LOOKING BACK: Wartime life in Eastbourne as D-Day approaches

The Lawson Lewis office above Barclays Bank, Eastbourne, after a bombing raid
The Lawson Lewis office above Barclays Bank, Eastbourne, after a bombing raid

Looking Back continues this week with the memories of Edward Toovey who grew up in wartime Eastbourne .

Edward, known as Ted, now lives in Henfield.

We take up his story at a time when machine guns were mounted on top of all the seafront hotels and tall buildings in the town.

He writes, “As D-Day approached, even more troops and equipment arrived.

“The Meads was a favourite place for the tanks to be parked. Behind the Town Hall there was heavy artillery and all out on the roads near Hampden Park were light anti-aircraft guns mounted on tracked vehicles.

“I should also mention the arrival of the Americans. We were a bit cynical as we had been bombed for some years but they all came over wearing medal ribbons. After our troops’ battle dress, their uniforms were amazing.

“As youngsters we had an amazing amount of freedom because when the library was bombed, we were asked to help move out the books and stock from the museum which had survived – no health and safety.

“There was another change when the Germans launched the V1s as at night we could easily see their exhausts and in the day time the RAF fighters were chasing them and trying to tip them over.

“The V2s were just a huge explosion and we could go and look at the craters but fortunately none fell on the town.

“All through the war we had enough to eat but out sweet ration was one a day and of course there were no fruits from abroad.

“We had an allotment at Roborough School courtesy of the Army and grew our own vegetables and kept chickens so we had no complaints on that score and of course, there was the third pint of a milk each day at school.

“Of course, all the sea front was covered in barbed wire and Foyle’s War slipped up in showing it wide open.

“Looking back, it was a most unusual time but when were there we just got on with life. Presents were always second hand because nothing new was being made, a lot of clothes were passed from hand to hand as clothes were rationed along with most other things.

“One last thing to mention is that we knew D-Day was coming when the troops began to paint white stripes on their vehicles and began fitting extensions to the vehicle exhausts so that they could get ashore.”

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