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Roy’s Memories in Eastbourne

by gloinf

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Roy Hall
Location of story: 
Eastbourne Sussex
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
05 November 2004

I went to Christ-church infants’ school and when the siren sounded we would file out in pairs, holding hands and walk up to the redoubt where there was a shelter.
Soon after that the school was hit by an oil bomb, I remember the tower and bell crashed into the road, the black smoke, and the terrible noise.

After that I had four hours of school, three days a week, Monday at The Archery, Wednesday at the Leaf Hall, and Friday at the top of Meads.

I know of a bus driver that was killed by a cannon shell as he sat in the driving seat of his bus.

My father could not go to war as he was unfit, but he worked all day repairing roofs that were damaged through the day and was a Sergeant machine gunner at night.
They marched to the foot of Beachy Head to a gun post and the door was bolted on the outside to make sure they stayed if there was an invasion.

In the early days he knew that most times after a bombing raid the staircase was still standing, so he supported the stairs with cut- down scaffold poles.

He cut out cartoons from the papers so that there would be something for us to look at each night, my sister and I would sleep with our heads, (and I was wearing my camouflaged helmet) under the bottom step, mother would sleep sitting up and brave dad would be just outside.

Then the table shelter came! While it was erected we stuck tape on the windows, the times I hit my head on the table shelter... I could tell the difference between the sounds of a German plane and one of ours; it would wake me up and I knew which one it was. I would jump up bang on mother’s door, run bang on my sister’s door and then swing over the banisters and land just outside the front room where the table was, I was always the first.

It amuses me now, at my age, to know that where we lived there was, and I think still is, about three or four feet of seawater under the floor, so had we had been bombed and the floor collapsed we could have drowned.

We then evacuated to Newent in Gloucestershire but my mother didn’t like it and missed father so we came back to Eastbourne. I remember the scaffold, barbed wire, and mines, on the beach, that blew up when an animal ran over them.

We were not to go out until at least ten minutes after a raid because the shrapnel was too hot to pick up; you know what children are like. Early one morning we found a large piece of shrapnel, about three inches by eighteen, just lying up against the front door, with no damage done.

Our landlord, who lived in Spencer Court, ran out across the road into a brick and concrete shelter built on the other side of the road, it had a direct hit and totally disappeared, hardly a brick left, and the wall of a church nearby was undamaged.

I have seen a house with only one wall standing with a picture still hanging on and shelves still intact.

The strangest thing was the bomb that hit Tideswell Road and bounced, just missing the tower of the church, and hit Marks Spencer’s. My mother was in there, but when the siren went she ran across the road and under the Southdown Bus company arch opposite,
What a near miss!!
People laid in the gutter, jumped over a wall, or ran for the nearest shelter.

My grandparents had eight sons and a daughter-in -law who came back from the war they had their photos in the local paper, the headline was
’ The Hall’s are home’.
They built my grandmother a shelter in her back garden, and after the war they could not knock it down, the concrete was reinforced with bicycle frames, bed irons, and springs; anything would do!!!

We saved aluminium and collected books; we were awarded ranks for the amount of books we collected, and I was a field marshal; wow!!!

My father also built concrete tank traps on the beach, and the two men who were pumping the water up from the sea were from the midlands and had not seen the sea. They had their shoes and socks off, and were dancing in the water. Still pumping I must add.

My uncle's house took a direct hit and he was called from work and joined the rescue team, looking for his wife and son, he was frantic. I saw him pick up a large chunk of wall, about twenty or more bricks cemented together and just tossed it to one side, I’ll bet he could not do that under normal circumstances.

The doodle-bugs were the topic of the day: we played outside and watched them go over, flying blowlamps, and they were friendly enough; they told you when they were coming down; the engine stopped, and you moved!

The men cut off our cast iron railings from the front of our house. I told them off: they took no notice, just chucked them in the back of the lorry.

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