Cowley Avenue Apaches, Part Two.
I sit down and let my memory take me back to that day in 1940.
I am eight, about the same age as my grandson. The war, after a false start is in full swing, the battle of Britain is on the wireless every night. The Picture Palace shows newsreels of the war far away and the blitz of London nearer to home.
Today we saw our first German bombers, just glimpses of them as they passed in and out of the clouds. There weren’t as many as we see on the newsreel, but we know they were enemy planes because of the sound they make. My brother Don pushes me to the ground, and we cover our heads with our jersey’s and stay down until we can no longer hear the nasty droning sound of those German engines.
We later find out that Vickers Armstrong of Weybridge, three or four miles away, had been bombed, possibly by the same bombers. There are lots of casualties, some of them from our own town. The war was getting nearer, we never had time to be bored.
Even before the war we were very lucky to have plenty of things to do. We had the river Thames to swim in, fields and little streams to play in and of course St Anne’s Hill.
The hill has always been a source of sand and gravel, the sand is very fine and has recently been used to fill sand-bags. The hill was just carved into like piece of cake, this made a cliff about 60 feet high, perfect for a bit of climbing.
On the other side of the hill is the Dingle, a disused gravel pit that had also been dug into the side of the hill many years ago. This left a horse-shoe shaped cliff, the bottom of the cliff was landscaped with some huge trees and three ponds set in a level grassed area. Nearby is a summer house next to one of the ponds, this is our headquarters.
My thoughts are brought to an abrupt end as their mother comes in and switches the TV on to pause and hands them the dog’s lead, it is time for Pepe’s walk.
We will be outside after all, much to the dismay of the boys. I look forward to this as the local park is perfect for our walk, but I am soon a bit puffed out and looking for somewhere to sit, the younger boy runs off with their new puppy and his brother sits next to me. Although kids can seem a bit off hand at times both my grandsons are very well mannered. I suppose he thought it would be polite to at least be vaguely interested in what I did as a child.
“At school we are learning all about World War Two. How old were you when it was going on, Grand dad, can you remember much about it”?
I told him about my writing, and he asked if he could read one.
It is always a bit dangerous to ask an old man about his time in the war, but he will soon learn.