Days Gone By: Dramatic war memories – with people looking for souvenirs of plane crash
Machine gun fire and four airmen dropping into Ipswich by parachute as a doomed aircraft dived toward the town, writes David Kindred.
Dramatic memories of World War Two have come from a Days Gone By reader who lived at Crane Hill Farm, Ipswich.
John Wrathall was a school boy when his family moved to the farm, which was where the Chantry Housing estate is today, in 1937.
John also recalls the excitement in his family when in 1946 plans were made to connect the farm to the electricity supply, although his family and their neighbours had to dig a trench to the main road for the power cable.
Mick Hawes who was born in Ipswich in 1946 and lived with his parents, Percy and Daisy Hawes lived in Sidegate Lane, near the Royal George.
Mick has written from his home in North Wales wondering why modern day professional football players seem to suffer more injuries than those of the past.
Is there is a subject you would like to feature in Days Gone By?Write to David Kindred, Days Gone By, Ipswich Star/EADT, Portman House, 120 Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1RS or e-mail email@example.com
- 1 Fuel protests: Twelve miles of queues reported on A12
- 2 15 of the best photos from Ipswich Music Day 2022
- 3 Travellers pitch up at park in Ipswich
- 4 Road closed and person trapped in car after crash
- 5 'School family' to skydive for TA diagnosed with brain tumour
- 6 Ipswich Music Day 2022: All you need to know
- 7 Keys secured as 'Goliath' £1.2m needed to restore burned down church
- 8 Ipswich family's visa nightmare leaves them fearing separation
- 9 Suffolk DJ 'couldn't believe' call to perform before Diana Ross
- 10 Seven Suffolk villages that have received national recognition
Letter from John Wrathall, Barham
I lived there before the estate was built. I was born at Ash Grove Farm, Kelsale-Cum-Carlton in October 1937. Soon before my tenth birthday I came to live at Crane Hill farm with my parents older brother Peter and grandmother Ada Manning. The farm belonged to Cyril Paul who was a good landlord. It was almost 86 acres and was bordered by Gwyder Road, Stone Lodge Lane and Gippeswyk Park. The land on the other side of Stone Lodge Lane was farmed by Thompson and Morgan. The fields, where Robin Drive is now, went with Fir Tree Farm and were farmed by the Wilsons who originally came from Scotland.
I was glad about our move as we had been rather isolated at Ash Grove Farm and there were no children on nearby farms. Crane Hill was very different. My oldest friend, who I met almost at once, I shall have known for 80 years. John Runnacles lived with his family in Horley Cottage so we were soon walking to and from Ranelagh Road School together in all weathers and in short trousers!
The headmaster was Mr Heath and when it was time for my class to move to Tower Ramparts School he told us we would meet his brother who was in charge there. I used to go to Tower Ramparts on my bicycle, not something I would care to do now.
A lot of boys used to come to the farm from the first half of the Chantry Estate and other from the London Road area. They were very welcome to come and help or, in leisure time, play football or cricket. My father was known to them as the governor and stood no nonsense. I am still friends with three of them.
There were several shops at the junction of Hadleigh Road, including Jack’s Cafe, which is still there and Gosling’s Garage. We shopped at the Co-op which is now a cycle shop.
Things changed a lot at the start of the Second World War.
As we were on high ground we could see any enemy activity going on over the town without being in danger ourselves.
However we did have a few incidents of our own. A bomb landed in the Chantry Park field and made a hole about ten feet deep by 20 feet wide and covered an acre of sugar beet in dirt.
Five or six bombs came down in Wallers Grove, but only made humps in the ground. When I was twelve a German Dornier aircraft crashed near Gippeswyk Park on August 21, 1940.
My mother was trying to keep me indoors as we had heard machine gun fire, but when I heard that two men had been seen coming down on parachutes I was off.
I was in time to see two more men coming down and found out later one had drifted over Saunders stone masons yard and landed in the yard of Manganese Bronze works.
This area is now the Sainsbury’s Hadleigh Road car park. Looking the other way I was in time to see the aircraft disappearing behind some trees and then a cloud of smoke and debris shot skyward.
It had crashed in Park Field next to Gippeswyk Park. It had come rest against a big old elm tree. The Home Guard and the Fire Brigade were quickly on the scene and we were not allowed near the wreckage.
After a few days the wreckage was taken away and it seemed if half the population of Ipswich arrived to scrabble around the blackened soil looking for souvenirs. The elm soon recovered, the hedge grew again and we carried on cropping the field.
The war ended and there was more excitement in 1946. We were going to get electricity. Up to then we had oil lamps and candles and my mum and grandmother cooked on an oil stove.
My father asked Mr Paul’s agent if we could have electricity so we could get a milking machine for our expanding dairy herd. Mr Paul bought the machine, but there was a snag.
The Electricity Board would only install power for us if we dug a trench to London Road. The male members of the Runnacles and Wrathall families ‘set to’ as Horley Cottage would benefit too.
In 1949 we found out that the estate was to be built and we would have to move out. We purchased Damerons Farm, Henley and moved there in January 1950.
From his home in North Wales, former Ipswich man, Mick Hawes, questions the fitness of modern professional footballers The Fitness of Footballers – Ipswich Town in the 1960s and Now.
Bailey, Carberry, Compton, Baxter, Nelson, Elsworthy, Stevenson, Moran, Crawford, Phillips and Leadbetter.
Like a times table, if one was a regular at Portman Road in the 1961-62 title winning season, one doesn’t have to stop to think when reciting this line-up!
