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A Chudleigh Knighton Childhood in WW2

by csvdevon

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
csvdevon
People in story: 
Philip John Tapper
Location of story: 
Chudleigh Knighton, Devon
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A8404733
Contributed on: 
10 January 2006

This story has been written to the BBC People's War site by CSV Storygatherer Coralie, on behalf of Philip John Tapper. The story has been added to the site with his permission and Philip fully understands the terms and conditions of the site.

I was seven years old when war broke out. I was the third son of Frank and Edith Tapper, having two elder brothers, Arthur and George, and my younger brother Charles. I suppose I expected that it would be aeroplanes and bombs all around from then on.

There were so many of us at Chudleigh Knighton School as the evacuees arrived, that it was decided to send all the pupils home for the rest of the day, so that schooling could be sorted out and in the end the village hall was also used to accommodate everyone. The larger classes went on with normal teaching.

I remember seeing the red glow in the sky on the nights when both Plymouth and Exeter were bombed. It must have been 1942 when Exeter was hit, as my mother was very ill in hospital there and a nurse volunteered to stay in the ward with her as she was too ill to be moved. A few months later she came home with our new baby brother, Matthew.

The Americans were stationed in Pitt House, Chudleigh Knighton and in Bovey Tracey. They had built concrete squares to house drums of petrol on Chudleigh Knighton Heath and after school some boys and I would visit them, in their sentry huts on the edge of the heath, for a chat as they stood guard. They were always very kind and gave us children sweets and chewing gum. Once when I was out to play in the snow, a lone German plane flew very low over the area and when it came over my head I felt frightened in case he would target me. The target, of course, was the fuel being stored.

My eldest brother joined the Army and went away to fight in Germany, and when he came home in 1945 he brought home his new German bride.

My father and a neighbour built an Anderson shelter in the back garden, but we never used it as it filled up with water.

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