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Jim's Wartime Memories

by jamesriseborough

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Jim (James) William Riseborough
Location of story: 
Framlingham, Suffolk
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
06 September 2004

As a state of war was declared in 1939 I was living at number 8 Coastguard Cottages, Hythe, Kent. My mother was in domestic service in Folkestone, and used to walk 12 miles to work every day. My father was a serving soldier; he left when I was three for Sudan, and was there when war broke out. He returned home in November 1943 having fought all through the North African Desert campaign. Though he never spoke about his time there, he often got the shakes; one can only assume that he had gone through hell.

The house that we lived in was one of a row of cottages, one afternoon we returned home to find that a German shell had demolished the complete row of houses. Fortunately no one was hurt, but it meant that we had to move to Framlingham in Suffolk, where my grandfather was in charge of the local Police Station.

We moved into number 8 Brook Street, Framlingham. It was a two bed-roomed terraced house. The front door opened onto the street, and we had a back yard. My younger brother Peter and I shared a double bed in one bedroom. In the front room there was a large shop type window overlooking the road and the open fields to the Mere and Framlingham College in the distance.

Mum bought us up very much on her own, she was never cruel. We knew that we could do some naughty things, but when to stop. I remember her crying one-day, when I had fallen and torn my trousers. Clothes where on ration and scarce in those days, and so she had to make do and mend, patching them up.

I joined the Cubs at eight, and we spent time going to the castle grounds to play games. My favourite game in summer was crawling in the long grass from our grassy mound to the enemy’s hill without being seen or captured. Sometimes we took longer walks, and I ended up on Akela’s shoulders because I was tired.

Another vivid scene was the aerial dogfights between the fighter planes in the sky, not realizing the consequences of what I saw. One day all that changed. Mother was hanging out the washing on the line in the back yard, I opened the front door to go and play in the field opposite. On looking up as I heard the noise of a low flying plane, I called out to mum,” look mum that aeroplane is laying eggs.” The next thing that I knew, a large bang, and I was laying by the back door. The German bomber had dropped a stick of bombs across the field. Our house, unlike the others, still had all it’s windows in one piece, as the blast had gone right through the open doors, taking me with it, luckily I wasn’t seriously hurt.

Another lucky escape, whilst we were playing at the Police Station, came about as the sandbags that protected the walls on either side of the alleyway alongside the station collapsed, as Peter and I were running up and down, we were fortunate not to be under them at the time.

One day we heard about a German plane that had crashed at Parham. We decided to go and see if there were any souvenirs to be had. It was a long walk and when we arrived at the crash site, we collected anything that we could find. My prize possession was a piece of Perspex from the cockpit canopy.
One of the highlights for my mother, at this time was going to an airfield hanger to listen and dance to Glen Miller’s Dance band.

We left home one evening with mum to go to the railway station. A steam train pulled into the platform, and a man got off the train. Mum said,” This is your Dad”. A stranger who picked us up, his uniform felt really rough. He was with us at home for a short while, and then left again

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Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Family Life Category
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