Wartime Memories of Benfleet

Defending the Water Tower

As children we could roam over the local fields and woods and on one of these occasions Austin and I found a box of 303 machine gun ammunition at the edge of the pond at the top of the hill beside what was later to become Bill and Kate’s Café.

“My Father was in the Home Guard and part of his duties were to make sure no one stole the water tower at the top of Essex Way….”

The pond was fairly long and narrow bordered on one side by large elm trees that grew along the path that lead to the houses further west.

The box was smashed and there seemed to be yards of these bullets, we rushed home to report the find and I’ve no idea what happened after that but I was somewhat amused years later thinking of it.

My Father was in the Home Guard and part of his duties were to make sure no one stole the water tower at the top of Essex Way and to defend this against all attackers he had a Lee Enfield rifle and three rounds of .300 American ammunition which it seemed were a bit sloppy in the breech.

One morning returning from guard duty he was seated by the door of the bus with the rifle grounded on the floor and an elderly lady boarded the bus and grasped what she must have thought was the handrail to find herself staring down the muzzle, quite some time before she saw the funny side of it.

The excitement when an unexploded anti-aircraft shell arrived in the field at the side of Croft Road not far from the house where Keith Hume lived and the audience the soldiers digging it out had, imagine that nowadays the whole of Tarpots would have to be evacuated.

The Water Tower at the top of Essex Way

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