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AS A TECH BOY.

(Circa 1941—1944)

 

Mr. Woodley  was the woodwork teacher nicknamed “Buzzer” for his habit of buzzing pieces of  wood with great accuracy at any naughty boy who was spotted doing something wrong. His aim and length was extremely good and he hurt.!!

He was also the head of the local A.T.C.(Air Training Corp) and suspended from the ceiling were models of aircraft used for Aircraft Recognition with his A.T.C. Classes. Whenever he left the room we all became “ Little Buzzers “ and got our own back  by throwing pieces of wood at his beloved planes. The school decided to join in the “Buy a Spitfire Fund “ and held raffles etc to reach a target  so one of the class Ken Daer took down one of Buzzers planes, painted it and sold raffle tickets with the plane, it was a Spitfire, as the prize .Buzzer bought a few tickets commenting on the fact that the plane was a good replica and wondered why we were laughing.

Mr.Davies was the Headmaster who had a very large gold ring  which certainly hurt when he  hit you which was often. He never saw the funny side of life and never smiled.

 

Mr.Denny was the caretaker and he used the lads to  carry  the coal when it was delivered,  to the coal bunker at the back of the school. One day he asked the teacher Mrs.Savage if a few boys could help him as his back was hurting (he always said this ) it was only a English lesson and before the teacher could answer about a dozen of us were up and out of the door.         Bill Denny was so pleased with our efforts he gave us all a cigarette with “ Don’t tell anyone “ He then went away and came back with the Head saying HE had caught these boys smoking .We were punished of course and we never did discover Bill’s reasoning for telling on us.

Mr. Gus Stacey was the P.E.teacher always affected by the moon but a very pleasant man . He had taken part in the Olympics years ago on the Rings .

During our P.E.lessons we would hide in the apparatus and have a smoke  Gus  would then chase us and when he  caught us he would cram us all in a cupboard the size of a wardrobe whacking us with a stick until we were all in, but we had this off to a fine art, the first boys in would crouch on the floor ,the next lot would crouch on the backs of those already in ,we managed about four tiers of boys and if Gus was really cross –five tiers.

The Sports Field was at Beckley Road  and across the Canal was  the Naval /Commando training field .On the way to the sports field  from the Tech we would stop off at Bishop’s Arcade on the sea front , fiddle the slot machines , win a packet of cigarettes , and smoke them on the way to the field. Bob Gerrard and one or two  more always went fishing off the Jetty. When we arrived with our sprained ankles , headaches, and bad backs !!!! we were allowed to watch the troops training  instead of playing games and how we laughed when they fell in the water. We once tied up their row boat which connected their field to the Canal Bank and they were unable to get to us , thank goodness. We used the boat to creep across their practice field to search for any live ammunition they had dropped and then we would take the shells/bullets to pieces to get at the cordite .This was done with a hammer and chisel  in Jimmy Lees concrete air raid shelter in case they exploded  .We did not want to injure the public .

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Mrs.Savage our English teacher was very  meek and mild .

We were very short of text books and she always said that we have to share one book between two, this meant havoc because the boy at the back wanted to share with the boy at the front and so on  and using our desks as minature trains we would shuffle all over the class room ,every boy was on the move making train noises.This usually took half the lesson.

A boy would be talking when she was writing on the blackboard and without turning around she would call out “ Would  that boy who was talking come out to the front and stand in the corner “ and of course the whole class would walk to the front, all 30 of us all fighting and trying to get in the corner . She would soon forget this and in a few weeks “ Would that boy who was talking……… etc etc.

Most of the other boys in the class wouldn’t bother with the homework and a “0” would be entered against their names .As soon as she left the class a “1” was entered to turn the “0” into “10”

She was soon replaced by Mrs .Byers a rather short but oh! so strict  and  her first remark was that we were so far behind that we had a awful lot to catch up and she made sure we did. We really worked hard for her.

When she first sat on the edge of her desk there was a clatter as every boys pencil seemed to fall on the floor and the whole class bent down to search for their pencils.

At the top of the stairs outside room7 on either side of the door were two full size nude statues ,one male complete with fig leaf, and one female (the reader can complete this little section)

One of the favourite games at playtime was on the small wall at the back of the school.(We had no playground ) and we would line up to try to push the other team off this wall.

After lessons we would all go to the beach to search for pieces of shrapnel , planes, parachutes etc . It was on one of these searches that one of our class was blown up by a personnel bomb and was blinded and lost a leg.

I often went with my grandfather Dave Wildish to look for anything washed up by the tide .If a plane or ship etc was blown up Dave would know exactly when and where the pieces would be washed up. Any dead body washed up and the finder would  receive , I believe it was £1 .

My class  was the most trusted class in the school and we had our lessons in the Broadway  School which was used as an annexe to the main school. At lunch breaks we would form two opposing sides in the class room and using elastic bands and paper “bullets “ we would hide behind the desk lids and  fight to reach the other side of the classroom.  We  really enjoyed this until one day the opposing team arrived with air pistols so we decided to stop that silly game.

Another day we formed a circle holding hands, all  30 of us  , and we unscrewed the electric light switch and the two bravest boys were to  touch the live terminals and we all spit on our hands to make sure that we  would have a good electrical contact  .We wanted to see what would happen ,if we would all die or just the two who touched the terminals  when we completed thed circuit.