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Local People in WW2: Bill Morgan

A young boy's memories of the war in Frampton Cotterell

Random wartime memories of Bill Morgan of:

The Shrubbery, 62 School Rd, Frampton Cotterell, Nr. Bristol

Telephone: Winterbourne 3253

1940 - 1945

Outside my happy home life with my parents, my older sister and our grandfather, my primary recollection of village life is of going to the school next to the Church Hall on School Road from sometime in 1940 until Easter 1943.  The Headmaster was Mr Gregg, there was a teacher Ginney Paddock - I remember she had a fairly short temper!  She was from Hambrook while another of the teachers was Miss Cook who was a rather large lady living on Church Road more or less opposite the house of Mr Panes.  One night a bomb fell in the orchard at the back of the Panes’ property and did considerable damage to the back of the house.  There was also said to be an unexploded mine dropped by parachute on Jonathon Taylor’s farm off the lane just below the rectory but I never saw it.










At home our first air raid shelter was a reinforced out-house which had been used to generate carbide gas to illuminate the house before the arrival of electricity.  A new internal brick pillar reinforced the roof which had elm boards added around the edge and then topped with earth. At the side of the house was an attached cottage and this subsequently became our air raid shelter with sandbags covering the floor upstairs.  I recall my sister and myself sleeping in there on straw palliasses and her screaming when she thought a mouse had crawled over her.  On another night when my parents thought it safe we all went back to sleep in the house and saw a red sky over to the south and I think that night Bath had been bombed. We had a large garden, most of it during the war was fruit trees and vegetables – the fruit being stored on the sandbags for winter consumption.  As we grew older, we children had to help in the garden.

I have a vague memory of there being a vegetable garden at the school but as a six/seven year old, I don’t recall having to tend it in any way.  We always took our gas masks in their cardboard cases to school.  We practiced leaving our class and going into the shelter which seemed to be a collection of large concrete pipes laid in a line in the Park adjacent to the back gardens of the houses on School Road.  In the Park there was a wooden pavilion.

My father was an aircraft designer at BAC and after the September 25th 1940 bombing of the factory his office was dispersed to one of the requisitioned large private houses backing on to the Glen just off Durdham Downs in Bristol.  He got an allowance of petrol coupons to run a Humber car but just in case the allocation was reduced he bought an MG J2 sports car.  The Humber had been bought from Mr Pocock who with his wife had been evacuated from Clacton and were housed with Mr and Mrs Simmonds who lived opposite us on School Road. For most of the war the MG was housed in an outbuilding of the Reverend McConnochie’s Rectory: once in a while it had to be run and I enjoyed that!  At the end of the war my father sold the car to Micky Berrett at the Garage on North Corner.  For a time we had a Mrs Brunt and her disabled son staying with us as evacuees having been removed from Brighton.  In the holidays, my cousin Tessa and her mother would come to stay – they slept at the Panes’ house.  Tessa’s father was in the RAF in photo reconnaissance and her mother taught at her boarding school.  Tessa became a sort of younger sister to me and from time to time would be the target for any rotten apples removed from the upper floor of the cottage air raid shelter!

In place of the cast iron gates that used to be at the entrance to the drive off School Road there was a temporary wooden structure on which there was a Notice Board listing local roads or areas and the men and their duty nights.  It was there because my father had some responsibility for rostering Fire Watchers/ARP.  I don’t know where the air raid siren was located but I recall it as an ominous sound.

I don’t remember the availability of food as being a problem, perhaps my mother did – we children were trained to eat everything on our plates and I liked bread and dripping as a snack, especially the gravy at the bottom of the bowl.  Bread was not rationed until much later.  Milk was delivered from a float pulled by a pony or we would collect it in jugs from the Huish farm at Perrinpit.  Meat was from Peglers at the junction of School Road and the Bristol Road – I particularly remember a fondness for his sausage meat and bread came from Brookmans just across Church Road and opposite Mr Humphrey’s grocery and general provisions shop.  Mr Maggs of Watleys End with his horse and cart would come round selling cleaning materials, paraffin, methylated spirit and so on. I got my hair cut by a Mr Britton in a wooden shed in his garden on the Bristol Road – he was an ex miner at Coalpit Heath and he used hand clippers and none too carefully! Mr Dandoe on Clyde Road did shoe repairs in a shed in his front garden.

In about 1942 my sister went off to boarding school in Bristol although the boarders slept at Tyntesfield. In 1943 I went to school in Bristol as a day boy, my father bringing me home each weekday after I’d walked to his office and done my homework while waiting for him to finish work.  All through the war he only ever had Saturday afternoons off, Sunday being a full working day. Added to that he had a drawing board at home and a lockable fireproof drawing storage in the shape of a cylinder.

My vague memory of VE Day is of people having something of a happy time in the area where Blackboy Hill meets the Downs as I walked from my school to my father’s office.   Sadly I have no recollection of celebrations in Frampton Cotterell and any photos that may have been taken by my parents were discarded while I was working overseas and they moved to a smaller property in Hambrook in the 1960s.

Crossbow National School .jpg
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