In an era when sending out a weakened team in the FA Cup, or even the League Cup, then it is second season, would have been unthinkable, Captain Andy Nelson played in all 50 games.
Larry Carberry and Doug Moran played in all 42 league games. John Elsworthy, Jimmy Leadbetter, Roy Stevenson and Ray Crawford each missed only one, Ted Phillips two.
Of the regular team, Keeper Roy Bailey, out for 5 league games, was the highest absentee. Remember, there were no substitutes in those days, so unless they were seriously injured or sent off, all players spent all of the 90 minutes of each game on the pitch.
Over Easter, three games were played in four days. Many football pitches churned up into mud rinks, the laced-up leather ball must have felt like a medicine ball at times!
Games were played on snowy and icy surfaces that would not be countenanced today. There is a lot less physical contact in the game now compared with the sixties.
Ray Crawford could no longer score by shoulder-barging the opposition goalkeeper over the line!
So how were players in the 1960s able to perform at this consistency? The 2017-18 campaign started with Town, not for the first time in recent years, with a crop of injuries.
As is now common place, the League Cup match played just three days after the start of the season, necessitated players being “rested”.
By the time we played Crystal Palace in the second round, eleven changes were made from the side that had beaten Brentford the previous Saturday.
A youth team was sent out and, presumably, there were not enough fit men to name the permitted number of substitutes.
Premier league teams, with European commitments, operate a rota system. Their managers complain of the heavy schedules that success can bring, but they have a large squad of players, recruited from all over the world.
You would have thought that in the last 56 years training methods would have improved. There is now a whole industry, and degrees to be gained, in Sports Science.
Team Coaches and Managers have to gain qualifications. Doctors run on to the field when a player goes down, not Trainer Jimmy Forsyth with a wet sponge!
By the time, Ipswich won the FA Cup in 1978 players were regularly being given pain killing injections, I believe Kevin Beattie is still paying the price for those with his health.
I doubt if that was the case in the early sixties. With no substitutes, an injured player was usually told to “run it off” and was put out on the wing to give him plenty of space to do so!
The Rushmere Housing Estate, Ipswich, featured in Days Gone By recently.
I was surprised and pleased to see the picture of two darts players at the Selkirk Public House. I am on the left ( known by all as Buster) and the other player is my younger brother Martyn Markwell.
The Selkirk was one of the main hubs on the Rushmere Estate at the time. We were one of many big families that lived on the estate, we were all sports mad, playing football, cricket and golf mainly on the squares of grass, sometimes with 25 a side in the football !
The Selkirk had a good football team for many years playing in the Licensed Trade League on Sundays.
The row of shops at Selkirk Road sold everything our families needed, and it was a close strong community.
Letter from Derek Bailey, Ipswich
I had my first teaching post at Rushmere Hall Junior School in Lanark Road in 1955 when I came from Wesminster College in London, I taught there until 1964 when I moved to Gusford Primary School.
At that time the Infant School was separate from the Junior school and had its own head mistress.
The head at the Junior School was Miss Ruby Herbert, who was there until she retired. At that time the school had a fantastic May Day celebration each year with maypole dancing, sword dancing and other folk dancing and evening concerts. In the school grounds was an orchard with greengage trees which we used to pick at the beginning of the Autumn term. When I joined there were about 600 children from the surrounding estate and some year groups had five parallel classes. There were classes in the kitchen, all the cooking apparatus had been removed and school meals were sent from another school, classes in the dining room, the medical room and in the entrance hall. Nevertheless it was a very happy school and I enjoyed my nine years there.
Email from Gayle Read
When I was six-years-old, in 1948, Mum Dad my brother and I moved into a house in Caithness Close. I attended Rushmere Hall School, which I have very fond memories of. In the Infants my teacher was Miss Dunnett who brought her dog to school with her. Our class took in turns being dog walkers as we had an orchard and a field next to our classroom.We picked the fruit and took it home for six-pence a bag. My next teacher was Mr Cansdale who played the piano, and took us for singing lessons. In the juniors I had Mr Pearson and Mr Brown. They were lovely teachers who made the start of my life a happy one.
One episode, which I will never forget. Mrs Sherman was our playground attendant. One day an Ice Cream van stopped outside, I had three pence in my pocket and ran out and bought an ice cream. Mrs Sherman took me to Miss Herbert the headmistress. She was lovely. She let me sit outside and finish my cornet on the understanding I would never do it again.
Letter from Jon Biscoe
Rushmere Estate is where I was born and raised, what a great place to grow up in the 1950s and 60s. I was born in Moffat Avenue in 1953, the last of three children, it was a great place with the three greens in the centre, the ‘middle’ green as we all new it was the sight of massive football and cricket games with all ages involved from pretty much all round the estate. If that was not big enough we would all move to the Rugby field in Humber Doucy Lane. Obviously the roads were not busy back then and those of us with bicycles would venture out into the surrounding countryside.
We were at one time the only family with a telephone (a shared line) and my father was one of only a few car owners early on, we used to get quite a few visitors in emergencies, wanting to make phone calls.
I loved my life growing up and enjoyed being in the local Cubs and Scouts the 5th Ipswich and also being in the choir at St.Christophers church, bit of an earner really as we used to get half a crown for each wedding we sung at St. Andrews in Rushmere village.
Other memories are of the shop keepers on Selkirk Road. The Greengrocers were Mr and Mrs Snowball a really friendly couple, Doug Kidby and his sister Connie at the chippy, Ungless the butcher, Hammond grocery store and Eastoe’s the post office and news agent, there was also a wool shop and a Co-op.