7 - Wartime Travel

Harry Chambers
Observer with 229 and 465 Squadron, 26 SFU

One agreeable thing during the war was the helpful attitude to all servicemen by those at home, especially the RAF aircrew wearing a brevet. Transport was no problem, it was easy to hitch-hike where ever you wanted to go.

Arriving back home from overseas I hopped on a bus in London, and as the Clippie passed up the aisle collecting fares, I proffered my money, requesting a ticket. Only to be totally ignored. She continued up the bus and on her return I held up my fare again, and she passed by without even a glance. An elderly lady sitting next to me said ‘Put your money away sonny, she will not take any fare from you’.

The helpful attitude did not always work to one’s advantage. Stationed at an aerodrome near to Coventry I decided to visit my sister in Nuneaton, only about eight miles away. I intended to go by public transport, however walking to the bus a well-meaning lorry driver stopped and asked if I would like a lift, which I naturally accepted.

He said he was not going to Nuneaton but would drop me near there. It was illegal to carry passengers on commercial transport, so he said to get under a tarpaulin on the back of the lorry. This I was pleased to do as it had started to rain.

We seem to have travelled for a much longer period than it should to go eight miles. The rain had stopped so I emerged from under the tarpaulin just as the lorry stopped. The driver poked his head out of the cab and said ‘This is as near as we go’. I jumped off the lorry to a totally strange area without any idea in which direction to go. The lorry driver was no help.

I started off along the road to discover that I was at a small village almost half way to Leicester.

All signposts were removed during the war as a security precaution, but I had no difficulty in receiving directions from the local inhabitants and eventually got to a station and a train to my destination.

So much for the security against possible spies and parachutists. I have always put it down to the uniform and my youth.

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page last updated 2 June 2010: ACA Surrey Branch 2010