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Teenagers War Memories

by WMCSVActionDesk

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

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Terence Heath
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Contributed on: 
10 August 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Jabulani Chwaula from WM CSV Action Desk on behalf of Terence Heath and has been added to the site with his permission. Terence Heath fully understands the sites terms and conditions.

Long lines of soldiers creeping along on either side of the lane where we lived, was the signal for my friends and I to follow along at a discreet distance, intent on watching them carry out their manoeuvres.

They would cross the local canal by commandeering a rowing boat to ferry everyone across.

We would race across the Bridge passing by other soldiers who were guarding them but no one ever gave our soldiers away. Our soldiers would then come up behind those guarding the bridge and win the day.

One other day, we followed our soldiers out on manoeuvres, but just short of some sand pits, we were told we could not follow them anymore as they would be firing into targets and using live ammunition. We all stayed well back listening to the sounds of rifles being fired.

Later on, Lorries came to collect the soldiers and when they had all gone, we ventured down into the sand pits and started digging into the walls to retrieve the spew bullets. We dug out not only spew bullets but to our surprise, pieces of metal coins which turned out to be old Roman coins mostly half eaten away by corrosion.

The coins were used along with the spew bullets in our catapults.

It is interesting to look back and realise that any Germans who attempted to parachute into our backyards would have been met with a hail of metal from our catapults, some of which would have been forged over 2000 year ago.

Another way to build up our stores of metal was to be out early in the morning after heavy German air raids, scouring the neighbourhood streets and collecting lumps of metal that were the remains of anti-aircraft shells from the guns stationed in Swans Hurst Park.

Imagine our outrage when after one night of heavy bombing, we all were left looking at a big crater left in the middle of our field were we played cricket and football.

Two houses either side of the field were also hit but no fatalities.

The consensus was the stick of bombs were dropped by a German plane in error as the previous night we had watched German planes going over our houses and seen the flares they used as they tried to target the Austin works at Longbridge.

Boy were those Germans going to cop out when we were old enough to join our soldiers whom we followed around for what seemed to be ages on their manoeuvres.

Thankfully the war was over and the average age of our gang was 14 years and after 5 years of our childhood, being children of the war years, we learnt to appreciate the peace brought to us by the courage and sacrifice of our elders.

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