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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
Wymondham Learning Centre
People in story: 
Gerald Smith and mother
Location of story: 
Newton Flotman, Norfolk, Banham, Dunston Stoke Holy Cross
Article ID: 
A3857736
Contributed on: 
04 April 2005

I was born near Banham church 29th Jan. 1926. My father was a postman so we moved around quite a lot. When living in Dunstan I worked on the land so was exempt for the army. I was only 15 yrs old when I volunteered and became a member of the home guard — my mate joined too. We were given a uniform — forage cap, gas mask, etc., bayonet, rifle and ten rounds of ammunition. Nobody ever checked this and I kept it in my bedroom! I was trained to use a Lewis machine gun and I could put it together, in the dark, in under three minutes. I never had to fire it although I nearly did one night when on duty — we did it three times a week — in Stoke Park (Stoke Holy Cross). I saw a white shape — who goes there I said putting a round up in the breech — I thought it was a parachute and a German soldier but it was a cow.

One day after Boulton & Paul’s got bombed I got home and as I stood outside the house a German plane came over the treetops and actually fired at me. The bullets fell just in front of my feet and I wasn’t injured but Mum and I were wholly scared.

Dad was away at the war and I was the eldest of four boys so had to do all the digging — Mum came behind and planted the “spuds”. We grew a lot of our food and kept chickens.

The other thing we were trained to do was plant sticky bombs (they looked like pineapples) onto tracks. Walk up casually, plant the bomb and walk away slowly so if it went off it would only knock you down.

When on duty we had a bit of fun — me and my mate would stop the girls going to the dance and if they didn’t have an identity card we’d put them in the Nissan hut until an officer interviewed them.

We went dancing a lot locally — went on my bike one night when coming home between Dunstan and Newton Flotman a Blenheim bomber was returning from a raid and hit the trees — the bodies of the crew were hanging in the trees — I’ll never forget that night.

When we were on manoeuvres — trying to attack the pylons at Stoke — which we didn’t manage to do — we could go anywhere, through gardens etc. and we’d have a feast on the way!

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