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Memories of serving at Spurn during WWII

by Elizabeth Powell

Sgt Elizabeth Clifford, 497 Mixed Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillery

Born 6 May 1922 - just celebrated 100th Birthday.

I was serving with the above Unit on the Radar equipment on a gun site on the Lincolnshire coast in the time leading up to D Day in 1944.

The Germans had a new weapon - the Doodlebug or Flying Bomb. The latest model was able to be dispatched as far as the Humber Estuary.

We were sent rather hurriedly to an old gun site near Patrington. It was in two fields at the end of a lane, off the main Patrington to Spurn Road. Once it had been occupied by a male unit, so had to be made habitable again and adapted to accommodate females as well as males. Some of us were in tents for a while and my lasting memory is of being cold and the difficulty of getting up in the dark if the alarm sounded.

The Estuary was full of ships loaded with supplies and military equipment to replenish the initial D Day activities. It was therefore an obvious target for the Germans.

Our connection with Spurn Head was to take turns to go there in military lorries to man the equipment there. Spurn seemed a bleak remote place and the road was often flooded. There weren’t many people there - the lighthouse cottages were occupied as the lighthouse was operated manually. The big coastal guns were manned by gunners of the Coastal Royal Artillery. There was a N.A.A.F.I canteen and a few other permanent huts etc, to accommodate our teams when it was their turn for shift there. We had electricity and water on tap, so it wasn’t too uncomfortable.

I was down at the big camp site when I heard General Eisenhower on a small private radio, announce that D Day was under way.

During my time at Spurn the guns weren’t fired - a practice session once, plenty of alarms, but after D Day activity seemed to be centred on Europe.