Wartime Warwick

Lord Montgomery's tank at Budbrooke Barracks. October 13th 1948
IMAGE LOCATION: (Warwickshire County Record Office)
Reference: PH(N), 600/743/1, img: 8074

We were supplied with gas masks before the war.

1939 – I was swinging on the front garden gate in Wathen Road when my father told me war had just been declared. I asked why? He said Germany had invaded Poland.

All the men in our family worked in Coventry factories and were in reserved occupations, so never served in the forces. My father was a charge hand in the body shop at the Humber works in charge of the… deaf and dumb workers – he could sign.

Bananas and oranges disappear

Bananas and oranges were one penny each but soon disappeared not to return until November 1944. Mother changed our registered grocer (who delivered) from Melias in Market Square to Thacker and Christmas [a shop],  as my aunt when packing our order sneaked in extra sugar or butter into our cardboard delivery box.

1939-1940 – At the outbreak of war my two girl cousins from Kent came as evacuees to my grandparents in Millers Road. In 1940, when no bombing occured at all, they returned home. They were soon back when raids started, and stayed until 1945.

We never went down a shelter throughout the war. Westgate Arch was sandbagged as a shelter. Trenches were dug in St Lawrence Avenue. I collected my grandmother’s pint of mixed beer from the Wedgnock outdoor in a white milk jug. I stole a sip for going.

Standout dates

May 1940 – I saw soldiers from Budbrooke barracks walking from the railway station to report to Sergeant Major at a table outside Barclays Bank in the High Street in Warwick after Dunkirk.

May 1941 – Two men were killed by bombs on the common as they walked home in their dinner break on the nightshift from the Warwick aviation Company in Saltisford. James Hiatt and Harry Marston were going to Linen Street, a German bomber was aiming for the gas works.

August 1942 – A girl was wounded in the knee by a machine gun bullet in an upstairs room in Warwick when a German aircraft fired on the town.

Pig meal and layer’s meal bought from Schofields the corn merchant whose shop was built into the Holloway.

Prisoner of War camps

There was an Italian prisoner of war camp on the racecourse, they wore a yellow circle on the back of their brown jackets. There was a German PoW camp at the corner of Myton Road with Banbury Road, where the prep school is today.

When we cycled to Warwick we left our bicycles either at Goddards the carriers near the Rose and Crown or at Hackletons garage at the bottom of Priory Road. Both charged three pence per cycle.

Originally published on the BBC’s WW2 People’s War website. This article has been reproduced with permission of the BBC, and the author’s estate.

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