Memories of the War Years, by Frances Slee (nee Hill)

There was a dugout overlooking the beach and a section was wired off for our use. A sentry was positioned here who took the job very seriously, and used his gun to warn people off.

I remember hearing and seeing a couple blown up by a mine they had wondered onto the burrows not a pretty sight to see.

No 8, the house we lived in at Westbourne Terrace has long since been knocked down, it was between the new bowling alley and the amusement arcade.

I remember the day the military were testing the Catherine wheel on the beach, we had a birds eye view, the wheel was being tested and hit a large pebble and was re-directed back up the beach to where all the people were, it was funny to see them all running away at this wheel coming towards them (Dads Army sketch springs to mind).

There was a rumour that Eisenhour, Churchill and other big wigs were down fro the testing and were staying at The Royal Hotel in Bideford. The old Strand Cinema (now McCarthy and Stone Flats) had been cordoned off for a meeting.

All along the front where you have Taylors Camp site and back of Julian Wiley’s huts, there were all Army personnel camped and along the front were Italian prisoners of war, we used to chat to them and they appeared to be quite happy from what I can remember. Back towards Northam there was only 1 house and the field full of Army Tents, and at the Sunshine Café the camouflage nets were made. Link House housed the Americans and I remember there was 1 black soldier here in the British Army and you can imagine all the children being quite interested in this person having never seen a black man before, father used to invite him in for tea and a chat, the soldier was quite homesick, home being Jamaica.

The Top Camp Braddicks had finished just as war broke out and all the functions were there, I was too young to go but remember going there to see COCO the CLOWN who was here in the army.

At Lenwood the Army Officers were based,she remembers attending a function there and also remembers the RAF radar station in Pimply Road now known as Sandymere Road.Four Pylons bordering the Burrows, there were also concrete shelters and the Nissan Huts the Service Personell lived in were on the corner of Golf Links Road, long since demolished and new bungalows built but civilians lived in the old huts for many years after the war. There was a lovely old house by the Burrows Gate, again long since demolished and this was occupied by RAF Officers. She says that they used to hear the German Planes passing over on their way to bomb Swansea, always hoping they would not drop any on them on their way home.

Before the pylons were removed her brothers and herself tried to climb one, but after reaching the first platform too terrified to go any further,but imagining how it would be to climb to the top especially in strong winds.

On V.E. day they brought the DUKWS down to the beach and gave us all trips out to sea. I remember that one time the whole seashore was full of oranges, but we could not eat them as they were full of Salt water. Being children we did not realize that it meant a ship had gone down.