- Contributed by
- Chepstow Drill Hall
- People in story:
- Margaret Parker. Chepstow Memories
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 18 May 2005
This story was submitted to the People’ War by a volunteer from The Chepstow Society on behalf of Margaret Parker.and has been added to the site with her permission. Margaret Parker fully understands the site.s terms and conditions
This memory is a continuation from ID.4087181
I was still at the Church School when the war began. Because I can remember when the air raids started, we used to have to go to the shelter which was, where the Chemist, is now, on the corner of Station Road, is it Lloyds it’s called? Well there was a big house there, and next to it was old Proctors lower shop. The house had been empty I think for years. The Home Guard had it as their Headquarters, and they used to take the school there, and we used to go down in the cellars. You know, we used to think, “sometime it will probably fall down and they would never find us”. I can always remember going there.
Opposite Herbert Lewis’ in the Oxford Street, and then where Beards was, Miss Lewis the china shop. She was a relation of the Herbert Lewis’, and she had a china shop. And the cow went in her china shop one day! and apparently it went through, and it didn’t break anything! No, and it used to be set out on tables you know, all this glass and china. No it probably you know just went in and out.
I can remember a cow getting out, and came up to Mrs Townsend that lived in the top house in Hardwick, when Bill Townsend was in the Air Force. Well his mother, and in those houses at the top, there was a long passage went right through the house to the kitchen. It went straight into the kitchen. This cow got out, and she must have had her front door open. And it went straight down her passage into the kitchen. Well it couldn’t turn round, so it had to go through the kitchen to get out in the garden to come round. Well of course you can imagine it messed everywhere. She was very very houseproud, and I can remember, I’ve never known anybody like her. She used to scrub her shopping basket after she’d been shopping. She always washed the money, because she thought it might be soiled, you know. She was a real character, was Mrs Townsend.
There was the Bon Marche, and next to it was this shop, she did all sorts of stationery, and things like that. She was old lady, and she was very deaf. She used to have one of these hearing aids, one of these trumpets things, yes. She couldn’t always understand what you said. I can remember Arthur being in the bank, when the bomb dropped at Chepstow. I was up at Lydney, staying at my Aunts. The talk was that this huge bomb had dropped at Chepstow, you wouldn’t think there would be anything left there. Of course one of the rocks where it went in the wood, we used to call it Ditch Wood. Came across and landed in the High Street, and smashed that Miss Clarke’s window pane. That was right opposite Lloyds Bank.
And then I can remember the Americans were there, and they had that service in Chepstow Church? A Midnight Service, before they all went abroad for that.. and they all had rubber soled boots, and you never heard a sound, and of course there was no lights in the church, you weren’t allowed to illuminate it; they just had candles or torches. I went to the church with my Mother, it was when Cannon Hughes was there. Mrs Hughes said to my Mother, you want to come, there’s a service tonight, a Midnight Service for these troops before they go. And we went down. It was amazing you know, it was all this dark but you could see sort of, there was only the candlelight, nothing much there, and you could see the whites of their eyes, because they were coloured you know, they were nearly all coloured. They couldn’t black out the windows of the church, you see. And we had this service at midnight. But it was so quiet, and of course when they went, they all went, they went from a train by that railway station, and they all came down through Garden City. We saw them, you know all the troops marching in the night they went. It was in the night when they went. They went in the darkness you know. But I can remember them, and going out you know it was all so quiet, the church was packed, and yet when they went out, you know, went, they didn’t make any noise at all. I think one went asleep, you could hear somebody snoring.
I can remember with the Church Youth Club, we used to run a Church Youth Club, down the Cavill Hall is now. In those days that went right through, and there was a billiard room behind, and there was another hall with a stage, and you went down the Priory to that, by where the football ground was. And of course, when we were in the youth club, we used to get through there, and we used to put on performances on the stage. We used to put on Pantomimes, all sorts of things. I can remember Mr Singleton gave us a gas cooker, gas stove, yes, we used to do beans on toast, and I can remember make, used to make jam tarts and cakes and things you know. We used to get a lot of the Beachley Boys used to come in, to the Youth Club, in the evenings, yes. And it was, you know, like a social evening, that sort of thing. That was in the war, I can remember.
My brothers were in the ARP, before they were called up. Eric was at the Red & White, apprentice at the Red & White, and Arthur was in the bank, he was in Lloyds Bank. The boys were, they were messengers or something. Mr Birbeck was the one, he was the one in charge of the ARP. Didn’t he live on Hardwick Hill? I can’t remember where he lived exactly, but I’m sure he lived up, somewhere by High Trees. You know those bungalows up by there, I think he lived in one of those. He would be on duty, he organised, they had a rota, didn’t they? They had to be on calls, in case anything happened? They used to be there all night, they used to you know be on duty. I presume you know, that they took it in turns. I mean there was different ones. I think they used to finish about six in the morning. Then go to work, yes. They still be working yes. That’s right yes, or to take messages, or sort of thing I suppose, if there was or give notice.
War Effort Materials
Nearly all the iron railings went, because they took them from by the Cenotaph, and by the Bank. There were the iron railings there because there used to be some trees there I think. Wasn’t the gun within that, behind the iron railings at one time? The old house the Home Guard had, there was like, in the front of it, well you’d call it a terrace now. It was raised, you went up steps, and there was iron railings round it. That all went for the war effort, all of it, and the gates, all peoples gates and things, they all went.
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