Beware the Men of Fury!

An uncle of mine was considered too old for active service in the Second World War, and as a civil seivant involved in taxes he was sent to work in an office at Llandudno, North Wales, for the duration of hostilities.

With his wife, son and daughter, he moved to a bungalow in a hilly road called Vardre Drive, quite near the coastal village of Deganwy.

As the Blitz on London was really hotting up, my parents asked them if they’d be willing to take me in until the bombing eased off, and to this they agreed.

At the top end of Vardre Drive lived a nice Welsh family by the name of Williams, and the son, who was about my age, soon became my best friend, even closer than my two cousins. David Williams and I decided that it was essential for us to form a gang, but as recruits were thin on the ground – namely just the two of us (as we refused to enrol his sister) – we decided that what we lacked in numbers we’d counter-balance by a truly terrifying name, thus we became ‘The Men of Fury’.

Having heard frequent mention on the wireless of Hitler’s reign of terror in Europe, we decided to impose a reign of terror on Deganwy, which would include truly awful deeds like trying to plunder the children’s sweet ration.

A series of after-school spying raids suggested that at least 20 children, and possibly more, lived beyond the Vardre hills down in Deganwy, and this didn’t present good odds for pillage and plunder, even if you were a fully paid up ‘Man of Fury’.

If armed superiority was a good enough maxim for General Montgomery, it was good enough for us and prudence therefore triumphed. Just like the Fuhrer’s planned invasion, our reign of terror was postponed indefinitely, thus allowing the good people of Deganwy to carry on sleeping peacefully at night.

For quite a time we were Battle of Britain pilots, which involved running about on the rough pasture, with arms outstretched while producing strange noises like demented bees, as our thin bodies were now Spitfires and hurricanes spitting death against the Luftwaffe.

The two hilly outcrops which we named Pudding Mountain and Table Mountain offered us mountain lairs at such times as our imaginations found us acting as partisans of the French Resistance.

In spite of all this war-orientated childhood activity, David and I still kept a special place in our hearts for the Wild West and our cowboy heroes, so a cattle drive became the order of the day.

It so happened that the local farmer browsed only sheep on our beloved hills, but after a full council meeting of all two of us we came to the conclusion that the general principles of herding cattle or sheep were much the same.

After we’d spent a hot and frustrating afternoon trying to get about a dozen of the many grazing sheep pointed in roughly the same direction before the creatures panicked yet again, the farmer himself appeared, and his general attitude suggested that he was not best pleased with our efforts.

With some poetic Welsh language thrown in, he made it quite clear that if we didn’t desist immediately, the civilian casualty figures would be increased by two, almost immediately.

Soon after this interesting rural encounter which would have made Roy Rogers weep, my parents showed superb timing by bringing me back home to North London in order to experience the full delights of the ‘doodle-bugs’!

Richard Bradshaw.