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Growing Up in War Time

by middlesbrough

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Norman Clough
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Contributed on: 
26 April 2005

Norman Clough — Born 1939

As a Child I lived in Hatherley Street in Middlesbrough and was nine years old when the war started.
Various incidents during the war stick in my memory.
At the beginning of the war the authorities were worried that the Germans would target schools in bombing campaigns. For a while groups of us had to gather in specified houses instead of going to school. Front parlours were used as school rooms. The lady of the house would give out our books and set us homework to do, which we then returned on the following day.
I can’t remember exactly how long this arrangement lasted but it seemed to go on for quite some months before the authorities decided it was safe to go back to school.

The night the gas tanks in Cannon Street were hit by incendiaries is another vivid memory. Small holes punctured the tanks and each hole had its own burning gas jet. In the darkness it was really spectacular.
The air raid wardens went along the streets asking people to turn on the gas to burn away as much as possible so that if there was an explosion there would be less gas to burn.
People were leaving their houses carrying bundles of belongings away from the fire just in case there was an explosion.
However, the fire brigade soon put the fires out, the holes in the tanks were repaired, and people went back home.

August Bank Holiday 1942 is another day I remember vividly.
My friends and I were at home playing on the front when the Railway Station was hit.
Of four bombs dropped, two scored direct hits, eight people were killed and over 50 injured. It would have been much worse a few minutes earlier as a crowded train to Redcar had just left.
I remember the noise of the plane. It was so low we could see the markings on the wings as it came over.
Looking for shrapnel became one of our games, we used it for ‘swops’
for different things.

Barrage balloons were a feature of the sky because of being near the docks and the steel works.
We used to go to North Ormesby Market,a couple of miles out of the centre of Middlesbrough. The sky was always full of balloons.
One stormy day we watched the lightening striking the balloons and demolishing them one by one.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Cannon Street

Posted on: 14 May 2005 by middlesbrough

My mother lived in Derby Street, off Cannon Sreet, during the war. When a bomb hit the gas tanks on Cannon Street my mother was blown down the stairs.


Message 2 - Cannon Street

Posted on: 14 May 2005 by middlesbrough

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