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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Alec Gaskin
Location of story: 
Tring
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4387386
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 Alec Gaskin with his permission and he fully understands the site’s terms and conditions”

Although my parents and I lived in Edgware during the War, my mother and I became evacuees out of choice. My parents bought a caravan and sited it on a farm at Ivinghoe near Tring in Buckinghamshire. While my father carried on his transport business in London, my mother and I lived in the caravan, at least that was the intention. During the severe winter of 1940/41 living in the caravan was not very pleasant and I finished up catching pneumonia. My mother and I were given a bedroom in the farm but my condition was very serious apparently. The Doctor had said that I needed M & B tablets which were fairly difficult to get hold of since they were new on the market and mainly reserved, so I understand now, for Service Personnel. Apparently the Chemist in Tring had a supply but that was several miles away and the roads were impassible to normal traffic. Arthur, the farmer's son, volunteered to drive the tractor to Tring to get the prescription and to put it simply, he saved my life.

As a result of this winter experience, we stayed in Edgware in spite of the Blitz during the forthcoming winters and only spent summers in the caravan at the farm. What glorious times they were!

In 1943 this quiet countryside was invaded by the U.S. Air Force who brought in their Flying Fortresses to a newly built air field, the flight path of which was over our field. In the afternoons when the planes were returning from their missions they used to fly one behind the other, low enough to be able to see the air-crews. When I heard them coming I used to stand in the field and wave to them, and many was the time I could see them waving back.

In later years I have often wondered whether any of these men remembered the boy who used to stand in the field and wave and whether it was something they particularly looked out for on their return from what we now know must have been horrendous times.

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