The war went rolling on and by the start of 1944, things were getting tight. I never remember being hungry, but I certainly remembered being cold. My grandmother used to send me up to Vic Dillow the coal man, who lived in a big old house at the top of the West Rock just opposite the Globe, to ask if we could have some coal please. Mrs. Dillow always answered the door and I would tell her what we would like. And the next bit was like a pantomime. She would stand there shouting “Vic!” at the top of her voice and eventually she would get an answer, which consisted of “blankety-blank hell do you want?”
We always got some coal, but I also went to Warwick Gasworks to get coke to eke things out a bit. At the time there were a lot of Italian POWs working at the gasworks and one of their jobs was to load coal into small trucks that went from the mainline down to the actual gasworks. The trucks went down this railway propelled by gravity. They were then unloaded and pushed back up empty to start all over again. We often had rides on the trucks until the foreman found out.
The Americans Arrive for D-Day
By this time D-Day was getting close and of course Warwick goods yard, at the bottom of Cape Road by the bridge, was getting extremely busy. One day us kids were totally amazed to see parked all the way down Cape Road a great big line of American 6-wheeler trucks, driven by black men. This was incredible as we had never seen a black person before and we could not take our eyes off them! Our curiosity brought its own rewards though, because these lads gave us copious quantities of chocolate, sweets and chewing gum by the sack full. It worked out both ways because a lot of the housewives along the road made them pots of tea. With the sweets that had been given out, the local kids kept what they wanted and the rest was flogged off at school the next day.
The night before D day, I remember standing on the doorstep with the rest of the family watching aircraft going overhead, some towing gliders. The evening sky was filled from one horizon to another. We all knew what was about to happen. Time went rolling on and after a little while the ambulance trains began coming into Warwick. The trains consisted of green Southern railway coaches and the trains were so slowly and gently put into position and the wounded were then very gently taken off and taken to Warwick hospital, to what were specially brick built huts that are still there today, but modified beyond all recognition. I suppose you could say that it was all over bar the shouting.
Next came VE-Day, and as I was the only kid living in that part of Cape Road and would look rather stupid sitting at a table by myself in the middle of Cape Road, I somehow muscled-in on the Albert Street party.
Well that is just about it. I do remember seeing one of the first Gloucester Meteors flying over and nobody would believe me that I had seen an aeroplane without propellers.
This article was submitted by Gary Stocker on behalf of his father. The article appears on the Unlocking Warwick website.