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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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My Wartime Memories

by cornwallcsv

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Archive List > United Kingdom > Devon

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Mrs Ruby Brock nee Humphries; E.J. Humphries; A.E. Humphries; R.D. Humphries; W. Hill
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
02 July 2005

This story has been written onto the BBC People's War site by CSV Storygather, Martine Knight, on behalf of Mrs Ruby Brock.They fully understand the terms and conditions of the site.

During World War II the Ministry of Defence, for military use, requisitioned many hotels in Newquay.
The Atlantic; Headland; Victoria and St. Rumons (now The Esplanade) hotels were all used as convalescent hospitals for the Army, Air Force & Navy.

I was a Red Cross Cadet at the time, but was allowed to help serve teas to the bedridden. If the patients were ambulant they all wore bright blue uniforms with white shirts and red ties and were allowed to go into the town.

The other hotels were used as barracks for the Army & Air Force and their training was done in and around Newquay.

P.T. was usually performed on Towan, Great Western and Tolcarne beaches. The YMCA had a cafe just above Towan Beach and when the PT session was over, either in the mornings or afternoons depending on the state of the tides, dozens of young servicemen would descend on the cafe for their 'tea and a bun' or whatever was available.
The American servicemen had their own 'Donut Dugout' in a little house (now known as The Cottage Cafe) in Fore Street.

The RAF used the aerodrome at Perranporth and the Red Cross Cadets used to help on the NAAFI tea wagon that drove around the aerodrome to the servicemen in the outlying gun emplacements.

Also during the war there was a British Restaurant (where a lunchtime meal could be had very cheaply) in a very large garage in Tower Road (now Tower Garage).
The playground of the boys' school in Crantock Street was turned into an allotment to help the war effort. The girls still had cookery classes, but with very limited ingredients because of the rationing.

The girls from Benenden Girls School in Kent were evacuated to the Hotel Bristol in Newquay and the boys from The Gresham Boys School in Holt, Norfolk were evacuated to The Philema Hotel at Pentire in Newquay.

My sister lived in Wadebridge at the time of the Plymouth Blitz and her husband was a volunteer in the Wadebridge Fire Brigade. As the bombing became more intense Wadebridge Brigade was moved up to Bodmin; Bodmin Brigade up to Liskeard; Liskeard Brigade to Saltash and Saltash Brigade to Plymouth. Eventually all the brigades, even Newqauy, Truro and St. Austell,ended up in Plymouth to fight the terrible fires from the incendiary bombs.

My brother-in-law was gone for three weeks with only scant news of his whereabouts. Luckily he returned safely and was called up and spent the rest of the war in the Royal Air Force.

My father, who had been in the Royal Marines in the First World War and was therefore a reservist, was called up a week before war was declared.

My eldest brother was called up and joined the Royal Air Force and my other brother was called up and joined the Royal Navy and spent quite a while in the Far East.

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