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The Manor Farm Football Lads, 1944

Photo of the Manor Farm lads. Ron and Bobby Gunn, Bill Eason, Frank James, Billy Verral, Derek Baker & Leslie Watts. I'm kneeling down in the dead center.
Photo supplied by Leslie Richards

My name is Leslie Richards. I moved to 13 Cowfold Road in 1936 from the condemned cottages in Oxford Street, Brighton. I had an older sister Kath and an older brother Jim. My mother’s name was Kate and my father’s name was Arthur. I went to St Marks School and later to Whitehawk Senior Boys.

I too was evacuated to Slaithwaite during the war. I enjoyed the time I was there. The Brighton evacuees would play around the canals that ran by the cotton mills. Many is the time one of us fell in the canal, but having come from a seaside town it was a whole lot of fun to us. The saying among the locals was: “It’s those evacuees again”.

I remember the days before the Normandy invasion. There were tanks and truck loads of troops parked in our streets; the housewives were baking cakes and making pots and pots of tea for the soldiers. As kids it was an exciting time being so close to all this armory.

Sadly, so many wouldn’t make it back. My brother Jim was shot down over France in July 1944. Jim and 5 of his crew were rescued from the plane by the French resistance, unfortunately they were all dead. The village people of Magny Fouchard buried them in their village cemetery, where they still rest today. All the crew were 22 or under; Jim was 20. I visited the graves in July 2004.

Let us not forget what Mr Churchill said: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few”. If any of the lads in this photo are about I would like to hear from you and will be watching this page for comments.

Comments about this page

  • I am the small boy in the front centre.The Gunn brothers used to let me play as my Dad always managed to get me a football. If they did not let me play I would pick up the ball and go home. We used to have matches that lasted hours and hours. The new St. Marks school is now where we played. Great times.

    By LESLIE WATTS (19/02/2007)
  • Obituary: GUNN, Ronald passed away peacefully at Maplehurst Nursing Home, Haywards Heath on 26th September 2008 aged 77 years. A loving father of Tracey, Steven and Jamie and brother to Bobby, Phylis and Victor. Funeral Service at The Downs Crematorium, Brighton on Friday 10th October at 11.15am.

    By Maralyn Eden (07/01/2009)
  • I have just returned from visiting the same grave in France. Leslie’s brother and my cousin were in the same crew. While there I learnt a lot from the local people. Would love to share this with any family members, if you are out there. We must do what we can to keep their memory alive, these brave young men.

    By Mrs Gillian Seymour (20/07/2015)

     I am glad Gillian that you were able to visit the graves in France. It is comforting to know that the villagers tend the graves and put fresh flowers on them. Sadly My husband, Jim’s brother passed away in Feb 2008. We owe these very young brave men such a lot.

    By marie Richards (30/08/2017)

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