Godmanchester at War

e were entertained by Roger Leivers on 5th December talking about Godmanchester at War. He has written several books, the proceeds of which and his
lecture fees are donated to a trust. So far some £33000 has been distributed to good causes. He talked of several individuals who lost their lives in WW2, in particular Francis Sanders who happened to be riding his bike by Wyton when there was a bomb being loaded onto a Lancaster which slipped and exploded, destroying the plane and killing poor Francis who was just passing by. Also mentioned was ‘Pigeon’ who foresaw his death long before it happened. He said “I am not going to return”, and he died in France. Roger talked of the evacuees, some of whom stayed on and some returned because they liked Godmanchester and preferred it to the East End of London. More recent returnees remembered the VI (doodlebug) which came down close to the town. The “Dads Army” were formed to prevent panic, and set up road blocks in the event of invasion and were only to be light fighters. Two machine gun bunkers were built to safeguard Portholme meadow, one of which is still to be seen, the other said to have been blown up more recently by senior pupils at Hinchinbroooke School. There was one spy who parachuted and broke his ankle on landing and was captured and sent to Brixton. Later he was tried and was the last person to be executed in the Tower of London. Some relics of wartime can still be seen in the town. In the days of blackout the lamp posts and telegraph poles had stripes of white paint on them so that motorists could see the reflections and find their way. There is one telegraph pole with the stripe still to be seen. Roger showed extracts from the mostly boring ARP book (for clocking on and off). One entry referred RIP to Hitler as a Twerp – mild by today’s vocabulary. 

The talk painted a picture of what it was like in the war days – something which most people today have only talks like this to tell them how it was.

Next meeting will be on 6th March 2023 with a talk by Chris Carr on ‘Living on the edge –life in the bronze age’. Chris has always delivered fascinating talks.
Brian Lake

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