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Seventy-five Years Ago Today....

lmr3103

master brummie
Thanks for kind words and, Pedrocut, for the nice "then and now".

From almost the same spot and at different times of the day - the middle in the case of the "then" image and time for a lunchtime pint in the crowded little bar whose clientele at any other time of the year is the local fishermen. Perhaps it has just happened? And "the now" - later in the afternoon and ready for a nice meal in the spacious modern dining room built where the bombed cottage used to stand.

The couple in the foreground are in fact Brummies: Mary and Bert Ward. They lived in Middleton Hall Road, King's Norton and were long-standing friends of my parents, often sharing holidays in the 1930s. He and Dad were both Great War survivors (and casualties), Bert having been gassed in 1915 and for ever after suffering with a weak chest. He always used to run very old cars in those days. If the two families travelled in separate cars, they would drive in convoy and Bert would say, if he was about to take the lead, "If I can see you in my rear-view mirror, Harry, I'll know I've run out of oil".

Nice people, always very decent to me. Disappeared now for half a century or more but still remembered with affection.

Chris

PS Now I come to look at it again, it's my mother, between the two of them and a bit further back. Why DID ladies need such huge handbags at that time?
Well Chris, don't forget there wasn't all the shops available then for food. drink etc like there is these days, so what you needed for the day you had to take with -in a very large handbag!
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
Hallsands disaster was 1917, but even today in bad weather that whole stretch of road can be affected and disrupted.

Bob
 

Johnfromstaffs

Johnfromstaffs
I’ve been thinking about that trip, there was a WW2 connection in that HMS Warspite had beached herself in a storm when being towed to the breaker’s, and wound up somewhere near St. Michael’s Mount.

A sad end to a remarkable career, 1915 to 1950.
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Monday, August 13th 1945.

Back again. No war news.

We are now in the second week of our holiday and, as I've already learned, the second half of anything goes much quicker than the first. So, before I forget, I'll tell you a bit about what has been happening.

You'll probably remember that we have been going to Beesands quite a bit. Most days, in fact, even if it is only in the evening after supper. Last time, I mentioned two other villages on this coast, Hallsands and Torcross.

Hallsands is mainly a ruin. I think it used to be a village much like Beesands but they removed a lot of shingle from the beach to help build new Royal Navy dockyards at Devonport (which is part of Plymouth, just down the coast). There was a terrific storm one night in 1917 and it looks as though the village wasn't as well protected as it had been in the past. So the storm overwhelmed a lot of the cottages. They are still there but they are nothing but ruins. It's all very eerie as you walk in and out of doorways and rooms where people used to live. But this all happened a long, long time ago. It's nearly 30 years.

Torcross, on the other hand, hasn't changed that much. In fact, only a tiny bit from how I remember it. I came here when I was only four months old. (Now don't be silly, of COURSE I don't remember it from THEN. Just from later). This is me being carried by my mum along the front on my very first visit in 1936, with my sister and "Rex" (whose real name I am still not going to tell you).

Torcross1936.jpg

And, while we're about it, here is a decent picture of Rex by the pond which Dad built. That was at home and so it hasn't really got much to do with all this. But I thought you would like to see him. He has been our friend and companion (and still is) all the days of the war. He used to spend the night in his kennel in the garage while the Germans were overhead and we were all safe in the shelter down the garden. I hope he didn't worry about the bombing too much. But he was always very happy to see us again in the morning. And we were happy to see him.

Rex.jpg

Torcross is a village at one end of Slapton Sands on the road to Dartmouth. I can't remember a lot about it from prewar. But one thing I do remember is a rather nice cafe where once I had a milkshake. This cafe stands in the village, between the road and the sea, just where the road bends round the end of Slapton Ley (which is a large lake). There is a wooden double door which is mainly glass and which you go through to get inside. It used to be all neat and tidy and modern. But it isn't any more. It's burnt out and the doors, which haven't got any glass in them any more, are half open. This isn't too much of a surprise to me. I know a bit about why this has happened.

I'll go back for a moment to the farm which the family stayed at from before I was born until 1938 and then again, once more, in 1941. This was Keynedon Mill, near Sherford. I have already told you about this before and showed you some pictures. There is also a picture of Mr. Cummings who was the farmer there. Here he is, again.

CummingsKeynedonMillDevon19.jpg

And this is the farm which he used to have. Mum is looking out of the window. And my brother is standing at the gate. To the right, the little lane goes off to Sherford through a tunnel of trees.

