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The Beginning of a New Era

by ActionBristol

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Maurice Carter
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07 May 2005

Born 1931 and wI as 9 years old when war broke out.
I was in school during the war years in the Kingswood area and remember the first barrage balloon that went up at Gordon Rd playing fields in Whitehall. A barrage balloon was a means of keeping the German aircraft from coming in too low.

Once the air raids became more regular - we slept in the Anderson shelter in the garden every night. There were four of us - me, my brother, mum and grandmother.
A candle in a flowerpot was the only source of light. I remember coming out of the back door of my house to go to the shelter and using the washing line as a guide to the bottom of the garden.

We watched all the air raid shelters being built at Page Park, Staple Hill....they dug into the ground deeply - shored them up with corrugated sheets, put the roof on and covered it with earth. They were 8 - 9 feet (approx 2-3 metres) in the ground.

They cut all the railings down around the perimeter of the park for the steel for the war effort - and they have never been replaced (2005)

I remember being able to have a bath once a week because of the shortage of water....and families had to share the same bath and I was last in as I was the youngest !!! It was pretty murky by then - but you had no choice.

My father was an air raid warden as he was in a reserved occupation because he was working for the aircraft company. They had to check that all blackout curtains were in place and might be gone all weekend to his post - which was at Hillfields.
During the week he worked at BAC - often doing overtime. So we didn't see much of our father during the war years.

My major memory is starting work.
I actually started work on VE Day - 7th May - I was 14 years old and began working for the GPO ( General Post Office ) - as a telegram boy. This obviously involved delivering terrible news to people on occasions as well as good news. Although the war in Europe had ended we were still fighting the Japanese until August 1945.
I received 19 shillings and sixpence (about £1.00) per week.

I had the afternoon off on the first two days of my new job for the VE celebrations.
I got involved in various street parties during the time I was delivering telegrams and often got a tip (of one penny - there were 240 pennies to the pound) if the news was good.

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