Bombs among the hops
MY STORY starts in 1944 among the hop fields of Kent.
I was 14 and living at a boys’ agricultural training farm. In the ‘Baby Blitz’ of January, 1944, German bombers used to come over from France, flying over Kent to bomb London. We boys used to look out of our dormitory to watch them every time they flew over the hop fields.
One night we heard these planes coming over, so we all rushed to the windows and what we saw amazed us. There were flames coming out of the tail ends of the planes. We started to cheer and clap because we thought they had been shot down but we learned later that they were V-l flying bombs.
One particular night we were asleep when one of the doodlebugs came down and exploded at the edge of our dormitory. I was in bed asleep, or unconscious, but came to and raised my head and noticed my bed was covered in blood and glass. When I moved my head, I felt a sharp pain down the side of my face.
I put my hand up and felt a piece of glass sticking out of my right ear. I sat up and looked around the dormitory -there wasn’t anyone about,
just me. 1 felt so lonely, what should I do? (I often wondered if the boys thought I was dead).
I don’t know how I managed it but I got downstairs and must have flaked out because the next thing I remember is being attended to in the sickbay. I heard later while I was in hospital that there were six people injured.
I was in the boys’ home because my mum was a widow and I was the second eldest of six children. She was not entitled to a pension because my father never had a regular job, so she was advised to send the two eldest boys to a training farm.
My mother was devastated when they told I her I had been injured. She didn’t have any money for the train fare to come and see me. You can imagine how she felt, trying to make ends meet and not being able to see her son.
She was bombed out twice while living in Portsmouth and moved to a safe haven in Wiltshire.
When I came out of hospital I went back to Kent but I wasn’t happy there and asked Mum to let me come home. Mum warned my brothers and sisters that when Jim comes
home you are not to laugh at him because his face is distorted. When I arrived home I started work on a farm earning 10 shillings a week.