KeynedonSherfordpics.jpg

If something hadn't happened, that is where we would be staying again now, in 1945. But what happened was that the Americans decided that they needed Slapton Sands to practise their landings for D-Day. That was because Slapton beach was a bit like the beach they were going to land on in Normandy. In June last year that was known as "Utah". So all the people in the surrounding area, including the villages of Torcross, Slapton, Sherford, Stokenham, Blackawton and others, were brought together and told that they had just six weeks to move everything out, all their possessions, their farm animals, their equipment, everything. And so that's what they had to do. Can you imagine it? Mr. and Mrs. Cummings were amongst them because where their farm is was part of the Americans' area. What happened after they had gone and the Americans moved in is still a bit of a mystery (although I do know a bit). But a lot of damage was done during all the practising and I expect it took a long time to clear everything up afterwards, after June last year. I know they were using real ammunition, not blanks. And so, that is obviously what has happened to my cafe. People have moved back into the area now and of course we are able to go there. But the cafe is still a ruin. They haven't mended it yet. So no milkshake or ice cream for me this time.

Dad has been discussing all this at the pub with some of the locals. He tells me and Mum that there is talk of some dreadful disaster which happened to the Americans during the time that they were at Slapton. A lot of Americans were killed. But nobody knows any details and nothing official has ever been said about it. Not yet, anyway. For the time being it's a complete mystery. And a secret.

When I say that most of the locals have moved back to their homes, Mr. and Mrs. Cummings haven't. I don't know why. It tooks as though they are never going to return. We have visited them. They are living in a little cottage halfway up the hill in Frogmore. If you go out of their back door there's a big area there which has pens made out of wire netting and stakes and in these pens are all of their animals. It's not really like a farm at all.

If you leave their cottage and go back down the hill in Frogmore, near to the bridge, the road to Keynedon Mill and Sherford goes off to the left. The junction is quite different from what it was like before. Much wider. That's something else the Americans have done, because of their big lorries. (When I first used to see them at home, I thought the name on the bonnet was "PODGE". It seemed a funny name to me. It took a long time to realise it was really Dodge and, of course, that was a make of car which I knew about. I felt a bit silly about that).

I hope that Mr. and Mrs. Cummings will be able to have a proper farm again, one day. Just like the one I remember where we used to help with the harvest and drink milk which was still warm from the cows and had lovely meals in our room brought to us by Phyllis, the jolly daughter.

And where (as I told you earlier) I once played in a meadow by a water-wheel with a little boy from Ladywood called Bob.


Chris
 
Last edited:

lmr3103

master brummie
What a lovely start to my day reading your diary Chris! You certainly had a lovely childhood, and "Rex" looks a sweetheart- whatever his name!
Lynn.
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Rex didn't have the same name as Guy Gibson's did - the Dambusters' mascot - but when I come to think about it, it COULD be regarded in these enlightened days as non-pc as well. So he stays Rex!

He appeared at home before I did. I think he was bought as a tiny puppy from the bloke who was delivering greengrocery to our house. I think he cost five bob. Always looked like a good buy to me. Just an ordinary mongrel but much loved in the family.

Chris
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
Monday, August 13th 1945.

Back again. No war news.

We are now in the second week of our holiday and, as I've already learned, the second half of anything goes much quicker than the first. So, before I forget, I'll tell you a bit about what has been happening.

You'll probably remember that we have been going to Beesands quite a bit. Most days, in fact, even if it is only in the evening after supper. Last time, I mentioned two other villages on this coast, Hallsands and Torcross.

Hallsands is mainly a ruin. I think it used to be a village much like Beesands but they removed a lot of shingle from the beach to help build new Royal Navy dockyards at Devonport (which is part of Plymouth, just down the coast). There was a terrific storm one night in 1917 and it looks as though the village wasn't as well protected as it had been in the past. So the storm overwhelmed a lot of the cottages. They are still there but they are nothing but ruins. It's all very eerie as you walk in and out of doorways and rooms where people used to live. But this all happened a long, long time ago. It's nearly 30 years.

Torcross, on the other hand, hasn't changed that much. In fact, only a tiny bit from how I remember it. I came here when I was only four months old. (Now don't be silly, of COURSE I don't remember it from THEN. Just from later). This is me being carried by my mum along the front on my very first visit in 1936, with my sister and "Rex" (whose real name I am still not going to tell you).

