BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site

Contact Us

At Christs Hospital School

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

You are browsing in:

Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Peter Lee
Location of story: 
Horsham and Reading
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

“This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bob Davis from the Burgess Hill Adult Education Centre and has been added to the website on behalf of Peter Lee with his permission and he fully understands the site’s terms and conditions”

The day war broke out I was in Reading — it was a Sunday. I remember listening to Chamberlains speech on the radio — I didn’t know what to do, and said I would like to go out for a walk. I was told to take my gas-mask with me, and I went to the park where I used to play cricket. After half an hour or so, the sirens sounded — it wasn’t really likely that there would be an air raid half an hour after the war started, but I ran all the way home — after that, the day continued as usual — we went to church!

I recall also being at an amateur production of Gilbert and Sullivan, when they announced in the interval that the Italians had surrendered.

I was at school at Christs Hospital. In the autumn of 1940 when invasion was expected, parties of senior boys went out every afternoon with shovels where we were engaged in widening the source of the river Arun to prevent German tanks being able to cross it. This seemed rather pointless, as the main road was not far away. After a few weeks, the project was abandoned.

When boys were 17, they had to join the school home guard unit, which included members of staff and the estate. At the time of the Normandy invasion, General Montgomery inspected a Canadian division on Big Side.
Afterwards, he gave the School a pep talk, and asked the Headmaster to give us an extra half-holiday!!!

After the invasion, there seemed to be some fear of German counter-attacks. One evening, my section under the command of one of the masters, were told to muster in uniform. We travelled by army truck to Angmering.
On the way, we stopped, and the master in charge bought us all a beer. We stood by the roadside, trying to blow the froth over the cats eyes. When we got to Angmering,
We kept watch on the sea front, with fixed bayonets, two of us at a time, then went back to school for breakfast!

From time to time during the war, at Sunday evening Chapel, the Headmaster read out a roll-call of those who had been killed in action. It was a sombre occasion to realise that someone that you had played rugby with had died in the Burma jungle. Of the fifty boys in my house when I went to Christs Hospital, six were killed in action.

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

Childhood and Evacuation Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy