Wartime memories of Lydbrook, Gloucestershire.
(above a Temco party - was Lydbrook a target for the Luftwaffe?)
Margaret wrote: "Some years ago I wrote this story in the Ross Gazette and I had a phone call from a gentleman who said 'I am so glad you wrote about the Airman who bailed out of his 'plane at Bishopswood that has answered what had happened to the pilot of the 'plane that was pulled out of the river at Lydbrook some years ago'".
"I was six years old when War was declared in September 1939 but as an only child my parents involved me in their conversations. Father followed all the news of the war the land, air and sea battles, air raids, rationing etc. so I had a lot of knowledge about the war. My father was employed to take the metal gates and railings around the town of Ross–on-Wye for the war effort; he was also an ARP Warden at Walford. He and the other Wardens were under the command of Sgt.-Major William Evans from Howle Hill. When the siren sounded at Ross father would put on his ARP uniform and tin hat then he met up with the other 10 wardens on air raid patrol, often the all clear was sounded without incident".
"On one occasion a stick of bombs was dropped along the riverbank at Bishopswood, and at other times bombs were dropped on Leys Hill, this once resulted in minor damage and broken windows, father having to rescue the terrified elderly residents from their cottage. The factory at Lydbrook, Edison Swan Cables had made munitions (ammunition) in the First World War, Father said, "Hitler was trying to bomb the factory with the hope of destroying it, and this was the reason for so many bombs in this area." On another occasion when the siren sounded father was on guard in the garden, mother was under the kitchen table and I was under the stairs, father shouted " he's opened the bomb door", there followed the loudest explosion imaginable, it wasn't until the next day when someone walking from Coughton to Howle Hill found an enormous crater in the woods behind Howle Hill church that we realised how close to us the bomb had dropped, we all had to go and inspect the huge hole and we collected the pieces of shrapnel. Father said "the pilot had to jettison this bomb anywhere, because it was intended for Coventry or Birmingham, and he didn't dare take it back to Germany."
"One night the siren sounded father was again in the garden, he shouted " the search lights of Coppett Hill have got him" then minutes later "he's bailed out", the search lights followed the Airman down into the trees at Bishopswood, father and the others tried to find him but failed, much to the disappointment of my mother who would have made very good use of the parachute silk, during the next day the story of what happened rapidly spread around the area, the Airman despite the darkness had managed to find his way out of the Oxlet woods and found the Chadwyns farmhouse where Daphne Jones a young girl lived with her father, without really knowing for sure if he was British this brave girl took him along a narrow footpath to the nearest house with a telephone (the Queach the home of Major Gaskill - Davies ) so that he could report back to his unit to tell them he was safe, I have recently been told that his plane was recovered from the River Wye at Lydbrook".
"My father was responsible for a certain part of Walford when it came to the distribution and fitting of gas masks, I often went with him along the lanes and footpaths to the outlandish cottages, we took a cot like device for the babies, Mickey Mouse masks for the small children and the appropriate size for the adults, he then had to inspect them from time to time, later in the war a green filter had to be attached when it was feared a different gas could be used in attacks. Luckily we never had to use them but I remember taking mine to school in its box which had a rexine cover made by my mother".
Terry Halford added: "... the day after the stick of bombs fell at Bishopswood it was announced on the radio by lord Haw Haw that the cable works at Lydbrook in the Forest of Dean had been completely destroyed ... I would be interested in the plane that was recovered from the river at Lydbrook. The only two aircraft to come down in the area were British. This was 19th August 1941- a Boulton Paul Defiant T4110 of 125 Squadron came down close to where the British Legion is. Could this have been the pilot who baled out?. The other crash was the Halifax bomber which came down on 7th june 1942 on the other side of the river on the monastary side. There was also a Wellington which crashed at Brockwier. This one went into the river".
Malcolm Finch added (March 2018): "... Regarding the Halifax bomber that came down near the black bridge on the Herefordshire side of the river opposite the cable works. My father was tthe policeman at Lydbrook during all of the war. He said that he was one of the first on the scene. Apparently it was a real disaster as a large number of the occupants who were killed came from our radar experimental facility at Malvern".
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