View attachment 147487

And, while we're about it, here is a decent picture of Rex by the pond which Dad built. That was at home and so it hasn't really got much to do with all this. But I thought you would like to see him. He has been our friend and companion (and still is) all the days of the war. He used to spend the night in his kennel in the garage while the Germans were overhead and we were all safe in the shelter down the garden. I hope he didn't worry about the bombing too much. But he was always very happy to see us again in the morning. And we were happy to see him.

View attachment 147488

Torcross is a village at one end of Slapton Sands on the road to Dartmouth. I can't remember a lot about it from prewar. But one thing I do remember is a rather nice cafe where once I had a milkshake. This cafe stands in the village, between the road and the sea, just where the road bends round the end of Slapton Ley (which is a large lake). There is a wooden double door which is mainly glass and which you go through to get inside. It used to be all neat and tidy and modern. But it isn't any more. It's burnt out and the doors, which haven't got any glass in them any more, are half open. This isn't too much of a surprise to me. I know a bit about why this has happened.

I'll go back for a moment to the farm which the family stayed at from before I was born until 1938 and then again, once more, in 1941. This was Keynedon Mill, near Sherford. I have already told you about this before and showed you some pictures. There is also a picture of Mr. Cummings who was the farmer there. Here he is, again.

View attachment 147489

And this is the farm which he used to have. Mum is looking out of the window. And my brother is standing at the gate. To the right, the little lane goes off to Sherford through a tunnel of trees.

View attachment 147490

If something hadn't happened, that is where we would be staying again now, in 1945. But what happened was that the Americans decided that they needed Slapton Sands to practise their landings for D-Day. That was because Slapton beach was a bit like the beach they were going to land on in Normandy. In June last year that was known as "Utah". So all the people in the surrounding area, including the villages of Torcross, Slapton, Sherford, Stokenham, Blackawton and others, were brought together and told that they had just six weeks to move everything out, all their possessions, their farm animals, their equipment, everything. And so that's what they had to do. Can you imagine it? Mr. and Mrs. Cummings were amongst them because where their farm is was part of the Americans' area. What happened after they had gone and the Americans moved in is still a bit of a mystery (although I do know a bit). But a lot of damage was done during all the practising and I expect it took a long time to clear everything up afterwards, after June last year. I know they were using real ammunition, not blanks. And so, that is obviously what has happened to my cafe. People have moved back into the area now and of course we are able to go there. But the cafe is still a ruin. They haven't mended it yet. So no milkshake or ice cream for me this time.

Dad has been discussing all this at the pub with some of the locals. He tells me and Mum that there is talk of some dreadful disaster which happened to the Americans during the time that they were at Slapton. A lot of Americans were killed. But nobody knows any details and nothing official has ever been said about it. Not yet, anyway. For the time being it's a complete mystery. And a secret.

When I say that most of the locals have moved back to their homes, Mr. and Mrs. Cummings haven't. I don't know why. It tooks as though they are never going to return. We have visited them. They are living in a little cottage halfway up the hill in Frogmore. If you go out of their back door there's a big area there which has pens made out of wire netting and stakes and in these pens are all of their animals. It's not really like a farm at all.

If you leave their cottage and go back down the hill in Frogmore, near to the bridge, the road to Keynedon Mill and Sherford goes off to the left. The junction is quite different from what it was like before. Much wider. That's something else the Americans have done, because of their big lorries. (When I first used to see them at home, I thought the name on the bonnet was "PODGE". It seemed a funny name to me. It took a long time to realise it was really Dodge and, of course, that was a make of car which I knew about. I felt a bit silly about that).

I hope that Mr. and Mrs. Cummings will be able to have a proper farm again, one day. Just like the one I remember where we used to help with the harvest and drink milk which was still warm from the cows and had lovely meals in our room brought to us by Phyllis, the jolly daughter.

And where (as I told you earlier) I once played in a meadow by a water-wheel with a little boy from Ladywood called Bob.


Chris
Chris
Sherford, Kingsbridge/Frogmore still exists, but nowadays Sherford is the new town built on the edge of Plymouth.

Bob
 

Johnfromstaffs

Johnfromstaffs
Just thinking about dog inflation.

Your Rex, at five bob, seems a bit of a bargain compared with the current going rate for slightly more pedigree animals, some of which are now into four figures of £. If the same rate of inflation had been applied to petrol you’d now be looking at ten grand to fill even a small car’s tank.

