30 October 2003

Ullswater WW2 Chilwell

I do not remember too much of our first trip to Chilwell, it must have been in 1943, it could not have been earlier due to the dangerous situation from the bombing. The Chilwell area was full of factories converted to producing arms for the war effort and a prime target for an enemy raid.

By 1944 the tide had turned against the Germans and the Allied firepower was superior and the Germans were finding it difficult against the Russian armies. So the Germans concentrated on firing their V1 and V2 rockets with a range only as far as London and the surrounding areas. The air raids to the Midlands were stopped; the Allies were in control of the skies.

The only thing that stood out in our first visit to Dad was a semi-detached house in a quiet tree-lined street with shops and a cinema just up the road, a magnet for a small country boy like me. There were children around who I would go to the movies with and cowboy films were all the rage with Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger and his sidekick, was it Tonto? Wartime theme movies were popular too, but these were more for adults.

Later Dad changed his lodgings, again to a semi-detached house to be nearer to his work. There were a lot of children here and a nearby common and the river Trent not too far away. The road here was concrete and wide, the first concrete road I had ever seen. I think I liked Chilwell because of the company and the amenities, on Ullswater the nearest shop was 2 miles away and shops plural were another 7 miles away.

At the armaments factory were Dad worked making and assembling tanks there were fully equipped machine tool workshops and the engineers often made toys on the night shifts. Dad bought John and I a sheath knife each and mock Tommy gun made out of wood but to us it looked real painted up in gunmetal colours. These everyday articles were not obtainable during the war so trade was brisk for the engineers.

During WW2 it was difficult to get chocolate and sweets (Lollies) in NZ talk. Sugar was rationed and so sweets were scarce. Dad used to get his tobacco always at the same little shop and after a while became friends with the owners. Learning that he had 2 children they used to let Dad have sweets and occasionally chocolate, their ration, neither ate sweets. He used to take John and I round to see them when we came to Chilwell.

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