A snapshot of England after the Second World War
- Credit: Archant
After the war, I did my National Service at an airbase just outside Braintree in Essex.
The large runways that ran for miles were stacked with piles and piles of bombs - 500lbs bombs, 1,000lbs, 4,000lbs bombs and even 22,000lbs bombs – hundreds of them, thousands.
All the big aircraft hangers were left full of ammunition, and gradually, over a period of years, they were taken out of storage and the bombs and ammunition were put onto a low loader and taken to the train station.
From there, they were sent up to be dumped off the coast of Scotland unfrotunately, into deep water.
I don’t know whether that’s killed all the fish off by now!
They were still dumping them by 1955, and there were still thousands left. They were also sent all over the world for our own and foreign air forces for target practice, to keep our pilots and soldiers active.
They’ve all gone now. I went back about 15 years later and all the land had been turned back to farm land.
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For a short time I had been an office worked at the site, and the control tower that I worked in, doing all the paper work, was still standing.
I remember during the war we used to stand where Fairlop Waters is now, and they had these lovely runways where you could see the spitfires taking off three or four abreast.
And then after the war it was just left, and we used to use it as a cycle track, racing round the perimeter.
The runways were then used by a prince or whoever he was, who had a racing car, and he used to race up and down them, which was great – you could watch him get up to about 150mph.
And then they finally turned it into what we see today, the lovely lake and the clubhouse.
That’s why I got involved with the Fairlop Heritage Committee with David Martin.
Every November 11, Remembrance Day, we have an event there with local dignitaries and the school children come and, as there were 18 different nationalities flying from Fairlop, every year we honour two of them.