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.
Part 6 (Final)
I remember that, due to the shortage of diesel (distillate) and petrol, the buses were powered by gas, generated by a converter of some description, which was located on a little trailer towed behind the bus (very dirty and smelly).
Due to the shortage of petrol, very few people were able to run their cars unless they were engaged in essential work requiring the use of their vehicle, and then they got an allocation of ‘red’ petrol (normal petrol with an additive of red dye).
Throughout the country, all the sign-posts had been removed, in the mistaken belief that if “Jerry” (as the Germans were known) landed, he wouldn’t know where he was!!!
Although not realised by the ‘man in the street’ at the time, the turning point of the war was reached and the ‘local scene’ in Chandler’s Ford (and I am sure, elsewhere as well) began to change.
The appearance of American soldiers
American soldiers were appearing, more and more frequently and two tents were erected at the corner Leigh Road and Bournemouth Road (the main London – Southampton – Bournemouth Road).
These tents were to become the living quarters for some time to come of MPs (Military Policemen), one British and one American. I remember we invited, as did others, the MPs to use our home to have a bath, and in return, they offered us canned provisions, such as bacon, butter, pineapple, the like of which we had not seen for years.
It was, of course, all part of the build up to ‘D-Day’.
The footpaths were covered with ‘clinker’ and built out onto the road throughout most of the village. Quite soon afterwards, they became the assembly area for hundreds of Tanks, Trucks, Jeeps and Ducks (Amphibious Vehicles) used in the ‘D-Day’ assault on the Germans and an estimated 10,000 British and American troops (according to records) were in the village.
It is on record that Chandler’s Ford, particularly Cranbury Park and Hiltingbury Woods (as the area was known then), housed D-Day Marshalling Area Camps C6, C7, C8 and C9, as well as the 85th Chemical Warfare Company, Royal Engineers, and, on Hut Hill, the American 46th Field Hospital.
If ‘Jerry’ had known, I guess Chandler’s Ford would be ‘history’ now and perhaps I would not be telling my memories in the year 2015.
What I did as a child during the war
I remember, at the age of 10, helping to fill American Jerricans with petrol at Candler’s, the local Garage (Service Station) in Bournemouth Road near Leigh Road (later to become Rowle’s) and load on to American Left Hand Drive trucks for transporting to an American Supply Depot which had been set up about ½ mile away on ‘Hut Hill’ opposite the then Limmer and Trinidad Lake Ashphalt Company, approximately where ASDA now is.
The site of this supply depot has also been an American field hospital in 1944, an Italian Prisoner of War Camp and finally a German P.O.W. Camp.
The Italians became known, and respected, for their hard work in the community, because after Italy had capitulated, they were allowed out to carry out gardening and other jobs in various homes throughout the village … some of them remained after the War and became part of the community.
Polish Dependents Camp
After the War, a Polish Dependents Camp (Hostel) was set up between Cuckoo Bushes Lane and Hiltingbury Road, and the children from there, together with the children from the families of the British Army Camp 17, situated opposite in Hiltingbury Road, attended the ‘Camp School’ which was run by the Education Department. My first wife, Diane Wilmott, was a teacher at that school when I met her in 1952.
A final note from Doug Clews
Apart from the account of the Dornier Bomber in Part 5, by David Ward, the memories that I have recorded in this series are mine. Some facts and figures linked to my memories have been obtained from the internet and other records.
I have not knowingly ‘stretched the truth’, nor deliberately misrepresented the facts, but it should be accepted that, as the years have passed, my memory may have become a little ‘blurred at the edges’ when it comes to detail.
It is hoped that my war time recollections made enjoyable reading, and maybe even brought back memories for some, whilst, at the same time, perhaps enlightened some younger people as to what life was like in those days.
Food for thought
On reflection, although war time, and some terrible things happened to places and people, and hardship was experienced by many, many people, by and large, our lives had far more meaning.
I am sure we had far more respect for others and others’ property, and due to shortages and ‘going without’, our sense of value then was far better than in the current day – food for thought maybe!
Note from Editor
Thank you Doug for this beautiful series about your childhood, and the important history of Chandler’s Ford during the war years. You have truly enlightened us with these stories, connected the past and present, and inspired us to continue discovering history and sharing our experiences. We love your storytelling; we would love to have more. Keep writing; keep smiling. Janet Williams
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)
Never miss out on another blog post. Subscribe here:
Subscribe to Blog via Email