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15 October 2014
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An Unpleasant and unforgettable memory

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Mrs Banham, Beryl Banham, Eunice Banham, Doreen Banham, Roy Banham and Baby Jean Banham
Location of story: 
Hammersmith, West London
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4385900
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Elaine Stewart of Uckfield Community Learning Centre, a volunteer from BBC Southern Counties Radio on behalf of Mrs E Guild and has been added to the site with her permission. Mrs Guild fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

It was the night of Sunday February 20th 1944. I was a child of 11 years old. The family was at home with Mother and five children. Beryl, age 20, Eunice (myself) aged 11, Doreen 8, Roy 6 and baby Jean 3 months. My father was away in the Army.
The air raid siren sounded at 10.00 pm but before we could get to the air-raid shelter we could hear bombs exploding. The next thing we knew our house was caving in on us and we were buried under the debris. I remember the feeling of being lifted off the floor and down again and then everything went black. The smell was of brick dust, fire and explosives. There was a deathly silence after the shock, then we heard our neighbours screaming, crying and unfortunately some dying. It was a terrifying experience. Then Mum asked us if we were alright, miraculously we were, except Mum had a head injury.
The air raid wardens then started to rescue us, and took a long while to dig us out. When we eventually were all out, it was horrifying to see the carnage along the road, including seeing the school opposite flattened. The air raid wardens directed us to the nearest Rest Centre which was a school a couple of miles away. We walked there and met the hundreds of other unfortunate people like us that had been bombed out that night. My Mum thought our baby sister was dead as she had been holding her in her arms all this time and the baby hadn’t moved or made a sound but when the Nurse opened the blankets at the Rest Centre she opened her eyes and smiled at us - what a relief!!
Mum was taken to hospital to have stitches in her head wound. Before she went, she said we were all to stay together. The future looked grim for us — Father somewhere in the Army — Mother somewhere in hospital, and we were homeless!....

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