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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
Warwickshire Libraries Heritage and Trading Standards
People in story: 
Bernard Grimes and Tom Leedle
Location of story: 
Warwick, England
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
17 May 2005

As a young member of the Local Defence Volunteers (later the Home guard) in Warwick, Bernard Grimes was ready to do his bit. He soon discovered that cycling around town during the blackout brought hazards of its own.

Bernard, who at the time worked for CMD Engineering in Charles Street, thought that his war work was a "cushy number". For two nights a week he was stationed at the Area Commanders house in Mill Street, from where he toured the town's factories and offices by bike, collecting signatures in a logbook.

The routine was devised as a warning system for when the expected Nazi invasion came.But one night Bernard and his friend Tom Leedle had more than enough problems to cope with, as he recalls.

"As we left Mill Street at about 2200 hours in the blackout and approached Warwick Castle entrance, where the Ministry of Supply had their headquarters, Tom's cycle lamp went out and he returned to the Colonel's house, leaving me to carry on alone.I walked up the castle drive in the dark to the entrance where a shadowy figure emerged, putting the wind up me. He signed the book and away I went to West Street and the Miller's Road factories. I cycled along Lakin Road and down Broad Street, where I bumped into a man crossing the road. I fell off my bike and the man's companion said "He's alright mate we've had a drop to drink" It was a good job he had.

I had damaged my left wrist, but I managed to carry on to my next stop, the CMD factory,where my friend the local ambulanceman dressed it.Next stop was the power station in Emscote Road and just as I got there the air raid sirens went off and I beat a hasty retreat back to HQ. It was a very scary night but at least I did my duty".

Bernard also remembered the first bomb to hit Leamington Spa, which landed near the Parish Church and narrowly missing Mr Stocks, his boss at the CMD Engineering works. As Bernard recalls "He was walking down Gloucester Street at the time. He was covered in brick dust and debris but turned up for work as usual on Monday morning, but had to have the following day off having realised just what a lucky escape he had."

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