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WW2 - People's War

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My Life Before, During and After the War.

by Civic Centre, Bedford

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Civic Centre, Bedford
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Peter Usher
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04 June 2004

I married just before the war. I worked at a factory on Millers Road that made hardboards. But when the war broke out I was 26 and the factory I was working at switched to making bombs and me personally trench mortar bombs. But I expected to join the army and I said to my wife "well I expect I'll have to join the army." I passed all the A1 medicals but since I had done a 7 year apprenticeship I was put on reserved occupation and I continued to stay in the factory. The machinery was switched around a bit to make it easier for the women who started to join the factory. Girls came flooding in from places like Mark and Spencers, Tescos, Woolworths etc.
I had two sisters who lost a son each who were both in the RAF. One of them flew in a 'heavie' which flew on a 'sortie' to Germany and on the way back was stalked by 3 German fighters who eventually shot the 'heavie' down over the south-east coast and the whole crew of 7 got killed. The other son got killed by German fighters during the Battle of Britain.
After the war my factory switched back to hardboards but shut down a couple of years after the war. I then went to a factory further down the same road which made boilers and traction engines-a job i've always wanted. I helped make a traction engine which appeared in the film "The Iron Maiden". I helped make and run locos for numerous railways like Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway. Most of the locos I helped build and run still survive which you can see. I also used my knowledge to build models some of which are in museums e.g. York railway museum.

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