Malcolm Milham

Childhood memories of wartime in Kent.

Memories of Dunkirk

Malcolm Millham experienced the war as a young boy in Kent. Born in March 1936, he lived with his family in an old Coastguard Station in Ebbsfleet. Malcolm’s father was in a reserved occupation as a farm worker and was also a member of the Home Guard. Although Malcolm was very young at the time of Dunkirk in 1940, he recalls it well as his father’s younger brother was killed in action at the time. A few weeks earlier Malcolm’s grandfather, a Merchant Seaman, had been rescued just off the coast of Dunkirk after the ship on which he was serving was sunk.     

'An almighty bang'

Living in Kent, the war was never far away. On one occasion Malcolm was travelling on a bus with his cousins on the way to the cinema when they spotted German aircraft. Malcolm recalls, ‘the bus came to a quick stop, there was a yell to get down and an almighty bang, all the windows were shattered, then all around came the sound of shrapnel and mud debris falling on the bus and the road’. The bomb had been meant for a nearby bridge but it had missed the bridge and exploded on the riverbank.

Wartime excitement

The houses around the old Coastguard Station, in which Malcolm and his family lived, were quickly taken over by the Army. The house was suddenly surrounded by Army equipment and the barbed wire and mines soon covered the nearby beach. As a young boy, Malcolm found it all very exciting but it also proved dangerous as the area became an enemy target. Malcolm also witnessed a number of Allied planes coming down nearby. A Hurricane once came down in front of the family’s house and on another occasion an ME109 crashed behind the house. According to Malcolm, ‘there are still about a dozen aircraft under the mud out there’.  

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 13/06/2012.