Dogs? Who’d have ‘em?

Following the greeting we just got from our two, after a short trip out, most people.
 

lmr3103

master brummie
Just thinking about dog inflation.

Your Rex, at five bob, seems a bit of a bargain compared with the current going rate for slightly more pedigree animals, some of which are now into four figures of £. If the same rate of inflation had been applied to petrol you’d now be looking at ten grand to fill even a small car’s tank.

Dogs? Who’d have ‘em?

Following the greeting we just got from our two, after a short trip out, most people.
You don't have to spend 4 figures to get a loving, faithful friend- just go to the RSPCA.
 

Johnfromstaffs

Johnfromstaffs
Understood, but I am allergic to the dander that certain types of dog shake loose, and have found over the years that miniature schnauzers cause me no trouble. Apparently poodles shouldn’t either, but they aren’t really for me.
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Tuesday August 14th 1945.

Beesands is a nice place but it has one big disadvantage. Here's a picture of me and Mum on it.

FMCMBeesands.jpg

Do you see it? NO SAND! Just shingle, Torcross and Slapton are just the same even though they call then Slapton Sands. Difficult to build a sandcastle. And it hurts your bare feet until you get used to it. That's been a problem for the family ever since they first started coming here. There aren't many sandy beaches at all. My big sister used to tell me about one which they had discovered at a little place called Lannacombe and the lane you had to go down was so narrow that the grass and bushes brushed against each side of the car. We haven't been there this time but I expect the lane is just as narrow and overgrown as it ever was. (Unless the Americans have widened it!). Another place the family found which suited them was a beach near Salcombe. And we have been there again this time. When I say Salcombe, it is not the town itself. That is a sleepy little place with some nice shops and pubs and not too many people about. What I am talking about is East Portlemouth, on the opposite side of the estuary from Salcombe. You can get there from the town on a little boat which goes from down some steps near the Ferry Inn or, if you want to go by car, you can get to it through a lot of little lanes on the other side of the water. I haven't got any photographs of it this time. But this is me when I was there a long time ago, in 1938 when I was two. You can see there is a nice beach and a lot of water, even though it isn't exactly the sea.

SAGMFMCME.jpg

It's my brother, sister, Mum and me, and Rex of course.

And me again, on the same day, breathing in the wide open spaces.

CMBeachDevon1938img368.jpg

Everything is still much the same, there. With one big difference. Again, the Americans have been here. There's a lot of concrete and some bits of rusty equipment. It's difficult to work out what it was all for. But I think they are the remains of workshops and docks where the US Navy repaired vessels of different types, probably including landing craft. It all looks so solid that you think that it will be there for ever. Perhaps it will, perhaps it won't.

Everything is going wonderfully at the cottage. I have made some friends. There are one or two local children and a few visitors like me. One of the visitors is a boy of about my own age who comes from a place called Surrey. He is there with his mum. His name is Terry but his mum calls him Terrence. He's met Monty! They are staying in one of the cottages whose gardens you can see on the other side of the road from where we are staying. Here is a picture of us. At the front is Simon, Mrs H.'s little boy. Then me, Terry and another friend at the back. We are all on Simon's trike and its little trailer and we're all wearing hats which we have pinched from the hooks behind the kitchen door.BeesonChildren.jpg
In another cottage over the road lives a sweet and gentle girl called Mary. She is a year or two older than me. I have talked to her once or twice. I think I must be a bit strange to her. She knows I come from a big city and possibly she thinks that I have a life she can hardly imagine. But I don't, really. And I envy her for her own life, living in this beautiful place where it's never winter, the sun always shines and the rich, red earth makes everything grow twice as big and twice as lush and twice as green as anything at home. She has promised to take me on an errand shortly to see her grandmother who lives in a remote cottage which you can only get to over the fields. This is an adventure and I'm looking forward to it. Mum and Dad say that I can go.

One of her neighbours is a man who is quite old and they say that the furthest he has ever been away from the village is the town of Kingsbridge which is only four or five miles away. He also says that he's not bothered about seeing anything else and is quite happy.

