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Winston Kelland Robert Maunder died on Saturday 11th December 1999. Freda and Peter Tout telephoned me the same day, and I travelled down for his cremation on Friday 17th December 1999. Peter and Freda kindly invited me to stay the previous night, and the following day we all three of us went into Exeter for the funeral. It as during my stay with them that we reminisced for hours about the war years I lived in Witheridge. During the course of this reminiscing, Peter and Freda presented me with a copy of 'Witheridge Memories' and very kindly suggested that I should add my 'Memories' to them.

Well, I am no writer; in fact, I don't think I have ever written anything other than a few letters and reports in my life. So perhaps you will kindly keep this in mind. Somewhere along the line I have to find a starting point such as my date of birth, where I came from, and how I arrived in Witheridge as an evacuee, and so on. Mind you! It is such a long time ago that I don't suppose anyone will remember me. Even so, some may remember me, so I had better start somewhere. Before I do though, I would like to say that after refreshing my memory by reading 'Witheridge Memories' there are many people and many places which stirred my inner feelings, and although some of the tales and some of the people involved were well before my time, or beyond my experience, some of them were not, and I remember them well. I had hoped not to be influenced by reading these accounts, but one of them did affect me very much, and I only hope the author will not mind my quoting her. It was the last account in the book, made by Margaret Gillard (nee Baker) that I found so touching. I quote "Why do I have to go back? Why is it that every so often the urge comes upon me to return to Witheridge-the-ugly" (well maybe not) North Devon village where I was born and brought up? Something in me changes as I near the village. There is an excitement, but also a feeling of inner peace. I have the feeling of 'shedding a load'. I don't know if it is just 'escapism',the safety I feel of returning to my childhood". Now I know I wasn't born there, but there is always a feeling of returning to my childhood. I have to say that my years in Witheridge were very influential to my life. Much of my happiness was attributable to many of the village people of the time, but none more than Winston Maunder.

Now, I am going to set aside 'Witheridge Memories' and set down as best I can, my own memories of Witheridge. They may not be in the right chronological order, and my memory of the geographical layout of the village, may be somewhat hazy. Not the physical layout of the place mind you, for that is as vivid as ever it was, but I may go a bit awry with some of the names of places and I may get some of the peoples names wrong as well. I was born on November 2nd 1929, in Lambeth, a Borough of London. My father was a professional soldier, and my mother a housewife; as most women were in those days. Not that she had much choice really, because I was the last child of a family of eight, and the eldest, my sister Mary, was twenty years older than me. In 1939, as war was looming, the powers that be decided that all schoolchildren and all mothers with young babies should be evacuated to places of safety away from the cities that were expected to be bombed. I was approaching ten years of age, and it was decided, after much soul searching, that I should be evacuated with my school, as the teachers would be with us to keep us safe.

So, on Friday September 1st, we all assembled at our school and were entertained at Waterloo railway station en-route for our 'Place of Safety', as yet unknown. It had to be kept secret apparently, because of fear that the train would be bombed. When we arrived, the teachers has post cards already written that we had to send to our families to inform them that we had safely arrived at Swanage, Dorset. I don't think I will go into the details of schooling, billeting and homesickness, but it was all rather unpleasant. It so happened that the family I was allocated to with another London boy, took a shine to him, but tended to ignore me. Well, I was not really aware of this, but I did know I was unhappy. The following Good Friday, my eldest sister and her husband came to visit me by train and returning to London the next day my sister reported my unhappiness to my parents, and with their consent promptly returned to Swanage on the following Monday and took me home. Well, of course, I was delighted to be home, but the snag was that the very thing I had been evacuated for, ie the 'Blitz', I had returned to. So, with my family, I endured the bombing. Not that it was too much of an endurance, for at times I thought it was quite good fun. But there were other times when it was quite scary.

My father had just recently died, and the elders of the family felt they could cope better if the recently widowed mother, disabled sister and me, a small boy, could be evacuated to somewhere safer. This was virtually at the end of the bomber 'Blitz', and before the V1 and V2 attacks. It was after the Germans had set fire to the City of London, and the shelter next to us had received a direct hit. That was a night that was. I remember the whole sky was glowing red, and the reason I was able to see this was because the next-door shelter had been hit. This meant that we had to leave our shelter and cross the green to a reinforced ground floor flat. This was the only time I had experience shrapnel 'pinging' around. Not that I was too worried, as I was carrying blankets, pillows and that sort of thing, and misguidedly thought I was well protected. Not so my poor family, they were older than I and realised the danger. This, I suppose, was the last straw for them, so they arranged for my mother, sister and I to be evacuated to Witheridge.

