- Contributed by
- Civic Centre, Bedford
- People in story:
- John Hartup
- Location of story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 28 May 2004
Several memories spring to mind. I was ten years old when the war started and I use to regularly sing with the BMS choir for the Daily Service with the BBC in St Paul's Church; the organist was usually George Thalben Ball. I was one of six boy choristers who sang with the BBC's live performance of a Nativity Play from Bedford School at Christmas 1943 - the MD was Charles Groves.
I regularly attended afternoon BBC orchestral performances from the Corn Exchange. The conductors I remember best were Adrian Boult, John Barbirolli and Clarence Raybould; the Leader of the BBC Symph Orch at that time was Paul Beard.
During the school holidays I worked as a volunteer on many farms around Bedford. We'd meet outside the corn exchange and be taken in trucks to the farms. On one memorable occasion we were working in a field next to Thurleigh air field when the B17s returned from a raid. Many were badly damanged; one crashed on landing. At that time the sky was filled with red Very flares.
On many occasions, from about 1943, I played the piano in a small dance band trio for Saturday night hops at Bedford Trades Club. I was replacing the regular pianist who was called up for war service. I also played for a small concert party giving concerts to the troops.
Around 1940 (whilst at Silver Jubilee School) I was involved in collecting scrap metal to help the war effort. Photos of this appeared in the Beds Times or Bedford Record.
A near miss occured when I was a lad. I used to take my bike to school and leave it in the bike racks at the back. One particular day, around the time I'd have been locking up my bike, a piece of shrapnel from the bomb which fell near the railway station dropped onto my cycle rack! Fortunately on that particular day I had walked to work.
When the "Landmine" fell near Kempston Barracks, we all rushed into our shelter at the bottom of our garden. When all was quiet, my father went out of the shelter for about 10 mins to look around. When we eventually got back into the house, we saw that my father's bald head was covered in "Fall-out" - a thin layer of Kempston soil!
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