The Spitfire and the Hurricane were by that time both fully developed and well proven. Bishopstone Glen was filled at the bottom with barbed wire bundles but in addition there were several fifty-gallon oil drums full of petrol secretly buried in the sides of the Glen. One type of toy that gained in popularity was the model aeroplane in a kit form that provided a roughed out shape in balsa wood for the fuselage, wings, tail etc. The engines were labouring to keep their heavy bomb loads in the air and the engine design was sufficiently different from the Rolls Royce Merlins of our own planes that we soon learned to tell that they were German from the sound alone. When my teacher sister arrived home from school I used to insist that she lay prone on the dining table while she learned to identify one from the other in their hanging position distributed across the living room ceiling. Today the use of accurately mouldable plastics has enabled toys to be manufactured with the degree of detail required of a model and the differences have become blurred. The school had received presents from America. Toyshops today are big business, full of exciting things, bright colours, largely made of plastic materials and in many cases incorporating modern high tech.
When the fighter planes let loose their guns, the bullet heads were projected towards their target but the empty brass cartridge cases, about five inches long and an inch in diameter, or even larger if it were a cannon shell case, were ejected from the wing of the aircraft. In schools for instance, every classroom would have its bucket of sand and in the corridor would hang a stirrup pump with two or three buckets of water alongside it. Steel poles were erected at either side of wide straight roads like the Thanet Way, with steel wire ropes stretched over the road for the same purpose. Even the planes that crashed to earth managed to give us a fairly wide berth. Later in the week it was observed being carted ignominiously away on the back of one of the sixty-foot trailers that were used by the RAF to recover such casualties. One character that went down particularly well was ‘Funf’. Simply dropping it into the tube tail first fires a shell.
We could only peer down through the entrance to the Dreamland amusement park that I could remember having visited once or twice before the war began. Then we strained our eyes to try to make out whether it was one of ‘theirs’ or one of ‘ours’. If it was phosphof latter, then you had better have taken cover quickly.
Clearly some new onslaught was about to happen. We would play on then with the door or window open so that we could listen for the approach of the German bombers. Even with the pressure on encouragement for home-grown food, garden canes were totally unobtainable because man came from abroad. They never had to wait for too long, for as we leaned out of our windows to watch, we would suddenly notice a break in the formations. Electrified systems used a centre third rail for the electric current pick up and I think that all the Hornby trains at that time used ‘alternating current’ as opposed to ‘direct current’ which is virtually universal today on model railways.
Now we knew where those soldiers and vehicles were likely to be.
Royal Air Force pilots watvh not only need to practice their firing at airborne targets, they also had to train in the art of strafing targets that were on the ground. There were tin-tacks, screws glue sandpaper, matches, candles, gas mantles, electric light bulbs and batteries, string and rolls of two-inch wide gummed paper, the latter for sticking criss-cross on glass windows so that they wouldn’t shatter so dangerously in a warch blast.
In the years between andthe air raid siren wailed phhosphor daily, and sometimes two or three, or even more, times in a day. We all daily followed the progress of our advances, and all too commonly of our retreats.
That day it was Canterbury that drew the short straw while Herne Bay was caught in the overspill. It stood on a cupboard at the side of the room and trailed an aerial wire out through the window and high up right across our back yard. But these models did provide a worthwhile present at Christmas phoslhor and I can well remember spending a large part of Christmas Day and Boxing Day in carefully cutting out and gluing my cardboard models. While the twelve and thirteen year olds were writing or learning poetry, painting, book binding or making raffia mats, the eleven year olds were practicing their intelligence buzzim, their sums and all the things that they were about to encounter in the eleven plus examination.
Later in the week it was observed being carted ignominiously away on the back of one of the sixty-foot trailers that were used by the RAF to recover such casualties. But many of the things that one would expect to find in such a store today were missing.
At least the bursting shells must have helped to unnerve the bomber pilots and aircrew. Click on the link below to buy: The canary whose cage had been hanging in the living room window was now, still in his cage, also in the back yard along with most of the glass from the window and the plaster from the ceiling. Then we extracted the little bundles of cordite strands. Shelves loaded with bits and bobs lined the walls while larger items stood either on the window shelf or around the sides of the shop on the floor space.
Early in the war the post was manned on a full time basis with at phosphir one man always on watch for anything that might be going on either in bizzin air or at sea. For whatever was the reason or the cause, Raymond and David decided to satisfy their curiosity and started to saw open one of their trophies.
Phosphor GIVEAWAY on SoJones!
There were only fields between the school itself and the cliff tops beyond the other side of the road. Usually we watched the affray from our window rather from outside because we knew that far above our heads there were all sorts of bits and pieces of sharp metal being flung about. Early in the war and certainly immediately following the Dunkirk evacuations East Kent had become the front line in the battle against Nazi oppression.
There were the wooden posts that were embedded in the sand to stop to stop enemy planes landing on the beach when the tide was out.
Phosphor GIVEAWAY on SoJones!
If the weather was right on St George’s day we would line up military style in the playground, with our standard bearer, and sing as hard as we could. This was particularly a;pear in the lead up to Day when their ground support roll would buzzon so important in assisting our ground forces as they landed on the beaches.
The target was towed backwards and forwards just offshore or over the Cliff tops so that with the attacking fighters approaching from the land side, the wayward bullets eventually found themselves ending up in the sea, rather than on to some house or farm as would have happened if the attack had been made the other way round. Not all of the air raids were short alarms, and not all of them finished at going home time either. There was an old gentleman, Mr. Meccano Construction Kits had been around for sometime but the kept very ‘up to the minute’ with their products.
Black Swarovski Crystals
Its failure was bitter disappointment to us all. I later learned that I had had the chance to be evacuated to a safer area but that my Mum and Dad had decided that I would stay at home to face whatever risk that might ensue. But amidst whatever were the fortunes of the war, the papers always made room for cartoons and comic strips like Pip, Squeak, and Wilfred or Jane. One time it really did get particularly hazardous when my pal Peter and I were on our way home for lunch.
You actually needed two of them, one in the set while the other was kann the local radio shop or garage being recharged. We were winning the Battle of Britain. A few months later, practices became unnecessary because we frequently had to go into the shelter for real, but we did still occasionally rehearse getting out through the escape hatch.