Bill Dean, who grew up in Coleshill 80 years ago, has kindly loaned some photographs showing a worrying time in Coleshill during the last world war. (Bill went into the army in March 1941 and returned home in September 1945, so missed all this drama at home).
The staff of Price-Forbes, Lloyd's Underwriters, moved to Rushymead (the home of Mr Forbes) at the outbreak of war in 1939. Most of the large rooms downstairs were offices, the upstairs were bedrooms for the young female staff and two huts were put up in the chicken run for more offices. The buildings where the lawn mowers and other machines were kept became a cook house and kitchen, and the large lawn in front of the house was dug up to grow vegetables for the kitchens.
On the cricket field, an Army Searchlight Unit arrived. In October, 1940, a German plane was caught in the beam. It is thought to be on its way to Slough but, instead, dropped several incendiary bombs around Rushymead. Then, a month later, the same thing happened but this time a large bomb was dropped in the grounds of Rushymead. With good fortune it did not explode! You will see what a difficult task it was to get the bomb up and remove the explosives to make it safe, by some very brave men of the Bomb Disposal Unit.
The Bomb Disposal Unit worked for several weeks to reach the six foot bomb, weighing 1400kgms, at the bottom of the 36 foot deep shaft. On the crane was Spr. Hunt, and round the shaft, Sgt Kenna MBE, Dvr. Webber, Spr Wood and Spr. Whitehead.
Many thanks to Lindsey Haubner and Bill Dean for this insight to wartime Coleshill.