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Herbert Frank Overall

from:Cornish Hall End

My maternal grandfather - Herbert Overall of Millers Row, Cornish Hall End near Finchingfield was a farm worker prior to WW2 then went to work for Frederick J French (builders and ground works) as a driver/labourer and as such was employed around the area - to my knowledge he worked on the airfields at Great Sampford and Ridgewell although he may well have worked on others too (given the high number of airfields in the area) but I cannot recall him mentioning any more.

With regard to Gt Sampford (actually closer to Wimbish Green), I remember him telling me of one occasion when the area surrounding the landing strip was being 'graded' and a chap on some sort of tractor unit was working whilst a raid had started - he wasn't aware of anything wrong until an unexploded bomb or drop tank bounced past his tractor ,at which point he dived into cover.

Another tale attached to Sampford - I visited the area with my grandmother in the mid 1990s and she got talking to a local who said that the young men would come back from flying their Spitfires - so pumped up that they would beg steal borrow any pushbikes they could get hold of and cycle to the water tank, climb up with bike on back - then cycle round the top of the tanks for the lark, possibly in defiance of the stress and close proximity to death they had escaped for another day.

Of Ridgewell I have only the story of one its first inhabitants coming to grief - a Short Stirling landing and overshooting the runway and presumably folding up its gangly undercarriage.

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