Our Century

Spy fever in the Blitz

Bob Whitmore, Tettenhall, Born 1916

Bob Whitmore

"In 1941 I was living in Chorley, Lancashire and my brother was doing his basic training with the RAF at Blackpool. I decided to take the train across to see him. Of course, with the war on and everyone worried about spies, there were no destination boards showing at the station.

"Anyway, someone said this train was going to Blackpool, and it would be all right, so I got on.

"It didn't go to Blackpool. It stopped at the station inside Euxton which was one of the biggest Royal Ordnance factories in Britain. It had its own station, that's how big it was.

"You always knew when you were near Euxton because all the girls on the buses were as yellow as oranges from working with the explosives.

"I remember I had this camera on me, a very good type of camera, in the middle of this huge complex.

"I was a bit worried so I asked this lad what to do and he said, just stick it under your coat and walk out of the main gate, and that would be all right.

"Well, when I was about 50 yards from the gate he must have changed his mind because he shouted out You'd better show him the camera!'

"I ended up in front of the chief of police for this huge complex of factories.

"Thankfully, he was very understanding and allowed me to carry on to Blackpool with my camera.

"Everywhere you went in those days there were warnings about spies and walls have ears' and so on. I shan't forget that day.