River Wissey Lovell Fuller


November 2004

Ron join the throng to re-live his youth at a 1940's style rail journey.

On September 18th the North Norfolk Railway staged another of its special 1940s days. Many visitors joined in with the spirit of the occasion by dressing in civvies and uniforms of the period. The women's outfits were particularly good with smart hats, seamed stockings, fur stoles, fur coats even. Many of the younger women had long hair, they all looked as though they had stepped straight out of the past. Seeing them as live people is so very different from looking at pictures in magazines, or in films or on TV. The real show stealers, however, were not the ladies clothes, I fear, but the uniforms; air force blues, navy blues, white hats, Americans of all types, including two beefy MPs with hard hats, heavy sticks and pistols in holsters. We stood on the crowded station platform at Sheringham amongst all these many uniforms and 40s dresses, with the speakers playing Glenn Miller as the steam locomotive slowly puffed and hissed to a halt, whilst several couples were jitterbugging on the opposite platform. It was overwhelming as we were transported back more than sixty years. A solitary spitfire flying low over us then banking away, leaving us wallowing in the sweet sound of its Merlin, was enough to bring a lump to the throat. It was almost all too much.

At Holt station there was a NAAFI tent, a collection of cars and military vehicles from those days and many other memorabilia. The show stealer here for June, however, was a quartet singing live to canned music. They really were very good and revived memories of 1940s dances. The two male members of the quartet were dressed in American army uniforms with peak caps, they did look very smart and one in particular was very good looking. June had already been transported back to her teens and there was this young man who exactly fitted her teenage fantasy, she promptly fell in love and stayed entranced as she listened to their singing.

At Weybourne station there was more memorabilia from those days including a traction engine. Land Army girls gave a ploughing demonstration, and there was a mock Home Guard exercise, something to do with escaped prisoners I believe, whatever it was there was plenty of gunfire and some very loud explosions. The whole length of the Poppy Line was really buzzing with people, even the camaraderie of the 1940s seemed to have been recaptured so that everybody was very friendly and there were many little anecdotes being told. One that I liked was the story of a tail end Charlie in a Lancaster who dozed off on the long flight to Germany and had woken up to find a Messerschmitt 110 night fighter coming up behind, the Captain had seen the fighter and was dismayed that his tail gunner was not firing. He bellowed into the intercom "George, are you going to fire at the bloody thing or not?" George fired a burst which caused the 110 to veer off, he then spoke "Don't you worry skipper, I'm 70ft nearer to him than you are, let me worry about him."

The weather was perfect; it really was a great day. For those who enjoy nostalgic moments and for those who cannot remember but would like to try and get some feel for those days, I would recommend that they go next year, assuming that the event is held.

Ron Watts

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