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An Early Air Raid: On Guildford

by Michael Knight

Contributed by 
Michael Knight
People in story: 
Elsie Knight and Michael Knight
Location of story: 
Guildford Surrey
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
10 June 2004

I was just 7 years old when the war started and remember hearing on the radio that war had been declared. It must have been shortly afterwards that we were walking on Pewley Downs, which were at the back of our house, when I saw three aircraft flying down the valley staring from the little church of St. Matha. Behind us a yellow byplane was doing loop the loops above an RAF training station which was based in a field near by. The three aicraft were a Heinkel bomber flanked by two ME 109s. They flew down the valley so low that we were looking down on the pilots. The bomber dropped a bomb on the main line railway, but missed. The byplane continued doing loop the loops and the three enemy aircraft flew off!

Shortly afterwards the Air Raid sieren sounded and we cleared off the downs along Pewley Hill. As we walked past one of the houses near Pewley Fort a man asked us if we would like to wait in his shelter untill the all clear. We gratefully accepted. After a while the all clear was soundedand we went back home.

Strangely the man turned out to be a German spy! He had been signalling to the aircraft.

I also remember seeing a single seater aircraft fly overhead belching out smoke. I could not see the propeller and ran over to our local Air Raid Warden and told him that I had seen a plane in trouble. He made a report but I heard no more. It was of course the little Gloucester jet flying out of Farnborough, but it was not for some years that I realised what I had seen.

Looking back my friends and I must have caused our parents much worry. We were off cycling around the countryside when raids were on, and on one occasion were in a rowing boat on the river Wey. We had passed through the locks at Guildford on our way towards Woking, when a doodle bug came over and cut out. we watched it fall to the ground in a field some way in front of us where it exploded. We turned back not thinking any more about it. But our parents were very worried as you can imagine! Incidentally, we had a vist from the owner of the mill which was powered by the river Wey. He asked us to let him know next time we wanted to go through the lock because the lock leaked so much that the mill had to stop production whilst we were operating it! What it was making I do not know.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
Surrey Category
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