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Kent's Doodlebug Summer: Joy Muggeridge interview

By Ed McConnell

When the doodlebug stopped overhead, little Joy Muggridge ran for her life.

"We'd been told to do that — as kids you assumed it was going to drop straight down," she explained, 75 years' later.

At the age of five all she and her little sister had ever known was war, to the point she once asked her mother what peace was like.

67, Carlton Avenue Gillingham..Joy Muggridge in the garden. (Doodlebug Supp)..Picture: Steve Crispe. (9420561)
67, Carlton Avenue Gillingham..Joy Muggridge in the garden. (Doodlebug Supp)..Picture: Steve Crispe. (9420561)

Living in Strood they'd often see the V1s fly over Rochester and on towards the capital, but they'd never seen one cut out before.

Playing in the garden of the family home in Cuxton Road, Joy and her cousins momentarily froze when they spotted the rocket splutter to a halt.

Then they sprinted for the shelter, her cousins pushing her sister in a pram and Joy running behind them.

"I was a chubby child," she said, "and they were older and quicker than me and by the time I reached the shelter there was no room left. I stood outside and cried."

Luckily for Joy, the doodlebug didn't drop like a stone as feared but glided into the quarry down the road, now home to Medway Valley Leisure Park.

"All the kids from Strood came running down the road after it to get their shrapnel," she recalled, adding: "We weren't allowed to go but later on when my dad came home from work at Chatham Dockyard he took us to look."

67, Carlton Avenue Gillingham..Joy Muggridge in the garden. (Doodlebug Supp)..Picture: Steve Crispe. (9420395)
67, Carlton Avenue Gillingham..Joy Muggridge in the garden. (Doodlebug Supp)..Picture: Steve Crispe. (9420395)

The childhood Joy, now an 80-year-old mother-of-two living in Carlton Avenue, Gillingham, remembers is far removed from anything experienced since.

Her father had avoided going to war because of his crucial work as a joiner at the dockyard but he was in the Home Guard and she would often see his rifle propped up in the kitchen.

Her aunt was killed during an air raid when she was hit by shrapnel at her home in Cliffe Road, Strood. She'd only given birth to her cousin days earlier.

In 1946 the family moved to what is now Tanzania for two years, her father working for the colonial service.

She said: "Rationing lasted until the mid 50s but in a way we never really found out what peace here was like because we'd moved to Africa."

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