We arrive at Tiverton by train, and although to me this was an adventure, to my poor mother and sister, it must have been quite miserable. Here they were, one elderly (well, late forties I suppose, but to me it seemed quite elderly) and recently widowed, and the other disabled. Not knowing where on earth they were going, or what they were getting into. From Tiverton we took a taxi to Stretchdown, and were welcomed by the occupant of a bungalow, a Miss Lukins. Now she was very kind and nice to us all, and after a very short while we all settled in. Of course, I had to go to school in Witheridge, and I don't know how it happened, but I somehow ended up at the National School, or church school as I think it was sometimes called, which was run by a headmaster named Mr Dyer. There was another male teacher whose name escaped me, but I seem to remember he was always smart, tall and quite good-looking. A rather slim lady who wore tortoiseshell spectacles, ran the infants class, and finally there was Mrs Churchill, who used to play the piano for assembly and for music and singing. Meanwhile back at Stretchdown, life was becoming a little tiresome for me, as the only other boy available to play with was one named Kenneth Gibbs who lived next door. So most evenings, after school, and weather permitting, we walked back into Witheridge to play with friends. This meant during normal school days walking to school, walking back again for lunch (my mother flatly refused to allow me to take sandwiches like most did), back to school after lunch, back again after school for tea, back to Witheridge to play, and back to the bungalow before dark. What a chore all that walking was. Still I suppose it was good for me. I can't think for the life of me why I like walking now.

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Still, unknown to me, it transpired that three women and one small boy in a small bungalow was too much. I was alright, because Miss Lukins took to me and treated me well, but apparently the three women didn't quite get along. Also, unknown to me, my mother had metaphorically cried upon the shoulder of Mrs Baker at The Angel pub, and I think she took pity upon us. She very kindly offered us her cottage to rent fully furnished, which was next door to her son Leslie's Blacksmith's shop. The rent was, as I understand, thirteen shillings per week, which was very good even for those days. Yet my mother with only ten shillings a week widow's pension, could not afford it. So, yet again, Mrs Baker came to the rescue and offered my mum a few hours cleaning at the pub to make up the rent. Shortly after this, we three moved into the cottage. Incidentally, whenever I happened to be around Stretchdown, Miss Lukins was always very nice to me. My mother and sister never travelled to Stretchdown, and as far as I know, Miss Lukins never travelled into Witheridge, so they never met again. Nevertheless, everything remained quite friendly.

Whilst at school we were allowed to do so many hours helping with agriculture. I seem to remember going potato picking when my hands became so frozen and bent, that I was unable to straighten my fingers. That didn't matter really because we got paid two shillings and six pence a day, and to this day I can still taste the food we were given. Especially the homemade bread and jam and the home made cream. Cor!! I can also remember my paper rounds and working for Mr and Mrs Kessal (I think that is how they spelled their name). Later they were taken over by Mrs Burr and her mother, Mrs Schooling, and I still delivered newspapers for them. After school hours, of course.

When the time arrived for me to leave school, aged fourteen years, I went to work for Mrs Burr full time, I still dealt with newspapers, but it was not this that got me down; it was more the selling of things, especially some things. One day, whilst helping Winston Maunder do something or other, I can't remember what, he said to me "How much do you earn working at the shop?" I remember thinking that he had a check asking me such a question. Nevertheless I told him that I earned a pound a week. He said "If you would like to come and work for me I will pay you £1 10s 0d" Wow! That was a pay rise of fifty per cent, which I had never experience before, or have experienced since. Had he offered me less; I would still have taken it. Mind you he never knew that until years afterwards. I stayed with Winston until I returned to London. We both worked hard. We both had fun, and we never had a cross word. I can honestly say that those years were some of the happiest of my life. During our time in Witheridge, my brother Harry, my sister Mary and her husband, and my sister May visited us every Bank Holiday. These were lovely times, until the time came for them to return to London. However, on one of these trips, my brother Harry decided to stay on after working a short while for Mrs Culhene at the post office delivering post to outlying farms, and a short while cycling into Tiverton daily to work for Starkey, Knight & Ford, he ended up working for Bill Vernon at the bank. What he did there, I don't know. Before the end of the war though, he got conscripted into the army and served somewhere in Europe. My mother, sister and I stayed in Witheridge until after VE day, and then returned to our home in London. I pleaded with my mother to let me stay in Witheridge, but to no avail. She understood my desire to stay, but having four sons serving in the army abroad two daughters and a son-in-law facing the V1 and V2 rockets in London, she was not about to let me out of her sight again. She had suffered enough when she let me evacuate to Swanage in 1939.

