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15 October 2014
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Childhood Memories in Sidcup,Chislehurst Caves and Felpham

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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BBC Southern Counties Radio
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Sidcup, Chislehurst Caves and Felpham
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Contributed on: 
08 July 2005

This story was submitted to the people’s war site Alan Gammon from Littlehampton Learning Centre and has been added to the website on behalf of Mr P J Upton with his permission and he fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

I was seven years old when war started but have a clear memory of seeing hundreds of German bombers flying over towards Woolwich. The part of Sidcup we lived in was near to Eltham.

At first we lived in our Anderson Shelter but it was so noisy, we couldn’t sleep as falling bombs kept us awake, also I was thrown out of my bunk by the ground shaking.

During the day I used to watch the aeroplanes fighting. If we were caught out during the raid people would call us in and shelter us. If not we would stand in a doorway, occasionally the air would ring like lots of little bells….this was falling schrapnel.

I was actually knocked over on my roller skates by pieces hitting the wheels. When we were tired through lack of sleep father moved us into Chislehurst Caves. We had one of the two alcoves next to the druids alter. The front was covered in by a large piece of canvas. Mother and father slept on a mattress on the floor with my baby sister. I had a folding camp bed. Candles were in niches in the wall and we had a paraffin heater for making tea. We could hear the bombs in these caves.

One sound I do clearly remember was of people using the toilet seemingly 24 hours a day. There were just canvas screening around canvas troughs.

I went for a hair cut one morning and got lost, I found railway lines with a little truck. Eventually I found my way back to find a large gathering of people. There had been a gathering as a search party to look for me. The caves were fully equipped with shops and even a hospital. My father told me of people who had Arthritis being cured after 3 months of living down there.

We moved to Felpham, West Sussex after the blitz, my father being on reserved occupation had to stay in London. I attended Felpham school, I have a lot more memories of war. One which should be recorded occurred in the road leading up to Bognor Regis golf course. The west side was all open fields then. A flying fortress completely out of control headed straight for the houses. When the wing tip caught on the Christmas treewhich swung the plane right round and dumped it in the garden without touching the house. This plane gave us kids a good supply of Perspex and the bomb sight.

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