School and Wartime Memories
I started school in the summer of 1938 and left in 1946. I remember walking to school with my gas mask on my back, one day a German aircraft went over and I threw myself face down under the trees as we had been told to do, until I thought it was safe to move. I also remember a line of German bombs being dropped in the wood between the school and Chalkhall. We put our desks around the walls as we had been trained to do. One house in Chalkhall had the door blown off.
The British Army were in Elveden first, the Mail Fist regiment, their camp was in the Park. The Americans came in 1942, I walked through the camp to school every morning. I would look in the dustbins and find items such as boots and torches all in good condition. Coming home from school I would stop at the PX., the airmen gave us their candy, it was as much as I could carry home. I used to go to their cinema and stage shows. One film I remember seeing was 'Objective Burma' about the Americans and Japanese fighting in Burma.
My dad was in the Home Guard, because he was a Farms foreman on the Estate he automatically became a corporal. A village man, Freddie Flack, had been in the First World War and didn't take kindly to someone who hadn't served in the war giving him orders. One day they were marching on parade and my dad overheard him saying as much to another of the Home Guard members. So he said, "What did you say Fred, you can do it if you want!" Fred said, "I said nothing Les, you carry on!" He also recalled finding Mr. Christopher, one of the Home Guard who was on duty so tired that he had fallen into a bed of stinging nettles, where my dad found him, fast asleep.
On one of the manoeuvres the Home Guard "killed" the regular soldiers in a mock battle. One said, "You can't do that we're the regular army!" but they did!
I remember one Sunday playing football in the pit in front of the Cottage Homes with Brian Fix, Bryan Trett, and Charlie Holden, who was on leave from the Air Force. During the following week, sadly, Charlie was killed; he was the rear gunner in a Wellington Bomber and he was killed in action.
Italian prisoners of war worked on the farm at Redneck, they made baskets out of privet wood, my mother had a bicycle basket which they had made, she kept it for 25 years. Later there were German prisoners of war working at Redneck Farm - two of them played football for the village. We took one, his name was Ralf, so see Arsenal play. In the last year of the war eight of them lived in a house in the village. One of them, Ernst, came back to see me in 1985 with his family. I still remembered him after forty years! Another thing I remember was during the VE Day celebrations in the Stable yard, one of the Americans going around cutting all the men's ties off, just below the knot!
I heard that one of the planes that crashed in the village, had flown his 25 missions and was making a salute over the Hall when he lost control and crashed in the woods. I saw two of the aircraft that had crashed in Elveden - that one and the Flying Fortress, just before they went down.
In about 1946 - I recall Warren Wood being on fire. It was filled with bombs as it had been used as a bomb dump by the Americans during the war. A house in Warren Wood blew up. Firemen risked their lives getting the blaze under control. The village was on the point of being evacuated when the fire was extinguished. No bombs exploded.
Charles Lock. 2000
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