Dad and Mum make regular visits to the The Cricket. They like chatting with the the locals. One man they have got very friendly with is Mr. Alfie Steer who is, like nearly everyone else, a fisherman. Dad has bought one of those glass balls from Mr. Steer which the fishermen use as floats for their crabpots. They are made from thick green glass and have tarred rope around them so that they can be tied to the crabpots (which are like big, upside-down baskets with a hole in the top which the crabs climb through to get at the bait and then can't get out of). Dad wanted one of these balls as a "souvenir". It's the sort of thing which gets hung up in our hall at home. This one will probably be hung up near a little wooden barrel, small enough to carry easily. That has always been there. I think Dad brought it back from Devon a long time before the war. He's told me that in the old days the men working on farms would take these out into the fields full of cider to last them all day if they got thirsty. (There are other interesting things in our hall. They have only been there for a few months, so far, but there are three different sorts of Home Guard hand grenade on the china shelf. Dad likes to have them there to look at. He says they are dummies. I expect he's right).

And Dad has been waging war on the local rabbits. He sometimes goes out, over the fields, with a shotgun which he has borrowed. I'm not sure how successful he is being and I haven't been with him so far. He hasn't got a shotgun himself but I think he is going to buy one. What he has got at home, though, are three Home Guard rifles. They live in his wardrobe. I don't know why he hasn't brought one of these with him. Perhaps they are not the right thing to shoot rabbits with. Or perhaps Mum wouldn't let him.

And as for our cottage? As I say, everything is still super. Mrs H. is wonderful. She makes lovely crab salads, she is always cheerful and joking (Mum and she have fits of laughter when they chat together), she is the most beautiful lady I have ever seen, I love the way she speaks, pronouncing Tom (her husband) as "Taaam". In fact I have fallen in love with her. I told Mum and Dad the other day that I wished she would demob Tom and marry me. They thought this was a huge joke. Of course it WAS a joke. I'm not daft. I know the age difference is against us.

We are still waiting for the Japanese. Dad says that something is going on and it's definitely going to happen. I'll tell you when I hear anything for certain.

Chris
 

lmr3103

master brummie
Tuesday August 14th 1945.

Beesands is a nice place but it has one big disadvantage. Here's a picture of me and Mum on it.

View attachment 147499

Do you see it? NO SAND! Just shingle, Torcross and Slapton are just the same even though they call then Slapton Sands. Difficult to build a sandcastle. And it hurts your bare feet until you get used to it. That's been a problem for the family ever since they first started coming here. There aren't many sandy beaches at all. My big sister used to tell me about one which they had discovered at a little place called Lannacombe and the lane you had to go down was so narrow that the grass and bushes brushed against each side of the car. We haven't been there this time but I expect the lane is just as narrow and overgrown as it ever was. (Unless the Americans have widened it!). Another place the family found which suited them was a beach near Salcombe. And we have been there again this time. When I say Salcombe, it is not the town itself. That is a sleepy little place with some nice shops and pubs and not too many people about. What I am talking about is East Portlemouth, on the opposite side of the estuary from Salcombe. You can get there from the town on a little boat which goes from down some steps near the Ferry Inn or, if you want to go by car, you can get to it through a lot of little lanes on the other side of the water. I haven't got any photographs of it this time. But this is me when I was there a long time ago, in 1938 when I was two. You can see there is a nice beach and a lot of water, even though it isn't exactly the sea.

View attachment 147503

It's my brother, sister, Mum and me, and Rex of course.

And me again, on the same day, breathing in the wide open spaces.

View attachment 147501

Everything is still much the same, there. With one big difference. Again, the Americans have been here. There's a lot of concrete and some bits of rusty equipment. It's difficult to work out what it was all for. But I think they are the remains of workshops and docks where the US Navy repaired vessels of different types, probably including landing craft. It all looks so solid that you think that it will be there for ever. Perhaps it will, perhaps it won't.

Everything is going wonderfully at the cottage. I have made some friends. There are one or two local children and a few visitors like me. One of the visitors is a boy of about my own age who comes from a place called Surrey. He is there with his mum. His name is Terry but his mum calls him Terrence. He's met Monty! They are staying in one of the cottages whose gardens you can see on the other side of the road from where we are staying. Here is a picture of us. At the front is Simon, Mrs H.'s little boy. Then me, Terry and another friend at the back. We are all on Simon's trike and wearing hats which we have pinched from the hooks behind the kitchen door.View attachment 147500
In another cottage over the road lives a sweet and gentle girl called Mary. She is a year or two older than me. I have talked to her once or twice. I think I must be a bit strange to her. She knows I come from a big city and possibly she thinks that I have a life she can hardly imagine. But I don't, really. And I envy her for her own life, living in this beautiful place where it's never winter, the sun always shines and the rich, red earth makes everything grow twice as big and twice as lush and twice as green as anything at home. She has promised to take me on an errand shortly to see her grandmother who lives in a remote cottage which you can only get to over the fields. This is an adventure and I'm looking forward to it. Mum and Dad say that I can go.

