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Originally Posted by Sgt:Woodie

To All ARP Wardens , Grandad's & Mine

Have you heard how young Albert Ramsbottom
Was evacuated from home
With his mother, clean socks and a toothbrush
Some syrup of figs and a comb.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l8za_uujQo


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hey thanks for the recollections guys. it offers unique perspective, no competition for wildest tale or most yarns spun, it DOES most definitely serve as education for us *youngsters*.

we here in the USA have had it pretty lucky, never having had a war fought on our own home turf. well not in the 20th century anyway!

hooray to those who have traveled abroad to preserve our freedoms, and to those who have fought and served bravely to protect their own home fronts!


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Here's another doodlebug yarn where I was personally involved.

Towards the end of 1944 on the edge of East London where we lived air raids were now rare but doodle bugs (V1’s) were frequent, with many of them passing straight overhead towards central London. However, a fair smattering of them fell short and landed in our area. I suppose we became a bit nonchalant about them when we were actually at home or playing in the open during daylight. This was because when the sirens sounded the approach of the next one we could see it coming (always roughly from the same direction) and if its flight was not actually in direct line to where we stood but well to the right or to the left we carried on with what we were doing, thankful that this time we were safe . It was this sort of nonchalance that caused my brother and I to get blown into that public toilet, because we were engrossed in retrieving our toy boat and ignored the warning sirens. Of course the situation was much worse at night because you could not see them, only hear them, and that’s when they really stretched your nerves to breaking point!

On this particular day we were at home and the sirens had sounded the approach of the next one. So, we all went to the back door to note its course. “Quick!,” shouted our mum, “Its heading straight for us. Go to the shelter!“ Before we could move, and it was much closer, its engine stopped. Now here I need to explain something. When a doodlebug’s engine stopped, two things could happen. Sometimes they tipped vertically downwards and did a steep spiralling dive. However, at other times they took a longer more shallow gliding dive which took them a lot further before they hit the ground.

This one started the steep spiral dive mode and although it wasn’t yet directly above our house our perception was that it would have been mighty close. We were transfixed, unable to move, realising that we couldn’t reach the shelter at the end of the garden in time. BUT just as it commenced its dive the engine spluttered and restarted and the doodlebug came out of its spiral dive mode facing the opposite direction and carried on flying for a few more seconds. The engine then stopped for good and it went into another spiral dive, eventually exploding in nearby Dagenham where I understand it made a direct hit on the civic centre, which was crowded with people going about their business, causing many fatal casualties

Last edited by Grandad; 09/28/10 11:14 am.

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Less see now.. Have I got any boring WWW2 stories to tell? grin

Well,as mentioned before, I lived, together with my mother (my father was in active service in the Royal Navy)and two brothers in a small country farming village in the NE of England so didn't experience much of the action other than a few stray bombs being unloaded nearby on a couple of nights - near enough to spead shrapnel all over the village.

Interesting to me though were the Italian and German prisoners of war who were imprisoned in a nearby village but worked on the farms in my village. The prisoners were marched under guard on the small road right outside the house I was living in to and from the prison camp. The Ialians were under very lax supervision and allways seemed to laughing and joking amongst themselves. What I remember most was them picking snails out of the stone walls apparently to eat them! eek Of course they were released early in the War when Italy surrendered and maybe thats why they seemed to be so happy

The Germans were a different matter being under very tight supervision. My twin brother and I were very intrigued by them having heard so much propoganda about them being so evil. We were allowed to visit them when resting in the farmyard after toiling in the fields and found them to be very friendly- completely different to what we were expected to believe. in fact one of the soldiers seemed to take a liking to us and made us typical German wooden toys for Christmas. I guess we must have reminded him of children of his own. After all, a lot of the English came from the same stock as the Germans.

My WW2 story for the day. Not very exciting I know...

