Bombs dropped in the ward of: Mortlake and Barnes Common
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Mortlake and Barnes Common:
- High Explosive Bomb
Number of bombs dropped during the week of 7th October 1940 to 14th of October:
Number of bombs dropped during the first 24h of the Blitz:
No bombs were registered in this area
Memories in Mortlake and Barnes Common
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Contributed originally by whprice2005 (BBC WW2 People's War)
‘CORNCOB’ MS INNERTON & HMS DESPATCH
IN ‘THE FLOATING’ MULBERRY HARBOUR
William Henry Price (Army No 2054978 b24/7/1914)
In 1928 I left school and spent most of my early working life in the music instrument industry. In April 1938 I joined the Territorial Army, whose headquarters were in White City, Shepards Bush. Europe at that time, was uneasy as Germany was preparing for war. In September 1938 the Territorial Army were mobilised in the event of war. A lot of the equipment that was from the 1914-18 war, a lot of this was obsolete, especially in my own unit. The September crisis as it was called, instigated the Prime Minister of the day, Neville Chamberlain, to visit Hitler in Germany. On his return from Germany he claimed Germany would not go to war with Britain, upon a signed agreement. This agreement claimed peace in our time.
During this period my unit, amongst other TA’s were called out in the event of war
Some people didn't believe this as Britain wasn't ready for war. Although it did give us a breathing space, as we knew war would come eventually. We were totally unprepared. As an example, having been called out in the event of war, I spent 3 nights sleeping on a London bus. No one knew where we would be stationed. Eventually we were given a site in North East London, where I spent a further seven days until the September crisis was over. My employer was compelled to release us, for the crisis. I was the only volunteer for the Territorial Army in our company, they were completely unaware of my activity. I was given a hero's welcome on my return. The directors had been in the 1914-18 war and were pleased to know one of their employees had volunteered. In those days I was cycling 30 miles a day back and forth to work. When training two nights a week with the TA, I cycled an extra 5 miles a day from work. I was cycling a total of 190 miles a week.
The following year in 1939 ( a week before the war started) I was called out again, as Britain knew there was going to be a war. For the first 18 months of the war I was stationed in the London area which included the Blitz. I was very fortunate in not having been posted to Dunkirk.
Around 1940 I was moved from West London to the civil service sports ground near Barnes Bridge, at the side of the river Thames. We were able to use the cricket equipment, and whilst playing I received a direct hit by the cricket ball on the leg. It was severe enough to warrant hospital treatment for about three weeks. My first contact with 'friendly fire'! After the first three weeks I was sent to Hammonsmith Hospital for x-rays, the medical officer decided to send me on seven days sick leave, to be followed by light duties, which meant me being sent to NE London. I was the troop clerk and also in charge of stores equipment for six anti aircraft sites, such as petrol etc. Whilst there, the troop Sargent WH Walverton, (from the 1914-18 War), received a letter from the Mayor of Southgate, whereas a local family wanted to adopt a soldier. He turned around to me and said "Here Price, this is ideal for you". Hence, I was able to visit them for a occasional meal, the family were a young couple with a new arrival. I had already been adopted by the local pub the Chaseside Tavern, and had been invited to join the family for Christmas lunch. This was my contribution to the early part of the war as 'light duties'. During the Blitz, crossing through London on my weekly 24 hour leave to Kent from Charring Cross I noticed people sleeping in the tube stations for safety, and many families living on the rail tube underground. These were being used as air raid shelters.
Late 1941 I volunteered for a new unit being formed which where originally the Fourth Battalion Queens. They were being converted to a light anti-aircraft regiment (bofor guns 40mm). After training we were semi mobile, and hence we moved to most parts of the United Kingdom. Twice the regiment was mobilised for overseas service, which never eventuated. We fortunately stayed in the United Kingdom.
In December 1942, I was stationed at West Bay Bridge Port, a message came from headquarters for me only, to be transferred to a gun site on the outskirts of Yeoville. This particular location was the rear of a country pub. One had to walk down the side of the pub to get to the gun site. At the time I was a number 4. My job on the gun was to fire it. I was named 'Trigger Joe', as I was considered quick on the draw. During an air raid an enemy plane was shot down. Hence the local people donated a radio set to the site. It was here one morning, I think it was New Year's eve, strolling along the side of the pub from the gun site, when a young WAAF came by with a bike and a large tea bucket. She approached me, to fill the bucket with beer from the pub. As it was awkward to take the beer back to the WAAF site at the bottom of the hill. I was asked to help with the beer transport, and as a result I found myself invited to join them at the head of their table at the Ballon Barrage site to drink the beer!.
Early 1944 the Colonel, informed me that the regiment had been allocated with a special job on the occasion of the invasion of Europe. In May 1944 my battery was moved to Oban Scotland, each person was issued with a hammock out in the bay with several merchant ships. I was allocated to one merchant ship called the Innerton. Little did we realise, it was to form the outer brake water called the Muberry Harbour. I gather this had been planned in the 1942 conference in Quebec by Churchill and Roosevelt. Towards the end of May 1944 a very large convoy of merchant ships made their way through the Irish Channel and were eventually joined by the American and British war ships of approximately 60 ships. Each of the merchant ships did have a bofor gun attachment on board. At that time we didn't know what was going to happen. As most people know D-Day was put off from the 5th to the 6th of June, and we continued to past the time until the 6th.
The convoy of merchant ships moved off on the afternoon of June 6th known as D-Day. There were approximately 17 merchant ships that started to move into position, known as block ships. They were to form the outer brake water for Mulberry B, this being the British and Canadian sector. The effect was to calm the seas inside their protection. The ship I was on was number seven in line to be sunk. From then on, other parts of the harbour started to arrive including concrete caisson blocks etc. It only took a few days for the harbour to take effect and be completed. During this time landings were being made on the beach. My regiment's duty was the defence of the Mulberry Harbour. I was transferred to a HMS Despatch which was the headquarter ship of the Mulberry Harbour, and I served there until the end of the Normandy campaign. Adetailed account is referenced from John de S. Winsers book The D-Day Ships Neptune: the Greatest Amphibious Operation in History:
A fleet of elderly or damaged ships were assembled to be sunk in shallow water off each of the five beach-heads, to provide shelter for the smaller craft. The first contingent moved in three convoys, codenamed 'Corncobs', with I and II reaching the French coast between 1200 and 1400 on the 7th and III, consisting of the oldest or slowest vessels, arriving one day later. The ships had a 10lb demolition minutes from the time of blowing the charges to the vessel settling on the bottom. The plan was for one ship to be scuttled or planted every 40 minutes. The ship's superstructure remained above the water-level enabling the accomodation to be utilised. The shelters were named 'Gooseberries' and numbered 1-5.
In the middle of June 1944 a violent storm wrecked the Amercian sector of the Mulberry Harbour. The
British sector was also partly wrecked, but repaired with parts of the American sector.
The Normandy campaign was over by the end of August 1944. HMS Despatch left for the UK, calling in Portsmouth where the port watch commenced their leave. I remained on ship until Devonport. On arrival I was given seven days leave, with instructions to return to France. It was there my Battery 439 (light anti-aircraft unit) was reformed and we made our way through the rest of France and Belgium and later a cold and wintery period in Holland.
As the war ended we were in Germany. For a period I was detailed with others to a displaced persons camp. There were approximately 900 displaced persons which included mostly Polish and people from the Baltic states, Estonians etc. I remained in Germany until November that year when I was demobed in November 1945.
Bill Price June 2004
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