One of her neighbours is a man who is quite old and they say that the furthest he has ever been away from the village is the town of Kingsbridge which is only four or five miles away. He also says that he's not bothered about seeing anything else and is quite happy.

Dad and Mum make regular visits to the The Cricket. They like chatting with the the locals. One man they have got very friendly with is Alfie Steer who is, like nearly everyone else, a fisherman. Dad has bought one of those glass balls from Alfie which the fishermen use as floats for their crabpots. They are made from thick green glass and have tarred rope around them so that they can be tied to the crabpots (which are like big, upside-down baskets with a hole in the top which the crabs climb through to get at the bait and then can't get out of). Dad wanted one of these balls as a "souvenir". It's the sort of thing which gets hung up in our hall at home. This one will probably be hung up near a little wooden barrel, small enough to carry easily. That has always been there. I think Dad brought it back from Devon a long time before the war. He's told me that in the old days the men working on farms would take these out into the fields full of cider to last them all day if they got thirsty. (There are other interesting things in our hall. They have only been there for a few months, so far, but there are three different sorts of Home Guard hand grenade on the china shelf. Dad likes to have them there to look at. He says they are dummies. I expect he's right).

And Dad has been waging war on the local rabbits. He sometimes goes out, over the fields, with a shotgun which he has borrowed. I'm not sure how successful he is being and I haven't been with him so far. He hasn't got a shotgun himself but I think he is going to buy one. What he has got at home, though, are three Home Guard rifles. They live in his wardrobe. I don't know why he hasn't brought one of these with him. Perhaps they are not the right thing to shoot rabbits with. Or perhaps Mum wouldn't let him.

And as for our cottage? As I say, everything is still super. Mrs H. is wonderful. She makes lovely crab salads, she is always cheerful and joking (Mum and she have fits of laughter when they chat together), she is the most beautiful lady I have ever seen, I love the way she speaks, pronouncing Tom (her husband) as "Taaam". In fact I have fallen in love with her. I told Mum and Dad the other day that I wished she would demob Tom and marry me. They thought this was a huge joke. Of course it WAS a joke. I'm not daft. I know the age difference is against us.

We are still waiting for something from the Japanese. I'll tell you when I hear anything.

Chris
You've transported me back in time again Chris...Lovely stuff!
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Wednesday 15th August 1945.

It's happened! Mum and Dad are as happy as larks. My brother won't be sent out there now, for definite. And even if he is, he won't get killed. They are calling it V-J Day. It's two days of holiday for all the country. Of course, we're on holiday anyway but it's still going to feel special.

This is the third very important thing which has happened during my life. I can't remember anything about the first because I was a bit too young. But I remember the second, in May, very well. And of course I'm going to remember the third as well, which is today and tomorrow. Nothing has ever been as important to this country and the people in it as those three dates. And never will be. And the third one is now, this moment, and I mustn't forget it.

Today's Wednesday. By the day after tomorrow, history will have finished and dreadful things won't happen any more.

Chris
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Thursday, August 16th, 1945, early.

The celebrations aren't over yet. There are two days of them. Today is going to be the second one. I'll tell you about what happened yesterday.

I spent a lot of the day just mucking about. (You'll remember that I'm quite good at that). Yesterday's mucking about was a bit different, though. I spent it with three or four of my new friends, exploring and roaming around the fields. I don't know how we found out about it, but in the corner of a field quite close to the village a large pile of branches, timber and other stuff has appeared. We quickly convinced ourselves that this was the village bonfire for tonight. So, of course, we kept a close eye on it all through the day and visited it regularly, just to make sure that it was all OK.
Everything went well. Until......in the late afternoon when we were making our final check on it. Disaster. Total disaster. The pile looked wet and bedraggled and soggy. It would never, ever burn. Why? It hadn't been raining. Then the voice of doom from one of our group.

"The cows have piddled on it!"

