The second World War is mostly told through an adult perspective. In fact children had their own agenda, often unknown to their parents, but also inspired by the words of Winston Churchill “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”

I was born in 1933 and talk of war had already started in Germany. It had little effect on our town of Slough which was suffering from the impact of the depression.

In September 1939 our Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, declared that ‘we were now at War with Germany’. In May 1940 Winston Churchill became Prime Minister.

A ‘Phoney War’ started when little happened from September 1939 for 8 months. This gave people time to prepare for the active beginning of the Second World War which generated a response from people, with advice from Government to protect their homes.

I remember the afternoon when we heard for the first time the siren going and my Dad rushing to the front door with a bucket of sand, a bucket of water and a stirrup pump ready for action.

My flustered mother collected me and my sister Brenda, still a baby crying with the fear of not knowing what was going on, and we together prepared to go under the stairs. The siren stopped and we waited in silence until we assumed nothing was going to happen.

This was like a starting gun and people realised the war was going to be real. My father joined the ARP (Air Raid Precautions, a type of local Dad’s Army.)

So what happened to us, the children?

Our small quiet community was turned upside down.

The first thing to happen was the arrival one afternoon of evacuee children from London in a charabanc with their personal belongings. Our headmaster, Mr Kent, ushered about 40 children, a couple of teachers and their luggage into the playground and locked the iron gates.

There was chaos with children shouting, crying, and fighting. We stood out of sight and eventually a group of residents arrived, and frightened children were let out, one by one, their names were recorded, and the residents selected the children to stay with them.

We did not have any evacuees staying with us and so the next day we had our first encounter with them in the school playground. The Headmaster explained the school rules and discipline was maintained by the use of a whippy cane across bare legs.

Eventually, we were allowed to mingle with the evacuees and soon found they had rather different perceptions of behaviour than us. This was based on violent physical contact!

The local boys were chosen for their skill at “fisticuffs” and egged on by a group of their friends. We were completely intimidated and were pleased to get home unscathed at the end of the day.

Within a couple of days the street lamps were smashed and the pavements covered with chalk games. Residents were complaining of general misbehaviour and rudeness. Many of the children wanted to go home to London and many of the residents would have been pleased to see them go.

Myself and two of my friends Frank and Philip had much better plans than to get involved with the bad behaviour of the evacuees.

The year before I had been given an Annual for Christmas; one of the pages had two children saying the words ‘Good Morning’ in six languages. The obvious action was learn the words in German - ‘Guten Morgen’- so that when the Germans soldiers knocked on our door, I would speak to them in fluent German and they would move on to another house. This made me feel much more secure.

Frank had another plan. He had an air raid shelter at the end of a long garden. One of us would watch out for the German soldiers at the front of the house and we had a piece of string attached to two drinking cans, that made a telephone connection from the front door to the air raid shelter. Our communication system was very good and we never had any soldiers find our hideout!

Soon after the war started, Philip had noticed that a German spy was now living next door and we decided that we should stop her continuing with her espionage work. Close observation showed that she left home at 9 o’clock in the morning and cycled to the Trading Estate, returning home on her bicycle at 5 o’clock.

Frank was to watch her cycling home and when she passed the corner of Osborne Street with Hencroft Street he gave me a signal. As she turned the corner, from behind a hedge, I threw a brass stair rod with a Union Jack attached through her front wheel. The spy went over the handlebars and landed in the road.

Mission accomplished and I returned home to share my story with my father. As I started to describe our successful mission to him, he clearly saw our attack on the spy rather differently and became very cross.

He immediately marched me off to the spy’s house, knocked on the door and holding me off the ground by my collar, apologised to her for my disgraceful behaviour.

Although she had a grazed knee and damage to her glasses she was very forgiving. When she explained her job to my father, in extraordinarily strong terms, he explained to me that she was not a spy! Subsequently all three of us were taken to meet Miss Jones to apologise for our action and to explain that it was intended to help the war effort.

No doubt when the message got round, it gave notice to any spies in our community, that we were watching them.