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Defending the Realm: John Side 2icon for Recommended story

by Thanet_Libraries

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John Side
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05 May 2004

This is a story by John Side. It has been written by his daughter Lyn Davis who kindly provided it to the Thanet Libraries and UK-Online project during the session at Broadstairs Library.

John Side — Defending the Realm

By now it was June and gradually most of our soldiers were fighting to get back to England. By a miracle most of the men made it to Dunkirk, where they were plucked from the sea by the famous little ships. They sailed into all the harbours, where at Ramsgate they received an accolade of applause and cups of tea and perhaps a fag, witnessed by most people still left here, the boats leaving again for France. One thing we were grateful for was the state of sea, a mill pond for four days. Unfortunately, some of the ships were bombed by the German STUKAS. I saw one hospital ship receive a direct hit.

As the troops landed at the pier local people arrived with cups and jugs of tea and perhaps a cigarette, a lot of our soldiers were in a poor state, quite a few bore scars and wounds. They had to walk the length of the pier to waiting coaches that had travelled day and night from everywhere in Britain. These took our lads to Ramsgate railway station where trains were leaving every 10 minutes to London.

It was about this time that my life was to change dramatically. A few days later, after the British Expeditionary Forces was rescued — Anthony Eden the then foreign minister issued a request over the wireless, asking all men between 17 and 65 to report to their local police station — the intention being to form, in every town and village, a local force of volunteers to protect and defend Britain from a possible German invasion. That same evening I made my way to the police station in Cavendish Street Ramsgate to join the queue that already numbered several hundred. At last I reached the front of the queue and was given a hastily prepared card saying I was a member of the L.D.V. (Local Defence Volunteers) my parent were quite unaware of my actions.

Some days later while I was at work, someone called at home to say that I was to report to the Granville Hotel on the East Cliff in Ramsgate at 8.00 that evening and to bring a broomstick with me. This I duly did, and at 10.00 that night I mounted guard at the top most turret of that seafront hotel for 2 hours to defend England with a 5 foot broomstick.

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