We were devastated. We had been dreaming about this wonderful bonfire for most of the day. But one of us, a local lad and so a real countryman, was made of sterner stuff. He knew about things. He approached the pile, ran his finger over a tree trunk, lifted it to his nose and gave his professional verdict:

"Cow piddle, my *rse!! That be paraffin!"

And so, dusty, sweaty but much reassured we went off to our various homes, ready for tea and the evening's spectacle.

But I haven't yet found out whether the pile of material was really a bonfire, ready for the village celebration. Mum and Dad had decided that we were going to walk to Beesands after tea because they knew for definite that something was going on there. So off we went.

It was dusk when everything started in Beesands. Along the road through the village, and past The Cricket, there came a procession of local people, each carrying a flaming torch held high. It was a real sight. Dad was very impressed. I know he didn't like the films showing Hitler's men doing the same thing before the war (because he hated Hitler and I did as well). But he was willing to forget that because he thought this looked wonderful. A bit later I heard him getting one of the local lads to explain exactly how they had made these things. He listened very carefully and I know he is going to try and do the same thing when we have our first post-war Guy Fawkes bonfire. (Post-war - that's a funny word. I've heard it being used a few times about The Future and I expect we'll hear it a lot now. It's the opposite of pre). He says they are made of rolled up paper soaked in what he calls paraffin wax. I think that's the same as candle wax. I wonder if his will work as well.

Anyway, we followed the procession to the end of the road before it turns left to leave the village. And then straight on, along a track which leads on along the shore. Not far down that was a huge bonfire which I hadn't noticed when we came down the hill into the village. Everyone used their torches to set light to this great pile of timber, wooden crates, tree branches and all sorts of other rubbish. It quickly flared up into the dark sky. Just like the one we had in Streetly in May. It was wonderful. I didn't notice if they had Hitler and Tojo on top of this one as well.

When it had died down a bit they started to let off fireworks. Goodness knows where they got them from. Perhaps they had saved them from before the war. But there were fireworks there that I had only ever heard about before and could never remember having seen. Things like Roman candles and Catherine wheels. And bangers. But what was absolutely wonderful was that they had one or two rockets! When they were about to let the first of these off, Dad was so excited that he dragged me to his side at the front of the crowd, pointed and then said in a voice that was a bit too loud and a bit too foreign for this part of the world,

"Just watch this, Christopher!"

"Just watch this, Christopher!" called out one or two other voices in the crowd. Bigger boys than me. I didn't think that they sounded too friendly. In fact, rather the opposite. I felt an outsider. Which I am, of course, here. It wasn't a nice feeling and I didn't feel safe. I kept close to Dad as the rocket whooshed up into the sky and exploded in a shower of stars. Then watched the second one do the same thing.

The rockets marked the end of the display and slowly people started to drift away, leaving the bonfire as a mound of glowing embers. I wasn't too unhappy to move away as well, although the two or three lads who scared me had probably already forgotten that I existed. But it isn't nice to know that you've been noticed and I wouldn't have wished to be there without Dad to keep close to. Parents don't always think, do they? They try to be kind and do the right thing but even they can make a bit of a mistake sometimes. But it didn't really spoil it for me and it's something I shall always remember. The whoosh of that first rocket! And yes, lads, I WAS watching it and I shan't ever forget it.

The crowd we were walking with went straight on back into the village and towards their own homes. Or the pub. The three of us turned right and started the familiar climb up the narrow lane, past all the towering hedgerows with their glowworms and crickets and smell of honeysuckle as the hiss of water on the shingle gradually faded. Just our chatter and the sound of our footsteps on the lane. Finally our cottage came into sight. Everything was quiet and peaceful. If there had been any bonfire there, everyone was back home by now. Bed, and I had still got the Beeson children's party to look forward to tomorrow afternoon. (That's today, now). I have been invited. That will be Part 2 of my V-J Day celebrations. Super! But it had to be a good, long sleep first after all the excitement over bonfires. Golly, you DO get tired here.

Chris
 

lmr3103

master brummie
Thursday, August 16th, 1945

The celebrations aren't over yet. There are two days of them. Today is going to be the second one. I'll tell you about what happened yesterday.

