‘The men just looked so full of re­lief’

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

EILEEN ALDRIDGE will never for­get the faces of troops evac­u­ated from Dunkirk who were trav­el­ling through to the Kent feed­ing sta­tions. Mrs Aldridge, then 11, lived in Os­bourne Road, just by the rail­way line at Willes­bor­ough, in Ash­ford. She said: “My house backed on to the Can­ter­bury to Mar­gate line and the troop trains would stop at the sig­nal be­fore go­ing through to Ash­ford. “I would go up to the trains and give the men drinks of tea, cof­fee, choco­late, cold drinks or what­ever we could find. The lines weren’t elec­tri­fied then so I could just walk straight over. The men were so grate­ful and they just looked so full of re­lief. Even at the age of 11 I could see that on their faces. “There was a good at­mos­phere as we all cheered the trains com­ing through. We lis­tened avidly to the ra­dio to find out what had been go­ing on.” Au­drey, 81, now a grand­mother who lives in Shep­way, Ken­ning­ton, was in awe of the sol­diers and just be­fore she was evac­u­ated to Berk­shire, the al­lot­ments be­hind her home were bombed. “The Ger­mans were go­ing for the train lines,” she said. “There was a string of bombs that landed on the al­lot­ments. None of them went off and we were told by the bomb dis­posal men that they had been tam­pered with in the mu­ni­tions fac­to­ries. It took about a week for the men to clear the site. “It was all ac­tu­ally quite thrilling for an 11-year-old and I took my au­to­graph book out and got the bomb dis­posal team to sign it.”

Eileen Aldridge, from Ash­ford, with her au­to­graph book

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