War On The Line – Sunday

17
June
2018

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War On The Line
1700: We’re back at Ropley where the rain is now gently falling, and our hands are frozen! Really hope you have enjoyed our live blog today from War On The Line. Your reporting team today have been: Helena Gomm, Eleanor Marsden, Beccy Conway (and family!) and Kevin Gover.
1630: We’ve just left Alton Station where Becki Short has been entertaining everyone all day with her beautiful voice… as we pulled out of the station we heard Becki singing: “Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye…” and EVERYONE in our carriage waved back at her!
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This is a live blog from ‘War On The Line’
1629: Beccy Conway and others learn about the Battle of Britain tactics from the Medstead Operations Room.
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1625: Janet Mummery. A woman travelling alone and just out for a day on the railway. We’re on the lookout for fifth columnists as the ticket inspector warned us to look out for them, but Janet seems harmless enough – not sure about that fox, though.
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1624: Signalman Dave Walker from Medstead Station showing our reporter Beccy Conway how the signal works, and how the train will not be allowed through to Alton without the token:
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1623: Girls learning to wash and dry children’s nappies and clothes (below):
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1619: Alec Walters (below), member of Chesil Theatre and local resident. Loves how many people come along to support the Watercress line.
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1601: War reporter Eleanor Marsden is at Ropley for an ice cream apparently where she bumped into GI Jacob!
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This was Jacob’s first time at the event and he was really enjoying inviting all the ladies for a dance to Glen Miller!
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1536: Helena and Kevin here on our live blog. We’re on the train from Ropley towards Medstead and we’ve met two people who are “not allowed to say anything because we’ve signed the Official Secrets Act.” We could probably say they’re Elaine and Col Steve Brooker. And that they’re going to Alton. But that’s all!
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This is a live blog of War On The Line
1430: Our war reporter Eleanor Marsden mixing with the crowd in Alresford in a cunning disguise!
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1415: Kevin Gover here in Ropley, continuing with our live blog. Our intrepid War reporters Helena Gomm, Beccy Conway and Eleanor Marsden are in Alresford right now where the party is in full swing! Some of our reporters are even joining in! Helena reports that the Americans are in town and the locals are giving them an enthusiastic welcome.
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1400: Helena Gomm reports a moment of Entente Cordiale as General de Gaulle (Clive Thompson) – over here for a secret meeting with the Allied Command – shakes the hand of Lieutenant Colonel Dave Cromwell of the US army.
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1317: Our war reporter Eleanor Marsden has spotted a Very Important Person who has arrived without any notice – probably down to huge security. How everyone will be overjoyed that the Prime Minister is here to help boost morale!

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1255: A pair of plucky refugees from Bristol (below) on their way to Woolton Hill with Mr and Mrs Jinks, the couple who will be looking after them. Ten-year-old Bailey James is glad to be escaping the bombing, and both he and his brother Austin (three) are looking forward to their new life in the country where there will be plenty to eat on the Jinks family’s smallholding.

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This is a live blog from today’s War On The Line

1230: War reporter Helena Gomm meets Phil and Jan Dunford with their Austin 10 Colwyn.

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Notice the masked headlines and white paint.

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With blackout restrictions increasing, Instructions have been issued that cars must have reduced lighting and white paint to stop people bumping into them at night.
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Phil is a police officer and Jan a district nurse. No bicycle? I asked.  Jan pointed out that some district nurses have to cover large areas and need cars to get around.

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1220:  There’s a real community spirit at Medstead with lots of dancing and singing. But of course the dark side of war is still on everyone’s minds.

ARP  warden Andrew Wilkinson is filling his bucket in readiness for a stirrup pump drill. Apparently so many fires are being started by incendiary devices dropped from enemy planes that the fire brigade have been told to concentrate on commercial premises.

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Householders are now expected to put out their own fires. Andrew’s wife Pauline demonstrates how to operate the pump most effectively.

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1210: Entertaining the evacuee children at Medstead. Impromptu dancing lessons at Medstead Station keep up the spirits of the evacuee children. Here are the Crew family. Emilia, Barnaby and Oliver.

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1155:  You meet all sorts on this train. Milkman Philip Diprose and his wife Gail are enjoying their ride, though it does seem an unusual way to deliver the milk. Philip’s grandfather was also a milkman and he proudly carries a photo of him in his crate.

Mrs Diprose is a haberdasher and sits sewing away. With the country in peril, there is no time to waste for the women on the home front! They are sitting with land girl Lesley Searle.

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This is a live blog from War On The Line:

1135: Sad scenes at Alton Station, writes Helena Gomm, as mothers have to say goodbye to their sons, not knowing where they are going or whether they will ever come back. “Here is Land Girl Kay Fox saying farewell to her beloved son Leading Seaman Gun Layer 2nd class William Fox:

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“He is returning to his ship HMS London, but he won’t tell me where it is based or where it is heading. No doubt his shipmates will rib him when they see the lipstick on his cheek!”

1115: Our intrepid war reporter Helena Gomm is certainly being kept busy: “Just had an interesting encounter with Petty officer Adam Kellie. I was surprised to see an army officer with a beard, but he pointed out he was actually in the navy, part of a commando unit that would secure the beaches ahead of any landings in France.

“He was on the train in transit to his base on Hayling Island after a few days’ leave. The train was crowded, so he had hitched a ride in the guard’s compartment.

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“The guard was Mark Wittekopf. I did a bit of a double take when I heard his name and feared he might be a German spy. He reassured me that his family came over to England in 1911 and that at various times they had changed their name to White.

“Perhaps it might be a good idea to do that again now…?”

1057: Helena Gomm adds: “Saw the spiv again, he has given the MPs the slip – and this time temptation proved too much!”

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1045: Winchester Today war reporter Helena Gomm seems to be in a bit of bother already: “Now on the train from Ropley to Alton. I have already met a shady character who tried to sell me stockings, crisps and fuel coupons from a battered suitcase. I was tempted as times are so hard and he actually had chocolate.

“But fortunately for my reputation, two military policemen stepped in and hustled him away. There are lots of American troops on this train and I think this woman may end up as a GI bride.”

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1015: Welcome to our live blog from War On The Line as the first train of the day steams off from Alresford towards Ropley – the main area of activity – and then on towards Medstead ahead of the Service of Remembrance at 11am.
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It’s June 1943, and all along the line today you will meet wartime history experts and enthusiasts who have all dressed for the occasion.

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You never know who you might see standing on the platform…

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Don’t forget that your Identity Card must be carried at all times! You must produce it on demand by a Police officer in uniform, or member of H.M. Armed Forces in uniform on duty.

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Our team of war reporters are standing by to bring you news and reaction from the day.
Kevin Gover, Helena Gomm, Eleanor Marsden and Beccy Conway. All reporting for duty.

God Save The King!