Veteran Stories:
Joan Winifred Dowe

Army

  • Joan Dowe is pictured here in 2010.

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"I looked up in the tree and there’s a bomb hanging there, which could go off any time."

Transcript

We had to wait until there was an alert from the coast to say that enemy was sited or is about to dump on us I suppose is the word. But what we would do is we’d have a list of places that we would have to phone once we got this message to say there was an alert. And we would phone them and say, you know, air raid alert. They, depending on what their service was, they would prepare themselves for an air raid. This would go on until such time as the coastal people called us back and say, the alert is over. And then I and all the others would have to phone all these places that we’d phoned to say there was an alert. Sometimes you’d get your phone calls finished and before you’d got them finished, there’d be another alert come in and you’d start all over again. During the day, it was done by the municipality. But at nighttime, at evenings, it was done by anybody that would volunteer to do this work. It was interesting to a point. It’s a long time ago and you have to really search back in your memory for certain things that were out of the ordinary. I did it and my parents did it. I maybe did it a little more than they did because my father was in the Home Guard. Mother didn’t do anything more. Basically, that is exactly what we did. We were just sort of tracking - we were tracking the enemy. We would phone places like hospitals and the Home Guard of course were the first to be notified. Any of those kind of people that would, if there was an air raid, would be involved in the goings on. See, we were near the south coast, so you know, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump for the Germans, they could have been up where I was very fast. I used to bicycle to work and I had two ways I could go and this one morning I thought, oh, I’ll go this way. And when I got to a certain point, I was stopped by the police that said I would have to go back and go the other route. Of course, curiosity killed the cat and I asked and he said, just look up in that tree. I looked up in the tree and there’s a bomb hanging there, which could go off any time. So of course, I went back, retraced my steps and went to work the other way. I think perhaps that must be about the scariest thing that I could … But as I say, when you’re 18 years of age, things don’t affect you quite as much as they do when you’re older. Well, I thought it was rather fun. I shouldn’t say that but I learnt a lot, met a lot of people. It was my way of helping the war effort.
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