DEVON-L ArchivesArchiver > DEVON > 2007-01 > 1169226292
From: "J.E.Harris" <>
Subject: [DEV] Fw: Fw: 1939-1945 WW2 Memories
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2007 12:01:36 -0800
Yes I could write a whole essay about that time.We were mosly bombed in
Torquay towards the end in 1943/44 as the Germans were getting wind of all
the GIs etc massing in our part of the world before DDay.
Did you know that the people in villages not far from Torquay viz: Slapton
etc and were actually evacuated and their homes left empty? The Americans
used that part of our coast to practice for DDay due to the similarity
between those parts and Normandy and that whole area was sealed off
completely for this to happen. People did not get back into their homes
until much much later.
In Torquay, except for the GIs who were all over the place with their tents
and whatever in our parks plus in the hotels they had requistioned after the
RAF ITW boys were all gone, we did not have any real targets for the Germans
to find. We did have guns (Bofors if I recall correctly), placed on the
hills and one of those was on the Warberry copse hill almost opposite my
home in Ellacombe. Those guns made quite a noise when we had a "hit and run"
raid which were so-called nuisance raids made all along the south coast by
German planes coming in low over the channel to avoid the radar, raising up
higher to get over the hills/coastline, dropping their bombs and then going
off again back across the channel. Only then would the air raid alert siren
These planes would also cannon fire all down the streets as they were on
their way out and we had that happen down our road one lunch time (or dinner
as we used to call it then). When we heard the low plane coming my mother
and I had gone into the Morrison shelter we had in the back room. After we
heard the bomb go off over Warberry copse, we heard cannon guns being fired
all down our road. Not nice! The potholes from those bullets remained in our
road until well after the end of the war.
For the benefit of all who think of Anderson air raid shelters in a dugout
in the back yard, Morrison shelters (provided by the Govt) were huge heavy
steel things that could be erected in a room, with a steel top, heavy steel
supports and heavy sort of chicken wiry stuff all around the sides. The
bottom was the same heavy wiry stuff and my mother had put a double sized
mattress in there for us to use at night if we had to do so. The theory was
that if the house collapsed then these Morrison shelters would save lives
and they probably did. They were so named after Herbert Morrison, Minister
of Defence or some such, of the coalition govt of those WW2 days.
So - yes Torquay along with other similar places all along the south coast
had their share of not so good times. One Sunday afternoon St Marychurch
(Torquay) was bombed during a "hit and run" and we lost 33 Sunday school
children as the church received a direct hit as they assembled for Sunday
School. That German plane was shot down by one of those Bofors guns and
crashed on Torre Abbey sands. The damaged church clock in the steeple
remained at 2.55 p.m. for many years after that raid.
These are some Devon memories of WW2 and people may not know that it was all
parts of the UK that suffered during those hard times. I have even had UK
people totally unaware of what the SW went through during those later years
of the war and are totally surprised when I relate what I have written here.
Even at the time Plymouth was being so heavily bombed in the earlier years
there were stray bombs dropped along the coast from the planes that had not
(for some reason or another) let them go over or near Plymouth.
PLEASE as Brian would say - no discussion on DEVON-.L. If anyone has any
questions can you direct them to myself and I will do my best to answer
Jean Harris in Toronto, Ontario
P.S. When I married (Torquay 1950) my mother handed me my ration book and my
mother-in-law gave me her son's too. So five years after the end of the war
we still had some things rationed.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Lois Gardner" <>
To: "J.E.Harris" <>; <>
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2007 4:00 PM
Subject: Re: [DEV] Fw: 1939 -.1941
> I hope it is okay to ask Jean what else she remembers about Devon during
> WW2.... were any other areas bombed besides Exeter? Were there coastal air
> defense stations near Torquay? Lois
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "J.E.Harris" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2007 5:56 PM
> Subject: [DEV] Fw: 1939 -.1941