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Kent's Doodlebug Summer: Helen Mill interview

Helen Mill (nee Thompson), of Bower Mount Road, Maidstone, remembers having a ringside view of doodlebugs falling on London.

Although she has lived in Maidstone since 1963, she was born in Sanderstead in Surrey.

She said: "We lived on a hill, very high up - at about 1,000ft.

Helen Mill of Oakwood Court Maidstone has been sharing her memories of the war, with a picture of her (right) and her twin sister Wendy as a child.Picture: Sean Aidan (10537965)
Helen Mill of Oakwood Court Maidstone has been sharing her memories of the war, with a picture of her (right) and her twin sister Wendy as a child.Picture: Sean Aidan (10537965)

"Because of that we had a barrage balloon in our back garden to try to discourage enemy aircraft.

"From my mother's bedroom window we had a fantastic view over London, from Crystal Palace in the east to Epsom in the west.

"From 1944 onwards we could see the doodlebugs coming over - sometimes right over our house - and going on to come down in London."

She remembers one day when she was in a field at the bottom of the hill with her identical twin sister Wendy when the warning siren sounded.

She said: "The milkman was passing with his cart pulled by a shire horse.

Helen Mill of Oakwood Court Maidstone has been sharing her memories of the war, with a picture of her (right) and her twin sister Wendy as a child.Picture: Sean AidanPhoto of Wendy and Helen (right) as children. (10537971)
Helen Mill of Oakwood Court Maidstone has been sharing her memories of the war, with a picture of her (right) and her twin sister Wendy as a child.Picture: Sean AidanPhoto of Wendy and Helen (right) as children. (10537971)

"He scooped us up and galloped like mad up the hill to get us home. It was very exciting."

Mrs Mill, now 80, said she did not find the distinctive drone of the doodlebugs particularly frightening.

"I was born in 1939 and grew up with the noises of war. It was just an everyday occurrence to me."

However, there was one particular night that stuck in her memory, when she, her sister and mother Marguerite were woken by a member of the Home Guard knocking on the door.

She said: "He was just concerned that were were all right - we were alone because my father, who was in the tank corps, was away at the war.

"When we looked out, it just seemed that the whole of London was ablaze."

Helen Mill of Oakwood Court Maidstone has been sharing her memories of the war, with a picture of her (right) and her twin sister Wendy as a child.Picture: Sean AidanPhoto of Helen's mum's diary which she kept during the war, she writes about "The begining of the end..." (10537974)
Helen Mill of Oakwood Court Maidstone has been sharing her memories of the war, with a picture of her (right) and her twin sister Wendy as a child.Picture: Sean AidanPhoto of Helen's mum's diary which she kept during the war, she writes about "The begining of the end..." (10537974)

Not long after that, she and her sister, started having nightmares. She said: "We both had the same dreams. It was very, very hot and there was a terrible noise and we would wake up screaming."

She remembers after the war, she and Wendy had to travel to London for an eye operation.

She said: "We just passed endless rows of burnt-out houses, with strangely just a wall standing with the patterned wall-paper still visible or maybe a sink standing on its own in the midst of the rubble.

"To be honest I didn't think much of it. I thought that was just what London was like."


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