The Red Cross Ambulance depicted in a painting at the war time museum at Carew Cheriton Control Tower brought back memories for former Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) member Nancy Jones (nee Evans) who attended the museum with Pantyffynnon Ward Action Group recently.
Nancy recalled how she drove a Red Cross ambulance in Liverpool ferrying repatriated former Prisoners of War (POWs) to local hospitals after they arrived back in the UK from Japanese Prison Camps at the end of the Second World War.
She said everyone in Liverpool must have heard coming not because bells or sirens were sounding but because she struggled finding the right gear and clunked everywhere. After joining the ATS, aged just 17, in 1943 Nancy was sent to Camberley in England to learn to drive. From Austin 7s Nancy progressed to driving the larger Humber Snipe staff cars before becoming an ambulance driver.
The Pantyffynnon Ward Action Group were particularly interested in the Control Tower’s Stanton air-raid shelter as they hope to renovate their own Anderson air-raid shelter and open it to the public.
Built to protect up to 50 people the Stanton air-raid shelter was manufactured by Stanton Ironworks Co Ltd in Derbyshire from pre-cast concrete arched shaped sides bolted together to form a standard Air Ministry structure. Stanton shelters were normally semi-sunk below ground level and covered with soil and grass to camouflage them and to afford greater protection from bomb blasts. Several can still be found in what has now reverted to farmland around the former RAF base at Carew Cheriton being grazed by sheep and ponies.
Volunteers rebuilt the Control Tower Museum’s Stanton shelter above ground so that visitors can gain easy access. That apart the experience of taking shelter in the one at the museum is as authentic as local volunteers can make it; especially when lights are turned off and visitors are asked sing wartime songs loudly to drown out the noise of imaginary bombs dropping outside.