War On The Line – Sunday
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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.
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.
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.
Householders are now expected to put out their own fires. Andrew’s wife Pauline demonstrates how to operate the pump most effectively.
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.
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.
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:
“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.
“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!”
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.”
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.
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.
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!