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School Years

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Primary School

Peter's first school was Byng Road Council School which he attended from the age of 5 until not long after his 10th birthday.
He recalled: "By today's conditions it was a deary old school back then. No grass payground, just tarseal, so plenty of skinned knees after playing football on the unforgiving surface. Apart from "old Ma" Gibson, the women teachers were pretty understanding although in those days we were pretty scared of them. Two pupils had to share a desk, and teachers had a ruler to crack over your knuckles when you didn't behave. About the only school sport I can recall was participating in inter-schools’ sports at the Barnet Playing Fields at the bottom of Barnet Hill, in Hertfordshire. The only events at that time were sprints, and I usually managed to win"

High School

In September 1939 Peter went to Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School for boys, in Barnet. On his first day at school Peter remembered Air raid sirens going off. That time, at least, it was false alarm. Everybody was issued gas masks which they had to carry with them at all times.


World War 2

Peter was 10 when WWII broke out. Barnet received a lot of bombing damage - the German bombers couldn’t get through all the defences around London from the east, so they’d try and come in from the north, come right over Barnet and quite often had to drop their bombs off around Barnet. Queen Elizabeth's School was hit and despite Peter having visions of months and months off school, the school only lost half a day because the bomb only affected the refectory (dining hall) and the chemistry lab.
A bomb also landed in the backyard of their house in 36 Byng Road. The family were lying in the hall which was thought to be the safest place. Át first it was thought to be an unexploded bomb and the family were evacuated to the local church hall. In fact the bomb did explode, but fortunately the surface was very soft and it exploded deep in the ground and did no damage. If it had exploded on the surface the whole house would have gone. 
In the early days of the bombing, the family would go to an underground shelter in the evening until the bombing stopped. After a while, the family decided to take the risk and stay in the house. Near the end of the war, when doodlebugs were so prominent, Peter's father purchased a Morrison Shelter which was put up in the dining room.

Army

Peter had 2 years compulsory military training. He got posted to Beds and Herts Regiment to do his 8 weeks primary training. After that he was assigned to the Royal Artillery, and posted to Larkhill in the middle of Salisbury plain which he described as - "the coldest place on earth".

From there he was posted to Colchester, and then to the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery at St Johns Wood in London.