I spent a lot of the day just mucking about. (You'll remember that I'm quite good at that). Yesterday's mucking about was a bit different, though. I spent it with three or four of my new friends, exploring and roaming around the fields. I don't know how we found out about it, but in the corner of a field quite close to the village a large pile of branches, timber and other stuff has appeared. We quickly convinced ourselves that this was the village bonfire for tonight. So, of course, we kept a close eye on it all through the day and visited it regularly, just to make sure that it was all OK.
Everything went well. Until......in the late afternoon when we were making our final check on it. Disaster. Total disaster. The pile looked wet and bedraggled and soggy. It would never, ever burn. Why? It hadn't been raining. Then the voice of doom from one of our group.

"The cows have piddled on it!"

We were devastated. We had been dreaming about this wonderful bonfire for most of the day. But one of us, a local lad and so a real countryman, was made of sterner stuff. He knew about things. He approached the pile, ran his finger over a tree trunk, lifted it to his nose and gave his professional verdict:

"Cow piddle, my *rse!! That be paraffin!"

And so, dusty, sweaty but much reassured we went off to our various homes, ready for tea and the evening's spectacle.

But I haven't yet found out whether the pile of material was really a bonfire, ready for the village celebration. Mum and Dad had decided that we were going to walk to Beesands after tea because they knew for definite that something was going on there. So off we went.

It was dusk when everything started in Beesands. Along the road through the village, and past The Cricket, there came a procession of local people, each carrying a flaming torch held high. It was a real sight. Dad was very impressed. I know he didn't like the films showing Hitler's men doing the same thing before the war (because he hated Hitler and I did as well). But he was willing to forget that because he thought this looked wonderful. A bit later I heard him getting one of the local lads to explain exactly how they had made these things. He listened very carefully and I know he is going to try and do the same thing when we have our first post-war Guy Fawkes bonfire. (Post-war - that's a funny word. I've heard it being used a few times about The Future and I expect we'll hear it a lot now. It's the opposite of pre). He says they are made of rolled up paper soaked in what he calls paraffin wax. I think that's the same as candle wax. I wonder if his will work as well.

Anyway, we followed the procession to the end of the road before it turns left to leave the village. And then straight on, along a track which leads on along the shore. Not far down that was a huge bonfire which I hadn't noticed when we came down the hill into the village. Everyone used their torches to set light to this great pile of timber, wooden crates, tree branches and all sorts of other rubbish. It quickly flared up into the dark sky. Just like the one we had in Streetly in May. It was wonderful. I didn't notice if they had Hitler and Tojo on top of this one as well.

When it had died down a bit they started to let off fireworks. Goodness knows where they got them from. Perhaps they had saved them from before the war. But there were fireworks there that I had only ever heard about before and could never remember having seen. Things like Roman candles and Catherine wheels. And bangers. But what was absolutely wonderful was that they had one or two rockets! When they were about to let the first of these off, Dad was so excited that he dragged me to his side at the front of the crowd, pointed and then said in a voice that was a bit too loud and a bit too foreign for this part of the world,

"Just watch this, Christopher!"

"Just watch this, Christopher!" called out one or two other voices in the crowd. Bigger boys than me. I didn't think that they sounded too friendly. In fact, rather the opposite. I felt an outsider. Which I am, of course, here. It wasn't a nice feeling and I didn't feel safe. I kept close to Dad as the rocket whooshed up into the sky and exploded in a shower of stars. Then watched the second one do the same thing.

The rockets marked the end of the display and slowly people started to drift away, leaving the bonfire as a mound of glowing embers. I wasn't too unhappy to move away as well, although the two or three lads who scared me had probably already forgotten that I existed. But it isn't nice to know that you've been noticed and I wouldn't have wished to be there without Dad to keep close to. Parents don't always think, do they? They try to be kind and do the right thing but even they can make a bit of a mistake sometimes. But it didn't really spoil it for me and it's something I shall always remember. The whoosh of that first rocket! And yes, lads, I WAS watching it and I shan't ever forget it.

The crowd we were walking with went straight on back into the village and towards their own homes. Or the pub. The three of us turned right and started the familiar climb up the narrow lane, past all the towering hedgerows with their glowworms and crickets and smell of honeysuckle as the sound of water on the shingle gradually faded. Just our chatter and the sound of our footsteps on the lane. Finally our cottage came into sight. Everything was quiet and peaceful. If there had been any bonfire there, everyone was back home by now. Bed, and I've got the Beeson children's party to look forward to tomorrow. I have been invited. That will be Part 2 of my V-J Day celebrations. Super! But sleep first. Golly, you DO get tired here.

Chris
Enjoyed that very much, made me laugh Christopher !! Can’t wait for Part 2 !!
 
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