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15 October 2014
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A Wedding Party in an Air Raid

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Charles Payne, Doreen Edmunds, Chris South, Bertha South, Arthur Hope
Location of story: 
St Ives, Cornwall; Highbury, London
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
23 August 2005

I was 18 when war broke out and was working at Treganna Castle Hotel, St Ives, Cornwall. I well remember that day. I was preparing a cold buffet for the visitors’ lunch, when the chef Arthur Hope came out of his office in tears as he called the kitchen staff together and told us we were at war with Germany. Arthur had served in the Navy in World War 1.

Soon after I went home to my parents Tom and Rose Payne, living in Nunhead, London SE15. I joined the RAF in June 1940. In July 1940 I was stationed at Drem (RAF) near Edinburgh. My parents and myself had been invited to my cousin Chris South’s wedding at Highbury. On the 7th of September my mother, my girlfriend Doreen Edmunds and myself made our way to Highbury fairly comfortable by bus and tube. Chris South, in his best uniform (he had come back from Dunkirk) and his bride Bertha looking radiant in white, with family and friends present, were married.

After the church ceremony we made our way to my uncle Jim’s house in Highbury Hill near Arsenal Football ground. We could hear the bombs and see ack-ack in the distance. The house had a big cellar, so with food and drink, and uncle playing a concertina, we sang and danced oblivious to the air raid!

As a footnote, my uncle Jim and aunt Liz’s house was destroyed soon after and both were killed; the only fatal casualties of World War 2 in my very large family.

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