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.
At age 5 at the outbreak of WW2, I did not have anything to compare life and standards of living with, so the War, as I remember it, did not seem to be such a hardship for us, as it was for many, many, thousands of other people in England.
So many of them lost loved ones, their homes, their possessions, and in many cases, their dignity.
Every man, woman and child was issued with a Gas Mask, a Ration Book. and an Identity Card (our numbers from memory were EDGK 80/1 Dad – 80/2 Mum, and 80/3 me).
The Ration Book
Food and Clothing were all rationed – every item of food and clothing requiring “coupons” from the ration book, as well as the monetary payment of course.
When the coupons were used up, that was it, until the next lot became valid the following week.
You had to save up your coupons for the bigger items, as they required more coupons than the weekly allowance.
Virtually every household had an “allotment”, being an area of land, normally owned by the local council, which was divided up into small ‘parcels’ or ‘allotments’, where vegetables were grown by the allotment holders for their own use. My Dad actually was lucky enough to ‘score’ 2 allotments, one in Castle Lane behind the houses in Bournemouth Road (still allotments I believe), the other on vacant ground in Leigh Road next to the Castle Stores and Tea Rooms, as it was then.
A massive great country-wide billboard advertising campaign reminded people to “Dig for Victory”.
WWII casualties in Chandler’s Ford
The apparent lack of hardship, was due primarily, I guess, to luck and, to a large extent, our geographical location, enabling us to live a relatively normal life in Chandler’s Ford.
The village had a population of just over 3,000 people at that time, and although only 5 miles north of Southampton, which was virtually flattened during the Blitz (57 nights in 1940/1941), we escaped, throughout the war, with only a few ‘stray’ bombs, one ‘Doodle-bug’ (V1 – flying bomb – the first V-1 was launched against London on 13 June 1944) and a couple of ‘Bread Baskets’ (A Molotov breadbasket, attached to a parachute, so called because it contained both high explosive and incendiary bombs).
These incidents resulted, from memory, in 3 deaths, all in one family, namely the Smiths (of Scammel & Smith, Estate Agents) in Winchester Road between Hiltingbury Road and Hocombe Road, caused by a stick of five bombs dropped in the fields opposite their house (approximately where Thornden School now is), the blast from the bombs doing all the damage.
The flying bomb
The flying bomb, presumably, was aimed at London, but as was the case with so many, it didn’t make it all the way and landed in Pine Road, opposite the end of Beech Road, slicing the side off a house. Records show that 80 Flying Bombs fell in Hampshire, 880 in Sussex, 295 in Surrey, 1444 in Kent, all falling short of their London target.
A further 705 overshot their London target, falling as far a field as County Durham.
Structural damage was caused to about half a dozen homes from the bombs. Much more structural damage was caused by the various anti-aircraft guns around the area.
Large cracks in walls and ceilings were common, our own home, in Meadow Grove, from the Ack-Ack guns off Bournemouth Road at what was Velmore Camp, the Nissen Huts becoming temporary housing for Eastleigh Borough Council House applicants after the war.
One of many memories of the Blitz
I still remember, quite vividly, sitting in our lounge room in front of the fire one evening during the Blitz, when a “woosh” of a bomb was felt, and heard, as it passed overhead.
We thought, at the time, quite independently, that our number was up. We were also convinced it had taken the chimney pots off our house … it hadn’t, but it had fallen in the next street, Shaftesbury Avenue and, very luckily, did not explode, although the house adjoining the bomb-site was virtually demolished.
Knowingly, only one other bomb fell in the village, again only a couple of streets away from us, in Chalvington Road, causing, as luck would have it, only severe structural damage to one house opposite Keble Road.
Three evacuees living with us in Chandler’s Ford
In the early part of the Blitz, we had 3 evacuees from schools in Portsmouth and Gosport living with us for quite a while. They were Desmond Brown (who went to join his family in Singapore just before it fell to the Japanese – his father was in the services, the Navy I think), Dennis Tattersall, and, later, Valerie Stanley.
Valerie I remember best. She was in the lounge with my mother and I when the bomb was thought to have taken the chimney pots off. Also, she gave me a pet rabbit for one of my birthdays (7th or 8th from memory I guess). I have no idea, whatsoever, what became of any of them after they left our care, although I did endeavour to trace them in 2008 through a website called ‘Gosport Information’.
I later got a couple of e-mails from a lady called Amanda Allen, who claimed her mother, Rosemary, was Valerie Stanley’s younger sister and, if it was, in fact, the same Valerie Stanley, she was 2nd time married, having lived in Zambia and, in 2008, on the Isle of Man, but that was as far as I got until March 2010, when I ‘stumbled’, quite literally, on an entry on the Internet which led me to Derry Brown, who turned out to be a grandson of Desmond Brown … a small world !
To be continued …
Extracts from The Doug Clews Story, or As I remember it, 81 years on.
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.
About Doug Clews
Born at 31, Hanley Road, Shirley, Southampton, in March 1934.
We lived in Suffolk Avenue Shirley, moving to Winchester Road, Southampton, then Passfield Avenue Eastleigh, before finally taking up residence at 17, Meadow Grove, Chandler’s Ford in 1938, where I remained until moving to 46, Oakmount Road in 1958, after marrying in 1954, and then finally to 8, Brownhill Road (the right half of what is now Eric Robinson, Solicitors), before emigrating to Perth, Western Australia, in 1966.
Having completed a 6 year apprenticeship in Electrical Engineering at Pirelli’s in Eastleigh, I spent 2 years at Hereford for my National Service in the Royal Artillery … On completion of this, I returned to Pirelli’s and quickly realised that a factory was not the life for me, so I embarked on a sales career with Birds Eye Frozen Foods, at their Southampton Depot.
I joined the Australian Company, Gordon Edgell (Birds Eye Australia) on arriving in Perth (now part of Simplot), rising to the Western Australia Manager for their Food Services Division … (Catering).I left Edgells after the company underwent a series of structural changes, and moved in to the Home Improvement and Security Industry.
I retired in 2000 from the position of Administration Manager, and, currently, I continue to lead a busy, but more leisurely life.
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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