Wartime work as a civilian

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Wilf Mound and his wartime memories before and after D Day

I was also in the Home Guard during wartime. I had tried to join the army and had been passed A1 fit. But as soon as they found out I was an electrician I was refused entry as it was a reserved occupation. I therefore joined the Home guard. My job took me to work in Blandford and my OC at the Malvern Home Guard told me I would have to transfer my home guard duties to Blandford. But the logistics of travelling by train carrying a box of work tools, a suitcase, a uniform – including full battle dress, army boots, a great coat, steel helmet, rifle and waist belt with bullets etc. was a physical impossibility, so I was released from Home Guard duties until my return.

D Day

Blandford Camp at the time was occupied by 6,000 American G. I. troops. We were converting some of the huts to American hospital wards. These troops were waiting for the D Day invasion of Normandy from Poole Harbour.

Whilst I was at Blandford Camp we had to share a hut, and there were 10 of us in each hut. One morning (6th June 1944) we were woken at 3 am by a terrific noise. The sky, from one end to the other – was full of aircraft. At the end of the day the aircraft returned and I remember one plane in particular. It was an American bomber, a Liberator I think, and it was flying really low with one engine hanging off, trying to get back to base.

There was a 15 mile exclusion zone around the coast. I had a pass and we went to Bournemouth the day after D-Day. I went for a walk along the road where I was staying and the road was blocked by tanks waiting to go over. It was around June 7th and they were waiting for better weather. Looking out to sea there seemed to be more ships than sea! All along the beach there was war rubbish, pieces of aeroplanes and exposed land mines. To see the beach now with children back is lovely. It was hard being a civilian there in wartime because I felt left out. I was practically the only one not in uniform and every couple of yards I was asked for my I.D.

War Work in Malvern 1943

My company had the contract to build 5 American hospitals in Malvern, and each had 1000 beds. One of the ones I worked on was called Wood Farm and is now Worcester Golf Course.

We then had to go down to Chipping Camden to Northwick Park, which was owned by a cousin of Churchill. He allowed all the land to be built on. The problem was we had no fuel to get there. Joe, my mate, had a car and he had managed to get some petrol so he picked up 4 of us and took us to Tewksbury so we could meet a coach at 7am in the morning.

We were working at RAF Honeybourne and they were doing target practice. The shots rained down on us and wrecked the roof of the hospital that we had just erected! That was the nearest I came to being shot.

I took great satisfaction if I had to go and wire up a new wing of a factory that was engaged in war work. I felt that at least I was doing something towards the war effort by keeping them going and helping them expand.