The Beginning of WW2
Watts Naval Training School, (A branch of Barnardo's) North Elmham, Norfolk, England. 3-9-1939.
What an exciting day, For starters we didn't go to church that Sunday, lots of bravado from loud mouths who were boasting how they were going to stick one up the Germans, The school band played Elgar's pomp and circumstance and 'Colonel Bogey' and the boys sang 'Bollocks'.
Holy Harling our vicar had a day off from delivering his boring sermons, instead we were mustered into the main hall (The Quarterdeck) for the expected news that arrived that morning informing us we were at war with Germany. This was followed by an announcement from our detestable commandant( Capt Superintendent Lieut/Com RN * retarded, Horrid Flogger Campbell. *"Oh did I spell that wrong"? too bad, you should hear what his grandson had to say about him recently., Make your hair curl.
However, that Sunday day of rest was forgotten due to more urgent needs such as preparing for the safety of the school and its inhabitants, namely 300 boys aged 11- 16 and a large staff.
Markers were pegged out for digging and the manual labour was done by teams of boys digging with an assortment of garden tools 'V 'shaped trenches (Shelters) which were eventually constructed from salvaged timber and roofing and hidden by earth and sand bags under a row of trees in the football field. By the close of the week - devoid of schooling we had achieved a high standard of passive defence against air attack, although I copped a clout around the ear for suggesting the German planes aiming at our school would probably miss but hit our shelters instead.
The three hundred Winchester Repeater drill rifles were kept locked as usual, although ammunition was available I believe, its whereabouts never revealed in case of an armed insurgency by dissident students.
Around that time the Lords and Commissioners of the Admiralty deemed it would be OK to reduce the entry age of boy seamen into the Royal Navy . There were several establishments similar to the school I attended dotted around the U/K supplying youthful cannon fodder to the Royal Navy, I was constantly reminded by frequent announcements about the fate of old boys from the school who had succumbed in battle particularly those who were my former friends.
My turn came thirty one days after the Yanks were forced into the war, when I was fifteen point.five years of age on Wed Jan 7 !942 , An undersized runt denied the privileges to think, smoke ,drink , swear , bonk or vote, but quite old enough to die for my country. I recall thinking as a future participant in the war . why on earth can't we decide who will win the war by having a game of cricket; I was certain the Germans were not too good at cricket and it would save a lot of lives and nastiness, also the previous year in Aug 1938 we had beaten our Aussie friends from down under by an awful lot of runs, an inns and 579 runs. But I was sure one day they would have their revenge
Back to earth again I am beginning to wonder if that score will ever be matched by Australia and if in my life time, if so, they had better get a shufty on.
It is said in England "Time flies like an arrow" But in Strayer mate "Fruit flies like a Banana".
Back soon....... Vest. ..........A moment's insight is sometimes worth a lifetime of experience.