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Short Memories of Grays as a Young Lad

by Burnham Library

Contributed by 
Burnham Library
People in story: 
Don Baines
Location of story: 
Grays, Essex
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
09 December 2004

This story was submitted to the Peoples's War site by J. Marshall on behalf of D. Baines and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions

I have lots of memories of the war as a lad growing up in Grays, here are a few of them:

I remember the local council coming down the road quite early on in the War taking down all the iron railings for the war effort.

In the shops there was a real shortage of food especially fruit and fish. I remember the fish being brought in once a week on the LMS railway and left out on the platform in the blazing sun. Even though it was in short supply it still wasn’t looked after properly and it stank!

The local swimming pool shut down for the duration of the war and all the water went to water the containers.

My friends and I used to collect shrapnel all along the shoreline and a shell cap was really prized and swapped at school.

Being near Tilbury there were lots of incendiary bombs dropped to light up the Docks to guide down the German bombers. Once we saw a German bomber crash nearby with the loss of all the crew.

I got friendly with 3 auxiliary sailors who were stationed on a Mine Swatter anchored in the Thames. All along the river there were barrage balloons to stop aircraft approaching.

In 1944 there was a sudden influx of US soldiers who put up marquees. We thought that they were getting ready for the D Day Landings but instead they dug a huge crater just outside the Docks and built Mulberry Harbours which were floated across to France. They were so big, they had to knock down part of the sea wall to get them out.

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