Rick Leigh

My Wartime In Crawley

By Gina Da Cunha

Photo:Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Why I came To Crawley

I came to Crawley in 1940 about June or July shortly after Dunkirk but I can not remember exactly when. I moved to my Grandparents place which was opposite West Green School. I can't remember much until 1943 when they decided to drop nasty things on WestGreenSchool. As our house was quite close we lost all the windows and it took of the roof. As I hated school the fact that I was of school for about 3 months was a positive outcome of the incident as far as I was concerned.

West Green School Damaged

I can remember that it was about half an hour before school started that the raid occurred. I also remember that as it was a ChurchSchool and that it was our day to go to school very few if any children would have been present that morning at the school anyway.The damage was extensive destroying the junior school and also damaging the bit that I attended.

School In A Hut

It was some time after that I returned to school and had my class room in a hut in the ancient friars. The roof used to leak a bit when it rained. I used to stuff my book purposely under the leak and as we used ordinary pens with proper ink not biros the ink used to run when it became wet. This was good as you could not see then weather I got my sums right or wrong, or for that matter my spellings. It's odd really that we kids just thought that the disruption was just a bit of fun. In those days we dint have counselling or anything like that and as far as I know none of us went round the twist over it.

Gerry blowed your roof off

I can always remember my grandfather who was a stockman for Penfolds farm which ran from Town Barn Lane right out to Sainsbury's. It's funny that he heard the bombs go off but we as kids did not. We all said afterwards that we never heard them go off even though we were only 500 yards from the school. I can remember though all the clay and muck coming in through the windows with a load of oily black smoke. It went into the front room kitchen etc and covered the breakfast table.Anyway my Grandfather and Father who was home at the time got a large tarpaulin from the farm to cover the roof (or what was once were the roof was!). It was just as well as it was a terrible day with that horrible fine drizzly rain. They were struggling to put this over the damage when an old boy that lived close by came along. He said "Gerry blowed yor roof of then 'arry" in his best Sussex dialect. My Grandfather turned round and said "no the bloody landlord took it off as we did not pay the rent".
I can still see the scene today with glass all over the road. I think this shows that in this country we have a black sense of humour.

I Have Played On The A23

I can remember the south bound lane of the A23 was all blocked of and full up of tanks and army vehicles that were stored there. It was a good place for us boys to go and play we could get into tanks and that. It was guarded by an Old boy from the home guard so we had no trouble running off if he came round to see what was going on. As far as I know he never caught any of us.

Rick Leigh

Royal Air Force


from 1952-1957

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

This page was added by Gina Da Cunha on 28/03/2008.

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