My wartime memories start rather in Coventry round about 1939, when I would have been five years old. We got bombed out of Coventry after the 14th November Coventry blitz and we were fortunate to be able to go to Home Farm at the top of Hatton Hill, where my grandfather was the Haseley Manor estate bailiff. We stayed there until about the early part of 1942 and during this time, I only ever saw my mother and father occasionally, as they had to go back to Coventry on war work. Early 1942 my grandfather had to retire from the farm as the estate was sold to Walpole Brown of Coventry. We then went to live with my other grand parents at no.7 Cape Road and this is where my memories of Warwick begin.
The Town Preparing for Air Raids
I was sent to The King’s High School Kindergarten, the headmistress being Miss Smalley. The actual school buildings were part of the old St Mary’s Hall and the lower part of the building was being used by the army and they used to parade in the Butts, which was great as us lads used to parade with them, because we all thought we going to be soldiers. The Military Police were housed in the house just up from there. After the war Dr Tibbetts lived there and had his surgery there.
On the other side of the Butts, where the car park is now, a massive static water tank was built for use by the fire brigade if the town supply was put out of action. This was great, as us kids used to go swimming in it, until the firemen caught us and threatened us not to do it again, which of course we had to, just to prove a point. Just down the Butts is where the Tinker Tank is. That was made into a makeshift air raid shelter and you can still see some of the old brickwork there today.
Also there was a fire station in the driveway that runs parallel with the Tinker Tank and there was another fire station down Castle Street. We did get air raid warnings, while I was at Kings High Kindergarten, and we all had to to go down into the air aid shelter, which was in the playground. We used to have to sing 10 green bottles hanging on the wall, which I thought – and still do – that it was a totally pointless song. Quite a number of the children would be frightened and very tearful. For my part I was quite used to being bombed and it didn’t worry me.
Bombs on the Racecourse
I don’t remember any bombs actually falling on the town, but at least four were jettisoned on the race course close to, I believe, Linen Street and a number of men were killed, buried by the debris. I think that they were either going to work or coming from work from the Warwick Aviation, which was based at the old Hill House, the company being owned and run by the Metcalfe family. Apparently the services of a water diviner were used to find the bodies of the men that had been buried. My aunt worked at the Aviation at the time as Catering Manageress and she was most upset as she knew the blokes concerned.
This article was submitted by Gary Stocker on behalf of his father.