Interview with Charles Reason, 13 January 2009
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Sub-Fonds
Oral History Recordings
Level: Sub-Series
Memories Exchange interviews
Scope and Content:
Interview with Charles Reason about life in Harwich, service in the Second World War, and the 1953 Flood.

[Track 1] Early childhood memories: games; scrumping; trips to the beach; collecting fruit, mussels, etc to eat; household growing up: layout of the house; chores; daily routine (2 minutes 44 seconds).
[Track 2] Father a carpenter: apprenticed to Saunder’s, born in Portland Place, then moved to Second Avenue (1 minute 32 seconds).
[Track 3] Local shops and tradesmen, buying fresh shrimp (1 minute 41 seconds).
[Track 4] Attended Second Avenue School, left around age seven: started round delivering bread rolls while at school; then became paper boy for WH Smith (3 minutes 30 seconds).
[Track 5] Attended Hill School from age seven to eleven; then attended Central School in Waddesdon Road until age fourteen; teachers there (2 minutes 37 seconds).
[Track 6] Had four siblings; much later discovered that at least one other brother had died (1 minute 46 seconds).
[Track 7] Left school at age fourteen; first job at Dunn’s butchers (Lee Road) as errand boy; other shops in the area including fishmonger’s, grocer's, tailor, haberdasher and sweet shop; coal yard; slaughter houses (6 minutes 2 seconds).
[Track 8] Bunker’s Meadow, now Portland Crescent: used for playing football, visiting fairs or circuses (2 minutes 51 seconds).
[Track 9] Moved to employment at Bramble Island, circa 1935: making blasting cartridges for coal mines and lead crystals (2 minutes 31 seconds).
[Track 10] Joined TA [Territorial Army] in November 1937; drills in the Drill Hall (now Park Pavilion) twice a week; payments received; uniform; annual camp at Bembridge, Isle of Wight, won artillery competition; artillery stationed on Beacon Hill; training once a year with live ammunition (5 minutes 49 seconds).
[Track 11] Called up to serve in the Second World War; first sent to Brackenbury, Felixstowe [Suffolk], then returned to Beacon Hill but had little to do; in 1940 sent to Narvik Fjord, Norway to install artillery, but ship sank; sent home on the Monarch of Bermuda (6 minutes 1 second).
[Track 12] 1940: Returned to Greenock [Inverclyde], then sent to Llandidnos [Llandudno, Conwy], then given leave; Essex Regiment wanted to make Harwich a sealed unit but many residents refused to evacuate, including his parents (2 minutes 52 seconds).
[Track 13] Next sent to Haverford [Pembrokeshire], then Flat Holm, Bristol Channel to man guns there; then moved to Portishead [Somerset] to train Home Guard; then moved to Brean Down [Somerset] to operate telephone exchange; then moved to Steep Holm [Bristol Channel] to operate artillery again (3 minutes 21 seconds).
[Track 14] Sent to Aldershot [Hampshire]; eventually sent out to Sicily [Italy] to help with invasion; then moved to Bari [Italy], then Barletta (4 minutes 40 seconds).
[Track 15] Continued following troops up coast of Italy, ended working with navy in radar stations in Adriatic Sea; demobbed from Trieste; returned to work in Harwich in January 1946 (1 minute 6 seconds).
[Track 16] Working at Cann’s as painter/decorator, refurbishing Pier Hotel, Cliff Hotel, Royal Flats [Kings Quay Street] (5 minutes 45 seconds).
[Track 17] Memories of 1953 Flood: helped to tie up boats on Saturday night; woken up on Sunday morning by police to help man rescue boats (4 minutes 25 seconds).
[Track 18] From Monday helped with pumping out roads; additional pumps brought from London (4 minutes 40 seconds).
[Track 19] Permanent saltwater damage to flooded houses on Bathside (2 minutes).
Dates of Creation:
13 January 2009
65 minutes 54 seconds
Admin History:
Charles Reason was born 16 October 1920 at Second Avenue.
Custodial History:
This recording was deposited with a copy of an extract of the last ten minutes of the interview, discussing the 1953 Flood.
Copyright of interviewee transferred to Harwich Society; copyright of recording transferred to ESVA but contact Harwich Society prior to use for broadcasting on radio, television, or non-ERO website.
Physical Characteristics:
MP3 files created from original wma and wav files.
Originals Location:
Harwich Society
Related Unit of Description:
Digital photograph of Charles Reason catalogued as SA 49/1/1/7/4.
Not Available:
Essex Sound and Video Archive: use digital copy available on Soundcloud

Key terms

TypeKey termsDescription
Subjects Education Interview with Charles Reason
Subjects Military forces Interview with Charles Reason
Subjects Second World War Interview with Charles Reason
Personal Names Charles
Interview with Charles Reason
Document Types Sound recording Interview with Charles Reason