- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Mrs Jean Potts
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 13 July 2005
This story was submitted to the Peoples War site by Jas from Global Information Centre Eastbourne and has been added to the website on behalf of Mrs Potts with her permission and she fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
I was coming 19 when the War started, working in the Post Office and, as such, was in a reserved occupation for the duration. Eastbourne was the most bombed town in England — low planes came in over Beachy Head, switched off their engines, machine-gunned, dropped their bombs and were gone before the local cuckoo warning went off.
I worked on telegram switchboards and teleprinters at the GPO — shift work. The railway station was bombed many times and the library / technical institute while we were on duty.
The RAF based at the Grand Hotel sent messages in code ad lib. At times I worked at the Post Office near Marks and Spencer’s and was there when it was bombed.
We hid under the counter as the walls caved in on us. A girl was blown to pieces in the air raid shelter. The seafront was closed tank traps and barbed wire on the beaches.
The middle of the pier was blown up and there were Bofor guns on the pier and at the wish tower. We could hear the guns over in France
The town was evacuated. Bombers returning from raids on London and Coventry dropped any left over bombs on Eastbourne — Beachy Head was their landmark.
The battles in the sky happened overhead and the battle with the Doodlebugs, we got it all. After the war the sound of any plane, made us prostrate ourselves in the gutter, we did that during the war whenever there was the sound of any plane — my friend, having been to the doctor for a bottle of tonic, flattened in the gutter, holding her tonic aloft!
During the war Bourne Street was a no-go area and the Tank Regiment was stationed in Meads. Before the Dieppe raid, Canadians were stationed here and cafes insisted we took our own knives and forks and beer ran out for days.
At the end of the war Australian POW’s came to be kitted out.
During the war I slept under the stairs in a cupboard until we acquired an Anderson Shelter.
My father kept rabbits we had them stuffed and roasted and he grew vegetables and fruit on his allotment. We picked blackberries, mushrooms etc. to eke out our meagre rations.
He was a firewatcher and was employed boarding up windows blown out by the bombs and putting up false ceilings.
The blackout was 100%. Riding my bike after dark I had only a pinhole of light to guide me.
Sometimes we swam in the River Cuckmere at the lock — until I got malaria from mosquitoes, which they said had come back from the Middle East in planes landing on the airstrip at Friston.
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