A Funny Thing Happened ------- W.W.2

Although I was not around during World War 2 it seems there were many comical incidents that happened during those dark and dangerous times that perhaps lightened the spirits of the local population. One of these happened to my father late on a very wet miserable night at the height of the hostilities. 

He was a cabinet maker in North London in a reserved occupation making Mosquito aircraft. After a long exhausting day working and then travelling during the air raids across the city he arrived at Laindon Station intent on just getting home to his family and supper. As he hurried past Churchill Johnson’s builders yard and turning right into Northumberland Avenue the air raid siren sounded. The road in Northumberland Avenue was made of concrete at this time but it had no paths. There were higher grass verges either side where naturally with the camber of the road surface puddles collected.   

It was pitch black and pouring with rain but dad immediately threw himself to the wet ground anticipating some bombing and covering his head with his hands. Suddenly he felt a large heavy weight land on top of him. 

“What the b!!!!! “

At this point my father realised that a man was laying on top of him. Dad was not best pleased as you can imagine.

“What the b!!!!! !!!! do you think you are doing?”

This smart booted and suited gent still stayed put on dad’s back but proceeded to explain that he had his best suit on and he did not want to get wet and dirty as he worked in the city. My father explained (I am sure in a polite manner) that he was not there for his !!!!!!!!! !!!!!!! convenience and twisted sharply propelling his burden into the nearest puddle.

When the all clear sounded both of the men stood up, dad strode away looking back just in time to see the other guy wet, bedraggled and very disgruntled muttering expletives but trying to look dignified brushing himself down. Dad called over his shoulder, “That was a close one wasn’t it, “Good Night” and hurrying home feeling justified with his actions and satisfied with the outcome after his rather frustrating and comical journey home.

He often recalled this incident with glee as he remembered the sheer audacity and nerve that someone could be so selfish when everybody was struggling with their lives during the war. We often speculated who this “gentleman” could have been who decided to use my father as a waterproof mattress. Oh, by the way, so not to offend anybody the exclamation marks can be filled in as you feel fit!!!!!!! but as you can imagine the expletives were quite colourful. 

I expect there are many more amusing stories out there that brightened the lives of those who lived through the war years. Do you have any?

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  • I have a ‘funny story’ although only when regarded in retrospect.

    It was the early days of the war and I was stationed guarding the fighter station at Gravesend Airport. The perimeter defences were normal pill boxes with twin lewis guns mounted on the roof for AA purposes.  It was a pitch black night with no moon or stars, also there been very little aerial activity as most of the enemy aircraft were engaged in attacking the BEF who were struggling to get to Dunkirk. Four of us were manning a pill box and we decided it was so quiet straws were drawn to allow three a visit to the RAF NAAFI, but I was the one to remain.

    Off they set into the night and after awhile I decided to climb up on to the parapet, (the reason why I do not know). On straightening up, I saw  a luminous face about 20 ft. away. The shock made me jump back inside the parapet. After I had recovered a little I peeped over the parapet, but there was nothing. While there was a field telephone I did think the control post would take kindly to  report of a ghost, but in any case it would have revealed that three were not at their post. After an eternity the others returned with a hot meat pie for me. 

    I told them my tale which was taken with ‘a pinch of salt’ and one of them climbed up onto the parapet wall but descended with alacrity having also seen the apparition. Not knowing what to do, we did nothing and sat tight.   When eventually dawn came it could be seen that a hawker hurricane was parked a little distance away and that standing on the parapet one could see into the cockpit.  The ghost was simply the luminous dashboard.  We decided that to spare ourselves ridicule we should say nothing to anyone. 

    By W.H.Diment (28/12/2013)
  • I  Remember my Mum sending my sister and cousin (who was home on leave from the navy) to fetch a lady up the road in Dunton Drive to share our shelter when a raid was on, as she had three young children and was on her own, (husband in the army). They got to her gate and planes and shrapnel came and my cousin shouted ‘down’ and pushed my sister straight in a large puddle, she came home soaking wet and had to stay that way until the raid stopped. I do not think she ever forgave him.

    By Mary Hawkins (27/12/2013)
  • Lovely story Patsy; I was only two in the war, but I do remember the air-raid sirens and searchlights in the sky, too young to be scared!

    By Andrea (22/10/2012)
  • Loved your dad’s story Patsy. Although like you I was born after the war, my mother told me a ‘funny’ story about how my older brother Dennis pleaded to be left to sleep in the bungalow during air raids rather than be hauled outside to the shelter. However mum insisted and told him to get dressed. He responded but soon pleaded that he couldn’t move. On investigation, mum discovered that in the dark of the black-out, he had forced his legs into the arms of his jacket by mistake and got completely tangled up. I have tried to imagine how mum had managed in the blackout while dad was away, with a 11 year old boy who loved his sleep and a young baby girl, it must have been so, so difficult for her.

    A ‘Sweet’ Memory. (Nothing to do with the war). My dad was a night worker and although this happened at the end of the fifties, I still chuckle when I think of it. Some days he would be sleeping when I returned home in the school lunch break. Mum would be still at work at Green Stores, so I would have to unlock the back door and creep in to the kitchen very quietly so as not to wake dad. On one occasion, just as I entered the door, our dog Curly rushed from the garden to greet me, so enthusiastically that she knocked me off my feet. I threw my arm out to hold on to something but in doing so, knocked the sugar bowl which went flying up in the air, turned over and tipped its entire contents over me. I sat on the floor for a few seconds listening, covered in sugar with Curly licking me and wagging her tail. Amazingly the commotion hadn’t woken dad, thank goodness he was a heavy sleeper. I spent most of my lunch break, brushing sugar out of my hair.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (22/10/2012)

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