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Brief History of World War 2

Campbells Bay School during the war

Campbells Bay during the War

Mrs Robin Hayson

Mr Ted Davis

Mr George Carstairs

Mr Ron Hooton

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Kennedy Park - the Army Base

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Campbell's Bay Primary School

World War Two at our School

Mr Ted Davis

Mr Ted Davis has a grandson called Liam at our school.  His granddaughters, Katie and Amber, used to go to our school, and his son Chris is on the Board of Trustees.  Mr Davis helps us at waterwise and volunteered to help us learn about the war in Auckland.  Although he did not live in Campbell's Bay at the time, many of his experiences in Pt Chev would have been the same as for children in all parts of Auckland.

 

Ted and boys: Ted, Robyn and boys meet to discuss old photos of Campbells Bay, Mairangi Bay and Murrays Bay.

I was thirteen when the war started. I got involved in compulsory military training after the war when I was 18. We did ten weeks of basic training. After ten weeks we went into a particular branch. I was in artillery, and I was on a bothra, which is an anti-aircraft gun.We used to go all over the place, like Muriwai Beach. We used to go and shoot live ammunition at aircraft. They were towing what they call drogues, which is a long canvas sleeve, and we were trying to hit that sleeve.

We also went to Whangaparoa and they had an army camp up there. We used to fire live ammunition off the end of Whangaparoa towards Tiritiri Matangi Island. Mostly, Castor Bay was used as a base for telecommunications between Whangaparoa and North Head, but there were coastal guns.

There were also coastal guns on North Head. There were ten of them. North Head also had a lot of search lights to pick up the enemy sailing up the Rangitoto Channel. There was a submarine net put right across the harbour between North Head and Orakei Wharf. It opened to allow ships to go in and out.

No submarines came into the harbour, but there were rumours of submarines out in the Hauraki Gulf. The net was dropped when there were rumours. Mr Davis remembers the British ship Niagra, which was full of gold, being sunk off Great Barrier Island by a German mine or torpedo. He also remembers Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth being full of ANZAC soldiers going to fight in Egypt.

Also, part of our involvement in the war was with US marines whoíd come to Auckland for rest and recreation. They had been fighting in the Pacific against the Japanese.The whole of the Auckland Domain was a US camp, and the whole of Victoria Park and Cornwall Park was too. Avondale College was also used as hospital for American soldiers. The idea was, I think, trying to get them here quickly and get them well quickly, so that they could send them straight back to fight.

My father was in the home guard, which were people who didnít go to war. They used to come over to the Shore and dig the holes for pillboxes at each end of every beach. We had a friend who lived on Whitby Crescent and he had one of these pillboxes on his property. Pillboxes were concrete boxes dug into the ground with slits for looking out into the Gulf and for rifles. They looked like a box of pills.

I was in Mt Albert at Gladstone Rd Primary, and we actually had foster homes. When the siren went, we had to assemble and go to our foster homes. The foster homes were close to the school because they didnít want us to go all the way home. We had a little calico bag around our necks. In the bags was a cork and two pieces of cotton wool. The cotton wool was for if the bombs went off, and you bit on the cork to stop you getting lockjaw, or your ear drums being affected. We wore those everyday.

When an air raid siren went off you didnít know whether it was really happening. We would have ships go out called mine sweepers and they used to tow a big chain behind them. It was two or three miles long this chain and if it struck a mine it would explode and clear the shipping lane.

Mr Davis remembers rationing. You could not get sweets of any sort. There was no ice cream. There were no biscuits. There was no chocolate. There were no lollies - nothing. There were a lot of things rationed - sugar, flour, butter, tea, and meat. You were given a coupon book and you cut out the coupons. There was one coupon book for each family member, although children only got half as much. You took your coupons to the grocerís shop. There was a pound of butter for four people for a week and you couldnít get any fruit or vegetables. You grew your own because they were sending all the fruit, vegetables and meat to the troops who were serving overseas.

Mr Davis also remembers visiting US marines in the Domain/Victoria Park to beg for gum. School students got milk delivered at the milk stand near the school gates, but there were no fridges. By the time you got it, it was warm and creamy.Terrible stuff!

 I lost two cousins in the war. I was in a plane and they used to go over the main bombing raid and pick out the targets. One of my cousins died in Germany - I only found that out after the war. Before he was just MIA (Missing In Action). There were thousands and thousands and thousands of Kiwis that just went missing. Their letters home were censored. We were frightened of the Germans, but not as frightened as we were of the Japanese.

 

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