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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Sanderstead

by joanbones

Contributed by 
joanbones
People in story: 
Dorothy Young, Albert Archer-Smith
Location of story: 
Sanderstead, Surrey
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A2918171
Contributed on: 
14 August 2004

We lived at the top of a hill in Sanderstead. We kept a few chickens at the bottom of the garden as eggs were short during the war. My husband was away in the Royal Navy stationed in Calcutta (mine clearance). I had two young children, approximately 2/3 years old.
I used to go to the bottom of the garden to feed the chickens. Bombers would sometimes fly in low without much warning on their way to London. Occasionally bombs would fall in the Croydon/Sanderstead area, but the chickens appeared unaffected and continued laying eggs. If the bombers flew over while I was feeding the chickens, I would lie flat on the grass at the bottom of the garden. I don't think that would have helped much if a bomb had dropped nearby!
My parents lived with us at the time, and my father was in the Home Guard. Our house was used as the local headquarters. My father, Albert (known as Ernest)Archer-Smith, who had served in the trenches in WW1, was captain of the platoon. The platoon spent some nights watching for Nazi parachutists and often went on night manoeuvres, the exact nature of which was never made clear, but they often returned wet and muddy.
This platoon and their activities were not very far removed from Mr. Mainwaring and his Walmington on Sea platoon! They, too, considered themselves to be front-line troops even if they didn't have enough rifles! However, being in the Home Guard was a great boost to morale, and the members felt they were making a real contribution to the war effort.
My mother and I slept in the garage of the house in a Morrison shelter, but when home my father refused to sleep in the garage saying that no Nazi was going to stop him sleeping in his own bed!

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