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An Unusual Rowing Trip

by csvdevon

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Anne Born. Amber the Cocker Spaniel.
Location of story: 
Salcombe Estuary
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
17 August 2005

This story has been written onto the BBC People's War site by CSV Storygatherer Janet on behalf of Anne Born. The story has been added to the site with her permission and Anne fully understands the terms and conditions of the site.

One afternoon in 1943 my mother asked me to row down to Salcome from our home at South Sands to get our meat allowance from the butcher.

No petrol was available for civilians use, so I started off in the dinghy, with Amber the cocker spaniel, who loved being on the water. It was a fine calm afternoon and we enjoyed the trip.

Approaching the mooring steps in the harbour I noticed a man leaning on the rail taking the air. No one else was in sight. Suddenly he turned and ran off. Then I heard the sound of an aeroplane engine and looked up. At the time, the harbour was filled with landing craft, in preparation for the invasion of Normandy. The plane was coming up the long straight stretch of water in South Pool creek, a speedy fighter plane. Practising again, I said to myself. Amber heard it too, she seemed uneasy, it was noisy. Then I saw black crosses on the underside of the wings as it swooped low, and dropped something. The explosion terrified the dog. The plane turned left and sped off towards the sea, while I rowed in to the mooring. Even before we quite reached it, Amber jumped out and fled! I followed her at a slower pace and went into the butcher's shop.

No sign of him, I hung about for a few minutes, then the door of his walk-in fridge opened and he peeped out, shivering a bit. He managed to serve me, and I had an uneventful row back, there being no sign of Amber.

When I arrived home I found Amber already there, somewhat puffed. We worked out that she must have covered the mile and a half in not much more than ten minutes, not bad for one with stumpy legs!

The Luftwaffe quite often made these hit and run raids, either for the purpose of striking craft in the harbours or on their way back from a bigger raid, to unload surplus bombs. We were lucky that day, there were several deaths from bombing in Salcombe, also Kingsbridge.

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