Willie Archbold
My uncle couldn't get into the Navy in the First War and he volunteered for the Royal Artillery and he was at the Somme in the thickest of the fighting and there was news coming here to my mother about people getting killed and injured and everything, all round about at the farms and houses and it was terrible, there was 60,000 slaughtered in one day, British and Germans and him and another lad from here, he came out of that Hell and then went down on his doorstep, it must have been his time.

Joyce Shaw
In the First World War, my dad's eldest brother, who was James Edward Archbold, he was a school teacher, he was in the Durham Light Infantry, because he was at St Bede's College, Durham when War was declared, so he went into the DLI. He was taken prisoner at Passchendaele. They first of all got word that he was missing in the July and they never got word that he was a prisoner until the January and he spent his prison time in the Salt Mines in Poland. He didn't get home until 1919.

My mother and father actually met here during the First War. My mother was here on holiday on the 4th August, 1914, the day War was declared and they met here at the end of the first War.

Adam Dawson
We had the home guards. They saw a man loitering about near the Dunstanburgh Castle, so one of the home guards -of course he had a rifle - went and said, 'Come on, I'm going to take you in. You're a spy.' When they got him to Craster he was one of the Craster folk -Charlie Varnum. He wasn't a Craster man, he came from Leicester, so he didn't talk Craster twang. Dode Simpson brought him in, all the way with a gun at his back and it was Charlie Varnum.

Joining up

Willie Mitford
I went to the Army in 1943. I didn't need to go into the army. I could have been exempt 'cause they were bringing men out of the Army to work in the quarry to get the stone for the aerodromes. I went in February, 1943, to Clitheroe in Lancashire, then I went to Chester to train to be in the Engineers and from there I went to Aldershot, from there to the Isle of Wight, then to Felixtowe, to Scarborough and trained for the Normandy landings. The Normandy landings were pretty rough. It was no picnic. There was a lot of fighting before we got through by Caen and we were kind of stuck for a long time because the British were up against the Panzers. The Americans moved, but they weren't having the heaviest fighting, the Panzers were against the British and Canadians at Caen and that held us up. We got to Falaise Gap and cut a lot of the Germans off and once we got to that, we went straight through, no stopping until we got to Paris.

Dennis Williams
My uncle, Geordie Williams, joined up in June 1939. He was drafted into the Green Howards, and then he was posted to Norway. I heard that they didn't expect a hard time, but they hadn't reckoned on the German Storm Troopers being there. They were ambushed and my grandmother got a letter from the War Office on April 28th 1940 to say that he was missing in action. The lieutenant in charge of the advanced party also wrote to her on May 9th to say that his platoon had gone to cover the retirement of another regiment when they were attacked. The letter said they had gone out 'cheerfully to do their job thoroughly and nobly'.

Anyway, back here in Craster, there was relief on May 21st 1940, when they heard from the War Office that he was 'reported interned in Sweden'. It said, 'he is described as being in good condition except for his feet'. After that they got a letter from the Red Cross to say they couldn't get any letters or parcels to him. It was August when they heard again from the Red Cross that some soldiers and sailors might be exchanged and he might be returning to England. They found out later he had escaped through a forest when the platoon had scattered and he had made his way, on foot, into Sweden. He got back home on a fishing boat. I still have a newspaper article about it. Some people said he should have stayed in Sweden, because he was posted to the jungle in Burma after that. He was awarded the Burma Star.

He worked in the quarry with my dad, Benny, who was in the RAF. They both played football for Craster Rovers.

Ada Archbold
I joined the A.T.S. in 1943, stationed in Bristol a lot of the time as a Radar Operator, had the time of my life, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I was driving one day, it was when the Italians had surrendered and these Italians came to work with the Army and they sent one on the wagon with me and he used to sit on the tailboard and I used to tell him he would fall off. We went to the ration stores in Liverpool and a Corporal came with us, he was in charge. We got the rations, come back and I backed up to this Nissen hut where they were putting them in. We left the Italian and went into the NAAFI, give him about an hour to get it off-loaded and come back, go on another job, maybe to the brewery, Bents or Ind Coopes breweries in Liverpool, for the beer for the Officers' Mess. Anyway, this day when I got back, I backed up, just give him room for the tailboard to drop, got straight out, never looked, straight into the NAAFI. I was the first one out and I said to Joe, the Corporal, it's time we went and when I got back, I always made sure he'd put the tailboard up again, all the rations were still in and I thought he'd fallen off the back of the lorry. I'd warned him about sitting on the back. I says to Joe that the rations were still there and he wasn't. I thought I would have to report him missing and we set to off-loading the rations.

I was worried sick. It come to dinnertime and he hadn't turned up and I said we'd have to report him missing and the Corporal said 'Oh, he'll turn up'. I went for my dinner and I couldn't eat it when the door opened - I thought it was a policeman coming to say that they'd found a body in the road. After dinner I said I'm definitely going to report him missing. I set off for the guardroom. I had to go around two bends and here's he's coming, all smiles. We called him Sammy, he was little, a real Italian and he said he had heard me say in the morning that I was going to stop for a packet of cigarettes and I stopped for a policeman on point duty, just near Aintree, there was a shop nearby and he thought I'd stopped to go to the shop and he jumped out and when the policeman waved me on, I went away and left him. He could speak good English. He found his way to the station then he had to get a train to Ormskirk, then he had to get a train to the camp and that's what took him so long.

