Tony Pryor born in 1935 and lived at No. 1 Poplar Terrace which is now No. 20 Bury Road
Tony has no particular memories of Stapleford School but he could remember the names of the teachers. These are recorded in more detail by other people in the Stapleford Chronicle.
Like most people, especially boys, Tony remembers watching fighter aircraft from Duxford and German planes chasing one another across the sky. The Wellington bomber which crashed in September 1941 destroying the old vicarage had ammunition on board so the school was closed to prevent injuries from exploding bullets. When a bombing range was established on Babraham Common i.e. the land beyond the black barn on the footpath to Babraham it became a source of adventure for young boys. The area was used to set the bomb sights of planes and they dropped incendiary bombs to check the accuracy. Two of his friends Charlie Knapton and Bernard Miller were badly burned when they picked up one, which hadn’t exploded. Perspex from aircraft canopies was also sought after as it could be drilled and shaped into a variety of small objects.
An American baled out and landed near the black barn where he was threatened by Joe Pryor was armed with his .303 Home Guard rifle and Mrs. Miller armed with a large pitch fork. He was winded and unable to speak clearly so they assumed he was German until an American jeep arrived to take him away.
There was a searchlight manned by Americans opposite the junction to Sawston and the farm is now called Little America.
There was an army camp in what is now Lordship Close and another at the junction of Mingle Lane and Hinton Way where Poles and Czechs, in particular, were based. Both these were a source of interest to young boys and the kindness of the soldiers is fondly remembered.
Tony’s father was a member of the Home Guard and their second HQ was The Longbow.
Someone noticed that an MG car drove up Haverhill Road during raids on Duxford airfield. This was reported to the police and the driver was found to have a radio transmitter. Almost certainly just a rumour but it illustrates the heightened awareness of residents and anything slightly out of normal was noted and reported.
Games and play
Children in the 1940s had an amount of freedom, which can only be dreamed of by today’s children. This was partly due to fathers with long working days [48 hours was the normal working week for men] followed by hours spent as volunteers as air raid wardens, special constables, members of the Home Guard, etc. Mothers spent huge amounts of time queuing in shops, trying to make tasty meals from limited ingredients, looking after chickens as well as the household chores without todays labour saving devices. Tony and friends did their best to catch rabbits. He knew an old tree with a hollow trunk on Bury Farm where rabbits sheltered from rain and he could reach in and catch one. This made a very welcome addition to the family meals.