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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Memories of Mepal, Cambridgeshire

by cambsaction

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Mabel Medrow Sanders (nee Ransome)
Location of story: 
Mepal and Witchford, Ely, Cambridgeshire
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
21 December 2005

I was 15 when the war broke out. I’d gone into service the year before. I got married to John Sanders in 1942. We were married on the Tuesday — we cycled to Ely Registry Office from Mepal — and John had to go back to his unit on the Thursday. He was in the Cambridgeshire Regiment in Scarborough. He went to France for the D Day landings.

I joined the Land Army in 1942, before I got married. I drove tractors, worked the thrashing machine. Then I went to work in the Palace Hospital in Ely, opposite the cathedral. I worked in the kitchen, preparing food. I used also to take wounded soldiers who were convalescing in the RAF hospital in Ely to the Leys School in Cambridge.

I lived in Mepal, and a bomb fell between Witchford and Coveney. It killed a lot of cows in the West Fen Road. The cows belonged to Mr Green, a farmer who lived in Ely.

I remember the train at Soham that was loaded with military equipment, including bombs. German bombers flew over and Mr Gimbert, who was a guard on the train, got out of the guards van and diverted the train away from Soham. Mr Pettingale was the driver. The train was hit and blew up. Mr Gimbert and Mr Pettingale saved a lot of lives that day but lost their own. Without them, there would be no Soham.

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