So far I have given an outline of how I came to Witheridge, where I attended school, where and with whom I worked, and when I left. I have not related yet my memories, which are many and varied as well as very valuable to me. Somehow I need to dig them out to show what a rich and wonderful life we lived in this wartime village. In an effort to achieve some sort of order though, I am going to start North of the village and work my way through towards Stretchdown where it all began. Newbridge, I think it was called, where us lads used to swim in the Little Dart. It was somewhere near here that the school I attended had some allotments. Also near here was an old barn or shed, where a mechanic from Cox's Garage was rebuilding an Austin Seven and I spent every spare moment helping him do minor jobs on the car. I was probably more of a hindrance then a help, but I thought it was great. Coming back towards the school, and next door to the playgrounds, was another school allotment where we also had rabbit hutches. Lots of them, and pinned on the wall of a hut nearby were all the prize cards we had won at various shows. I well remember we bred Flemish Giants, Blue Beverans, Olde English, Dutch and Chocolate Havanas. These were all cared for by us pupils under the careful supervision of Mr Dryer. What a versatile man he was, for he also taught us beekeeping, and we won prizes for that as well. Next to here were the school playgrounds and the small school. What an honour it was to be given the task of cleaning out the rabbit hutches, collecting sawdust from Mr Hutchinson's sawpit, tending the bee colonies, and gardening. I know it doesn't sound like it, but it was wonderful stuff for young boys. I have often wondered if Mr Dryer realised how much we enjoyed doing these things. Perhaps he did.

Next-door, and still going south was Les Baker's Blacksmiths Workshop, and I spent many hours watching him at work. I expect he got fed up to the back teeth seeing me just hanging around. Next came Mrs Baker's cottage that we occupied. It had a water tap outside the front door in the street, and it was my job to keep the cottage water supply going by regularly filling a small milk churn. It was also my task to keep a supply of water for the outside toilet, which was down the very bottom of a very large garden. In the terraced cottage next door lived Mr and Mrs Kingdom who regularly supplied us with fresh vegetables and now and again a brace of rabbits with the odd chicken from time to time. Then came Percy Bowden's tailors shop, and next to that Masters, the butchers. Mr Masters had a Vauxhall saloon motorcar with a fluted bonnet, and a van for delivering meat. Sid Ware worked for him at the time, and sometimes I would ride with him when he was delivering around various places. I used to wonder how anyone could drive in such 'Blackout' conditions, with tiny headlamps giving very little light ahead, and which, by regulation, were hooded. Opposite the row of buildings I have just mentioned was the church and the graveyard. The church was run by the Reverend Castlehow, who was also our local Scoutmaster. From time to time he would come to the school to take a class for religion. He had two London evacuees staying with him also. One was Charles Burnett, and the other Joe Dalladay. Joe went home to London for a while, but shortly afterwards returned to the Vicarage, having lost a leg during a bombing raid. It didn't stop him playing with us mind you!

Just by the churchyard wall, and almost touching the paper shop, was a telephone box, where every evening my mother would telephone our family in London; I think it cost 2d. Because it was pre-arranged that as soon as the money expired, they would phone back. I used to go with Mum sometimes, but often I would be doing something else. Then there was the paper shop where I used to work, and next door to that was Lloyds Bank, which was managed by Bill Vernon. He was married to Olive (nee Baker). Olive and Bill had two children, Alan and Roger. Alan was about my age, and on wet days I would enjoy playing in the attic of his house with his wonderful train and Meccano layout. I had never seen the like of this before. When the days were fine though, the lure of playing with my friends out in the village was too great, and Alan's marvellous layout was quickly forgotten. It was along here that Mr and Mrs Mitchell lived (I think that was their name) and they cared for Andy, who I think was Mr Mitchell's brother. He was handicapped, and would pace up and down in front of these houses nearly every day. Dear old Andy, he was such a nice fellow and I can quite picture him even now. Mrs Mitchell was a nurse, or had been I think, and she used to teach us scouts first aid. Also in this row of houses lived Mr Dryer and his family, and also the Way family. It was to Mrs Way's house we had to go when the school dentist, who arrived in his Jaguar car from near Thelbridge, used her living room as a surgery. I think Mrs Way had a daughter named Betty.

