- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Irene Procter Davies
- Location of story:
- Clayton-le-Moores, Lancashire
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 26 February 2004
It was 1940 and the worst time of the war in England. My Grandmother had a little tripe shop where I used to help out. Our lives were wrought with fear and nerves as the bombings over England were at their worst. We would go to bed at night wondering if the sirens would have us dashing out of bed to the cellar where my Grandmother had painted the walls white and kept a tin of biscuits on a shelf in case we were bombed and the house fell on top of us. We would have biscuits to keep us from starving to death!
One summer evening in June, a young woman came into our shop carrying a baby around ten months old. Her navy blue suit was travel stained and she wanted to purchase a drink. Her accent was southern English which sounded strange in our Lancashire town.
She told us that she was looking for a place to stay for the night until she could find permanent housing. Her home was in the worst part of the bombing and her husband, she said, had sent her and the baby away up North to a safer place. He would follow on later.
My Grandmother, feeling sorry for the baby, offered her our back bedroom for the night as it was getting late. Grandma suggested that she look for a suitable place for the two of them on the following day. Our house was tiny with only two bedrooms. I slept in my Grandmother's room that night.
Around two o'clock in the morning, the sirens went off. We heard the drone of aircraft overhead and in a panic we jumped up, put on warm clothing and ran to the cellar.
Clinging tightly to each other we could hear the whistle of bombs falling. We were terrified. It was the first time our town was bombed.
Pretty soon, the "all clear" sirens went off and we made our way to the front door and out onto the street.
People were lining the road and looking up at the houses two blocks away. Three houses had been hit and the one in the center completely flattened. The mother, father and daughter were killed and two sons who worked nights in a factory would come home to find their home and family gone.
Then we remembered the young woman and the baby who were still in our back bedroom. I ran to check on them. The mother was unconcerned. She had placed pillows around the baby. She told me this was nothing compared to the bombings she had experienced in the south.
Our day began as she bathing the baby and left. The last we saw of her, she was heading for the bus stop to go to the next town.
My grandmother's theory of that night made the whole town nervous. She thought the visitor had shone a torch through the back window to guide the German planes towards our town.
Sure enough, the direction of their flight had been over the fields from the coal pit where someone had forgotten to cover the flame from the gas being burned off. Hence, the enemy planes came directly over our house, missed us, but got the next two blocks and more of the town as they left.
We never heard from our guest again. My Grandmother's story, which the whole town soon learned, could have been true. Who knows?
We were always warned "Walls Have Ears!"
Could it have been true? Did we harbour a spy that night?
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