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Ida Keyes

Land Army

I was living at Thorpe End near Norwich during the war, on my parents’ farm. On one occasion I had a head-on collision with an American army truck which ran into me in the fog in Salhouse. The American army had bought a field off Sir Edward Stracey who lived in the Hall, and they turned it into an airfield. They had done the same with many landowners. On the occasion of the collision the Americans were travelling on the wrong side of the road. I was taken to the American’s hospital and seen by an American doctor. In the evening the local policeman came round to see me. My vehicle was condemned, but I recovered in a few days. Afterwards I would wake up at night and think about the accident.

I used to collect three German Prisoners of War each day and bring them to my parents’ home to work on the farm. They worked well. When it was time for them to go back one of them cried. I used to take them for breakfast in the morning and mother gave them a jug of tea and lunch. There was a Captain Richardson in charge of them, and he used to book them in and out each day. There is now a church on the site where the Prisoner of War camp used to be – on the West side of the Heartsease Estate near Mousehold.

After a raid I used to drive into Norwich in the blackout to see if my grandparents were alright. They lived on the Plumstead Road near the prison in a bungalow they had had built for them – it was about three miles from where I lived in Thorpe End. We had a C license to run a vehicle and used to get petrol coupons from Cambridge. We had to apply to Cambridge every month for the license. We could hear it in Thorpe End when they were bombing Norwich. Carter the builder built out dug-out for us. There were steps that went down into it, and we had real beds in there, so we thought we were safe. They killed a family on the Salhouse Road when their house got a direct hit. They were a wealthy family of bankers.

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