Based on extracts from emails in July-October 2005.
I was born in Brandon in 1931 and lived there until I went to Leeds University in 1949. I now live in Diamondhead, Mississippi on the Gulf Coast……that’s a long story!
I was eight when war was declared and visiting my aunt in London. She immediately got on the train with me to Brandon and when we arrived there were armed soldiers with fixed bayonets at intervals along the platform.
I remember the first air raid on the airfield at Feltwell. My Dad woke me up and I thought it was daylight until he explained the Germans had dropped chandelier flares. We sat under the dining room table.
One of our next door neighbours sons, Cecil Dorling, fought in the Pacific. He was captured and died in a Jap POW camp. I cannot remember any others.
The day of the strafing (machine gunning the school) we were having lunch when we heard two planes go over in low clouds and machine guns were being fired, When it was time to go to school the ‘All Clear’ had not sounded, so me and our evacuee set off. It was the day for my music lesson and I was about to drop off the satchel at the music teacher’s house when I noticed a line of factory girls returning to work at Roughts’. Suddenly out of the clouds came a Dornier 17 and started machine gunning the road. I grabbed the evacuee and dived to the ground at the teacher’s door. The plane flew by, still firing, and seconds later it seemed my dad appeared on his bicycle and he escorted us back home. One of the factory workers was reported as being injured by flying road stones. We later heard that the school had been hit. My parents took in two evacuees from London at two separate times and then we took in a Dr. Barnardo boy.
I have no particular memories of primary school events. I started school at the County Grammar School in Bury St. Edmunds when I was eleven. Towler’s was the bus service and we went a very circuitous route from Brandon to Lakenheath, Eriswell, Elveden, Barnham and Ingham. One incident stays in my mind. We were approaching Elveden one afternoon, having come direct from Culford when a Churchill tank, involved on manoeuvres, came through a hedge and hit the bus. Fortunately, no one was injured and we all got to see inside the tank.
I remember VE day. There was a Canadian regiment at the camp on London road, near Mile End and that night they came past our house on their way to the market place setting off bags of magnesium flares as they went. Believe it or not I was visiting my aunt in London on VJ day.
I attended the opening of the playing field and I was in the church choir. I seem to think I may have a photo of that event.