Fancy that! Escaped POW ate cake in a baker’s van

Glider launching from Portsdown Hill
Glider launching from Portsdown Hill
A pod of dolphins.

NOSTALGIA: Dolphins in Portsmouth Harbour     

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Many of you will recall the simple toys of our youth. Eddy Amey certainly does. He remembers the whip and top where the top was whipped into a high spin.

Then there was a whizzer, a simple six-inch cardboard disc perforated like a button with a string loop through the holes. ‘The whole thing would revolve by pulling on the string to send the disc spinning and buzzing,’ he says.

Remember the cotton reel tank; cotton reel French knitting; rhythm bones made from slate strips or wood in lieu of bone; five stones to balance on the back of the hand; cigarette cards and marbles.

Eddy, of St Michael’s Grove, Fareham, adds: ‘Some boys’ toys would give health and safety a fit of the vapours in this day and age.

‘Most boys carried a Boy Scout-type sheath knife or a six-inch seaman’s-style jack-knife and routinely played with bows and arrows and catapults. We could also make a loud firework bang by using a tool made with a padlock key, a round nail, a yard of string and three matchstick heads.’

Girls were proficient in many forms of skipping, solo, pairs, groups and ‘bumps’ were all skipped to a rhyming chant.

Eddy adds: ‘One afternoon in 1943 about four of us 10-year-olds were playing in Washbrook Road, Wymering, when a man came running out of a front garden.

‘We realised instantly from the diamond patches on his clothes that he was a prisoner of war. He stood on the pavement for a moment and then clambered between the bread trays to hide in the back of an unattended baker’s van, pulling the doors shut behind him.

‘Thirty seconds later and from the same garden came four Home Guardsmen in hot pursuit. We mimed to them where the POW was hiding and watched in fascination as they ordered him out at rifle point.

‘The POW duly scrambled out with a smile on his face, covered in crumbs and eating a fancy cake.’

Eddy remembers making balsa wood gliders bought as kits ‘from the boys’ heaven known as the Tip Top model shop in Kingston Road’.

He says: ‘One of our friends made a larger model to fly from Portsdown Hill and we all gathered for the maiden flight, but it did not perform too well.

‘Close by were a group of adults who were launching a real glider, getting it airborne by towing it with a car.

‘One of them offered to help and readjusted the model’s balance by taping his cigarette lighter to the nose.

‘Our friend then launched it into space.

‘It sailed off beautifully, so much so that it was last seen disappearing into the haze over Horsea Island, never to be seen again.’