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In Memory World War I


2014 sees the 100th Anniversary of the start of World War One

John Martin
My Memories

Charles Amos Martin

Despite being 33 years old with 3 children of 5 and under he enrolled in the army 16 days after World War I broke out.

He was a stretcher bearer in the R.A.M.C. and was often under fire, rescuing the wounded from 'no man's land’. He was awarded the Military Medal, published in the London Gazette Supplement of January 28th 1918. The records of his service were lost in the blitz, but he was returned to civilian life in July 1918 on the Army Reserve as a result of being gassed. He was finally discharged from the army in January 1919.

He never fully recovered from the effects of the gas and was only able to leave the house in the summer during his last years.

He was awarded the
Military Medal

He would sit in the doorway of his house and talk to people and on rare occasions he would walk to the railings at the top of Lodge Road, and stand with his arms hooked in them for a short while to have a chat. Having barely survived his last few winters he eventually died in March 1954.


As a 7 year old at the end of the war these memories are fairly limited, but some are clearly held.  Two things I do remember were seeing a British fighter plane which had crash landed and skidded across a field near Park Hall. The pilot was standing waiting for collection and despite the plane being guarded by a policeman I got a small piece of the plane as a souvenir. The other was being taken to see two bomb craters in a field between the old pit railway line and Blue Fly.

I remember collecting hips and haws for vitamin C drink manufacture and also scrap metal. The school was issued with stirrup pumps which I remember being used to wash the windows down while practising with them. We were issued with, and had to carry, gas masks during part of the war. I also found another use for mine as told in the School Section.

Rationing was a fact of life, which parents coped with and most gave their children more than their fair share. If you knew where to look and take the risk of being caught; extra food could sometimes be obtained on the ‘Black Market’.

Clothes rationing meant that you only had working clothes, none working clothes in the week and a “best set” children often getting new clothes for Easter. In the interests of efficiency; clothes and many items furniture were standardised and made to government specifications and marked with the ‘Utility’ Mark. The mark was CC41, 1941 being the year that the scheme was brought out and CC indicating Civilian Clothing. The ‘Cs’ were like Packman figures and the 41 fitted into the last ‘C’.

I do remember rationing as it lasted long after the war. When we heard that ‘chewing wood’ (liquorice root) was in stock we would walk to a shop near to the Newdigate arms to buy some as a very welcome substitute for sweets The most memorable thing for me was the end of sweet rationing and being able to go into a shop and buy sweets limited only by what you could afford. Sweets did go back on ration for a short time.

During the war and during the years of food rationing especially, in season jam would be made and fruit bottled. Runner beans would be preserved by salting and apple rings threaded on a garden cane hung from a beam to dry and keep. The first field on the right of Slack Lane was given over to allotments and I remember tumps being made to store potatoes.

There was a street party with fancy dress for either V.E or V.J. day which was held at the school end of the Pool; and was amazed how much food was found from somewhere; private hoards, obviously. Perhaps someone has photos that they could submit.

This mug belonged to my family

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