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Memories of Plymouth Blitz

by Pat Carter

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Pat Carter
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Alfred Smith
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27 November 2003

Memories of Plymouth Blitz
By Pat Carter

My father Alf Smith joined up as a 15 year old band boy with Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry in December 1937. Once war was declared and bombing began he found himself in more danger during his home visits than he did playing his clarinet! As home was the city of Plymouth he had personal experience of bombs falling. Dad's memories may not be in chronological order but are as he recalls them. His scariest moment was in 1941 as he was walking along a street which led off King Street towards the cathedral. All of a sudden a salvo of bombs whistled down the street and he actually thought that they would hit the back of his neck. On another occasion he was standing with his brother Ted watching as Jay's(a large store) in The Octagon was burning.Imagine his shock in the past few years when he was reading the book "Blitz of Plymouth". There on page 10 was a photo of the shop burning. dad says the photographer was actually there at the same time as them. Immediately before joining up dad had been a billiard marker at the "Devon County Club" in Coburg street. I believe this club was flattened during possibly the same raid.
We have always joked that Dad went through the war carrying nothing more dangerous than his clarinet. He still feels a little guilty that he spent many hours drinking Muscatel and eating fruit salad in East Africa. His only contact with the enemy was in North Africa. Some of the captured German soldiers had escaped. Dad and his fellow musicians were expected to go after these troops to re-capture them.The only problem was that they were to be armed but given no ammo! As can be imagined they were not too keen. My dad was one of the lucky ones who survived WW11 and he will be 81 on the 6th Decmber 2003.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Alf Smith

Posted on: 29 November 2003 by paul gill - WW2 Site Helper

Pat, was your dad also supposed to be a stretcher bearer? I thought the musicians were supposed to do both roles in war time. Did he have any training with a rifle?



Message 2 - Alf Smith

Posted on: 16 January 2004 by Pat Carter

Sorry I haven't replied sooner but I am still finding my way around this site! Yes he was also supposed to be astretcher bearer. I must ask him more about that role as he did mention it once when we were talking about something else.


Message 3 - Alf Smith

Posted on: 27 January 2004 by paul gill - WW2 Site Helper

Fully forgiven Pat!

I think Alf might well have been part of the RAMC like my father Reg. If so his job was to carry the injured, a job as potentially dangerous as any.


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