Civilian Service of
Remembrance and Thanksgiving - 2007

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JohnJohn Cork

One of the people we are here to remember today is Frederick Ernest George Spinner, age 9. Killed by enemy action at 16.03 hours on Wednesday 13th September 1944, at Dover Priory Station.

He was returning to Dover with his sister from a short holiday. I was told he was blown to bits.

It was one of the saddest days of my then young life, and I cried quite a lot as Freddie was my best friend. As I may do today. If I do, please excuse me.  

One thing Freddie and I had in common was we had both lost our Fathers when age 3. In fact Freddie is buried with his. My Father lies in Haifa, Israel, killed on active service whilest in the Palestine Police force.

Freddie and I both went to St Barts School, at Tower Hamlets, Dover. During the war St Barts was open part time, and then closed for over two years. When the children were evacuated only two were missing, Freddie and me. Our Mothers would not let us go.

What a long holiday we had! Alton Towers and other adventure parks could not match Dover. Dover was our play park and what a place! With its bombed and shelled buildings from ground level up to roof tops, all in various stages of destruction. From the walls we got wood battens and cardboard, and made great swords and rifles, dust bin lids as shields. At Tower Hamlets we also had the Chalk Pit where we fought our battles.  

One thing I always think of and remember even today is running down Tower Hamlets Hill with Freddie to go to our homes. No one could catch us and we were called the “Terrible Twins”. We played “hooky” for quite a few Wednesdays when the schools were open!   

One of the many incidents I will never forget was a shell hitting a junk shop in London Road. After the all clear, out of the shelters we “Cave Kids” came. Finding the shop, in we went. Freddie found a Topee/Pith  Helmet, and I found an African Spear. After a few attempts to throw it we gave up as it was too long, so we took off the binding and separated the iron head from the wood shaft. Now we had a big knife. Then we started on the Topee/Pith Helmet binding. There were yards of it. I told you we were known as the “Terrible Twins”!

Then there came the terrible day when I was told he had been killed. I have never forgotten him, but that’s not the end of the story. Over a year ago, Marilyn and Simon of the Dover War Memorial Project told me they had located Freddie and his Father’s unmarked grave. They were also in contact with Ted Kelly, an Old St Bart’s school boy and with Freddie’s niece, Jan Vickery. We all decided we would like to contribute towards a headstone for Freddie’s grave. Later on, we shall be unveiling it.   

On holiday in Italy several years ago I met a German who said, “I have seen England from France during the War”. He had served on the German Gun Battery at Cap Gris Nez.  

“Well,” I said, “for all the shells you fired at Dover, you still missed me!”

He replied, “Well, you did throw some back!”

But Freddie was not so fortunate, along with many others. And today we are here to remember them all

Thank you all for coming

photo: Simon Chambers

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