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15 October 2014
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Roy's near misses

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Roy Brown
Location of story: 
Bellingham, SE London, St John's Wood
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
13 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War website by Jacky Hayward of Hastings Community Learning Centre for BBC SCR on behalf of Roy Brown and has been added to the site with his permission. Mr Brown fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

I was on holiday in Lewes East Sussex when War was declared eleven days before my 14 birthday, so celebrations were few. My School South East London Technical College was evacuated to Robertsbridge local school and I cycled to join them from Lewes. I only stayed for three months as it was very crowded with five circles of children with a blackboard and teacher in the middle of each, in the school hall, not a lot was learned so I wrote home and asked that I could come home to work..

In 1942 I was working for a local timber merchant in Bellingham SE London, and whilst cycling back from lunch there was a sudden roar of engines and I looked up and saw swastikas on a very low flying aircraft, with machine guns firing, he was quickly followed by a British fighter plane firing at him and I fell off my bike with surprise. The German plane had fired on Sandhurst School killing many children and adults.

In early 1944 I volunteered for Air Crew and was posted to St John’s Wood London for kitting out, as I needed glasses, I had to stay to wait for them to be made while the rest of my intake were posted elsewhere . I was put in charge of the next intake and had to march them up to the kitting out store. As we were marching along the road by Regents Park, by the canal, the warning siren went and a doodle bug came over, it engines cut out and it started to come down. I shouted to the men to take cover and we lay down head to toe along the fence by the canal. The doodle bug came down in the canal and sent a blast knocking the fence down on top of us, and knocking the entire window out of the flats opposite covering us with debris and water; luckily we all survived and were able to assist in the rescue of people from the flats.

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