During the war we used to hide under the table during air raids: we weren’t allowed to go into the public shelters because of my father’s occupation. [It was assumed that those with an adequate income would install their own shelter.] I once saw a German parachutist coming down. German POWs used to come and dig our garden. I made friends with them and they gave me German badges, bank notes and other souvenirs that I still have. Children evacuated from Coventry came to my school: they had lessons in the morning and we local children had lessons in the afternoon. A friend of mine remembers peeping through the boarded-up windows of the old Art Gallery to see the model boats inside. [This would be the Civil Defence Camouflage Unit, stationed in Leamington during the war, which worked on naval camouflage on this site.]
Various means of transport
I remember horse-drawn milk floats and once a horse bolted and ran away with the cart. As a child I loved to roller skate; we used to hang onto the handle at the back of the red buses to get towed along – once it had got up speed we’d let go to freewheel behind. Later on I was a keen cyclist and used to cycle to my base in Cannock Chase when doing my National Service in the 1950s. I ended up doing office work, typing, for them. I moved about around the country and my mother wrote to me almost every day. Later on I cycled to work daily from Whitnash to Birmingham; I worked for AP [Automotive Products]. I’ve donated my old Pollard bike and cycling memorabilia to the Coventry Transport Museum.
My father playing in the band
My granny was a cook at Billesley Manor near Stratford upon Avon; she retired to Worthing and had a pianola. Her son, my father George, joined the army as a band boy and served in India where he played in the evenings for local dances. He played the trumpet and the violin and played to celebrate V.E. day; after the war he performed in the Jephson Gardens. We once went to hear a band play at Lockheed’s and a member of the band let me have a go on the bones; I did well so he gave me a set that I still play.