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15 October 2014
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The day I was Biggles

by seelib

Contributed by 
People in story: 
James Kelly
Location of story: 
Annsborough, Co. Down
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
15 December 2004

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Eileen Parker of SEELB staff on behalf of Mr James Kelly wih his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

A British plane crash-landed in Ballylough, near Annsborough. It was an Avro-Anson with a crew of four. I was allowed into the cockpit because I was lucky and I was the only one there and the RAF MP was kind. I was nine years old and I was Biggles!
Great excitement when the GIs arrived and Nissen huts sprang up everywhere. They brought our first contact with American comics and chewing gum. At Christmas time they gave a party for the local schoolchildren. This was probably the first party some had ever been to. After 60-odd years I can still remember one soldier with a beautiful voice singing China Doll.
One day in 1943 we were all ordered to go straight home from school. When we came out the road we saw the tanks were all
camouflaged and an enemy plane flew very low over the village.
We could see the pilot clearly looking down at us. Later I heard this spy plane was shot down over the North Sea. And then one morning the soldiers and tanks had all disappeared. We didn’t know then but this was in preparation for D’Day. One of the local tank regiments was the first on to Omaha Beach with a heavy loss of life.
One of our neighbours, Ethel McCracken, had 2 sons serving in the war; Sidney in the army and Brian in the navy, on the USS
Missouri when they took Japan’s surrender in 1945.
My cousin David McIlroy served on a Royal Navy destroyer on the Baltic run. The ship had been hurriedly welded together and would shudder terribly. Ice formed in bad weather so they were unable to fire the guns. Incredibly, all three of these lads survived.

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Message 1 - The day I was Biggles

Posted on: 15 December 2004 by Audrey Lewis - WW2 Site Helper

Dear James Kelly,
Thank you for letting me read your story - which I found so interesting. At the age of nine - it must have been a 'wonder world' with all those changes going on around you? There were bad times but also good times too. What a shock when you discovered all those men had gone over to France.
One of my stories tells of a very brave man who was on the Malta to Russia runs.
Kind regards,
Audrey Lewis

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Childhood and Evacuation Category
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