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Perhaps we should explain Grandad to our colonial friends at least re the number of Doodlebugs that came over otherwise they will be thinking they are like RGS's more now on the road than were made, more landed than were launched! Hitler was very cross that the allies had the nerve to invade France so he directed the Luftwaffe to launch the V1's a few days after June 6th 1944 V= Vengence Weapon! Most of the launch sites were up near Calais & further North in Belgium, the Belgium ones going towards Grandad the Calais launched ones out to get Woodie or so it seemed. Day & Night they came sorry Grandad you could see em at night it looked as their A**es were on fire at first we thought them to be normal Piloted aircraft when we saw the glow of it's ram jet engine we thought it had been hit, we would cheer we soon learnt different. The Army decided the AAA guns defending London were useless thet brought the V1's down on London, so they moved every gun to the South & South East coast of England, The batteries would try then to hit the V1's over the channel, whilst the fighter aircraft tried either to shoot em down or tip the wings of the Doodlebug with their own wings so upsetting the Gyrocompass, very very dangerous. With all effort with AAA guns & aircraft at the height of the Doodlebug attacks at 70 per every 24 hours was getting through. This yarn was towards Christmas 1944 we had been told "All over by Christmas" The day had been avery sad day for us in Greenwood Road the word had got around " Bananas over the shops " All the Housewives grabbed their kids & bags & flew to the Greengrocer to try & get at least one of that exotic fruit. As Mum & I rushed over to shops about 600 yards the sirens went by then as Grandad said most people thought well if my numbers on it, we'll cope it or not. Bananas were more important than Doodlebugs to Mum so we carried on meeting our neighbours returning with their wares & rushing to take shelter in the street shelters which were built directly onto the road no foundations! As we got to the Green grocers Whoomph, Whoomph the blast flew over our heads as we lay down in the shop No windows to worry about they had long since gone. Grabbing at least 2 Bananas, We started for home only to be met by a uniform chap at the end of our road. We could go no further Mum looked down our road & I could see our house had no windows , front door the Roof had gone weeks before. We departed for Grannies house. Later we were allowed home to be met my Dad in his Postmans Uniform he had been allowed through the barrier as he was also CD trained. Dad was crying I could'nt believe it Dad's don't cry! especially when they had gone through 1914 to 1918 epic. I learned much later when I enquired where my friends were or Mrs So & So. They had made it to the street shelters single brick walls with roof of aleast a foot thick concrete, apparantly 2 Doodlebugs were flying together which was unusual & both came down on Greenwood Road not on the shelters but each side caving the walls in The heavy slab of the concrete roof just smashed down. Dad had helped to get those inside out. This was only the start to this Black day , Night was approaching so is another yarn.

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Originally Posted by Britbodger
Less see now.. Have I got any boring WWW2 stories to tell? grin
The Germans were a different matter being under very tight supervision. My twin brother and I were very intrigued by them having heard so much propoganda about them being so evil. We were allowed to visit them when resting in the farmyard after toiling in the fields and found them to be very friendly- completely different to what we were expected to believe. in fact one of the soldiers seemed to take a liking to us and made us typical German wooden toys for Christmas. I guess we must have reminded him of children of his own. After all, a lot of the English came from the same stock as the Germans.

My WW2 story for the day. Not very exciting I know...

beerchug


Nice recolection Bodger, turns out they were human after all?
New Hampshire had a POW camp up in the White Mountain town of Stark. Read a book about it called Stark Decency. The prisoners were put to work cutting pulp wood for the papermills nearby, and due to the remote location of the camp they figured that these guys would rather stay put in camp at night rather than take their chances with the critters and elements of the great north woods so they were not guarded as closely as they could have been. Two of them walked away one night and headed for the nearest big town, named Berlin appropriately enough. They got to town, had something to eat, went to a movie, and then decided to go back to camp. Back in the early 80s I remember a few of the former inmates came back just to visit where they had spent "the good part" of their war years.


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Found in Neighbours Garden, Don't forget the dangers of Smoking lads!
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v711/Sergentwoodie/BombinWoodstockway.jpg

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Hey Malcolm, far from being boring mate, it shows the difference between living in the far north of England rather than the environs of London at that time. Also, you talking about snails and Italians leads very conveniently to a little yarn I haven’t told yet. So its your fault if I bore the socks off of everyone. I reckon you owe them all a beer!!

It was the one time we had Adolf actually living in our house.

This happened in the phoney war period just before the blitz started and my parents were billeting an Austrian refugee family in our home whilst a more permanent residence was found for them by the authorities.
The father of the refugee family was actually called Adolf, which was a source of wry amusement to my own family seeing as the other Adolf was threatening to do the Brit’s a diabolical mischief if he ever managed to get his hands on us.
However my yarn concerns their daughter who was just a toddler. Although she could not understand English nor I German we used to play together a lot in the garden.
I was approaching six years old and I had got it into my immature head that all foreigners just loved to eat snails and frog’s legs and garlic and other disgusting things. So, always the one for an experiment, I had collected a handful of garden snails and was busy feeding them to the little lass in the garden to see how she would respond. She was chewing away, shells and all, and having decided that she didn’t like snails was pulling pained faces and trying to spit the mess out. This was when my furious mother appeared, enquired what was going on and then soundly boxed my ears (parents were allowed to do that in those days but the PC brigade would have a fit nowadays!). I was sent to bed and the poor Austrian lass was taken to the bathroom to have her mouth washed out with disinfectant, which probably tasted worse than the snails!!
Blimey, I don’t know what all the fuss was about, some English blokes eat snaily things . You should see old Shaun digging into a plate of whelks - not a sight for the queasy I can tell ya!


