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ORAL HISTORY - LES AND IRIS NOVELL - FRIDAY 15 AUGUST 1997.
Les Novell's father was called Alfred. He had seen many bad times when he was often out of work for three months at a time. When he worked at 70MU it was the best job he ever had. He was employed by Freddy Paddick, a builder and decorator from Kidmore End who had the contract for the maintenance and decoration of the camp buildings. Probably worked there from 1942 to 1959.
Les was born in 1925 and when war broke out he was 14. He left school and worked for Thomas Higgs & Sons, builders and contractors at their yard where Betwins Garage now is. Remembers well the humped back old lady called Miss Swayles who by herself cooked the meals for the Temperance Hall. He had his lunches there and they were hot (told him the story of Bill Deason who was billeted at Admiral Harwood's house. He knew the place well). While working for Higgs he helped build the two pill boxes down by Gatehampton railway bridge and some others. He also made wooden packing cases for Milton MU. He was called up at 18 and joined the RAF at Henesford MU, near Manchester. He was in the Motor Transport Repair Unit and was made supervisor when sent to the American Packard car factory at Cairo, Egypt. Knew nothing about vehicles. Later he was sent to Habayna, Iraq, 50 miles from Bagdad with a maintenance unit which helped to restore/mend and prepare our ancient Avro Anson and Handley Page bombers for sale to the Iraq Air Force. The wooden joints had become loose in the heat and they all had to be re screwed. They had to puncture the canvas, not only to let out the expanding air, but to gain access to the screws.
Iris was only 12 at the out break of war and afterwards went into teaching. However she enjoyed the Woodcote dances. She remembers the Miss Worthington. She also recalls that there were railway sidings at Goring railway station on land on which the present Holmlea Road houses are built. These were the sidings on which incoming wagons for 70MU were shunted.