“As a small boy the sweets, chocolates and exotic fruits, such as oranges and bananas my mother and sister told me about might as well as well have been from another planet.

The first time I saw an orange was when the American troops arrived in 1944 in preparation for D-Day. As their vehicles passed by the Infants’ School, GI’s tossed sweets and oranges to us children who’d gathered to watch them go by. We were watching from the small lawn that used to be located beside the brook that runs by the school. Some of the oranges didn’t reach their target and fell into the brook. I was so keen to have one that I scrambled down over the bank to rescue two that had

that had landed there.   I picked them up and washed them off in the stream and then took a bite from one.  I had never had an orange before and did not realise that you had to peel them before you ate them. My first bite resulted in a mouthful of peel, pith, seeds and flesh. I promptly spat out what I felt was disgusting mess in my mouth. Disappointed, I wondered what all the fuss had been  about oranges!

Visits to the seaside at Teignmouth and Dawlish found the beaches cut off by masses of barbed wire, but if there was a guard on duty they could let you through a gate. However, your time was strictly limited, not just by the tide, but by the guard, as he would lock the gates when he went off duty.

Many children spent their spare time fishing and playing at the now filled in Rub-a Dub pond which was situated near Newcross.

I remember how The Lecture Hall, which stood on the site of the URC Hall, had a multitude of uses by, amongst others, the Junior School, the ARP, and the Special Constables.

With a shortage of labour due to so many men being away in the forces I remember how Italian prisoners of war were put to work on local farms and in the clay pits.

As well as the lack of what were considered luxury items, in some houses there was also a distinct lack of basic facilities such as electricity, an inside water supply or a toilet. I grew up in Arch Cottages, or as Kingsteignton people were wont to say, “Under the Arch”.  The cottage had no electricity, the water supply was an outside tap and the toilet was located at the end of the garden. But even this was better than some houses such as my aunt’s at Ashcombe that still had earth closets.  

As children my mother used to dose us up with syrup of figs. This often resulted in a mad dash to the facility at the end of the garden. I think the dashes to the end of the garden explains why I used to do well in the sprint races at the school sports. 

Living near Kerslake’s Nurseries in Gestridge Road my mother used to send me around for bags of “frying tomatoes”. These were the ones where the skin had started to wrinkle and would not be going to the shops. We seemed to eat a lot of tomatoes during the war!                                                                                                                                       

Nevertheless things improved after when the war ended. My family moved to Crossley Moor Road where the houses had inside running water and electricity. Soon we were “on the phone” i.e. when the GPO erected a telephone box a mere 50 yards along the road!”

By kind permission of Sandra Full


GRAHAME GILPIN     1939-2023

I was born in 1939 so my memories of the war relate to the later years. I lived at 27 Ley Lane (where I still live). The one thing that sticks in my mind about the war is our Air Raid Shelter. It was indoors and doubled up as a table. This “table” had a steel frame and measured about 6ft x 4ft and was about 2ft 9ins high (or thereabouts). It also had a steel top and mesh sides which you could bring down and fold up under the table when not in use. It was named after the minister* who came up with the idea whose name escapes me.

Anyway, when the siren went we all used to scramble in under it as fast as we could and wait for the all clear. My cousin Peggy Emmett was

visiting us once when the siren went and we all had to squeeze in, Peggy included, like sardines. Quite a few people had them and there were several around after the war. Some people used them as chicken coops

By kind permission of Suzette Gilpin




*The minister to whom Grahame referred was Herbert Morrison who lent his name to the type of shelter shown on the left.