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by Genevieve

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Kath Houlston
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06 July 2005

My parents sent me to boarding school during the war - down on the South coast to Milford-on-Sea. It’s a very quiet village — there are only a couple of pubs and a fish and chip shop. But the smell of fish and chips spoiled the place. I came from Yorkshire originally. My Dad was a conscientious objector, but there was only the three of us in the family when he got his calling up papers. We were afraid he wouldn’t come back, you see, Mum and I. Because he was a tool-fitter, he got sent right down from Yorkshire to there. He worked at Wellworthy’s making piston rings and parts for planes. And he was at work there when this happened, and I was away at boarding school; well they told me about it after.

My Mum was at home and My Dad was on night work when he was brought down. This German pilot overshot his mark. We lived in a flat above a café. We’d got iron railings. He was shooting these bullets and it sounded just like a child going along the railings with a stick — you know. If it hadn’t been for those railings he would have been killed I suppose. My Mum was in bed at the time, I think she had the curtains drawn, but if it hadn’t been for those railings, she would have copped it just the same.

And they dropped a landmine or whatever it was in like a muddy ditch. It took 6 men to get it out. They kept slipping back you know. They could only do it in certain conditions — they didn’t want light to shine on it or anything. And when they finally got it out and detonated it — they had a thanksgiving service on the village green — because if anything had happened and they hadn’t got it out safely then the village would have gone up.

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Becky Barugh of the BBC Radio Shropshire CSV Action Desk on behalf of Kath Houlston and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions

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