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Blowing the whistle

by csvdevon

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Archive List > The Blitz

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Walter Hill Paul
Location of story: 
Mutton Cove, Devonport, Plymouth
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
01 December 2005

My father was Chief Yeoman of Signals aboard the destroyer, HMS Echo. How he advised our mother that the ship was leaving Devonport, I know not. We all, my brother John, my mother Hanora Rose Paul (nee O’Sullivan) were down at Mutton Cove when she passed by.

As HMS Echo passed us by she blew her whistle — we later learnt that Dad had persuaded the captain to blow the whistle for us standing at Mutton Cove. This happened on 1st September 1939. Winston Churchill had ordered all ships to sea when Germany had invaded Poland.

Not much of a story — I was nearly six and John was nearly two — and our mother was heartbroken, but it is a part of us. As dad spent five of the six years of the war at sea, our mother spent a very worrying part of her married life. Dad received the DSM and the Bronze Star from the US.

During the Blitz in 1941, we used to go to the shelter under Devonport Market every night at 6 o’clock. On the night of 20th April 1941 we were evacuated in the midst of a raid to a shelter at Mutton Cove because the market had been hit and they feared it would collapse in on us below. Imagine our horror to find after the raid that our house, 25 Catherine Street had received a direct hit and there was nothing there but rubble — the only house hit in the block. We lost everything but our lives.

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