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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Philip Stowell's War Time Memories

by cambsaction

Contributed by 
cambsaction
People in story: 
Philip Stowell
Location of story: 
Chatten, Kent
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4039274
Contributed on: 
09 May 2005

I remember the night when I stood in my back garden watching a German aircraft being cornered by the search lights over Chatten dockyard and being shot down. Everyone stood in their back gardens despite the air raid and watching the shrapnel falling. They stayed till it was all over and cheered when it was brought down.

When you saw a doodlebug flying you watched it to see which direction it was going in. Once I saw one flying and the engine cut out and it landed about half mile away from me blowing me over. It killed 7 people — I didn’t realise how powerful they could be.

My father who was in the RAF he was stationed in a place called Peplow. We lived in Wellington where they ran an ammunication train. The Germans came over and bombed it. They missed the train and our house and it was quiet exciting. We had an Alsatian dog that normally stayed in the shed but this time he was let into the house during the bombing as he was so scared. As he ran into the house he came in straight from the back door to the front of the house and was eventually only stopped by the front door!

If you knew where the doodlebugs were going you knew you were okay as you could hear them and see them. But when you heard the engines stop that was when it frightened you as you didn’t know where it was going.

I was at a boarding school during the war in Repton Derbyshire. I thought it was marvellous and thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the boys there was called Hives. He was the son of Lord Hives who was the head of Rolls Royce. It was the first time I had a lady teacher but we did have a fierce matron. We had to bath in 5 inches of water. Your hair and body was washed with carbolic soda. The matron used to rinse your hair with cold water as you could only have so much hot water.

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