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Epsom Wartime Stories: An Average Day

Article 6th May 2020 Epsom Downs

Epsom Wartime Stories is a collection of memories from members of the public who were in the local area at this time. These fascinating stories give an insight into daily life during the war and the impact it had on Epsom and the racecourse.

"Many of my school chums were evacuated to the West Country & Wales but I elected to stay in Epsom with my grandparents as my mother and my siblings moved to Shropshire in order to be near my stepfather’s hospital where he was a patient after having his howitzer blown out from under him during the evacuation of Dunkirk.

My average day during these times was as follows:

Rise at five thirty and go to light the smoking fires at Marshalls fishmongers at the top of Adelphi Road so that by the time the Herrings were ready for smoking at approx 7.30 the fires were good and ready. At six thirty go to Knights newsagents in Church St. to deliver my first morning paper round and on returning collect the papers for my second round.

Around seven in the morning cycle up to Stanley Wootton’s yard to muck out and ride the horses with the other lads up to the Downs for first work, sometimes if time allowed I would cycle over to Walter Nightingale’s yard to help with mucking out and if lucky get another ride. (During these years the regular stable lads and jockeys were called up into the forces,) It was great fun to sit on the horses and read the Beano on the way to the downs, there was no traffic at this time and in the main the horses were fairly docile as they sensed where they were going.

Back home to breakfast and then off to school by nine o'clock - my school was the C of E Boys School at the top of Adelphi Road so it was nice and convenient. At the end of the school day I would go back to Marshalls to clean out the smoking trays and grates ready for the next day.

One of our favourite nocturnal activities was to watch the "dog fights" over London And see the bombers caught in the cross beams of the searchlights and in later years during daylight hours was to watch the Spitfires engage the doodlebugs over the downs and clip their wings to turn them towards the downs before shooting them down.

A German Dornier 107 Bomber crash landed on the downs early one morning, in spite of the chains that were stretched across the race course and by the time the home guard and police arrived to arrest the only two crew members all of the local kids including myself had cycled to the downs and stripped the plane of souvenirs such as swastika decals and Perspex cockpit screens which made very collectable rings one lucky chap made off with the compass (a real trophy)."

This extract comes from WW2 People's War - an archive of World War Two memories written by the public and collated by the BBC.

More Epsom Wartime Stories: 

Spitfire Chase

final straight crash


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