- Contributed by
- Elizabeth Lister
- People in story:
- Mr Les Suter
- Location of story:
- London, Sussex, Birmingham, Reading
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 04 October 2005
This story was submitted by Ciara Garland from Reading on behalf of Mr Suter and has been added to the site with his permission. Mr Suter fully understands the site's terms and condtions.
Mr Suter‘s Wartime Recollections
At the beginning of the war I was eight years old and my family (Mother Edith, Father Henry, and Brother Eddie)and I were living in London on the old Kent Rd. In the September of 1939, my brother Eddie and my self were evacuated to Worthing in Sussex.
We returned from Worthing for Christmas, our parents informing us that it had all been rather quiet, here at home.
Afterwards, my mother worked in a factory and my father worked in the city at a clerical job. All three at work all day.
My father used to pick me up after work and I would stay at my Gran’s house through the summer. This was a first floor flat and we all shared an Anderson Shelter. There were six of us and a woman and child.
My brother made bunks (2-tier) for him and me to sleep on so it was not too bad down there.
This was all until September, when my Uncle cycled over from Lewisham. Suddenly the sirens went off and all seven of us poured into the shelter. Then followed a loud bang. A volley of shots blazed around us. It was very frightening. We were living close to the Surrey docks
and my Father said, right, we won’t stay here we’ll go down to Reading.
So then we packed up as much as we could. We were on the verge of catching the bus when, hey presto! - the siren went off again!
We all ploughed into the brick shelter above ground where we remained all night. There were three shelters together in a line. In one was a wedding party - which, I am glad to say, carried on during the bombing.
The all clear began in the morning and Dad said it was time to get off to Gran’s! We arrived early afternoon and Gran had to pack up her things.
So we were to go Paddington and take the train to Reading. Unfortunately, the siren went off yet again and once again we all dived into the nearest shelter. This was at the Marmite factory and we remained there all night.
In the morning all was clear and we were back to the flat for my gran’s
We caught the bus to Paddington and then the train to Reading
and went on to stay with friends at Tilehurst (Finally!)
Here we had to sleep on the floor as there were no spare beds. This was for 2 weeks, after which our friends relatives arrived and obviously were given top priority so we had to find somewhere else to go!
We found a couple living in Beecham Road who had a spare room
So we all packed up and stayed there a while. My father was a mail sorter for the Post Office. School was held in a church hall (St. George’s, Beecham Rd.) We moved from Beecham Rd. because while we were staying there the Dad and one of his three sons called my father into the front room and threw him out very hard against the iron railing which badly injured him, including a severe blow to the head that did not do him any good at all.
The lady next door to these people saw all this and said we could stay with her family. My father joined the Royal Air Force.
We then moved on to Whitley Wood, living on the first floor of a house that we shared with the other family and I was schooled in St. Paul’s Church. We remained there until 1943, when we received a letter saying that a ‘requisitioned’ house was available for us to go and live in.
This house had previously been a shoe repair shop and as such, there was no front garden or fence! We lived near a tin factory and the stink of it wafting over to us was really terrible!
My Dad was stationed at R.A.F Brancote, Nuneaton, when one day he was rushed to Birmingham Hospital. He was diagnosed with cancer. We believe this was linked to the head injury he suffered whilst living at Beecham Rd. as the cancer was in his brain. My mother and I travelled up and stayed there with him.
We stayed at Lazelles in Birmingham and he was discharged and we moved down to Shinfield, Nr. Reading where he was working at R.A.F. Shinfield Park as a messenger from 1943- 1953.
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