Jimmy Hall
I went into the army in early 1944. When I joined it was the push before the Rhine, in Belgium, I was in the 52nd Lowland Division, HLI. When the war finished in Germany, I was in Bremerhaven and then we went across to Brussels and stayed there for a bit and then they decided they were going to do an assault on Japan, so everybody from the 56 Group, they made new regiments and they made a new division, so I went into the First HLI, came home on leave then went back to Calais. We were watching Ivy Benson's Band, actually, and she came and said they had just dropped the H bomb, the war's over.

We had this trouble in the Middle East with the Jews and the Arabs, so I was sent to Cairo in what I was standing up in. I had no gear, nothing. Went to Tel Al Kabir, picked up vehicles and we were on the golf course in Jerusalem. I could never get into Military Transport at all. I tried all ways. I was a Corporal Section Commander then and there was a notice come up on detail that they were stuck for drivers, so I applied for it. When I got into driving, I had the best job in the army. I was driving the Quartermaster, so I got new boots and any manner of things. When he retired I took him to Port Said. When he left I drove big vehicles and I was MT Sergeant within six months.

Willie Mitford
I had just come home from the Far East, I went there when the Germans were finished. I was put on what they called "the Burma posting'. The Japanese were still on and we went out to India and were preparing to invade Singapore. When they dropped the atom bomb, the Japs packed in and we went over and took over from them in Singapore.

Marjorie Lumsden
Winnie and I got machine gunned during the war. My mother said if you go to Howick stores on a Thursday you might get a chocolate cake, which was as hard as flint, mind, but there was chocolate on the top. So we went to Howick store, Winnie & I, on our bikes, and on the way back, on the hill besides Curry's farm, Winnie said to me, 'there's an aeroplane that's low, very low'. The noise was different. She pulled me down behind the wall and we heard this machine gun going - we definitely heard the machine gun and the plane went out to sea, very low. It was like a drone. It had a totally different drone. We never thought any more about it till years later.

Doris Clarke
We were living in Gateshead at the time, when the war was threatened, and we were evacuated, through the school, before the war started. We already had gas masks given, and had been shown how they worked. (Did you feel scared as a child?) No it was great, it was exciting - we were going away. We were shown how to put the gas masks on, and we also had a pannier bag -it had two pouches joined together with a strap. The name was embroidered. We made them ourselves. This was how much preparation went in before the war. We went to Gateshead East station, which wasn't used as a passenger station then, and by the time the train pulled out, we had eaten all of our bait. However, we were sent to Stokesley in Yorkshire, and nobody wanted us, because me two other cousins were there and an aunt, and my mother said if nobody would take the four we were to come home. We were issued with brown paper carrier bags with iron rations in, like tins of milk, tins of meat, different tins.

So in the Market Place in Stokesley at 5o'clock in the afternoon, nobody wanted four. However there was this butcher, his mother and daughter (the wife had died), so there were three generations, living in the house. They had an upper storey which we used. This was what was called the 'phoney' war, because nothing happened, and we came home after five weeks.

When we got home, there were no schools opened, because they had all closed down, when the kids were sent away. We went to someone's front room, for about 10 or 12 weeks with this lady, I don't even know if she was a teacher. There were about 10 or 12 of us. Then my mother decided to send us to Craster. It was done through the government. There was six shillings a week paid to my Auntie Mary, just me - my other cousins didn't come, and once we got home from the school evacuation we split up. We were all only children. I came up here in 1940, and I had to register at the school.

That was an eye opener, Dunstan school. Auntie Mary said, 'you can get those petticoats off for a start'. I had two petticoats on, one flannelette, one liberty bodice and a silky petticoat on the top and long stockings, which hitched onto these rubber buttons on my liberty bodice. She said you can get them off for a start, so I did, and went into knee socks, which if you fell down you didn't put the knees out. Did the children in the village accept you?
Yes. We used to walk up to school, so if one was late, then everybody was late, and you got the cane off Mr Blackburn who was the teacher. Mrs Coney used to be in the girls at the other end. Miss Barber was there for a while, but Mrs Coney was the teacher. The girls used to go into her end for sewing and she taught the young ones. I enjoyed it. I just remember the nice things. I don't think you remember the rotten things. Being away from home didn't seem to affect me. My mother used to come up once a month to see me.

What I can remember mainly was, when I came, I didn't like vegetables. I didn't like this and I didn't that, but when I got here, I had to eat them. There was a garden full of vegetables and they were nice and fresh. I do remember, Ralphy Shell was still at home, Jean's husband was in the army and she used to sleep here. Ralphy used to be a good shot with the sling and manys the rabbit that was caught. I used to be fascinated to watch them skinning it, because when you live in the town they were already skinned. I was fascinated to watch Auntie Mary break the legs over the end of the bench, cut the head off, and pull the skin back. It was a lovely dinner, gorgeous with all the fresh vegetables. That was one thing that stays in my mind. My mother used to come up once a month, and there was a shilling a week pocket money. We used to sneak on the rocks. That was the little sketch we did. We used to get under the wire and play down on the rocks.

Geordie Grey
I started farming when there were only horses, no tractors, but during the war, we began to get tractors, supplied by the Ministry and then after the war, the tractors started to come along and it did make life easier.

Jimmy Hall
Craster Quarry was closed before the war and it was opened again by a firm called Kings & Co., of Glasgow and then when Boulmer and Brunton aerodromes were built, they were fetching stone out of the quarry for the runways and they started blasting back again.

Marjorie Lumsden
When the soldiers were at the Towers we used to have excellent dances there. I had a partner who could jitterbug like nobody's business. Nowadays, they want something different on every time they go out. I went out in the same dress every time.

Willie Mitford
The Germans dropped bombs at Howick, right on the comer beside the Hall. One was dropped in the woods there. We used to sit out on the harbour wall and listen to the planes. If they dropped anything it was just as they were going out, to get back as soon as they could.

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