William Epps

'The world went black'

William Epps recalls a particularly dangerous V1 raid.

The challenges of war

William Epps talks about becoming the man of the house at a young age.

Recollections of the turmoils of war.

Memories of the Blitz

At the outbreak of war William was four years old and living with his parents in RAF housing at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire where his father was stationed. In 1940 William’s father was posted to the Air Ministry in London and the family relocated to Brockley in southeast London. The family had not lived in London long before the bombing began:   

‘There was one night, there was a lot of noise, my mother took me to the back bedroom window, we looked out towards East London and all you could see was the sky was totally red. Searchlights crisscrossing the sky and, as I say, an awful lot of noise and that was the beginning of the Blitz.’

‘As the Blitz got worse and we [were] now spending most nights in an Anderson shelter in the garden. I used to lie there in the bunk listening to the bombs whistling and guns exploding, you know, the shells exploding and guns firing and then the all clear would go and you go outside and look at that nights damage.’

'The world went black'

'I saw something glowing coming towards me and then I knew nothing and then the next thing I knew there were air raid people pulling bricks and rubble off me.'

Following the death of a neighbour during an air raid, William’s father decided to move the family to the country. The family stayed in a village near Cranleigh, Surrey, until 1942 when William’s father was stationed at Biggin Hill and they moved to Keston. While at Keston William experienced the V1 and V2 rockets:

‘I was playing a bit of knock-out cricket in the road with some friends in Lake Road Crest...and a doodlebug cut out right over the village and we looked up and instead of gliding it was coming straight down...[We] ran into the alleyway and as we were getting to the alleyway all I...know the world went black. I saw something glowing coming towards me and then I knew nothing and then the next thing I knew there were air raid people pulling bricks and rubble off me. I was still buried from the shoulders downwards...gradually they got me out asked me if I could stand I stood so they said, ‘Are you ok lad?’, so I said I was fine. It was this awful dusty smell that you got in the Blitz which I hadn’t encountered since living in Brockley.’

In 1944 the family relocated once again, this time to Broadstairs after his father was posted to Manston.

Downloads

William Epps
William Epps (51k)
To read more about William's wartime experiences in his own words please press the above link.

Interview with William Epps
Interview with William Epps (138k)
To read the full transcript of William's interview please press the above link.

'The world went black'
'The world went black' (89k)
Transcript of audio clip with William Epps.

The challenges of war
The challenges of war (83k)
Transcript of audio clip with William Epps.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 22/02/2012.

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