Cliff Frost

Cliff was born on the 9th March 1932 to Arthur and Sylvia Frost. Cliff was the third of four children. He had an elder brother called Arthur, but called Mick for his entire life, and an older sister Joan. A couple of years after Cliff had arrived the youngest of the siblings, Trevor was born.

He was born in a cottage right next to the railway track at Canley Holt train station. The cottage belonged to the Standard Motor Company where is father worked as a Chief Commissionaire and sometime Toast Master. About a year after his birth, Cliff and his family moved into a slightly larger company house just around the corner in Tile Hill Lane. Tile Hill Lane would be his childhood home throughout the war years.

Both his parents were from Worcestershire and had come to Coventry because of the boom in the car industry after WWI. His father had been too young to serve in WWI but joined the army as a regular soldier soon afterwards.

With the outbreak of war in September 1939, his dad re-joined the army, and spent most of his war years as a Sergeant at various training depots around the country. Occasionally, a parcel would arrive at Tile Hill Lane with a note attached telling Cliff’s mum not to let anyone know they’d got it. This was usually because it contained either black market goods, or stuff his dad had obtained, usually not by strictly legal means. Cliff once described the war years as a massive adventure for a boy who was aged 7 when war broke out and 13 when it ended. Like all boys of his age at that time, when he wasn’t playing football, he spent hours looking for pieces of shrapnel to share and swap with his mates.

He often recalled two particular incidents that happened during those years. One involved a mortar bomb and the other a German bomber aircraft. The mortar bomb incident happened when he and his brothers, somehow managed to find themselves with a live mortar bomb in their possession, how this happened is still a bit of a mystery. Needless to say, there was a big fuss in the local press about this and the three brothers decided they’d best get rid of it, so they wrapped it in youngest brother, Trevor’s pullover with some rubble from a bombed out building for extra weight and tossed it into a nearby pond. Poor Trev got into loads of trouble for losing his pullover.

The second incident involved a lone bomber who attacked the factory. Cliff recalled the aircraft being so low that he could see the pilot, and the pilot waving at him.

For periods of the war when the bombing of Coventry was bad, the children spent time living with their paternal grandmother in Worcester. She was a very severe woman, and someone that Cliff grew to hate. This hatred was brought on by an event that occurred on one particular winter’s night in 1940. It was 14th November 1940, the night of the big blitz on Coventry. In the early hours, their grandmother got the children out of bed, took them out into the garden and pointed to a red and orange glow in the distance, and said in a strong Worcestershire accent, “You see that, that’s Coventry burning.” Not something you want to hear when you’re 8 and your mums still in the city!

Because of the war, his primary schooling was a bit hit and miss. But despite this Cliff had a keen intellect and a good eye for numbers, a skill he would put to use a bit later as a Bookies Runner. After the war, he gained a place at The Coventry Junior Technical School and from there moved on to gain an apprenticeship as an Apprentice Toolmaker at The Standard Motor Company in Canley. Here he would remain under its different names, Standard, Standard Triumph and British Leyland, until he took redundancy in 1980.

Steve Frost.

Leave a Reply