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We then need to go back across the square to the Police house, occupied by Sergeant Palmer, and I am not too sure, but I think there was also a Special Constable name Percy Cole. Sergeant Palmer was a very big man, and I was always somewhat in awe of him. Particularly when Winston Maunder allowed me to take the twelve bore shotgun to bag a brace of rabbits for my mother's table. As Winston had some fields just past the school, and it meant that I had to pass the police station to get there, it was quite nerve racking with a twelve bore shotgun, dismantled lock, stock and barrel and wrapped in an old sack. If Sergeant Palmer happened to be outside as I cycled past, I was convinced I had the most guilty look about me. Whether he noticed or not, I shall never know. I bet he did though. I do recall one occasion when he was required to deal with some of us boys in his capacity as a Policeman. It happened when some of my friends and I, evacuees and locals, decided to split into two 'armies' and fight a 'war' across 'No man's land'. Using a field behind the Mitre, owned by Jack Mills, we lads in our enthusiasm to do 'battle', damaged quite a bit of Jack's hedge. The trouble was, he caught us in the act; red handed, so to speak, and marched us down to Sergeant Palmer. He read the riot act to us, of course, and threatened us with all sorts of terrible things, but in the end told us that we all had to return to the Police station later that afternoon with our savings to pay for the damage. Well we all returned at the appointed time, but the trouble was none of us had any money, and we were too scared to mention it to our parents. However, there as one boy who did have savings, and that was Cedric Tudball. Cedric, very generously, but tentatively offered to pay for us all. Anything to escape prison we all thought, so we gratefully accepted his offer. It was not needed though, as both Jack Mills and Sergeant Palmer had relented, but prior arrangement I'm sure, and we were let off. Heaven only knows, Cedric would not have had enough in that little savings book to pay for the damage we had done. To this day I'm not quite sure if their relenting was by prior arrangement, or because by Cedrics naïve generosity, or by the look of fear on our faces.

Sergeant Palmer had a daughter I feel, who was very good at tennis, and often played at the village tennis club. Mind you she was a long way above our standard. Just behind the Police station was Bill Gold's wheelwright workshop. Another craftsman I used to watch with much admiration. Then, in the middle of the Square was the home of Mr and Mrs Joe Churchill. Joe used to maintain the church clock, did a little saddlery, and cut hair from time to time. He also drank quite a lot. One Saturday afternoon, much to my regret, I asked him to cut my hair. Joe readily agreed, and preceded to cut my hair with what appeared to be sheep shears. He cut one side of my hair, and reaching beneath his bench, withdrew a bottle and took a couple of swigs. He then told me that he had run out of cider, and would not be long, as he was just going to get a refill. I waited for hours, until he eventually returned quite sozzled. It was not possible for him to finish cutting my hair, so I had to leave it cut just down one side. That is how it had to remain until he was sober, which I think was just before school on the following Monday morning. Finally, in the Square, was the Angel public house. This seemed to be the social centre of the village, particularly for the soldiers posted to the area. Mrs Baker was there, of course, as was her daughter Ruby Buchanan and her son Bobby, I think his name was Mr Buchanan, I am quite sure, was away serving with the RAF. It was to the Angel that Ralph Tarr would sometimes come on a Saturday night on horseback and tether his horse in the yard of the pub whilst he imbibed. Mind you, at the end of the evening his imbibing would prevent him mounting his horse to go home. So we lads, would help Ralph up onto his horse, lead the horse out of the yard, point the beast in the right direction, and he would take Ralph home. It never failed, so far as I know. I wonder if Ralph ever knew we did that. I never thought to ask. The room above the Angel was the only room in the village big enough to hold dances. The usual thing was to have a whist drive first, then roll back the tables for dancing. It was only a three-piece band, and I don't seem to remember much about it, as I was a bit of a wallflower when it came to dancing. But I do remember that one of the village bakers, Frank Kingdom I think, played the drums.

Talking of bakers, it brings to mind Churchill's bakery, just downhill from Partridge's shoe shop. My mother used to get me to take our Sunday lunch around for him to bake, and when you returned later to collect the now cooked lunch, it smelled so good, you could eat it on the way home. Nearby this bakery lived the Fords. I remember Peggy Ford and I seem to remember that a Czechoslovakian soldier stayed there, or was visiting there, and he was the chauffeur to the exiled Czech, President Benes. I also think that Stella Bourne lived somewhere near here. Follow me back to Partridge's shoe shop. We lads used to call him 'Sprigwalloper', but not to his face of course.

