Ch. 2 - Richard Colin Fifield AKA Colin "War Years"

Richard’s War Years


Getting to know a little bit more about what war was all about, seeing the bombing over towards Central London, air raid sirens going. The next-door neighbour had an air raid shelter in the back garden, we would go there and spend most of the night, mum and I, until the all clear sounded. On other occasions we would go to the underground shelter that was dug underneath the sports fields at Clifton Road Girls School. There I would meet up with some of the other kids, and we would sneak out of the air shelter late at night to watch the searchlight and hear the noises, guns.

Finding bombs making flashes of light in the distance. Living on the outskirts of London we would get what was left over from a bombing run to the docs or factories, the planes unload whatever they had left. We did get a lot of incendiary bombs; they would flare up and catch things on fire. It was probably the start of a flight path for others coming in. After a while, mum would get fed up of packing a bundle of blankets et cetera each night, so it was decided that if Hitler was going to put a bomb on us we would be in our own comfortable bed at least. We did get some shrapnel through the ceiling and the pub a few yards up the street “the Albert” was half demolished by a stray bomb. But that was all. Other parts of the town didn’t do so well.


One time I was asking why we couldn’t go swimming in the baths at the embankment by the River Thames, I was told they used it as a morgue and laid out the dead in the empty pool to be identified. I never did see the bad things; they seem to happen when I was in doors. We had food rationing by this time. We were only allowed three quarters of a pound of sweets on our ration book, I didn’t know whether to buy my entire ration at once or just a few ounces at a time, as it was a month’s ration. Tropical fruit was hard to get even if you had enough coupons, I can’t remember having a banana all the time the war was on.

On one occasion about 8 of us kids found out the local greengrocer had a quota of oranges in his back shed, late one night we clambered over the high corrugated fencing and helped ourselves to the oranges. I remember smashing into one box and finding lemons, couldn’t see much in the dark, took a bite to see what I had “no thanks” not an orange, wrong box. By the time I found the oranges and filled my shirt front with them the rest of the kids had gone, so quick over the fence and away down the road. We had made a hell of a noise, but nobody came to see what was going on and we never did get caught out that time, wasn’t always that lucky when I did things I shouldn’t. So in the end I decided to behave. Well let’s say I tried a lot harder to behave.

Life at the junior school Archdeacon Cambridge was not much fun, always in trouble, the lessons were boring, except when the teacher would lend me a thumb around the ear for daydreaming, then it was painful as well as boring. Very often played truant with my friend Roy Daniels. I did it a lot on my own to. The pair of us got more than our fair share of the cane and ear bashing from the male teachers. I had the attitude that they should be out fighting the Germans, like my dad was doing, instead of hitting me, but it didn’t do me any harm, physically. Except that I didn’t learn much, except Reading, that was one thing I enjoyed.

Dad came home on leave, sometimes for a week or 2 at a time. I was always happy to play with his army gear and he would show me how to strip and clean his rifle, 303. Dad would bring chocolate home; it was sealed in a tin and had a key to be used to open it, something like a sardine tin, but about 2 inches deep. His kitbag was always full of food, tinned ham, sugar, tea and fruit. It used to be put under the table to hide it away until various members of the family came and the pile of stuff would get smaller and smaller until there was just enough to fit into our small food larder. He would also send us boxes of kippers and haddock (smoked) from where he was stationed, at one time in the Orkney isles of Scotland.

Some of the kids were talking about being evacuated to the country and asking if I was going. I thought that would be a great idea, going a long distance in the train a new place to explore. So it was home to see mum about getting evacuated. She wasn’t keen to let me go, but I insisted and at last she gave in..... What stands out in my memory was, all us kids in a long queue in twos, waiting to go on the train. I was paired off with someone I didn’t know, then I noticed one of the kids from our street, Eric Hall, so I shot up a few yards to be with someone I knew and we stayed together. But there was this lady who was in charge of us, walking up and down the lines saying I’ve lost one of my boys, I didn’t bother telling her I had moved out of my place in case she made me go back. But she must have sorted it out in the end after counting us a dozen times over.

 At last we got on the train with a gas mask in a square cardboard box, carrying bags and a big label tied to a secure part of our clothing in case we got lost. The train journey was endless, being shunted into side tracks and stopping for ages it seemed, but we thought it was good fun. It was on this train that I was smitten by this girl, love at 1st sight, after she had given me some sweets and other nice things to eat, her name escapes me, but I thought she was the best. We had travelled a long time in the dark and only small shaded lights in compartments, because of the blackout, and then Gerry planes couldn’t see us we hoped. But at last the train stopped for good and we all got out and filed out in to a big hall a short distance down the road. Erik and I were still paired off. We found ourselves being presented to a Mrs Bevan.


Ch. 3 - Richard Colin Fifield AKA Colin The Rhondd...
Chapter 1 : Richard Colin Fifield AKA Colin


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