About the writer: Doug Clews lived in Chandler’s Ford between 1938 and 1966. Now living in Perth, Western Australia, Doug shares his fascinating childhood memories of Chandler’s Ford with us.
Extracts from The Doug Clews Story, or As I remember it, 81 years on.
At the start of the war, there were no such things as shelters, but when the bombing started, community surface shelters began to appear.
A red brick ‘semi-detached pair’ was built on the northern side of Leigh Road, between the two ends of Meadow Grove, and another grey brick ‘semi-detached pair’ on the southern side of Leigh Road, opposite Meadow Grove. The red brick pair became our ‘adopted’ shelter.
At some stage during the Blitz, I can remember being in the shelter, looking up and seeing stars – yep, there was a hole in the roof!!!
Later, a ‘below-ground’ community shelter was built on the northern corner of Leigh Road and Bournemouth Road – fine during the summer months, and a lot safer than the ‘surface shelters’ we realised, however, in the winter months, it used to ‘fill’ with water from the rain, as there was nothing to stop water running down the entry steps in to the shelter !!!
I can still remember my father, whilst down the shelter during a raid, having about 20 people in the shelter looking for a kitten. Dad was making the noise a kitten makes by somehow sucking air into his mouth between his top teeth and his bottom lip – it was very realistic.
The Morrison Shelter
Even later, an indoor shelter, known as the Morrison Shelter (named after a Political Minister at the time), was made available to those people who wanted them. This was a metal sectional mesh structure designed to be fitted around a dining table or something similar, or could be ‘free standing’ so that the occupants could get under the table, or inside the structure, to be protected from bomb blast and falling debris.
Still later on, the Anderson Air Raid Shelter (semi below ground, and also named after a Government Minister) was introduced. This was designed to give families protection against bomb blast, falling shrapnel from the nearby anti-aircraft guns and flying debris.
The Anderson Shelter
Its assembly and placement in the ground was a ‘Do It Yourself’ arrangement, carried out, in our case, by my father, my mother, myself and a neighbour, Basil Daimer (the son of the family in No.19 Meadow Grove).
During air raids, particularly during the earlier part of the war, much of our time was spent in the shelter, which was located in the centre of the back garden.
Bedding took the form of a pair of bunk beds for mum and dad and a single bed for me.
Lighting was from candles and small paraffin (kerosene) lamps. Cooking and water boiling were done on a solid fuel stove, a methylated spirits stove and a primus stove fueled by paraffin.
A. R. P. Badge and Gas Rattle
My father was an A.R.P. Warden (Air-Raid Precaution) – he was issued with a tin hat, whistle, torch and gas rattle, his function being to liaise with the A.R.P. post on the corner of Leigh Road and Bournemouth Road, report bomb drops and any resulting damage, fires etc., and check houses for occupants in the event of house damage from the bombs and to run around his designated area sounding his gas rattle in the event of a ‘Poisonous Gas’ attack (which, luckily, never occurred).
He was not called up to serve in the armed forces because, he was 39 at the outbreak of war, and 40 by the time call ups started, plus the fact that Pirelli’s, for whom he worked, were involved in essential war work, so he, and others at Pirelli’s, became ‘exempt’.
PLUTO (Pipe Line Under The Ocean)
Pirelli’s major project, was the design and construction of a section of ‘PLUTO’ (Pipe Line Under The Ocean). This was one of two lead sheathed, wire armoured, hollow pipelines, which were laid under the English Channel to provide fuel for the vehicles and troops in Europe after the ‘D-Day’ invasion.
The Pirelli contribution was to the pipeline running from Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight, to Cherbourg in France. The second, supplied by other cable manufacturing companies, was from Dungeness, in Kent, to Boulogne in France.
The pipelines ultimately supplied one million gallons of fuel per day at peak performance.
Pirelli’s also carried out an abundance of other ‘hush, hush’ work for the Admiralty.
What’s your memory of the war? Were you in Chandler’s Ford during the war? Please leave a comment and share your story with us.
Article Series by Doug Clews
- My Memories of ‘The War Years’ in Chandler’s Ford: 1939 – 1945 (Part 1)
- My Memories of ‘The War Years’ in Chandler’s Ford: 1939 – 1945 (Part 2)
- My Memories of ‘The War Years’ in Chandler’s Ford: 1939 – 1945 (Part 3)
- My Memories of ‘The War Years’ in Chandler’s Ford: 1939 – 1945 (Part 4)
- My Memories of ‘The War Years’ in Chandler’s Ford: 1939 – 1945 (Part 5)
- My Memories of ‘The War Years’ in Chandler’s Ford: 1939 – 1945 (Part 6)
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