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15 October 2014
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Wartime Memories: The Messenger Boy

by alanpage

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Alan Edward Page
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14 November 2003

In October 1940 I was a Sea Cadet - just 14 years of age. Through the Sea Cadets I got a job as a Messenger Boy for the Naval Department at the Ministry of Information in Malet Street (which was, and still is, the University of London). My duty was to run messages from the M.O.I. to the Admiralty for Censoring and then return with the information duly censored for release to the world's press.

Now this was during the height of the Blitz and our hours of work were from 2pm - 10pm, stay overnight and work from 7am - 2pm the next day. Many messages had to be run at nighttime. Whilst I was there, I was asked if I would like to be a Messenger Boy in the Home Guard which I subsequently became. I had my photograph taken in front of the M.O.I. blowing a bugle to welcome Mr Menzies, the Australian Prime Minister. My photograph appeared on the front page of the Evening News (copy of which I still have). I was then told I was the youngest member of the Home Guard.

One night, returning from delivering a message there was a direct hit from a bomb on a Forces Club in Malet Street almost opposite the M.O.I. I was then helping the Police, Fireman, etc. getting the survivors and bodies out into the street

If any important messages had to be run we were given 2s.6d. for the taxi fare and as my wages then were only 10s. per week I used to run as fast I could to the Admiralty and back and save the money. One night whilst returning from the Admiralty I was hit on my tin helmet by a small piece of shrapnel. I was so proud of the subsequent dent that I showed it to my mother - she said aloud "You can soon pack that b..... job in!! This, of course, I was forced to do and on coming home I found that our house in Kingsbury had been bombed and we had to live in temporary accomodation until I joined the Navy.

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The Blitz Category
Working Through War Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
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