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Memories of ww2 as a youngster

by Tom Fry

Contributed by 
Tom Fry
People in story: 
Tom Fry and family members
Location of story: 
Anlaby, East Riding of Yorkshire
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
28 July 2005

My three wheeler cycle became motor tug "Loyd Street" for a fancy dress parade in 1942. Dad was in the Royal Navy as a Chief Engineer of a trawler, used during the war as a mine sweeper.

I was born January 1936 at 20 Woodgates Road in the city of Kingston upon Hull. Father Thomas Fry (Circa 1910) was Chief Engineer of a trawler and served in the Royal Navy mine sweeping. Mother Ada Fry (Circa 1911), nee Maulkinson, was in the Womens Voluntary Entertainment Service (WVES). She was in the Lottie Stubbins accordion band and at weekends the band entertained the troops at camps along the east coast, as far north as Durham. My elder sister Ada (Circa 1934) and I used to stay with Grandma (Violet, nee Newbury) and Granddad (Thomas Eyre) Maulkinson at the weekends. I attended Anlaby County Primary School where there were large brick air raid shelters with concrete roofs. One day when we were in the school vegetable garden, we were being taught how to rake the soil, when a convoy of army vehicles went by going towards Anlaby. The soldiers were giving the Churchill Victory sign and we all cheered holding up our arms showing them our Victory sign.

Mother had four sisters and one brother. Hilda Watson, married with children, Muriel Maulkinson, single in the Royal Navy, Vera Maulkinson, single was a nurse, Elsie Maulkinson, single in the Army and Thomas Eyre Maulkinson Jnr, single was in the Royal Navy. Only Muriel and Elsie still survive.

1938 saw us move from Spring Bank to Loyd Street, off First Lane, Anlaby, East Riding of Yorkshire. There were houses on the south side of Hull Road Anlaby, but otherwise we were surrounded by meadowland and cows. Anlaby had four farms, one at the corner of Lowfield Road and Anlaby Road, one opposite the Red Lion Public House and one to the west of Wolfreton Drive and in front of which was a pond. Rawsons pig farm was down Pryme Street. The Anlaby village grocers shop was run by Mrs Johnson in the building which is now Crofters Restaurant.

East Yorkshire Motor Services (EYMS) had a repair garage on Hull Road Anlaby Common. With no new buses being built, keeping their fleet on the road during ww2 was a significant part of the war effort. Some buses towed a small furnace producing gas to supplement fuel. During the blackout, conductors would call out the stops en route — Belgrave Drive, Anlaby Park Road North, Anlaby Common, First Lane, at which point we used to get off!

The Hull and Barnsley railway was always busy and strategic line to and from the port of Hull docks. Whilst mostly goods trains moved on this line, there was a passenger service. I could see the railway line from our back bedroom window.

There was spare land between Loyd Street, Mortimer Avenue and First Lane, upon which the Army had a huge tent. Along First Lane between Hull Road Anlaby and Boothferry Road Hessle, the Army had a permanent line of ambulances each with large red cross on a white circle. Number 2 Loyd Street had a small box on the front wall adjacent to the tenfoot*. The box had a glass front, slightly larger than a post card, and was used to display the Wardens duty roster.

* In Kingston upon Hull and surrounding villages, a ‘tenfoot’ is a ten foot wide access road to the rear of properties.

There was much noise during the war; air raid warning sirens blaring, Costello guns firing at enemy aircraft, bombs falling in the Hull city centre about four miles away, low flying enemy aircraft some of which roof hopped to keep out of the search lights. The loudest noise was the V1 — doodlebug — which landed in a field south of Willerby Road and west of the Springhead waterworks pumping station. I remember my sister and I being hurried by mother into our Anderson shelter and I saw the V1, the engine had a distinctive rasping sound which suddenly stopped. Just as the shelter door was being closed, there was a brilliant white flash, followed by an explosion. We lost many windows and the whole ground shook. Our home was half a mile from and south of the waterworks with the Hull and Barnsley railway line embankment between us.

On another occasion, we had been in the shelter during a raid on Hull and the all clear siren sounded. When we got out of the shelter and looked towards the City centre, there was a red glow in the night sky. We learned the following day that many of the shops had been very badly damaged, some a total loss.

We were walking home along Springhead Lane one evening when the air raid sirens sounded; there were no houses or shelter, so we kept walking. I can remember seeing the search lights locking onto enemy aircraft, low enough to see their markings. I can also remember seeing red flares lighting up the sky. I cannot remember ever being frightened.

We had shrapnel damage to furniture in our front room; one piece through the side of the upright piano and one piece through the front of the leather settee. The government paid reparation to repair the damage caused by shrapnel.

I enjoyed the radio (Rediffusion) programs, In Town Tonight, Workers Playtime, Itma, Have a go Joe, Billy Cotton, Monday Night at Eight, childrens programs and of course the News. Occasionally, if an Aunt or Uncle was on leave, my sister and I would be taken to the Carlton cinema on Anlaby Road, as it was only a short walk from where Grandma and Granddad Maulkinson lived in Kempton Road. I always enjoyed the newsreel with its war stories.

Village life went on during the war, everyone seemed to cope with rationing, gardens were used to grow food and any waste food would be collected by the pigswill trucks. My sister and I were always entered into the fancy dress parades each year. One year my three wheeler cycle became a ship with me in my sailors uniform! As a family, we were fortunate to come through ww2 without loss or injury despite the hazards some members had to endure. Throughout my life and probably because of my early experience of war, I have always looked for a peaceful solution to any dispute.

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