Allan Stow remembers the Second World War

When Mr Chamberlain announced that we were at war with Germany, I was five years old and attending Brown Hill Road School in Catford, South East London. There was lots of enemy activity and we were defended by Anti-aircraft guns and barrage balloons in parks and street corners along
with search lights.

Moving on to 1941, we as a family moved to live in Milford. My Father spent the Blitz working in St. Thomas’ Hospital and they had opened a new hospital at Hydestile near Godalming to replace the heavy damage done in London. Staff were moved to live near Godalming and we were billeted in
rooms in a large house in Milford where we were known as the “Evacuees”

I started at Milford Primary school where I first met David (Alfie) Ash. His father also worked for St. Thomas’ and we became lifelong friends until he died in 2017. Being a Londoner I had a lot to learn about the country. Our room overlooked Secrett’s fields and I could watch the ploughmen tirelessly following their horses ploughing and harrowing across the fields. Also the Land Girls were picking and packing crops for the market.

We soon learnt that there was a large army camp on the edge of the village. The soldiers were all around, they were Canadians and wore the King’s uniform. There were tanks, trucks, armoured cars, all very exciting for young boys. On Saturdays we would way lay the soldiers as they walked to Godalming and Guildford for entertainment. They would turn out their pockets and give us stamps, coins, badges, shoulder flashes, Sweet Caporal Cigarette Packets with pictures of all the wartime planes. Near Christmas time their lorries would collect all the children in the villages and take them to the camp cinema where we would see films such as Mickey Mouse and Popeye and feed on cakes etc.

We seemed to be living in an area that Hitler for some reason was leaving alone so village life was fairly normal. The ladies of the WVS were the main organisers and there were parades for events such as Wings for Victory and Dig for Victory  with the village queen and local Bigwigs taking the salute.

The Home Guard was always out and about, there were anti-tank barriers all over the area, concrete blocks, gun emplacements many of which are still in place and on the main road through the village there was almost a continuous convoy of vehicles heading in the direction of Portsmouth. We read the newspapers, listened to the wireless so we knew that something would be happening but when?

We found out on 6th June 1944, the soldiers had all gone for the D-Day landing, to restore peace in Europe and our Canadian friends had a dreadful time. Hitler’s answer was to send over his flying bombs, Doodlebugs, they were a big threat and we hated them.

Dreadful fighting was happening across Europe until Hitler was dead and Germany gave in and surrendered. We could then celebrate PEACE in Europe but not forgetting that war was continuing in the Far East until August.

Hope you will find of interest

Allan (Joe) Stow   14th May 2020

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