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ORAL HISTORY - TONY MERRILL - 17 MAY 1998.

Tony Merrill was born about 1931 and was evacuated from London during the bombing when they lost all that they had. His family was evacuated to Goring Heath and between 1942 and 1945 he attended Goring Heath Endowed School; living close to it in a cottage nearby.

His father worked for the Ministry of Aircraft Production and was based in one of the asbestos roofed concrete huts on the right hand side of the road going from Crays Pond just before the Goring Heath Cross roads. (Probably the Headquarters Site). The MAP were based in the old Huntley and Palmers office block in Reading during the war and his father also worked there for a while. After the war MAP moved to some offices by the airfield at Woodley before it was finally disbanded. The Head of the MAP at the end of the war was Sir Ben Lockspeiser.

Tony remembers the woods between Goring Heath and Woodcote were crowded with the sheds, hard standings and hangars of 70MU unit. He was mad keen on aeroplanes and can remember seeing the huge wooden packing cases in which aircraft spares, aero engines, and sometimes whole aircraft were delivered to the site. These wooden crates were marked with black stencilled American cities and he believed them to contain Mustangs. Other crates of English origin contained Spitfires.

70MU was tremendously active during the last 5 years of the war and the Queen Mary transporters were moving in and out all the time. The aircraft were assembled at 70MU and on many occasions he saw Spitfires being taken out on these and he can remember seeing packing cases arriving with the designation Mustang on them. The assembled aircraft were driven away with either their wings folded or removed as the Queen Marys could not negotiate the local roads with the wings fully assembled. The aircraft were later sent overseas.

He is positive of the American origin as in the latter years of the war these wooden crates were in great demand and were sold to staff and members of local communities as they made wonderful wooden garden sheds and even garages. The black stencilled names were permanently displayed.

At the age of 16 (probably a couple of years after leaving school) he wanted to join the RAF and his father arranged for him to see the Wing Commander of the RAF detachment there. The Wing Commander talked to him and advised him on what life was like in the RAF and what would be his best trade as Tony had already had some engineering training.

Tony's family were quite friendly with Sgt. and Mrs.Peak of the Air Ministry Police who was a Sergeant at 70MU. They lived in Croft Road.

The father of Reg Taylor of Cleeve Down also worked at 70MU.

Finally, Tony states, that the Units around Goring Heath and Woodcote must have been well camouflaged as they were never attacked even though occasionally enemy aircraft overflew this area and attempts were made to block the railway by bombing in Reading and even here in Goring.

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