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Childhood Memories
by Renee Chapple

     I was born in a holiday bungalow named St. Elloi, Belle Vue Drive, Vange in November 1939. I was the first daughter after my parents had 8 sons, mum went on to have 2 more daughters. The youngest girl died of whooping cough at about 6 months old.

     My mother was in London visiting her brother in hospital and helped my dad with his suitcase when he was discharged from the hospital after having one leg amputated, he also lost some use in one arm from shrapnel. Two soldiers were checking among the dead at Flanders and found my dad still alive and took him to hospital. I have the doctors records and he must have been a very strong person as they said he probably wouldn't last the night. My mother fell in love with him and they lived in London where my mother had 3 so they moved to Vange where the rest of their children were born.

     My father learned carpentry and made a living making all sorts of furniture to sell. He also made all the furniture in our bungalow.

     They were very poor but we never went hungry. My mother was an excellent cook and they kept rabbits and grew all their vegetables in the garden.

     My mum did cleaning for people which helped with the payments of the bungalow (£5 per month).

     I remember the war and the bombings. We used to stand at the back door with my mum listening to the doodlebugs coming over praying the engine wouldn't stop. A plane dropped bombs on the railway lines at Gales Corner where the bridge is in Timberlog Lane. It blew all our windows out and I remember all us kids being wrapped in blankets while mum lit the fire and my dad blocked windows up to keep the the cold weather out.

     I also have a DVD which was in the Evening Echo (called London the modern Babylon) of a group of men visiting Roehampton hospital to be fitted with their prosthetic arms and legs and my father walked right past the camera on his crutches and my brother called me to say turn the TV on as our dad was on. I didn't think I would recognise him as I was only 16 when he died. He was the tallest man there and wore a trilby hat which was different to the hat the other men wore. And I knew him as soon as he walked past the camera which was rather a shock.

     There are only 4 of us left now. Two of my brothers and 1 sister. But I still remember the times we used to go for walks up One Tree Hill and collect arms full or bluebells and play in the sandpits which is now the golf course at the top of Clayhill Road.

     I had friends in Rashleigh Drive and Ravenscourt Drive and friends at Craylands School. If they have a reunion I would love to see some of the old school.

Title: Childhood Memories by Renee Chapple.

Copyright: © Renee Chapple, January 2015.

Comments: This account was supplied by Renee Chapple for use on the Basildon History website.

Page added: January 2015
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