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My Young Life in Market Drayton

by AgeConcernShropshire

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
AgeConcernShropshire
People in story: 
Mr Eric Heath.
Location of story: 
Market Drayton Shropshire
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A5231152
Contributed on: 
20 August 2005

I spent my childhood at Sandy Lane, Red Bull, a couple of country miles from Market Drayton, Shropshire, with schooling at Hales a mile and a half away.
My Mum took in two evacuees from Ramsgate and later on after they had gone we had three Land Army girls working with the Bishop’s Wood Forestry Commission.
There were thousands of RAF personnel in and around the town with RAF Tern Hill a couple of miles from Market Drayton.
I remember seeing a bomber come over our house at Sandy Lane, it was on fire. Then I heard it exploded as it crashed at Hempmill Brook. Another crashed between Hales and the Sanatorium Woods by Loggerheads, another one crashed at the top of Pell Wall Bank in a field just off the road, and one at the top of Almington Bank in a field. It had hit the overhead power lines. My neighbour, who is now my brother in law and I were coming home from Hales school and saw the pilot trying to get out, he was unsuccessful, and the bomber then burst in to a ball of flame. At the back of the old council houses at Sambrook, a bomb had been dropped; luckily it did not go off, however it managed to shake my Granddad out of bed!
As lads we used to go to the crash sites when possible, looking for bits of Perspex from the cockpits to make rings and little brooches.
I also remember smoking old cigarette stubs in my bubble pipe when the Land Army girls threw them into the ‘ess ole’ that was down by the ash pan. I also remember the American Convoys. One such convoy stopped at the end of our road and cooked a meal. We used to shout to them “Any gum chum?” Before they left they axed 1944 on the old oak tree. The scars are just visible now.
From the end of our road, on the Woore side, we could see the baggage balloons over Crewe and at Red Bull, just down the road, we saw a strange object. Only when we got older we knew it to be a Pill Box. There is still one now which is similar to the one we say as children at the Talbot Inn, Market Drayton.
The joy in Market Drayton when the war finally ended was when my mother took my two sisters and I into town to watch the Americans singing and dancing the Jitterbug in the street. At this time we did not know this kind of dancing. Also, under the Butter Cross someone was ringing the bell, which has since disappeared.
One of the best moments was the smell of an army battle dress coming into our house. It was very distinctive and worn by a stranger to me, but it was my dad. He had come home after nearly five years away at war. It was a while before my younger sister was able to accept him.

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