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Little Shelford in World War 2

Excerpts from Shelford’s Wars by the Great Shelford Oral History Group

“I remember all the soldiers coming back after Dunkirk. They were being spread around here and they were in digs on the recreation ground and in the woods at Little Shelford and on the recreation ground there. There was a succession of army units locally. Afterwards, we had Poles Czechs, Belgians who were happy friendly people. Particularly the Poles got on with us.

“There were soldiers in the back field behind the cottages in the High Street in Little Shelford. They had a Bren Gun mounted on a tripod and a plane came haring over our houses very low. It couldn’t have been more than 100 feet off the ground and they loosed off at it. Whether it was one of ours or one of theirs, I don’t know.

“Late 43 in Little Shelford, where I was playing in the field at the back of the house with two or three mates, we heard a bang in the air and there was a cloud of smoke and a wing of an aeroplane falling like  a leaf, a parachute beside it and a plume of smoke, and another one spinning down, another one zooming away. It was a Mustang and a Thunderbolt, American planes. They collided. I got on my cousin’s bike and cycled along Newton Road and across the field where the parachutist had landed. I arrived just after two Italian prisoners of war. They went across the field and picked up the airman. They brought him to the side of the road and he’d got a deep gash across his forehead. Then the American air force arrived en masse and we were told to go away. But some of the village lads turned up and went to look for his parachute and his rubber dinghy which was a great trophy.

“A bit later there was a Liberator crashed at Little Shelford out Whittlesford way. Four-engine plane came down in the fog and it came down at a low angle. It lay there for weeks. They took the guns out and the ammunition and there were any. It was a playground for us, sitting in the pilot’s seat. It was fun.

“On VE day, there was a party at Little Shelford on the tennis courts.”

Colin Norman


Betty Kennedy lived in a cottage on the Wale Estate in Little Shelford

Just before the war Mrs Eaden – she was one of the Wale family- she spent 6 winter months at Brookside, Cambridge. Then the summer months she came back into the Lodge. Then the Lodge was always let to a Squadron Leader from Duxford. So we had the Squadron Leaders with their families living there.

When the war broke out, everything was taken over by the army. The field that was used as a cricket ground,  that was all tents. At one time, mummy had six soldiers billeted on her. There were all these big tents. The house on the corner was the officers’ mess. There were big brown gates at the driveway which were shut and there was one small gate that opened. So there were guards there all the time.

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