My earliest wartime recollection was
the day of a relative's funeral at Barham on 31st August 1940.
The funeral itself went quietly but while we were on the way
home, the air raids and the dogfights started.
All the way home bombs were dropping,
anti-aircraft guns were firing and aeroplanes were coming down.
When we got to Repository Road in Woolwich, home to the Royal
Artillery Depot, we were stopped by a Spitfire ablaze in the
middle of the street. We had to turn round and travel another
route to my grandfather's public house in Powis Street.
On arrival home my mother, who had stayed
behind to look after my younger siblings, said she had seen
an aircraft wing falling slowly with a swinging movement. Years
after the war, I discovered that the Spitfire was flown by F.O.
Waterson of 603 squadron. He had hit an ME109, lost his wing,
and crashed in Woolwich. The other plane came down in Plumstead
and I can remember having gone there with my father the next
day to see the wreckage in Anne Street. Both pilots were killed
in the crash.
Years later I saw the wing of the spitfire
in the Battle of Britain museum at Hawkinge. It was a real surprise
and brought back many memories.
'WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories
contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC.
The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar'