with the rockets at this time, but when we went over to France everything was all quiet.

The people in Holland had the lights on in their windows, although the blackout was still in operation in London. I felt more safe in Holland, but the first night in a school on a concrete floor wasn't a good place to sleep.

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