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15 October 2014
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A Boy and his Bicycle

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > United Kingdom > London

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
George Edward King
Location of story: 
Greenwich, Charlton, London
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A7159142
Contributed on: 
21 November 2005

I was born in Greenwich in 1923 and left school in 1937 age 14, and was employed in the butchery trade as a cutter. In the later part of 1938 with talk of war, the services were asking for volunteers. I applied and was accepted as a cycle messenger, I received my uniform and joined the station at Tunnel Avenue, Greenwich.

During that time, fire alarms were placed on street corners, numbered. My first job was to remember the name of the street and number of every alarm. They had to be tested, and you had a key for opening the glass door, a short cable with a plug on one end and a mike on the other, you put in the plug said to the operator “Testing”, he would reply “Testing OK” and you then closed the door and moved to to the next alarm.

We also had practice with firemen with hoses, when war did threaten. The firemen put in practice in empty buildings, one such was in Marlborough Lane, Charlton. I weighed ten stone at the time so I agreed to be carried down the ladder from a second storey building. It was OK for a time, but on one occasion the chap froze on the ladder, not able to go up or down, so it was decided eventually to stop it.

In 1941 motor cycles were brought in so eventually we weren’t required, and returned to our previous jobs.

This story was added to the People’s War site by Melita Dennett on behalf of George King, who understands the site’s terms and conditions.

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