Reminder of the war found during DIY two decades on...

Only someone who'd collected the debris of bombing on the way to school would have recognised what turned up while cleaning the house gutters in the 60's, as ERIC HAYLES explains...

A piece shrapnel from World War Two.

found this object in the 1960's whilst cleaning out the front gutter of number 8 Chaucer Avenue, Hayes. I don't know whether it came from an exploding bomb or an anti-aircraft shell ... from it's size, I suppose it to be a bomb fragment. But from what occurrence, I've no idea. I guess this shrapnel hit the house roof and slid down into the gutter. I've attached another image of it, set against a rule. You can see that it's about 3 inches (7.5 centimetres) long.

The reason for it's colouring? Having found it still lying there in the gutter after all those years (about 20), I decided to display it in our china cabinet. It's natural colour was a bit drab, so, with a few mis-givings, I painted two of it's four sides gold. Subsequent moves from Chaucer Ave have led to this war-time trophy of mine residing along with other trifles at the back of my bedside cabinet drawer. There had been a time when I had several such pieces.

Like other lads during the war, I kept in my toy cupboard a tin or tins (cocoa tins...probably pre-war and golden syrup tins, were favourites) which held a collection of debris picked up in the streets on the way to and from school (in my case, Townfield) or whilst out playing, etc. Besides bits of shrapnel like the one here, we could occasionally find spent bullets, cartridge cases and sometimes unused bullets still in their cases ... dropped in Central Avenue by the mobile units that sometimes patrolled and fired from there at night ... though I never saw these guns, we certainly heard them.

Following a night raid there was likely to be strips of bright aluminium foil 'chaff'(?) to collect (dropped by the raiders to confuse radar scanners); it was laying on the ground or draped over hedges. I, like my friends, also kept pieces of strange-smelling, camouflage-painted, aluminium, torn from a downed German plane (there may have been two) which were dumped for a short time as morale boosters on Botwell Green (on that section which is now part of the swimming pool car park parallel to Central Ave).

This piece of shrapnel is a tangible reminder of those days; I wonder if others possess similar items? I suspect so.

Eric.

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