- Contributed by
- Irene Hornby
- People in story:
- Irene Florence Hornby
- Location of story:
- Drayton Park, Holloway, London
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 10 August 2005
Irene Brooke in 1943
One night during the Blitz when I was about 12, we didn’t go down to the shelter; we had had raids all day so thought it may be quieter. Sometimes it was so cold and damp out there, you long for your warm bed. I had been asleep quite some time, then all hell let loose.
There was crashing, banging, and explosions. Suddenly both my large windows flew out and crashed to the floor with the frames still on them. They landed right next to my bed and glass was shattering everywhere. I was terrified. I couldn’t get out of bed because of the glass. Also half asleep, I wasn’t sure what the rest of the house was like, as I was on the top floor. To my great relief Mum and my brother Fred dashed in, and tried to get me over the glass, across to the door. We all went downstairs, and looked out of the front door.
We had been very lucky. Three bombs had dropped about 300yds down the road, where Courtney Road joined us, and taken half the road down. I think they were aiming for the railway which we lived right next door to. Everybody was out in the road, wandering about in nightclothes, as we were. All in shock.
We walked down the road to see if we could help at all. By this time there were search lights, and cranes, people trying to sort out the terrible destruction and clear the debris. Some of my schoolmates lived in Courtney Road, and the houses were three and four stories high. In the dark you couldn’t tell what was left standing, it was a nightmare. People were so stunned they had quite forgotten the All Clear hadn’t been sounded, and were wandering around not knowing what to do.
We went back home to pull ourselves together and see what damage had been done, but we had only lost our windows. Once you lose your windows in the wartime they board them up, they are never replaced. The next day I had to go to school. Passing the end of Courtney Rd was grim; it looked even worse in the daylight, piles of debris everywhere. The cranes droned on and on, trying to clear the rubble, it looked hopeless.
At school, when we went into the classroom, I can’t describe how we all felt when we saw all the empty desks, as the register was called. A girl called Ellen Shepherd who lived in that road, and sat in the desk behind me, suddenly rushed in late, to our relief. I turned round to smile at her, and she said, ”Oh, I didn’t comb my hair”. That’s all she said. After all she had been through in the night! Her hair was very curly and had a life of its own, so you wouldn’t notice anyway. I just wanted to hug her.
There was a Rest Centre in Drayton Park Road facing the end of Courtney Road, where lots of functions took place so it was ideal for the homeless from the bombing, to try and make them comfortable. My dad even went there to try to lift their sprits, and entertain them. People seemed to be so strong then, they wouldn’t let the Germans get them down whatever they did.
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