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Page last updated at 16:13 GMT, Tuesday, 1 September 2009 17:13 UK
Memories of the Second World War

Through the words of pay clerk Harold Symmons, then aged just 19-years-old, we look back at the day that war was declared and the emotions of people as they gathered around their wireless sets in South West Wales.

I...was in the pay office with the Gowerton Staff at lunchtime listening to the wireless, when it was announced that an ultimatum had been given by the British Government to Adolf Hitler stating that 'If you do not get out of Poland by Sunday at 11am, then we will be at war.'

There was a stunned silence followed by everyone talking at once.

As war had been on the horizon for a while, I had signed on with the RAF some time before, as I wanted the choice of which service I would be in if war was declared.

That Friday evening, I waited for my girlfriend, Elaine to come out of work at Ben Evans in the town centre at 7pm, and then took her home for the first time and to meet her parents up at Mount Pleasant.

image shows black and white head and shoulders of Elaine & Harold in RAF uniform
Elaine & Harold in RAF uniform around 1943

Later that evening, I went camping with some friends, in a field out at Murton, where my Dad had bought a bell tent. It had a wooden floor and enough room for three beds and a big blanket box.

Alongside was a hut where we kept our food, a wooden table and benches and in another smaller shed nearby was our toilet.

A lorry would have bought our stuff down from our house in Danygraig at the beginning of the season.

Shortly afterwards, I was off to the RAF and would not be demobbed until 1946, by which time, I would have been married to Elaine and become a dad.

Thus, it was that I remember where I was when war was announced.




SEE ALSO
WW2 photographs taken in SW Wales
03 Sep 09 |  History
Poland remembers World War start
01 Sep 09 |  Europe

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