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Childhood Memories: In Ipswich

by maryjohn shapland

Contributed by 
maryjohn shapland
People in story: 
Reg and June Shapland
Location of story: 
Ipswich
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A2390762
Contributed on: 
05 March 2004

Memories W W 2
I was just 7 years old when war was declared.
I caught the story of the lady who put the flares up the copper; It was my job to collect any thing that would burn, due to the shortage of coal I had to cut up old rubber tyres and wood and anything else that would burn, unfortunately the lady left some flares in an old coat pocket.
I can remember the day that war was declared my Mum was in tears her words were "oh no not again"
Mum was born in 1906 so she went through W1 as our area was being demolished for slum clearance so there was plenty of land to dump all railings that where confiscated for the war effort. Some of the railings made lovely spears I know one finished in my ankle.
Then they demolished our house, and we were moved to a new estate on the far side of town (Ipswich) we did not stay there long, then we moved back into town.
It was one night when Jerry dropped a load of bombs in the area of New Street the sky-light blackout fell down, we thought we had been hit, but we where lucky, it was up the road beside the T.G W U offices it broke the fire escape and left a crater in Borough Rd. We were then on the move again, this time to Argyle St, this time we did not stay there long, I remember being sent home from St Pancras a R C school. When school was done for the day we made our way to the local Co-op to see if they had any Horlicks tablets or Zubes cough sweets. These were not on ration,so it was our way to subsidize our sweet ration. These coupons which were a pound and a half a month.IE 1 e =a quarter of a pound 1 d = 2 ozs this was not a great deal,
This I what my wife informs me as she was marking ration books in 1951 at the local Co-op (and she still has her ration book).
During an air raid my sister and I got as far as the Fire station a fire-man said hurry home but as he spoke a twin engine jerry bomber came out of the clouds and dropped some bombs on R W Paul but it also hit some houses and a cousin of ours was killed as the story goes, he was collecting eggs from the chicken coop.
On the move again this time to Ranelagh, Rd we stayed some time there.I am about 11 years old now, The army had a training ground in Jeffery sand pits it was up Kesteven Rd.It was great fun for us kids swinging on the ropes and climbing frames, we also found their secret shelter,when you pulled a piece of wire,a cover came out of the ground it might still be there.
The most vivid memory was when a German fighter crashed in the lane that led up to Brooks sand pit, it was up a tree and tangled in the fence which was the boundary to Gypswyke park, so we could get a good look atthe aircraft , I think It was a fighter for what I remember it had only 1 engine.
It must be coming up to D day because I was on the park. All of a sudden the sky was full of planes and gliders it seem to last for ages, then a few days later the same thing happened again, this might have been the start of the battle of Arnhem, because there was a lot of planes and gliders. We did not know a lot about the war in those days, only what you saw at the cinema on Pathe and Gaumont newsreels, and the daily papers. I was lucky in one way as I was a paperboy, so I got to read a large amount of news papers. What my father did is a bit of a mystery, his trade was a steel erector, also a docker he even went to Manchester doing what, I cannot say as he never spoke much about his jobs, I know he worked at Wolveston hall building concrete sections which must have been for Mulberry harbour. There was a lot of erecting going on in Suffolk, we had our fair share of airdromes. I lost an uncle off the coast of Suffolk he was in mine sweepers, I only knew him as Scotty, this must have been at the beginning of the war because aunty Rene married again, this time to a yank they are still both alive and well in New Jersey, and I have still got his base ball glove after 60 odd years, I suppose a lot of kids remember the saying "got any gum chum" but their doughnuts were out of this world as we had never seen one with a hole in it yum yum.
By Reg and June Shapland Ipswich Suffolk

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