My name is Hilda Kiddell, I am 81 years old. We moved down to Laindon from London in 1929 and lived where the Southfields is but they wanted to build West Mayne so we had a compulsory order put on our bungalow.
When the war started in September, I could not go to school for the first two months because Brentwood was considered a Military Area because of the barracks at Warley. When we did start back it was a cycle ride to school and just pick up
homework two days week.
During the war I worked in London and went by the old steam train to Fenchurch street. I think we had to get out at most of the stations along the route and go on by bus because the railway had been bombed.
I remember in particular after the big incendiary raid trying to get round St. Pauls about 11am. But when I did arrive at my office there was a notice ‘Unexploded Bomb’ so I had to go home again.
I also remember the one fatal casualty when a young girl named Penny was at the wardens post where Plotlands is now was killed by a bomb that hit the post.
The other big thing that happened was when a landmine dropped on Richards Farm which was at the top of King Edwards road it did not go off so the army had to come and detonate it. It made a huge crater but fortunately it was in a field.
Also we watched the Spitfires come from Hornchurch on the first day light raid on London it was terrifying.
When I was 18 I was called up and had to go to Hoffmann ball bearing factory at Chelmsford. There were many Americans who used to go to Chelmsford from the nearby airfields.
Whilst I was there they started planning for D-Day invasion and the A127 road was used as a parking place for all kinds of military vehicles.
We also saw the Gliders that were taking the Troops to Arnhem.
There was also a big prisoner of war camp at the top of Crown Hill, Langdon Hills most of the prisoners were German or Italian.
When VE day came my parents had taken my younger brother for a holiday at Walton-on-the-Naze. My sister, who was in the WAAF and I joined them. There were great celebrations and fireworks. I went on the Ferris wheel for the first and last time in my life.
But most of my thoughts were with my other brother who was on an Aircraft carrier which sailed in with American ships to Tokyo Bay to receive the Japanese surrender
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author.
Hilda Kiddell is the subject of an Article on the Centenary of the Laindon Baptist Fellowship where she unvailed the commemorative Plaque. It was felt therefore that it would be nice to provide a copy of her Laindon War Memories.
This article was published in 2005 and has been copied from “WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar“