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15 October 2014
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Dad's story

by 6thKSLI

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Archive List > United Kingdom > Kent

Contributed by 
6thKSLI
People in story: 
John Trow
Location of story: 
Deal, kent + Clee Hill, Shropshire
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A5036960
Contributed on: 
12 August 2005

My dad John Trow is nolonger here to tell his story so I will pass on what he told me.

My dad's family were living in Deal, Kent at the start of the Second War, althou his father was originaly from Clee Hill Shropshire. Before the war had started my dad's father George Trow had built a bomb shelter in the garden, one of their neighbours lent of the fence and seid what the hell are you building that for George there will never be a war, not many months after their neighbour had to eat his words.

Dad was eight and a half when the war started. One of his first memories of the war was watching the dive-bombers attacking the shipping passing through the Straits of Dover. Another memory was when he was walking by an anti aircraft gun as it went off which scared the life out of him, one of the gunners grab him and placed him behind the guns sand bags.

On 29th Janaury 1940 a Dutch ship called the Nora crashed into the pier and turned over. It was marood at low tide, my dad and some of his mates climbed up onto the Nora to do some fishing, none of them noticed the tide comeing in and got stuck and had to be resuced.

Once it became apparent that France would fall my dad's father and mother decided to get my father and his sister Violet out of Deal, before it came under fire. I am not sure of the date dad and his sister left. According to a book I have on Deal, it first came under shell fire on 3rd July 19140, but dad did not recall any bombing, so may have left before this date. He did recall the school being hit by machine gun fire but I have not yet found any record of this taking place. The mass evacuation of the Borough's childen took place on 2-6-40, when 1,500 children left for South Wales. Althou dad did not recall leaving with lots of other children. Anyway my dad and his sister also ended up in South Wales, and stayed with their uncle, Jim Trow who lived at Pontypridd (I can also remember dad saying that they stayed with relitive at Watford for a short time). I do not know how long they stayed at Pontypridd but my anty recalls not liking it much. George and Lizze collected their children one day and moved to Clee Hill, staying at a friend of the family.

For anyone who does not know Clee Hill, it is over a hundred feet above sea level, from here dad could see the fires raging in Coventry on the night it was heavery bombed, also he said you could feel the ground shaking, and Coventry must be 50 or miles away.

Once while playing near the quarry near were he was living, a group of Terrers (Territoral Soldiers) who were carrying out exercise with the Reguel Army, asked my dad and his mates to watch their gun and to keep a look out for any other soldiers approaching up the hill (the Reguels had to try and creep up on the Terrier and take their gun position), while they poped into the pub (The Craven Arms now called the Kremlin) just yards away. Anyway the lads never noticed the Regulars, who had creep up around the flanks unseen until they poped up and rushed the gun, needless to say the Regural officer was hoping mad with the Terriers.

One of the last memories of the war when he witnessed the crash of a B-17 on Clee Hill on the 25th November 1944. There was sleet and snow showers on the hill that afternoon, the plane had taken off from Stanstead on a non-operational flight to Langford Lodge, Ireland via Burtonwood, in clear weather. The pilot had been briefed closely but the weather on en-route had not been checked. On broad were pilot 1st Lt. George C., Johnson, Staff Sergeant Francis O., Hull (Engineer), Corporal John E., Bean (Radio Operator), Lt-Col. H.H. Vereen (passenger), Major K. T., Omley (passenger) and Captain Patricia Gotto, British Motor Transport Corps (passenger).

Dad seid he could hear the plane coming around the hill, the accident report states that the plane was 28 degrees off couese and the pilot was trying to relocate himself. The plane then started to climb out of the valley but because of the low cloud the pilot did not see the quarry face until the last mineute. Dad said he could heard the planes engines increase in noise (this must have been when the pilot saw the rock face and tried to rapidly climb). Sadly the left wing made contact with the rock face and part of it was riped off, the plane then cartwheeled breaking into serveral parts. On hearing it crash near his house on Hill Top, he ran up the hill to to crashed plane. People from houses near by and quarry men had already pulled out three of the vitems, and placed them against a wall, all three were bleeding from the mouth. The pilot and co-pilot were still hanging from their seat straps (the plane was up side down). The accident report recorded all on brad were killed instantly except for Cpl. Bean, who died en-rough to Ludlow Hospital. Dad seid one of his mates found the scalp of one of the vitem a week later in a gouse bush.

Sorry for any bad spelling

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