- Contributed by
- People in story:
- (Gladys) Glen Trude, Wendy Hart, John and Reg Crawley, Robert Chapman
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 20 September 2005
This story has been written onto the BBC People’s War website by CSV Storygatherer Carole on behalf of Glen Trude. The story has been added to the site with her permission. Glen Trude fully understands the terms and conditions of the site.
1st September 1939 was my 15th birthday. I was due to leave school in October 1939. Instead we were evacuated to Topsham, Devon. I had 3 different billets. The local people had some very odd ideas about Londoners — such as “you Londoners are all Cockneys and live on fish and chips”. Eight months later we moved to Newton Abbott. I finally returned to London just before Christmas 1940 in the middle of an air raid.
My eldest brother had been killed on 27th May 1940 in Comines, Belgium, where the local people buried nearly a hundred of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry in their own cemetery. I finally visited John’s grave in May 1999. My other brother was shot down after an air raid on Hamburg in February 1943. he remained a POW in Stalag VIIIB until the end of the war. Denholm Elliott, the actor, was in that camp, and organised concerts, as did others. I have a photo of that camp. My stepbrother was a POW in Crete.
I started work in the Press Association Library, and became aware of what was happening in the war. I was on duty when the Normandy landings were announced, and was kept busy getting reference files for Army, Navy and RAF involved. Also, sadly, casualties. As my job was classed “reserved occupation” I could not join up, so opted for WVS canteen duties, first on RAF canteen, then night duty in Guy’s hospital A&E. Later transferring to mobile canteens — on call any time.
Life was very hectic at times. When a buzz-bomb exploded in my street, I was in bed when the windows were blown out. I wasn’t hurt, but shaken. We were the only house left with gas and water, and was able to make tea for people in the nearby shelter and for the ARP rescuers working on the incident. When the mobile canteen finally arrived, I carried on with that.
On another occasion, when a V2 landed near London Bridge tube Station just as people were leaving work, the lifts packed with people were stuck for some time. A newsvendor, unaware of what had happened behind him, still went on selling his newspapers. V2s made almost no noise, but went very deep.
I had recently transferred to the Air Ministry in June 1944, and was on a bus in Fleet Street, when a Buzz-bomb exploded outside Australia House, about ¼ mile away. I have the Daily Mirror picture of 13th July 1944 showing the smoke above the bus. A few minutes earlier I could have been closer to that incident, because I was working in Aldwych. My friend Wendy Hart and myself were just getting off the bus when the picture was taken. I was fortunate enough to miss other incidents and be able to tell this story.
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