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Oi Grandad, I saw that mad That'll be a pint of Winkles and a plate of Cockles you owe me wink


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Can't beat the Snails yarn Grandad, too busy eating the pies made from Horse Meat, I noticed the old rag & bone man's nag disappeared early on.

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Woodie, I know you could see the V1's in the dark because of the flame coming out of the pulse-jet engine, but to do so would have meant hopping out of bed and running outside umpteen times each night, just to see which ones were a potential danger to us. If we wanted to get any sleep at all the best place was the Anderson shelter (ours was fitted with home-made wooden bunks and could sleep four people). Mind you, it was horribly uncomfortable - always damp, cold and claustrophobic and seemed to attract a multitude of spiders.


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Our Anderson was more like a covered Goldfish pond very early on we found due to blue clay it was unusuable so next best thing in the Blitz was the shelter at the end of the road which was underground I believe it was something to do with the church as the old vicar would come down with his squeeze box & play all the old cockney songs,we would sing along great fun. To get there took us about 10 mins. So for 2 reasons we stopped useing it Time! & one day running for the shelter a plane came down flying the length of our road spraying his machine guns. Nobody was hit but Mum went into histerical screaming only stopped by an ARP warden slapping her around the chops, I was'nt too keen on that. So we stayed indoors in the under stair cupboard alongside the Gas & Electric meters( Very Safe) Dad's Posties lamp lighting our way in. So it was the night we went to bed after loosing the front of our house. As you say Grandad shaw enough through the night the wail of the sirens went. We knew what to do fly down the stairs and thro oneself into the cupboard , Hold on I had left Teddy my old Ted made out of a greatcoat in my bed! No time to retreave him as we heard the approaching Doodlebug it seemed right above us the engine cut, The House soon shook accompanied by crashing & screaming. Later we crawled out trying to push the door open we were met by the French Windows in the hall, all the ceilings were hanging down, the rear of the house was no more. I rushed up what was left of the stairs my bedrom was open plan now, My bed was a mass of sticking up glass in the mattress, where was Ted? I found him speared with glass, & one splinter had cut an arm off him. Mum said that was the only time I cried throughout the bombing. My Ted survived with some needlework from Mum he was just another casualty of war!

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Originally Posted by Grandad
The nearest I came to actual harm was when one morning I had just got out of bed and walked downstairs when there was a terrible howling noise of aero engines. To our horror, approaching the house at great speed was a German bomber flying at just above roof top height and behind it was a fighter plane pumping cannon shells into it. The German plane dropped one bomb and demolished a nearby house, killing all the inhabitants, and then eventually crashed. When we eventually went back upstairs we found that a fragment of cannon shell had gone straight through the centre of my pillow, where my head had been minutes before the event.


Reminds me of a story my dad told of being in the Navy during the war. One day while standing on the fan tail of the ship, he looked down into the water to see a Jap torpedo streak directly beneath him.

Too close for comfort.


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Blimey Woodie, I'm glad I didn't live in Croydon. It makes Ilford sound like a holiday camp! This was probably due to the fact that the hordes of bombers that flew directly over us were mainly intent on hitting the London docks which were about four miles closer to central London. We got all the badly aimed ones.

Here's another little yarn - involving the demise of our family Xmas pudding due to enemy action.

Food rationing was strict and luxury foods such as dried fruit were virtually unavailable because they came from overseas. So things like Xmas pudding, which contained such luxuries tended to be made up of weird substitutes. Well, My Gran and my Mum had been scheming and scrounging and saving bits and peices of stuff for months until they had something like the traditional ingredients for a very small pudding. Then just before Xmas they cooked it and put it into the pantry to 'mature'.
This was during the heavy part of the blitz and so the women and us children spent our nights in the shelter.
One morning a couple of days before Xmas and after a very violent night of raids, we emerged groggily from our shelter, not having had much sleep because of the racket, mainly from the nearby heavy AA guns but occasionally from exploding bombs. When my mother opened the rear house door into the kitchen a chaotic scene met our eyes. All her saucepans, loads of smashed crockery and broken glass had been swept from the kitchen and up the hall by blast, where they ended up heaped up against the front door. Worst of all, splattered all over the door was the treasured pudding mixed liberally with fragments of glass, china and ceiling plaster. Even Granny had to admit it was a lost cause. Now, my grandfather was a very religious and charitable man but the things he apparently said about Hitler when he saw what had happened to the pudding were very far from charitable and contained expletives that we never heard him use either before or after that event!!
This was another example of bomb blasts doing the strangest thing - you see, no windows were broken and from the outside the house seemed intact except for some tiles blown from the roof (nothing new there!), but the blast of a nearby bomb seems to have entered the house via the windows which were always left deliberately open so they didn't break easily!

