- 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.
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