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Wartime on the Wirral

by bebingtonbob

Contributed by 
Location of story: 
Bebington, Upton and Irby, on the Wirral (Cheshire)
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
02 August 2004

The Day Before War Broke Out.

I was 6 years old in 1939. Our family had been on holiday in Scarborough, and we returned home to Bebington on Saturday September 2nd. I remember the rail journey back to Liverpool. The train was packed and there were lots of soldiers travelling. The lamps in the compartments were fitted with blue bulbs, ready for the blackout.

When we reached Lime Street station our luggage had to be searched, because there was an IRA bomb scare. I cried when a strange man took my Teddy and squeezed it!

Sunday September 3rd 1939. War Declared!

That morning, my Mum took me for a walk on Storeton Common. On our way back we heard the announcement on somebody's wireless. I did not understand what it was all about, but I remember that everybody was upset.

My Dad's Army.

My Dad had been a soldier in the First World War and he joined the Local Defence Volunters, which later became the Home Guard. I can remember helping him to practice aiming his rifle.

I had to hold up a piece of cardboard with a target drawn on it. There was a pinhole in the middle and I had to to peer through it and tell him when he was on target. There was no ammunition for it, so I was quite safe.

The Blitz on Merseyside.

Mum and I used to sleep under the stairs during air raids, because we did not have our own shelter. Dad was often out all night on Home Guard manoevres. Sometimes we slept in a neighbour's Anderson shelter.

I used to collect pieces of shrapnel, from the Ack-Ack (anti-aircraft) shells, and swop them with my school friends. At school, when the sirens sounded, we all trooped out to the underground shelters, carrying our gas masks.

One day Mum took me shopping in Blacklers Stores, in Liverpool. She bought me a pair of shoes, but we had to take them back next day, because they were too tight. There was no Blacklers any more, it had been hit by incendiary bombs in the overnight air raid.

We passed the remains of a burned-out bank. A guard pointed out the melted coins on the pavement and said that I should remember it. I still do, because I opened my first bank account there, ten years later.

D-Day in Upton.

We moved to Upton in 1943 and on June 6th 1944 I was about to take the Scholarship examination, the forerunner of the 11 plus. With all the news on the wireless and in the papers, it was very difficult to get down to last minute swotting.

By this time we had our own Morrison shelter. During the day it served as our dining table and at night it became our four-poster bed.

VE Day in Irby.

We moved to Irby in the Autumn of 1944 and our new neighbours had an evacuee from Guernsey. I had never heard of the Channel Islands before and I was told about the German occupation.

On May 6th 1945 I was due to stay behind after school, as a punishment for talking in class. When the news of the German surrender came through, we were all sent home early. You can imagine my delight!

We celebrated with a party in the street, a few days later,and a bonfire after dark. At last we could take down the blackout and everybody left their lights on all night.


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