By the side of Partridge's shop was a lane that took you past a small hall, where we sometimes held whist drives, and regularly held our Scout meetings under the ever-watchful eye of our Scout leader, the Rev Castlehow. Just a little further down, and on the right lived Percy Bowden the tailor, and just a little further still were some cottages that caught fire once, and where Winston and I climbed through a downstairs window, and handed to people outside, furniture and other things that it was possible to save. There was fear at the time that sparks from the fire would pass over Churchill's bakery and set fire to cottages in that road, I don't think it happened though. Going further down the lane we come to a terraced row of cottages at the bottom. I have forgotten the name of them, but the first cottage was occupied by Mr and Mrs Leach and their daughters Sylvia and Sheila. Sylvia was a bit older than me, but Sheila was about my age, and one of my peers. Further along the row of cottages was one that was occupied by the Chapple family, and one of their sons was killed during the war whilst serving in the army. Walking past the front of these cottages you come to a lane, well a footpath really, and if you turned left and walked up the hill, it brought you out to the road at the side of the Post Office and general store run by Mrs Culhene and just a little further to the left was the electrical and radio shop, I think it was called Knight's. Mrs Culhene, an unusual name I always thought, reminds me always of the 'Savings Weeks' we held during the war, and it was through her kind offices that we were allowed to display the model aircraft we had made. It was mainly Alan Vernon and I that made these models, I think. We always had them suspended on threads of cotton in such a way that it appeared that the enemy aircraft were being shot down by our allied aircraft. It seemed the right thing to do somehow.

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Further along, and on the right lived Mrs Tudball, the midwife, and her son Cedric. He was definitely one of my friends, but always seemed to be getting me into trouble. Not for anything that he did, for he never really did any wrong. It was more what he said. He always seemed to say the wrong thing to adults, when I was with him, and sometimes they were not too pleased. Opposite was the chemist's shop, but I cannot recall the name of the chemist. Just a little further along was the Selly dairy and farm. I can remember Mr and Mrs Selly very well, as I do Rita, Freda and Stan, but I cannot easily recall Eric or Thelma. I knew them though. Further along, and still on the same side of the road was Kerslake's shop. Mr Kerslake always seemed to be standing at the front door of his shop wearing hobnail boots, leather leggings, and corduroy breeches. I suppose he did leave the front of the shop to eat and for other things, but he never seemed to. Almost opposite was Kingdom's bakery as I recall, and I think this area is called Trafalgar Square. I'm not too sure about this. I do know though that Mr and Mrs Tidball lived in the Square. Mr Tidball ran Greenslade's Tours and Bus Company in the village. They had twin sons. Both of them, I think were bomber pilots and they were both killed during the war within a very short time of each other. Poor Mr and Mrs Tidball, I can still picture her going regularly to the chapel cemetery near the bus garage.

Also in Trafalgar Square was a Mrs Monteith and her son Douglas. He was about my age and one of my friends. As we were leaving to go home at the end of the war in Europe, he and I took, what we thought at the time to be a solemn oath; that wherever we happened to be we would keep in touch and meet now and again. We haven't seen hide or hair of each other since. Take the left hand fork in the road from Trafalgar Square towards Rackenford, and on the right was Winston Maunder's farm and dairy. This is where I worked for Winston, and there are countless memories that I could recall from there. However I will not bore you with them, except to say that I often recall them to mind. Incidentally I should mention Mrs Olive Silliphant. She was Winston's part-time housekeeper, and jolly good fun she was too. I think her husband was a carpenter who worked for the village builder; a Mr Hutchings. I am quite sure they came from Croydon, Surrey, as I seem to remember visiting her and her husband after the war. Coming back towards Trafalgar Square, and turning left into a lane just before Winston's farm and dairy, was where the Pyne family lived. Now I don't remember Mr and Mrs Pyne, but I certainly remember Gordon and Kathy, both about my age, and good friends too. Further along this lane lived the Vanstones.

