My life in the village
Oral history recorded by Albert Thom 1983
Chapter Six - War time and family details
In the First World War, standing on Welham Green Nash’s Corner, watching the Zeppelin coming over. Always had advance warning because the pheasants at Burns’s heard them half an hour before you could, started “cock-up, cock-up” calling.
One frosty September night, we thought we were being peppered with shrapnell. It was the frost bringing down the acorns from the oak trees.
Mr. Crawford calls out, “Right lads, down into your cellars.” He was the only one living in a house with a cellar! When the Zeppelins were about they dropped a bomb on the siding. In the Second World War, they dropped two bombs down there, one Sunday morning. That time I was working at the waterworks, stoking I was, shift work, you done eight hours morning and afternoons and nights.
We was all having our dinner one Sunday. I was supposed to be on two o’clock, I’ll never forget it, about one o’clock we heard this terrible noise and that was the bomb dropping. So I said, “Come on, all underneath the table”, then we heard this bang and things jumped up off the table and we heard next they’d dropped two bombs down against the siding. That was that.
Then another night I went to work - I was on the ten o’clock and planes come over and dropped a string of bombs, only small ones. Then we had all them incendiaries one night down the waterworks, what with these flares dropping down, we were running round putting them out. And years afterwards we was in the old filter house and we found one stuck in the gutter, been there all them years and never went off.
I done quite a bit down the waterworks, worked there before I went shift work, helped on two engines there, then I got a job for the water works, like, regular. I was 17 but couldn’t stick it, because it was stuck inside all the time. Being used to being outside, so I left. I was a fool really, I mean to say, I’d be getting a pension now. But I couldn’t stick being tied up sort of style.
I was lucky getting my last job at Mowlems, like I was at Shadbolts. One job finished and I walked down there to see if there was anything goin’. They wanted a storekeeper, so I took it and stayed on that till I was seventy.
The Chucks at Water End (1881 census return)
Albert Thom 1983