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Shelter Memories

by Roger Mason

Contributed by 
Roger Mason
People in story: 
Reginald Mason, Laura Mason, Roger Mason
Location of story: 
Sea Mills, Bristol
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
28 February 2005

I was 3 in November 1939, so I have limited memories of the war, but some things have stuck in my mind.

We lived in a corner house, and, as we had a garden at the side, we were chosen to have an Anderson Shelter built for ourselves and neighbours. I remember that it was half built into the ground with about a foot of soil up the sides and over the roof, as added protection.

I have picture of my mother, standing in the garden holding the lid of a galvanised dustbin over her head (limited protection I would have thought), watching formations of German Bombers flying over, I assume on their way to the Midlands, and Mum saying "what a wonderful sight".

I was an asthmatic child prone to much wheezing, especially in the damp air of the shelter. I am told that on one occasion we were in the shelter, Mum, Uncle Yeo and Aunty Rose, our immediate neighbours,an elderly lady from the next house again, and myself. Some one said "Hark, I can hear a plane, Is it one of ours?" Everyone stopped breathing and listened intently. Nothing. So chatter resumed. Again the plane was heard and everything stopped. After a few times Mum realized it was my wheezing and not a plane. In the same vein, everyone was always very sorry for our elderly neighbour who was subject to severe rumblings in the stomache. Mum and Aunty Rose always brought something for her to eat and it was not until we had gone down the shelter many times, that it was realised that she carried a hot water bottle wrapped in some item of clothing, on her lap.

One sound that has always stayed with me, was the crack of a peddle crank on Dad's bike, as he set off to Avonmouth Docks where he was a Fireman, somehow he managed to cycle the three miles with just one peddle. A far more sinister sound was that of a stick of bombs being dropped close to our house, obviously the plane had been unable to bomb his target so they dropped the bombs on their way home. One landed in the front corner of the garden of a house opposite. It blew the garden everywhere but not one pane of glass was broken.

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Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
Bristol Category
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