Hello, I am Graham MacLean. I am 78 years of age and a long retired former Chartered Surveyor who has spent much of his adult life in the Far East and Canada. I am a Canadian subject and currently living in Hong Kong. I think I have visited Chandler’s Ford two or three times in twenty years but I do have Google Earth!
My interests are landscape painting, principally oils, which I still find overall the most flexible form. I also paint in ink in classical Chinese style and have exhibited locally. I have now returned to Western painting as it covers more modern themes. I enjoy badminton still, occasionally golf, and, when the opportunity arises, fly fishing.
I thought I would share some memories of my time in Chandler’s Ford over the next few posts. If anyone remembers the people or places I will mention, please do write in. I’m going to start with my memories of the war years.
SOME RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF MY EARLY LIFE IN CHANDLER’S FORD
The Impact of World War Two on Chandler’s Ford and neighbouring areas
My family resided at No.21 Velmore Road for some time and I made my entry into this world in 1939 a few months before the outbreak of World War Two. We moved to Southampton in 1951. The first five years of my life were quite a dramatic introduction to life in general and I almost came to think that the drama would go on almost indefinitely.
Southampton, Plymouth and Portsmouth were priority targets for The Luftwaffe. Many areas adjacent to the above including Southampton were bombed and machine gunned including school playing fields. This bombardment was acute during 1940-41.
Often homes were destroyed by enemy aircraft jettisoning their bomb loads in the area. My sister, Heather, witnessed this in daylight from Winchester County High School. (Editor’s note: The school is now known as the Westgate School). As soon as the Air Raid Alarm Siren went off, we were bundled into a Morrison Shelter in the back garden or told to get under the snooker table.
Chandlers Ford was the unwilling recipient of several Doodlebugs, the Second World War German rocket-propelled bombs with a payload of up to one ton of TNT. These fearsome unmanned rockets were directed to fall almost randomly anywhere in the south-east or Southern England.
The engine would cut out suddenly and they dropped like a stone. With a top speed of 400 mph they could prove difficult for RAF fighters to stalk and destroy with cannon fire or by simply tipping their wings – a tricky manoeuvre – and point them out to sea or to less densely populated areas. Their official designation was V1 unmanned rocket propelled flying bomb.
At the end of Velmore Road was Buggs Farm (Velmore Farm in fact). Just the other side of the stile was the closest of three 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns. Further down the gentle rise were the remaining corners of the battery’s triangle. Further in was A Royal Observer Corps observation post.
My father was away on active service for much of this time on convoy duty chasing and destroying U-Boats in The North Atlantic.
My mother was determined to do her bit so to speak, so almost daily my sister and I delivered semi-hot buns and scones etc., to the gun crews, as well as fresh eggs. Mother resourcefully developed quite a large chicken run in the back garden. Those soldiers had a mischievous sense of humour and one day asked me to take a spirit level home to fit a new bubble as the other one was ‘the wrong shape’. I burst into tears and they received no more buns for a fortnight!
In nearby Castle Lane was a hastily created heavy army vehicle inspection pit as part of the D.Day landing preparations in 1943-44. All the work was done by American engineers and that was when I met my first real live American.
Frankly it was very difficult not to like the thousands of American and Canadian soldiers that camped or were billeted in and around Chandler’s Ford. They were big, funny and exceedingly warm-hearted, dispensing freely Army K Rations, powdered milk and some of their cash. They were well paid and said they had little or no use for money where they were going. Probably very true unfortunately and sadly became true for so many of them.
Half way up Hut Hill on the left hand side was a POW camp for the more dangerous inmates. Later it became (I believe) a camp for Displaced Persons (DPs). Many were Polish. Incidentally by no means all German POWs were dangerous, far from it in fact. Many desperately wanted to settle into the community and were expert gardeners and makers of children’s toys and dolls.
Opposite the junction of Velmore with Bournemouth Road was a large development of hastily erected huts (adjoining The Red Lodge Nursery) also known as ‘The Huts’.
West of Bournemouth Road and north of Castle Lane is a massive light industrial development. This in the 1940’s was pleasant if not particularly attractive land and had a marvellous pond called The Iron Pond. It was good for coarse fishing and froze over in winter to permit ice skating to music in the glare of assembled car head lights.
Next week, I’ll be sharing my memories of my family and neighbours from my time in Chandler’s Ford. Meanwhile, do share your memories of the war years in and around Chandler’s Ford via the comments box.
Credit: Series editor – Allison Symes