When news happens get involved. Send your pictures, views and video to us by text and email
Air raids sound like every-day events
IT has been 60 years since Peter Love last set foot in Weymouth.
Armed with a list of his old haunts and a list of his old friends, the 83-year-old recently took a nostalgic trip back to the town where he spent his teenage years during the Second World War.
He said: "My father was in the Royal Navy, we came to Weymouth in 1937 and I was at Weymouth Grammar School until 1943 at which point I transferred to the Air Force. I kept a diary during these years of swimming and cinema trips as well as every air raid that happened. I have transferred these diaries on to my computer and I want to write a series of articles from them for some journals."
What is striking about Peter's diary extracts is how ordinary teenage pastimes of cycling trips and dances are juxtaposed with air raids and wartime activities.
For example: 'June 3, 1940: No school owing to occupation by French troops. Went for bathe with Budd, Painter. Afternoon - bathe again with Budd, Painter. Evening - went for walk with Painter and Gerald. Talked with French soldier.' Peter explained: "The evacuated French troops were billeted in Weymouth schools, so the latter had to close for a few days. As a temporary measure, exam classes were taught in the basement of a church, nearly opposite what was then the main entrance to Alexandra Gardens.
We were in a Latin lesson taken by Mr Richardson when the alarms went; bearing in mind that we were close to the quay, a legitimate target.
When sounds of German aerial activity was heard, Mr R. to keep up morale attempted to describe the event in Latin.
It was then that he created a phrase to describe the sound of the Stuka bombers in their diving as a 'horrificu lapsu' - not acceptable to a purist, but welcome in taking minds off the reality!
"In retrospect the WGS staff of the time were all pretty good at supporting pupil morale under fire'," said Peter. "Names that come back are Mr ('Polly') Wootton (maths), Mr Honebun (physics), Mr Welford (geography and a good shot with a blackboard duster against those who weren't seen to be paying full attention) and Miss Bell (deputy headteacher)."
Two weeks later the diary reads: 'June 17, 1940: Air raid in early hours of morning. Saw bombs drop. France surrenders.' Peter said: "At first, we went out to observe events, but later, as shrapnel from the anti-aircraft guns whined down and the bombs came closer and caused more visible damage, Mum and I retreated to our air raid shelter.
Initially, this was an Anderson shelter dug into the back garden - this was damp and uncomfortable and was superseded by a Morrison that took the form of a metal table like structure in the living room.
"In the first raids, and before the shelters were available, Mum and I crouched on the kitchen floor.
When bombs demolished a house half a mile away, we experienced a flash that permeated under both the front and kitchen doors, followed by a ground tremor, and only then by the whistle of falling bombs and noise of explosions; proof that light travels faster than sound!"
The Love family lived at 246, Chickerell Road. In one photograph, Peter and his father, Frank Love, a Commissioned Engineer in the Navy, stand outside the house in their respective uniforms.
Peter was in the Army Cadet Force and his entries are littered with references to cleaning his uniform, inspections or special parades.
He was also in the Air Training Corps; in another photograph, taken in 1941, he wears his school uniform with a small badge on his lapel; the one worn in Air Training Corps.
"I would say I was 16 or 17 then," he said.
Wartime was a worrying time for Weymouth mothers such as Queenie Love, Peter's mother, who managed the Alexandra Gardens. "We used to cycle out to see the crashed aeroplanes as teenagers," said Peter. "We carried on cycling, going to the cinema, going dancing.
The way our parents must have worried. From my diaries, I see I used to come home regularly at 10.45pm."
How has Weymouth changed over the years, I wonder?
"It's totally changed really," he said. "From my list of locations, the Criterion Restaurant is the only one that has survived.
Weymouth Grammar School itself has disappeared. The Pier Bandstand where we went dancing has gone. But the Post Office is still in the same place as are Boots and Marks & Spencer. The missing factor is the Clinton Arcade and along St Mary's Street there was a lovely cake shop called Burt's.
There used to be three cinemas: The Odeon, the Regent and the Belle Vue. Then, one of my best mates' parents ran the London Hotel on Bond Street; that's changed to something else.
He was Brian Monger; he was nicknamed 'Fishy' at school. They called me 'Amo' - meaning 'I love' - because of my surname."
Peter continued: "There was somewhere called The Duchy, a bit of an upmarket place, and then there was a fish and chip shop called the Nuwey or Neway and somewhere called Howley's where I used to take my bike for punctures because I used to cycle everywhere."
Peter joined the air force in 1943 and was later sent to Canada to train as a navigator. He continued to come back to Weymouth for leave while he was in the airforce (until 1946) and for holidays while he was at university (from 1946 to 1948 or 1949).
But as an adult, he lived away from the town in Scotland, Lancashire, Leeds and Devon.
Peter said: "It's been umpteen years since I've been to Weymouth. Everyone seems determined to get rid of all the old places. There may be a few of my old acquaintances around though."
If you would like to get in touch with Peter to reminisce, email him at email@example.com