PocklingtonHistory.com Railway Street (Circa 1880)
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Gallery
Market Place Market Place
Note the new building in the photo on the corner.
Regent Street Regent Street
Note the 'Old Red Lion Hotel'
Chapmangate Chapmangate
Note the independent chapel built in 1807 to the left.
Airfield Memories of Dick Cains
The recollections here are of Dick Cains, whose family were millers at Devonshire mill. This was kindly supplied to the website by his son Simon. Simon's grandfather Eric, did not have to serve in the forces as corn milling was a reserved occupation but joined the home guard. He was put in the signals section and kept his rifle + bayonet in the front bedroom and cleaned it at regular intervals. Dick's recollections are also recorded on the BBC website.
During the war my father attended the Congregational Chapel, attending morning and evening services until, following an evening air raid he decided to miss out the evening services. He used to meet young airmen at the services and invited them home for afternoon tea and took old novels to the Officers’ mess. Sadly, all of the airmen who were entertained at Roslyn** were killed in action. They used to make model aircraft out of my Meccano or wood and play football with me. I remember one, a navigator, describing his flights over the Alps to bomb the Fiat factories and how cold it was in the bomber – his watch froze to the aircraft floor. eric cains
Eric Cains taken in 1936, joined the Home guard in 1942
Although my parents were very moralistic they managed to come to terms with the fact that young airmen with wives at home were entertained by some young Pocklington ladies, their lives were short and frightening. I remember another one who was given the task of toasting a homemade teacake over the open fire but unfortunately it dropped off the toasting fork and into the fire. The only soldier my parents met via the Chapel was from the Tank Corps but he was in the pay section (a bank clerk in Civvy street from Wood Green) who fought all the way through France, Belgium and Germany. He wrote regularly to my parents and enclosed stamps and bank notes from those countries for me.

My father took me to see the bulldozers and mechanical shovels digging up farm fields to provide runways and dispersal points. The first one wasn’t built in the right place and had to be replaced by a second one at a different angle.  I watched trees on the flight path being felled (usually by being pulled over) if they were thought to get in the way of aircraft landing or taking off. There were some dispersal points over the main York/Hull road from the runways so the traffic had to be held up whilst the bombers trundled across.

loading bombs at pocklington airfieldI used to ride my tricycle to where bombers were taking off for their bombing raid just as night was falling. They taxied to the end of the runway, turned round and then, when a Very light was fired, the engines roared and off they went lumbering along the runway. I used to get a wave from the rear gunners whilst they were waiting to set off.

I can remember seeing a group of around 30 soldiers running through Pocklington over the railway crossing – “Ah they’re Commandos” said those who knew about those things. The Yorkshire Wolds were used as a training ground as they resembled the terrain in Poland.
I can remember the first bomb dropping in Pocklington and being taken to see the crater. It landed in a field but as luck would have it the damage caused was to the gas main from the municipal gas works that supplied the town. It received a direct hit and a horse in the field was killed.

I can remember visiting burning bombers (ours) and hearing enemy bombers droning overhead (their engine noise was easily distinguished from ours) and the sound of bombs falling. At the end of the main runway was located the municipal sewage farm and several sticks of bombs landed in the “mud” of the filter beds and did not explode. Not very nice for the bomb disposal team to deal with them. When I went to work at  ICI at Billingham the barber I used in my lunch time was stationed at Pocklington during the war and his job was to recover crashed bombers. At each visit for a trim he regaled me with a different gory crash episode – most of them I remembered but, being more mature by that time, felt quite ill to hear his tales.

The crash on West Green was interesting. The bomber that crashed was caught in the slip stream of the one that took off before it lost “traction” in the turbulance. The bombs that hadn’t exploded were lined up along the roadside and were there as I walked past on my way to school – the wreckage was still being doused by the fire brigade. On the way back from school, the fire was out and the armed guard had disappeared. We, the local children, raked through the debris looking for Perspex or anything interesting and found ration books and leaflets scattered on the ground. They were printed in German – obviously the Allies were trying to swamp the German economy with useless coupons. All the crew were killed.   
As part of the war effort all wrought iron fences, railings and gates around houses were removed and supposedly sent for recycling. After the war most of them were found in a yard in the centre of the town – those whose houses had been denuded were most upset. 
   
Returning bombers would often have to lose weight when returning from a bombing raid. The usual adornment on the hedges were “chaff” – that’s the aluminium strips used to counter enemy radar – but occasionally we found belts of spent machine gun bullets or even live rounds.  One lad found an engine cowling and took it home to use as a sledge.

You may remember that there was an air raid shelter built on to the side of the bungalow. I remember many times going to sleep in my bed at night but waking up in the top bunk in the shelter – my Dad must have carried me into the shelter without waking me up. Fortunately the strength of the shelter was never put to the test – it would have provided little or no protection.

We too had an evacuee billeted on us. Pocklington School was twinned with Hymers College in Hull, Hull was extensively bombed early in the war so the school boys and teachers were moved to Pocklington School for several months. The German bombers attacked Pocklington aerodrome so many times that the Hymers governors decided that Hull might be the safer option. When his parents came to collect him they brought me a model aeroplane kit, it had a wind-up propeller powered by an elastic band. I got my bedroom back – my little bed had been moved into my parent’s bedroom to make room for him.
         
After VE Day the Pocklington Aerodrome had an open day and I can remember being lifted into a Wellington bomber through the bomb doors. Of course it seemed enormous to me at the time, as big as a house but when I walked under a B52 bomber many years later I realised that it was quite tiny. My father was most interested in the radar set. The first television screen I saw was a refurbished radar screen; it wasn’t black and white but rather shades of green.

**Roslyn was his home on Canal Lane, next to Devonshire Mills