"The war finally touched my family in late 1940 with a landmine falling to the rear of their house approx 6-7 hundred metres away into marshy ground. The explosion was absorbed mainly by the soft ground creating a massive hole, but the blast wave from it smashed most of the windows in the house. 2-3 months later in a regular air raid high explosive bombs landing near-by, again blew out many windows and took both front and rear doors off their hinges. (My grandfather being a carpenter was by this time working extra hours from his regular job on war damage repairs which my father helped with, having unilaterally decided to leave school at 12 as the war was much more ‘interesting’ than school)..."
"My lot lived in 12 Trees House, St Leonard's Road, Bromley By Bow right by freight yards, factories doing war work, the railway station and a huge gas works which was a noted primary target. The only damage in the whole block of flats in 6 years of war was a cracked window..."
Being such a young boy and in a part of the country remote from the war was quite exciting for my friends and I. We would hear of young men from the area being killed in battle and looked on them as heroes. Games of cowboys and indians were replaced by British forces against the Germans. I usually led my gang and chose to be British and armed with homemade guns were always the winners..."
"We were vaguely aware that our parents were extremely worried about some of the news that was coming through. My dad had fought throughout the first war and, coming from a very large family, he had younger brothers fighting in the second one. I remember the relief expressed when news arrived that my Dad's youngest brother was one of the lucky ones to be safely evacuated from Dunkirk. There were so many of these men arriving back in England in such a short space of time that immediate accommodation for them was a huge problem and so they were given some refreshments and just sent home until further arrangements could be made. One of my cousins told me that when Uncle Trevor arrived home from Dunkirk he did not have a shirt. This puzzled me for years, but recently I read a book about that marvellous event and apparently many men discarded their shirts because they were heavily infested with body lice making them far too uncomfortable to wear. The recovery of such a large number of men from Dunkirk must go down in history as one of the bravest events in British history. Ordinary people from all over the place took boats large and small across the channel to rescue the men whilst under attack from the German air force, some of the boats were so small that they took several trips to pick up a few men and transfer them to the larger ships..."
Grandpa was in the Chester City Police Force from 1920 or so to a little after the war. Being from around the Stockport area, he went into Manchester to join the Manchester Police, but they wouldn't have him. They told him they would not accept anyone with a German name (Baum - though he was British).
But the Chester Police would have him. Sometime in early 1940, he came back to the house one evening and said there was an invasion alert on, and reports of German paratroopers landing around the Waverton area. He had been issued with a Webley revolver, and had it strapped round his waist in a standard canvas holster and belt.
Whilst Grandma and Grandpa were talking, Dad (then 9 or 10) managed to get the revolver out of the holster and was waving it about.
Grandma screamed at him and Grandpa, but all Grandpa said was "It's alright Madge, they didn't give us any ammo."
Dad remembered many small incidents from the war, which barely touched Chester directly. But on 14th August, 1940, a Heinkel 111 was intercepted during its attack on RAF Sealand. Dad lived in Elmwood Avenue, in Hoole, in a row of relatively new semis above the railway line. Dad was playing in the garden when there was an almighty roar, and the Heinkel came right long the rooftops, barely clearing the chimneys. The gunner, Uffz. Gustav Ullmann, waved cheerily at Dad, and Dad of course waved back. Grandma was frantic and screaming at Dad from the kitchen door. He ran into the house and missed the pursuing fighters, though didn't remember hearing them.
Many period houses in Hoole and area have cracks in them. Dad remembers the incessant thudding vibration of the anti-aircraft guns dotted around Chester, and how the houses even two miles distant, shook to the anti-aircraft fire.