Memories of Mick Leech 1940's

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Gid ay cobber, is the dive cafe there now? last time I went down there was was around 1945,the bloke serving the tea would make 10 cups at one blow, real swift a good place in an air raid, it was real solid down in the ground. The Germans were after the subs so there was lots of bombs droping all around. Catch ya later.Tuck

Thanks cobber, you asked where was the ''dive'' cafe ,as you went down the High Street towards the bus station and ferry, well the dive was on the left hand side on the corner right opposite the bus station, it was underground and all brick, like a tunnel, seats on each side and a dead end at the far end. I was having a cuppa down the dive one night when jerry came over and let loose 6 bombs, I can still hear the whistle of them bombs today [funny a] next day I went to have a look at where they landed because by the way the ''dive'' shook and the clear sound of them falling it was fairly close. Can you or somebody in Gosport remember the swimming pool and the houses close to the pool and also Wallpole Park? well the bombs landed very close to that area damaging the homes and some of the shops in the High Street [close to the Townhall ] as far as I know there wasn't any person killed but that could be quite wrong.''Boots'' was a shop that was damaged that night because I went into the shop the next day but couldn't get served, bit of a fire had started and lots of damage.

At home in Whitworth Road we had a shelter and I would watch the huns start a run for the subs at Dolphin, it was a great sight with the bombers just skimming our roof and the tracers from the harbour guns coming over the roof trying to hit the German, barrage balloons everywhere and smoke screens that was parked right outside the Junction pub on the corner of  Whitworth Rd and Leesland Rd [I think].

Well blue hope your readers can remember the Dive. Mick.--------can anybody remember the doodle bombs that flew over Gosport on there way to Southhampton I think [that was the direction they were on anyway. The motors stopped well away from Gosport.

Information about Holbrook school,I used to play ''cowboys and Indians'',with a few of my mates on the ground that Holbrook school was built on,work started and we had to find a new area so we moved to ''Blue bell woods''[alongside military bridge]in 1944-5. We changed the game because the Fleet-Air-Arm would tow aircraft over the bridge on there way to HMS,SULTAN, [I think] and cowboys and Indians just didn't seem right so we played English troops against Germans and a few months later [give or take a few months]we English won, I can remember thumping the ???? out of one of the lads that was a German officer, great days. Mick Leech

Bridgemary 1947 that's when mum and dad moved into number 16 Layton road Bridgemary, we were the first family to move into the council estate of Bridgmary, we moved from Leesland Road [24] because mum was having another child [total 13 -7 died tough times them days,] there were 4 sisters and 3 boys including me; eldest was Pat-Barbara-Yevonne-Lesley-me Michael-Peter-Paul, ages from 17- to one just about to be born, a girl it was, Lesley. Only 3 bedrooms so we had to bunk in together [lot of fights].Dad was in the Navy and stationed in HMS Collingwood [demoped around 1949] he was in the submarines and had a very traumatic time at sea .[another story] Mum was Irish and a real good woman, she would talk to the girls and say when you marry its for life, find a way around the times that are tough because there is a way for everyone, take the time and look for your way of coping. My mum was so great, when I got married she told my wife [18 at the time] that if she wanted a long happy life with me then she must make sure our life in bed, was always in good nick, and that was [I think] the best mother a boy could have [boy did it work]. Well that's a bit of life in Bridgemary there is lots more, but I don't think you would be interested-----Michael. P.S. the picture [16 Layton road]was taken by my sister Yevonne in 2006 and nothing has changed even the bushes out front haven't changed [in fact the house looks better than I remember].another ps. my wife and I sailed away from Gosport in 1966 and have never been back [can't afford it]. The winter of 1947 was a shocker 3-4 foot of snow and weeks of freezing snow-rain-and black frost[we were so cold].

16 Layton Rd Mick Leech

1947,the weather was a shocker and Bridgemary was at that time quite isolated no bus service because Nobes Avenue only went as far as Layton Road. To go into town we had to walk to Fareham road and catch a bus outside [I think] Frater or Bedenham naval yards. Layton Road houses were naval homes just for service men at that time. The roads were being put down by a company called ''LAINGS'' and almost all the labour was being done by GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR, very hard workers and were very friendly men. People could hire a German for a weekend to help dig the garden or other work, dad hired a very young German Prisoner and he could stay over the weekend and get back on the roads Monday morning. All we had to do was feed him and have a bed for him. Dad took him for a few beers after work and they got on very well.

The railway line went past the bottom of our garden and I would have great fun putting my ear to the line to hear a train coming and then place a coin [penny] on the track and watch the train go over the coin, sometimes five or six of us would do this just for fun to see what damage could be done. We played cricket and football in the streets sometimes till it was dark,we would play against other streets or with just 3 or 4 kids but always in our street [Layton Rd]. Mum would get me to go to the coke yard in Gosport [Walpole Park, the gas station]she would tell me to take the pram and don't come back until it was full of coke and coal, it was a long way to walk but I would have fun on the way talking to kids that I knew and chasing a few dogs off. To get the coal you had to sift through the coke and find coal which was hard to find because most of it was treated somehow to take the gas out of it[still don't know how that was done, but the smell was so strong.] One time Mum said I had to take my younger brother with me in the pram and she said make sure he sits in the pram so he will be safe, well I used to get back home black as coal, anyway my brother helped me find coke and coal that day and all you could see of him was his eyes, I tried to clean him up but he was crying and things just got blacker, but Mum had one look at him and couldn't stop laughing.

No TV in them days just the radio and papers plus books so I would listen to the radio some nights and read a lot of books, some books, I didn't really know what it was about but it still interested me. Strange somethings that stick in your head. I remember when going to St Johns school which was on Forton Road, and it was war time, 44-45 and there were concrete blocks each side of the road ready to slide out and block the road so German troops would have a bad time getting past, also with the concrete blocks was huge steel V shaped girders standing on end about 10 foot tall. Well one day at noon coming back from having dinner at home, I just turned the corner and watched one of the steel girders falling down and a child of my age was under its fall path and landed on him cutting his head straight off. I was stunned and then watched a driver jump from his double decker bus without stopping his bus to try to help the child, I don't know what happened to the bus because I was in shock. Yes you got it, the council then moved the steel so that kind of thing couldn't happen again. Sometimes I think that no matter what the government or council does things will happen no mater what is done, its a part of life and can't be changed.

Where I live in Australia [Brisbane] the streets are empty and no children play and I live very close to a high school and primary school, but the children can't be seen after school. Sometimes I walk the streets and don't see any person, only cars, no children playing football or cricket. My wife tells me its change and I must except what I can't change. But I remember the streets in Bridgemary and the children playing every where, and its hard to except that the children have been taken away from our society and hidden behind a computer or TV.I don't like what is happening in our society but I must keep trying to forget my life in Bridgemary and just hope the children are enjoying their life as I did. We had cars when I was playing in the streets and would stop playing to let the traffic go, no problem at all, in fact some drivers would stop and watch a game. Whats the rush. The only time I got in trouble in the street games was when I let loose a full blooded hook and smashed a window, but then they had to catch me a.

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