World War 2 Parachute

During 2019 the Museum ran a World War 2 Reminiscences project where we interviewed a number of local people who were children in Beccles at the time of the Second World War. Twelve people were interviewed and this is part of a conversation with Ivan Last which explains the parachute that is on displayed in the museum.

"............But, well, then of course as you said, we had the servicemen and we had the troops and the American Airmen. I mention that in here, actually. An incident with the Americans. Obviously, they weren't used to our money, particularly the fact that we had twelve pence to the shilling and twenty shillings to the pound. They thought we were crazy. We have eventually gone to the metric system, but in those days there weren't. And they didn't understand the value to our money either, which can be shown by, which I have written in here actually (book shown). I made a parachute and for the weight, I used an old bell. And I went up on some flat roofs that we had to get more height, so I could thrown it up higher and it would come down. Well, I did this and I threw it up in the air, just as an American was walking along a pathway underneath. And he saw this coming down and I think he thought it was an anti-personnel bomb. They were things that we were worried about. We have got one over at the Museum at Flixton. They came down, shaped like a sort of, it had sort of wings on them and a barrel thing at the bottom and if you touched them, of course they would explode. We as children were warned not to touch these. But anyway, he thought, I think he thought this was one of these coming down and he in his American accent, he said, "hey kid, that was a good joke", he said, "how much do you want for this parachute". I said, "I don't know if I want to sell it". He said, "how about ten shillings". Ten shillings. And I said, "yes, certainly". He said, "God, I like to have that", he said, "I can take it back to camp and I'll play tricks on my buddies back there". (Laughter). I mean ten shillings then, I mean, well there was twelve pennies to a shilling, so that is a hundred and twenty pennies he had given me, really. Twelve to a, and he gave me ten. So there was a hundred and twenty pennies. Now, I could go to the cinema for tuppence. So at one hundred and twenty, I could go to the cinema sixty times. That would give you some idea how he had no idea of the value of what he was giving away. (Laughter). ....................."

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