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Childhood Memories of Adrian and Patricia Phillips

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posted on 2024-06-05, 19:54 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

My name is Adrian Michael Phillips. Both Pat (my wife) and I were born in 1940. We spent five years alive with the war. I was in Selsey as a child, and my wife as a child was in Portsmouth.

My parents were very important at that stage. My father (Frank William Charles Phillips) had a dodgy heart, so he wasn't called up. My mum was called Alywn Phillips. My father was a leading fireman in the fire brigade. We had an enormous electric bell fitted over our front door that would clang in the night. When it went off, he would run to the fire station. I got called out quite often for bombing. The place was being bombed and plane crashes. My dad also worked for the local gas board in Selsey. I remember, towards the end of the war, he came home excited because he was held up at gun point by Canadian soldiers as Churchill was coming to Selsey to visit the invasion force.

In front of the house where my parents lived, there was a large part of green that was used by Canadian troops where they had DUKWs (amphibious tank). The Canadians were very good to us. They would take us children around the village on their vehicles.

Towards the end of the war, I would have been around four years old. I was sitting on the back door playing; then, a high-pitched drone noise came over. I ran in to tell mum and she grabbed me, and it was actually a flying bomb- like a sort of drone type thing. My grandmother was sitting in the garden with me. She sat in the garden with a tin bath on the top of her head.

I remember my Uncle Fredrick Phillips - he was taken prisoner when his boat sank. He was in the Navy. He was taken prisoner by the Italians. He was lucky enough to be repatriated to South Africa. When he eventually got back to England, he was so tiny and skinny that he was pushed around in my push chair for a while. Fred had a big escape. He was due to board HMS Hood in Scotland. He was living in Bognor at the time. He caught the flu and couldn't get to the boat. Two weeks later, Hood was sunk with all people on board.

My name is Patricia Doreen Phillips. I was born in Waterlooville, North of Portsmouth. My father, Alpheus Thomas Bates, worked in the dockyard in Portsmouth all through the war. When designing the boat engines, they would draw on large rolls of blue linen with compasses. They would actually draw every nut and bolt. My mum, Dorothy Mable Bates, worked in a copying room where ladies copied the drawings of the designs.

The first thing I remember is the noise of bombs, as the area near Portsmouth was a targeted area. As soon as the noise of the bombs came, I would be put in a drawer and taken to the shelter. Up to the age of five years, I would prefer to be in the drawer in the shelter to avoid the spiders.

I don't remember any horrible things. We had Canadians nearby on the land. My mother made loads and loads of toast for them; they supplied the butter, and I delivered it to them. They used to give me Fry's cream. I also have my own christening dress that I had. It is made of underlining, petticoats, bits from parachutes - it is so tatty. I might give the dress to a museum.

I remember I had a doll which was my only toy. I remember a teddy bear, a koala made from mattress ticking. When the war ended, we had a celebration, and the teddy bear had to go on the bonfire. My father decided that. I remember being very upset at the time. But I have learned from that.


Person the story/items relate to

Frank William Charles Phillips, Alywn Phillips, Alpheus Thomas Bates, Dorothy Mable Bates

Person who shared the story/items

Adrian Michael Phillips

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

The contributors are the children of the people in the story.

Type of submission

Shared at Lancing Prep Worthing, West Sussex on 16 September 2023.

Record ID

96263 | LAN012