Born in Penshurst in the thirties, David Martin spent his childhood here until the 1950s. He lived in the village in what is now the doctors’ surgery and has completed a wonderfully evocative account of his memories of Penshurst during World War II. This is published here in serial form.
From the day World War II was declared, the rationing which followed, the shopping basket containing the Reckitts Blue and the ‘Mickey Mouse’ gas masks for children, to collecting salvage, the blackout, changing road markings and the intricacies of making an effective catapult, this first beautifully-written chapter enables the reader to live or relive the experience with the author.
In the second chapter we learn about the influence of the War Agriculture Committee, Penshurst’s farms, hop-picking, the importance of horses and the village smithy, the emergence of tractors, harvesting and threshing, landgirls and prisoners of war.
Penshurst had strategic importance in the event of a German invasion and this chapter, part one of ‘Defending the Village’, covers pillboxes, barbed wire fence entanglements, shelters and air raid warnings, the Home Guard and army cadets.
Part two of ‘Defending the Village’ tells the story of the Penshurst Fire Service, flying bombs and V2 rockets, RAF Penshurst, the collection of shrapnel and the arrival and departure of the Army.
The final chapter of David Martin’s wartime memories gives a flavour of what everyday life was like in the village – from transport, school, church and the Village Institute to what there was to eat – and tells how Penshurst celebrated the end of the war.
If these articles trigger any of your own memories from the war and you would like to share them, please email us.