Alan Mann

Photo:Alan Mann (holding the puppy) with old school friends.

Alan Mann (holding the puppy) with old school friends.

Alan Mann

Recollections of growing up in wartime south-east London.

Born in 1926 Alan Mann was a pupil at Brockley Grammar School when the school was evacuated in 1938. But Alan did not accompany the other pupils and came to attend a number of schools which accepted those who had not been evacuated. In September 1938 he accepted a place at the South East London Technical Institute to study mechanical engineering.

A direct hit

In November 1940 Alan’s family home in Lewisham experienced a direct hit. Alan recalls being covered in rubble, hearing water leaking and smelling gas. His uncle had been smoking in the garden when the bomb fell but fortunately the whole family survived. They were freed and taken to a rescue centre in Catford. Alan recalls going back to the house with his father – it was no longer there. He felt a great sense of loss and responsibility at the death of the family dog, which had been with his uncle in the garden when the bomb fell. The family spent a week at a requisitioned house which was declared unsafe when another bomb fell nearby, before moving to alternative accommodation where the family lived for the rest of the war.

No. 1 Maintenance Unit and Barrage Balloon Centre

In May 1941 Alan completed his schooling and began working for the Redwing Aircraft Company in Croydon – he did not find this particularly interesting and in June 1941 he began a seven year apprentice at the No. 1 Maintenance Unit and Barrage Balloon Centre at RAF Kidbrooke. His hours of work were long and he cycled to and from the Unit, which was difficult in blackout conditions. However, the job had its benefits – the close proximity of the Skyrockets Dance Orchestra to his place of work allowed him to become acquainted with live swing music.

The stressful effects of war

By the time D-Day took place Alan recalls that the stressful effects of the war were felt by many, and sense of uncertainty regarding the future was prevalent. In 1945 Alan was transferred to Hatfield, having been promoted as an aeronautical student. Despite the poor working conditions Alan does not recall having a day off as a result of poor health.

On 8th May 1945 VE Day was announced. Alan does not recall mass celebrations and street parties taking place, but a sense of melancholy and the desire to regain a sense of normality.

Downloads

Alan Mann
Alan Mann (271k)
To read more about Alan's wartime experiences in his own words please press the above link.

Some of my teenage memories
Some of my teenage memories (835k)
To read more about Alan's wartime memories please press the above link.

Leslie Weaver (Part 1)
Leslie Weaver (Part 1) (151k)
In this article Alan Mann writes about his friend Leslie Weaver, a Lancaster bomber pilot.

Leslie Weaver (Part 2)
Leslie Weaver (Part 2) (358k)
In this article Alan Mann continues to write about his friend Leslie Weaver, a Lancaster bomber pilot.

My flights with the ATC
My flights with the ATC (360k)
In this article Alan Mann writes about his time in the Air Training Corps (ATC).

Aircraft flown in the ATC
Aircraft flown in the ATC (517k)
In this article Alan Mann continues to write about his time in the Air Training Corps (ATC).

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 29/01/2012.

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