Coming out of the lane and turning left you came to Hutchings builders yard. It was from there, in the sawdust pit under the circular saw, we collected sawdust required for cleaning out the school rabbit hutches. One day, Raymond Reed and I were deputed for this very task, and silly as it may seem now, Raymond and I were throwing sawdust at each other, whilst in the pit under the teeth of the saw. Trying to avoid my aim, he jumped up and struck the crown of his cranium against one of the teeth of the saw. Well, blood seemed to be everywhere, and in sheer panic, I placed him into the wheelbarrow we were using to collect the sawdust, and took him all the way back to our school to Mr Dryer. He was quite conscious mind you, and did not seem at all worried about the situation. I was though. It would, of course, have been much simpler had I taken him to Dr Price's surgery, which was much nearer than our school, but I never thought of that. Still it didn't matter as Mr Dryer took charge, and Raymond got better. Unfortunately for Raymond, he had his head swathed in bandages for some time afterwards. Further along on the right hand side of the road was Greenslade's store, nothing to do with Greenslade's Tours I believe, but it was at this very point that the road was at its narrowest. I don't suppose when the building was erected it was ever envisaged that such huge beasts of the road as military tank transporters would pass this way, but during the war they did. Well I think I can say with all honesty that every time one of these vehicles went past, a large part of the shop went with it. Being made of cob it seemed to come down quite easily, but as I understand it, it was also repaired quite easily too. So that was alright I suppose.

Then came Cox's garage which was run by Mr and Mrs Cox. They were always very nice to me when I delivered their daily newspapers. They were even nice when I collected the money at the end of each week. Almost opposite was Dr Price's surgery. Mrs Price being a Roman Catholic, used to take my mother and I, on the odd occasion that petrol rationing permitted, to Tiverton or South Molton to Sunday Mass. I have often wondered if, the frequent times Dr Price did his rounds on horseback, whether this was designed specifically for this purpose. Dr Price treated me on two occasions that I recall. Once when I broke my nose playing tennis, and the other, when I cut my ankle with an axe at scout camp. I should never admit this I know, but it was quite ironic that only the day before I had won by woodcutters badge before the Rev Castlehow. Pass the Chapel and its graveyard; pass the lane leading to the tennis and bowling club, and keep going up the hill towards Stretchdown, and on the right was a row of council houses. Behind them was the recreation ground. It was not a very well equipped ground as I recall, but I do remember playing football there with Winston Maunder and others. He was no mean footballer either. I can also remember helping Stan Selly to clear a patch of ground for a cricket pitch. We hoped it would be good enough to play upon, but it wasn't really. Even if you bowled a good line and length, which was rare, the ball still seemed to have a mind of its own, and seemed to go anywhere. Still we had lots of fun.

I seem to remember that somewhere near here was a post of the Royal Observer Corps. This was manned by Sergeant Palmer and others, and they used to allow me to attend the post as a 'visitor' and watch them at work. Mind you, I was good at aircraft recognition, which I learned as a member of the local Air Training Corps. I could recognise aircraft almost immediately, and I suppose the ROC members appreciated that. Just a little further towards Stretchdown there was a triangle in the middle of the forked roads, and I think there used to be a Blacksmiths there. Well, my memory of that place happened in a field just across the Tiverton road. I was just returning to Witheridge from the direction of Thelbridge. I was on my bike having just delivered some milk. It was broad daylight, and overhead was a light military aircraft, possibly an Auster or a Westland Lysander. (The latter, I think). It was gradually descending towards this field with its engine coughing and spluttering, and before I realised that was happening, it crashed into the field there was no one else about; and I dashed across to the site of the crash. The aircraft was about in the middle of the field and was tipped onto its nose. This had caused the propeller and engine cowling to be bent out of shape, and as I arrived the pilot climbed out of the cockpit. Well I knew enough about the insignia of the military that this was an army officer. He asked me if I was British, and then asked, "Can you be trusted?" "Yes Sir" I said, bang full of pride. He then told me that he was on a top-secret mission, and would I look after the aircraft while he made a top secret and urgent telephone call. Well talk about Dick Barton, I was as proud as a louse, and readily agreed. I was so vigilant; I don't suppose a fly could have got near that aircraft without me noticing. Upon his return he said, "Well done lad. Thank you", and I left. Shortly afterwards an aircraft transporter arrived and took it way. It was neither top secret nor urgent, of course, but I thought it was at the time. I daresay he had a good laugh when he returned to his officer's mess.

There you are then; my memories of my years in Witheridge. The little tour I used was a method to help me remember the layout of the village and some names and places. My years there and all the memories I have stirred up within myself are very precious to me still, and will never be forgotten. I particularly remember Winston Maunder, my employer, my mentor, and above all my friend. I do apologise for rambling on so, but in a way it just goes to show the effect Witheridge had upon me. My years in Witheridge were formative years, for which I shall be eternally grateful. I have often thought how nice it would be to have a re-union; a wind-back-the-clock type of re-union, where it would be possible to meet old friends and chat for days. But I suppose that will have to wait until we are all 'evacuated' to a 'place of safety' in the sky. As Vera Lynn used to sing during the war "We'll meet again".

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