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15 October 2014
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Doodlebug in leafy Croydon, Surrey

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Muriel Hayman, and her family
Location of story: 
Croydon, surrey
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4679607
Contributed on: 
03 August 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by a volunteer at Dorking Library and has been added to the website on behalf of Muriel Hayman with her permission and she fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

August 1944 I was home for the weekend from my evacuated address in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. My sister-in-law, now 83, my brother’s fiancée, now his widow, was visiting. The telephone rang. I answered it and it was my brother, Rex, phoning from East Croydon Station. The last I had heard of him was in Nairobi, East Africa. He had come back to England escorting POW’s and landed at Liverpool. Coming down to London he asked what these doodlebugs were and was told we had a shelter with 4 bunks. He wouldn’t have minded sharing with his parents but not with his sister. I was part of the National Fire Service (I manned the switchboard) in Harpenden (between St. Albans and Luton).

My brother Rex took his fiancée to her home at Woodside Green (one side of Croydon) where her father was chief air raid warden and she a part time warden (because full-time she was working for ICI). My parents and I went down to the shelter in the back garden and during the night my brother (who had come back from dropping his fiancée home) came down dragging his bedding across the wet grass saying “I think I might as well come down here with you” (I believe his future father-in-law must have persuaded him to do this). It was just as well because a few days later, when I had returned to Harpenden from South Croydon, we had one of these V1’s (or ‘doodlebugs’ as they were known) fall in the bottom of the garden. When the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) people came round to the house in South Croydon and asked if there was anybody in the house, one of them replied “No” but that the dog was there. The ARP person said “xxxx the dog, we’re only looking for humans”. My brother, against the wishes of my father and the ARP person, climbed into the kitchen and rescued the dog. The dog relieved himself on the rubble and only had a bump on his head. My mother was just going into the house and lost her glasses and full set of false teeth but only had shock. The lower denture was found unharmed when clearing the rubble. My brother and father stayed on the site until the weekend when my father joined my mother, the dog and myself at my aunt’s (mother’s sister) at Frimley Green. My family had phoned me and I came back to Croydon for a few days. My brother and his fiancée went on holiday to North Wales and I returned to Harpenden.

The house was rebuilt (having been demolished completely) before 1948 because my brother and his fiancée were married and we had the reception at home. I was relieved the family had survived. My brother was already a Dunkirk survivor.

Postscript

I was born in 1911 in South Norwood, London. I have one recollection of the First World War.

My cot was at the foot of my parents’ bed and I remember when the air raid warning went climbing out of the cot and landing on my parents and waking them up. I was around 4 or 5 years of age (1916). I did not go to school until possibly the war ended. I can’t remember.

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V-1s and V-2s Category
Surrey Category
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