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Last Updated 1/2/12

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Personal Memories

 

Borden - David Waters

 

Milton 1933 - Alice Webster

 

West County Secondary School - Barry Clark

 

Borden Grammar - John Butler

 

1942 - 1956 - Bob Eaton

 

Tunstall pre-war - Hugh Farrington

 

The Bull Hotel - Queenie Field (nee Allen)

Childhood in Tunstall - Peggy Jackson

Wartime Memories - June Morgan

The Mill - Gerald (Dixie) Dean

40 Years of Dance Music - Jack Whitnell

Gun sites

A first early anti aircraft gun site in 1940 was in a field at the top of Deans Hill, Bredgar, the field was on the left hand side of the road facing and immediately at the top of the hill.   It was there I saw a predictor being used but not knowing at the time what it was, although I was told its name.

Another site I know must have existed was in the region of Wormshill or Frinsted as it was from this site (although I do not know the exact location) that gun fire was directed at “doodlebug” between there and Broadoak, next to Woodstock, outwith Sitingbourne.   You might ask why I know this and it was because I was picking cherries in an orchard in the vicinity of Broadoak.   To say the least I did not feel very brave at the time.  It is possible there was another site to that at Chitney Marsh because I recall seeing a German bomber being shot down a late afternoon/evening in 1940 to the south of Bredgar as village women were disembarking from a farm wagon bringing them from the hop fields at Woodstock.   Its crash site was to the south of Bicknor.

 

Tunstall in Wartime by Richard Kite

There was a period at the school when it did not have an air raid shelter and whenever a significant a day time raid took place in 1940 it was not uncommon for children to be told to use the desks as a means of shelter.   The possibility of effective protection never occurred at the time but was certainly a timely morale booster.   I might add that school lessons proceeded immediately after each raid and the teachers were very strict in those days, the cane being the method for ensuring discipline was maintained.   Yet let us not forget, one of the teachers who administered the cane, quite often generously bought ice creams for the pupils using her own finance when we sat on the front lawn on a sunny day, subject to arrival of the ice cream man on his three wheeled bicycle.

At one time, exact year I do not recall, a large bomb landed in an orchard near the school.   The direction being that which is the extended line from the entrance lane to the school and about some two to three hundred yards along a cart track, thence in an orchard belonging to the then Lieutenant Colonel Lumley Webb adjacent to the cart track, near to some large fir trees which existed.   The bomb disposal soldiers arrived and dug down to the bomb (which was quite large) and at some depth it could be seen from the surface with the front sticking out of the side of the square hole made.   Taking some time to excavate and having completed on a particular day time, the soldiers departed until the next day, whereupon, all the boys from the school went to look down the hole.   Thus, having been satisfied it was of little interest and nothing was taking place, all departed for home, thus, its removal was not recorded.   To my knowledge, at no time was the school closed for bomb disposal recovery but there again my memory may be lapsing at this time.

All quiet events do occur but one sad occasion was in Hearts Delight Road when a bomb, advised to be about five hundred pounds, landed at the front door of a bungalow and the owner, a Mr. Thomas, went to the front door and died from the explosion.   His wife who was still in the kitchen at the back, together with their dog, escaped injury.   However, the front of the bungalow was rebuilt as the rear remained undamaged.

A final piece of sadness was when two Spitfires carrying out practice interceptions suddenly stopped activity when one suddenly spiralled to the ground just south of the Hearts Delight Road adjacent to a Royal Observers post and very close to the very large white house at the top of the small hill from Wrens Road.   I witnessed this from the farm know then as Grove End Farm on the road towards Bredgar.   At the time our supposition was the pilot had had a blackout but as someone who has flown a small aircraft as a private pilot, it is my belief he was unable to correct the aircraft once it entered a spiral dive as the aircraft was not at a sufficient height to enable recovery.

At a later stage from Item 1, the school did have an air raid shelter built and when “doodlebugs” came on the scene and because the siren sounding was unreliable, a pupil was selected from the senior class to sit outside the front door with a whistle and to blow it if a “Doodlebug” was heard.   On the sounding of the whistle all children made haste at high speed to the air raid shelter in the main playground.   Needless to say, there were false alarms and a lorry coming up the road was a favourite excuse and would not result in a verbal warning of wasting time.

I remember a “Doodlebug” crashing at Policeman’s Corner, which was quite close to the houses in that location.   In the subsequent explosion the house roof were significantly damaged as were the Sitting/Living/Front Rooms of the houses but fortunately, no one within the houses were injured by the ensuing blast.   However, it is reputed a certain Mr. Ouse of 3, Gorden Villas, Bredgar who was sitting on a fence stile near to the corner road and houses was blown into the thorn May Tree a couple of feet or so from the stile and suffered scratches and shock.   The latter was all the more traumatic as he was somewhat deaf and did not hear the coming of the “Doodlebug” and had to be helped with escaping his predicament.  It was understood that Mr. Ouse suffered hearing problems from exposure to Great War 1 gunfire.   Naturally, I cannot substantiate any of the information in regard to Mr. Ouse but if someone has other information I would welcome any correction made.

Most people have never seen a flying fortress bomber flying on one engine but when it is flying with this problem it is quite low, as seen at the junction where Hearts Delight Road joins the road to Bredgar near to the Oast House on the corner near to the school.   This aeroplane turned and eventually crash landed on a field from which grain had been cut, on a line south of Borden Church and south of the road extending to Oad Street.   It was the understanding that all crew except for one survived the crash landing which was without wheels and text book in such terms.   Not forgetting Perspex from the shattered lower turret made very good rings for the fingers, as collected some distance from where the aircraft eventually came to rest.

The Tunstall school also did its little bit for the war effort in the production of vegetables in two gardens.   One garden was opposite the smaller children’s classroom to the back of the school behind the then outside toilets and produced a variety of crops such as potatoes, cabbages and peas, together with runner beans. plus, a few I cannot remember.   There was another garden much more extensive and on the opposite side of the road from the school, this now occupied by houses which did not exist there in wartime.  Here a greater variety of vegetables and soft fruits were planted and nurtured as a nature study program by to-days standards.   Notable was celery which was fed with liquid made from sheep droppings in a bag within a bucket of water, for which the celery and was determined by us all to be the best on the planet.

With all the activity of school, Tunstall School was very special and we must mention the honours gained by it pupils educated there, some moving on to universities and senior industrial careers.   Nevertheless, it must be remembered that memories can play tricks and as we get older, imagination influences our recollections. 

I do hope my comments will be of some interest to the young man at Borden Grammar School and do not hesitate to make any corrections to these comments.

Richard Kite

Volunteers

We are always looking for volunteers to act as guides and to help out in the museum when it is open. Any members willing to help for a couple of hours should contact the secretary.

 

 

 
 
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