- Contributed by
- ATC Crawley 19 Squadron
- People in story:
- Jim Smith
- Location of story:
- Bromley, South London
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 17 December 2004
Mayor and Mayoress Jim and Brenda Smith log on to BBC People's War website with Cpl Peter Thompson, 17, a member of Crawley 19th Sqdn ATC
This is Jim Smith's story; it has been added by Peter Thompson from Crawley 19th Sqdn ATC, with permission from the author, who understands the terms and conditions of adding his story to the website
I was 11- 12 when war was declared on Britain, I remember that within minutes of the declaration the sirens sounded but nothing happened we all sat by the side of the road with my mates waiting for the Germans to come.
There was an English man who had a program on German radio giving out propaganda, his name was Lord Hawhaw and he threatened a blitz on Bromley. A few days later Bromley had a big bombing. At school we had a teacher who was a sergeant in the 1st World War and he made us march from one part of town to the other. Not only did we have to march like guardsmen but we had to wear our gasmasks as well!
The army had mobile anti-aircraft guns nearby to where I lived. So from our shelter in the garden we would suddenly get a great shock because of gun fire which we didn’t know was there. I also remember that on a nearby golf course there was a imprint of a German's body whose aircraft had been shot down and he had no parachute.
After Dunkirk the trains carrying our troops continually came through our local station we all went to the station for most of the day waving to our men. As children we collected pieces of shrapnel and one lady was excitely showing her neighbours a piece of shrapnel that had broken her window. She was a terrible misery to all us children, she was always harassing us! When some one pointed out that the shrapnel was a bit rusty she immediately blamed my mate Sid and I but luckily I was in bed sick.
I did a paper round and at the end of my round was an army camp and I use to go into the camp for breakfast. When I was 17 I joined the Fleet Air Aim - just after the end of the war - I claimed that Hitler got worried and gave in just before I joined.
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