CHATTING recently to a young pal, the subject of war came up and I suddenly realised the thing about getting old is that all the memories stashed away in those well-used brain cells are far from dead and gone.

And also you are not on par with those younger generations simply because they were too young to share those certain memories of way back when.

Which you'd think would be fairly obvious, really, but I guess at my age one is entitled to have "senile moments".

But Bert's remarks querying how it must have been to witness bombs showering down over Britain, saying how he found it hard to visualise, sort of set my brain cells sparking - because I remembered it only too well.

All those German bombers hovering overhead, their engines droning with a full load ready to drop over London and the Home Counties, and my family and I huddled in our Anderson shelter at the bottom of the garden, just hoping they would not drop their bombs on us.

But I was only 10, and it all seemed to be a big adventure, watching Spitfires and Hurricanes engage in dog fights with the enemy above.

I remember too, given all that, how we were always free to ramble the countryside without the fear given of today's climate - and if there was an air raid while we were out playing our adventure games, we'd know the bombers were aiming for the built-up areas, so there would be no problem.

That was until 1944 ,when it became a different matter.

Hitler started bombarding us with his new 'secret weapon' - the V1, the first of three 'revenge' weapons produced in retaliation for our bombing of German cities.

The scary thing was, the bombs would crash down indiscriminately, depending when the fuel ran out.

My pals and I, enjoying one of our usual walking excursions in the country, amazingly came across one of these, which had crashed, unexploded.

Its nose was burrowed deep into the side of a hill, not so far from RAF Bentley Priory, which was the headquarters of Fighter Command during the Second World War.

We had no fear in our hearts, just the spirit of adventure, which I guess put all such fears aside.

This was one of the first bombs of its sort, but since it had wings and a fuselage, we automatically thought it was a plane that had been downed and looked for the pilot.

But there was no pilot, no cockpit, and we were flabbergasted.

And the engines were different too: no propellers - very strange.

We scrambled over the fuselage and played sliding games and it was all good fun.

That is, until we were interrupted by a hoard of civil defence men who piled out of a lorry in the lane nearby and were running over to us and yelling to get the hell out of there and that it was an unexploded bomb.

In minutes it was surrounded by barriers and army bomb disposal experts were on site, scratching their chins and looking truly baffled.

The police arrived and we were told to go back home and not to mention a word to anybody, that it was top secret.

Feeling important and privileged to know something our parents didn't, we held the secret - well, for a little while that is.

Eventually it had to come out, because the excitement of it all was just too much to hold back any longer.

My elder brother, who was on leave from the Army, didn't believe us and thought it was all a game.

I replied: "All right. My pals and I will show you."

In a matter of an hour we arrived at the scene on our bicycles, but there was no sign of the aircraft.

Only a small crater remained and was partly filled in. In no way did my brother believe us, since it could have been anything: there were no signs of tyre marks of a lorry that would have taken it away. Nothing.

It was a hot summer, the earth was parched and hard, and any evidence could have easily been cleared, swept away.

We were a laughing stock and my brother made a big issue of it.

But later, after the end of the war, in fact, I read something which made it all become clear.

Anything new and unknown, like a secret weapon, deposited here would be subject to intense security and examination.

I feel sure the doodlebug we saw was one of the first to crash on Britain - and the fact that it was intact was probably a bonus.

The craft was soon nicknamed the doodlebug because it buzzed like an Australian insect of the same name.

It hurtled through the skies of southern England at the rate of 100 to 150 a day and in consequence, during the first week of that month 2,752 lives were lost and 8,000 injured.

It seems to this day that such was the intensity of the security at that time that there is absolutely no record of there having been an unexploded bomb found on Harrow Weald Common.

But the memory of my childhood is still strong - and I will always remember the absolute thrill and excitement shared with my pals that day.