l was eight years old when I arrived in Coombe Road at the start of WW2 on my father’s posting to Preston Barracks from Cavalry Barracks, Newport, Monmouthshire . In a very short time I was a pupil in Coombe Road School and unfortunately a patient in The Children’s Hospital, Dyke Road. by which time Dad was in France with the BEF. I had a mastoidectomy and now realise how lucky I was to survive that operation in the days before antibiotics could help in the recovery after what my mother was told was a 50/50 chance.
Thanks Mr. Bilderbeek!
On my return to home I asked Mr. Bilderbeek, who ran the newsagent and tobacconist shop, in Coombe Road, if he had a paper round for me and he gave me a trial. So began an adventure that lasted until I left school to join the Army in 1946. I wondered what happened to the Rules of the Brighton Education Committee about pupil employment. I can only assume that they were suspended during the period of wartime.!!!! One of the first papers I delivered was the one that carried the sinking of HMS Courageous . My Mother’s family were Royal Navy and that event was well remembered in our household until she, her sister and my Grandmother had all passed on in the 1990s
Special Place at Varndean Boys School
My home in Coombe Road was at No.38. Easy to recall as the bus that ran along the road had the same number. A few paces downhill and we are at Riley Road on the corner opposite is Grout’s, confectioner, baker and post office.. At school I sat next to Raymond Grout a member of the family, who I think lived in Ladysmith Road. He was younger than I and when I was awarded a Special Place at Varndean Boys School had another year before he came to Varndean too. I