WWII Memories
Personal Histories of World War Two

When the Germans Invaded Hull

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This is the transcript of an anecdote told by Mike Bell, Secretary of the Normandy Veterans Association, Hull Branch.

He was interviewed by Chris A. Brown on 26th April, 2005.

Right, my Uncle Bob, who is still alive, was in the RAF in the war, and when he was a boy, when he was being brought up in Hull, one of his school pals, his father, who had been a soldier in the Great War, the first World War, and he was an avid collector.

And anything that was German, from the trenches in France, he used to bring back, and my Uncle Bob said they used to play with these, as toys, when they were schoolkids.

They had German helmets with the spikes on called Pickelhaube, German belts, any bit of German kit, German guns and bayonets (which was illegal - you couldn't bring them back - but this feller did).

Every time he came back on leave he'd bring bags of this stuff back, and they used to play with it as kids.

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Anyway, the story switches to about 1942, my Uncle Bob who was in the RAF was home on leave, and he went in the local pub, and who should he meet but his old school chum.

And they were having a drink at the bar, at the Rampant Horse, which is now pulled down, no longer up, this pub, and he says "Oh, by the way, how's your Old Man."

He says "Oh, he's Champion. He's still alive and he's an Air Raid Warden now."

He says "I came home yesterday, and I brought my Dad in here for a drink, and unfortunately my Dad got a bit tipsy - he'd had one or two too many.

And then the air raid sirens went, and they started getting bombed, that part of Hull."

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So he said the Old Man had to dash home, get his coat on, and his AWP helmet and his torch and go and check the blackout down the street.

But when he got in the house his wife wouldn't let him put the lights on, because you couldn't put the lights on - that's what his job was - check the lights weren't on.

So he went rummaging round for his kit, and he couldn't find his helmet, his AWP helmet, and he'd had a few drinks, and he put this German helmet on with the spike on the top, put his coat on, and (got) his torch, and went down the streets checking the blackout.

And this old lady came out of her house with a broomstick, and started belting him, and chased him down the street.

She thought the Germans had invaded Hull!

I told that story to the Head Curator of the Imperial War Museum, and he said that would have been the funniest ever Dad's Army episode, if they'd have known about it at the time.

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