Memories of Pin Mill

FLYING bombs destroying the village school and church, buses towing a trailer with a coke fire producing gas to run the engine, are among the amazing memories of rural Suffolk during World War Two.

FLYING bombs destroying the village school and church, buses towing a trailer with a coke fire producing gas to run the engine, are among the amazing memories of rural Suffolk during World War Two.

Brian Ward of Bramford Road, Ipswich, told us recently in Kindred Spirits how the gas trailers kept the buses on the move.

He travelled by bus as a school boy with his mother to visit family friend Millie Palmer at her home in Chelmondiston.

Brian asked if anybody remembers Millie and husband Jack.

Geoff Lusher of Church Lane, Harkstead, told me a bit more about life in Pin Mill when water had to be gathered from the stream and the village school had a dirt floor. He also recalls the day terror came from the sky when a flying bomb, 'a doodlebug,' destroyed the school and church”.

Geoff said “As Brian said, Jack and Millie used to live in a small white painted semi detached wooden cottage about half way down Pin Mill Road. I vaguely remember them as I was born in the semi next to theirs in 1935 and I lived there until I was about five or six years old.

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“I cannot recall whether or not the cottages were called 'Grindle Cottages' but this is quite likely as there was a stream running through the front gardens which was known as 'The Grindle'.

“My parents used to carry water from the stream in buckets to the house for drinking, bathing, washing up and all household uses, as there was no mains water in Pin Mill Road at that time. So far as I know all the residents of Pin Mill Road obtained water in the same way”.

“At four years of age I attended Chelmondiston school which at that time was situated next to St Andrew's church. I remember the school was very antiquated, one of its classrooms had just a dirt floor, we used to use slates to write on and when the war started we had to take gas marks to school in a cardboard box and if the air raid siren sounded, we had to take shelter underneath our desks as there was no air raid shelter. I had not been attending school for very long before a German VI doodlebug exploded one night in the village, landing on a house on the opposite side of the church to which the school was situated. This blew the house to pieces, killing I think, a Mr Rands who lived there, his wife survived the blast. The church was partly demolished as were several houses in the village. It is amazing that only one person was killed. The school was extensively damaged and beyond repair. To the delight of the pupils they had several weeks without school until the authorities decided to send us to Shotley School”.

“Whilst I was still quite young we moved from the cottage in Pin Mill Road to another one in Shotley Road, which was on the main bus route from Ipswich to Shotley. I can clearly remember the Eastern Counties buses on route 202, some of which towed the smelly gas trailers which powered them. As the gas powered buses attempted to climb up Freston Hill they would sometimes run out of power and come to a halt, the conductor would then get out of the bus and rake the fire of the gas trailer, I suppose to make it produce more gas, then the bus would get under way again. During the war years many, if not all, of the buses were painted either grey or khaki to make them difficult for pilots of enemy aircraft to spot. The lights of the buses were masked so hardly any light was shown, for the same reason. At one stage during the war traffic was prohibited from travelling along The Strand for reasons of military secrecy.

“The buses heading from Shotley to Ipswich then had to turn left at Freston crossroads and go to Holbrook where they turned right and went along the very narrow country lane to eventually join the A137 road near Road Farm, Tattingstone, from where they travelled to Ipswich. If a bus met a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction whilst on the narrow lanes there was much shunting about and reversing in order to pass. Luckily, due to fuel shortages, not many civilian vehicles were using the roads”.

“As a boy, I and my friends found the war time years very exciting, there was so much military activity going on and Chelmondiston was a wonderful place in which to grow up”.

Blob: Do you know what the secret of The Strand area was during World War Two? Or did you live in Pin Mill when water for homes was gathered from the stream? Write to Dave Kindred, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich. IP1 4LN.