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15 October 2014
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Windowless in Newhaven

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > United Kingdom > Sussex

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
William Morris
Location of story: 
Newhaven, East Sussex
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4076714
Contributed on: 
16 May 2005

This is a memory of what happened at 5.30am on November 25 1944. I was fifteen at the time, living at 12 Newfield Road in Newhaven, with my father and brother. I was a pupil at Beecham Boys’ School.

I was asleep, and suddenly woke to see a vivid flash in the bedroom. I shared a double bed with my brother, Victor, who was 17. It seemed as if the window frame had simply fallen in on top of him! Thankfully, he wasn’t injured.

We later discovered that a barge off the Newhaven coast had broken its mooring and hit a mine. The blast was so huge because the ship was carrying TNT. Our home was a mile from the spot, but we still lost our window. Every house in Newhaven seemed to have lost a window that morning, in fact. Apparently the blast was heard as far away as Haywards Heath. A young sailor was killed. If the accident had happened when more people were up and about, hundreds may have died.

Life went on, though. Later that day I was back at the harbour, working as an apprentice shipwright. You had to take these things in your stride. But they weren’t bad times. In some ways they were better — you could leave your front door open and not worry about it in those days!

This story was submitted to the People's War site by John Young on behalf of William Morris, with his permission. William fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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