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WW2 - People's War

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Memories of WW2

by SVC_Cambridge

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
SVC_Cambridge
People in story: 
Bob Stone
Location of story: 
Carlyle Rd Cambridge
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4375352
Contributed on: 
06 July 2005

Story donated by Bob Stone from Swavesey and recorded by Rebecca Digby and Jolene Stokes.

During the air raids at night, i used to stand in the window with my father, at Carlyle Rd and watch the search lights scanning the sky for enemy planes. One night bomb fell very near to my school at Park Street (I was eleven years old). They fell in the lanes behind the baron of beef, near to the round church and like all boys, i did reckless things at times and could have been found climbing amongst the bombed out buildings the next day. These bombs on Cambridge, never seem to be mentioned! Rumour had it that Churchill was due at the hall behind the round church that day and that discussions concerning the atomic bomb were to take place there.

Air raid shelters had been built along the bank of the rive cam near the water-fall bridge at jesus green. Hundreds of people would run to these at night during an air raid warning, where we would sing roll out the barrel and many other war time songs. The shelters smelt damp and were very cold. Air raid wardens would only let us out when the 'all clear' had been sounded.

At home i used to keep a sheath knife at the side of my bed just in case a German parachutist dropped in!

Brick air raid shelters were also built near to the brook on Jesus green for the children of Park Street School. We often had to march quickly from the school, with out gas-masks, for air raid shelter practice.

Being the Malt was a prized position to attain in class (we all had our own Malt spoons with a bit of coloured wool tied around them).

Air raid warnings were flashed on the cinema screen at the REX cinema. Many people would go home but we used to stay to the end of the film.

We all knew the sound of an enemy planes engine; it throbbed and didn't have that smooth sound of one of ours.

Endless Convoys of mainly American vehicles and made it impossible for my sister and I to get to school on time. But we got plenty of gum thrown to us by the troops!

I remember being in a wood one day when an American army lorry, full of troops, made a comfort stop. Most of the soldiers were black and we had never seen a black man before. We were absolutely terrified!

I also remember seeing the sky full of aeroplanes, all going in the same direction, many of them towing gliders.

I remember the magic atmosphere at the VE day Bonfire, dancing and celebrations on Midsummer Common. During the war, all over Midsummer Common they had huge poles erected with spikes at the top-supposedly to deter enemy parachutists. During the celebrations I attempted to climb to the top of one of these poles but it was too high and the girth was too much for the length of my arms. However some soldiers climbed up behind me in an effort to get me to the top.

I remember not knowing how to get into a banana when my mother first managed to acquire one.

I well remember climbing up to the top girder of the Waterfall Bridge at Jesus Locks, and sitting next to one of the bridge lights, the very first night that Street lights were allowed to shine after the war. The 'Black-outs' had been taken down from the house windows and bright light were shining through them. It was a like a fairy wonderland!

I remember being puzzled and asking my Father "What news would they have to put in the Daily Papers now that the war had ended?"

All the teachers in the schools seemed to be women.

We used to go boating on the river Cam in the jettisoned aircraft fuel tank with a hole cut out of it so that we could sit in it. We had a length of wood bolted across it with a five-gallon drum at each end for stability.

One night I was sleeping on an old settee in the basement of a garage in London. I remember waking up on the concrete floor. A flying bomb had demolished a block of flats on the opposite side of the road and had also blown me off the settee.

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