Last edited by Grandad; 09/29/10 6:54 pm.

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Yes Grandad - food was in very short supply during the war and even afterwards. The only time we kids saw an orange or a banana was at Xmas when we found one of each in our Xmas stockings!

Brings back memories of cod liver oil, marmite, dried eggs, rose hip surrup, dripping n' bread and mushy peas. Funny that mushy peas have since become a delicacy! Go well with pork pie - well in England anyroad! grin

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Mushy peas with meat & tater pie yes, with fish & chips (fries to our colonial cousins) but mushy peas & pork pie? not for me thanks very much!


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Originally Posted by Britbodger
Yes Grandad - food was in very short supply during the war and even afterwards.
My dad was in the RAMC during WW2. For a time he was billeted in someone's house and one evening when they were having tea there was an air-raid. Whilst everyone else in the house went to the shelter for safety, my big rufty-tufty dad (all 5'-6" and 9st 6lb of him) stayed where the danger was. And ate everyone's meal.
My mother was an army nurse and both she and my dad would happily talk about the fun times they had. If pushed, they would tell me about the bad experiences, too but they gave the impression that it was just part of life at the time and everyone just got on with it.


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Thankyou Janet for your story I wonder which Medical unit Your Dad was in? I was attached to a Medical unit for 22 years Post War of course.
I have attached a photo of local General Post Office Messenger boys in 1944. Mounted on BSA c10 SV 250cc restricted in speed officialy to 30mph??? Thes lads aged between 16 & 18 years old rode throughout the war delivering important Telegrams. Many of course were to love ones advising of Killed in Action , Missing etc. Even in my years Ladies answering the door one would see the colour go from their faces. The headlights are Shrouded in accordance with Blackout regulations. These boys rode on unlighted streets which iin many cases were wood tar blocks, Tram lines all very slippery & of course enemy action.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v711/Sergentwoodie/1944__London_L-R_GPOMessengers1944-1.jpg

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My next little yarn shows how during the blitz ordinary folk became quite nonchalent about things we would consider extremely hazardous nowadays.

It was night time. Myself, my brother and our mother were in the Anderson shelter. Dad was out doing his ARP warden bit and a noisy air raid was in progress. As usual much of the noise was due to the nearby AA guns and occasional exploding bombs. Meanwhile enemy aircraft droned endlessly overhead on their way to London ‘s docklands. I can best describe it as like listening to an enormous firework display - only much louder! This was partly due to the fact that the AA guns were not the small mobile variety but were a battery of huge, permanently-mounted barrage guns - serious stuff designed to screen the approach up the Thames to inner London.

Suddenly, we heard a voice calling from the garden outside the shelter. It was our aged next door neighbour. “Mrs Ham, Mrs Ham!” his little old querulous voice shouted. “You’ve got a bomb in your garden!” When our mum had got over the first shock and there was no immediate explosion she got up enough courage to peep out from behind the blast wall which protected the door . Having taken a peek she suddenly snorted, stood upright and strode purposefully into the garden. Us two lads, aged at about seven and five years (I was the seven year old) were left trembling with fright in the shelter with our fingers in our ears as we imagined an enormous finned monster stuck in the lawn and about to blow us all away (we‘d all heard stories of bombs with timed fuses, hadn‘t we!) After a few minutes she strode back all indignant and muttering angrily. “Silly old fool!” she said, “Fancy giving us a fright like that, it was only a blooming incendiary bomb!” Apparently she always kept a bin full of ashes to hand and all she did was extinguish the blazing bomb by up-ending the bin on top of it - a minor irritating event! However to do that she had to risk the shrapnel hazard!
Mind you, it would have been a different story if the bomb had gone through the roof of the house and ended up amongst the roof beams! The house would have been ablaze before anyone could have dealt with it.

Last edited by Grandad; 10/01/10 7:16 pm.

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