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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Isabel Atkinson (nee Orchard), Herbert Frederick Atkinson
Location of story: 
Sidcup, Woolwich
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
05 July 2005

I was a lucky survivor of many near death misses during the war. Even my husband managed to survive being held captive by the Germans.

The first time we were attacked we heard the dreaded noise of a bomber plane approaching. It was flying right across our street, firing at us. Unfortunately my father was still building our bomb shelter in our garden which was no use to us! So we ran towards our neighbours’ bomb shelter. As we ran to the right, the bomber plane fired to the left, missing us by inches. There are still bullet marks embedded in the pavement outside our house.

During the war I had a number of jobs to do my part. I was an Air Raid Warden and luckily I was off duty the evening the Warden’s Office got bombed. All the wardens on duty died. I had escaped again.

I was also in the Pay Corps, working as a wages clerk for the soldiers from Kent. I earned 14 shillings a week and my duties included administering my husband’s wages, but I couldn’t give him extra! Often evening duties at work were carried out to a soundtrack of Doodlebugs, as a lot of soldiers were stationed nearby at the Woolwich Arsenal. Fortunately we didn’t get hit.

One sad day a silent V2 rocket bomber landed on the house down the road. My little girl was wounded badly when there was a great blast and the window was blown into our sitting room and her head went through the glass. The back of her neck was scarred and she still refers to them as her war wounds. Once again my house and family luckily escaped.

This story was submitted to the People's War website by Milly Hartley on behalf of Isabel Atkinson and has been added with her permission. Isobel fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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