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Small Boy's View of World War Two: In Bristol

by charpeace

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12 November 2003

This is in tribute to my father gassed in the 1st. World War and mother who supported and nursed him until their deaths in 1960 who after my brother 9 and I 5 has listened solemnly with them to the declaration of war,continued to give us as normal a childhood as possible absorbing so much stress themselves. We lived in Clifton Bristol some 1/2 mile from St John school at the top of Blackboy Hill and had a practice to get home if the siren went,little traffic but running with dozens of other children but on ones own to get home in 5 minutes [alternative being to stay in school] quite an experience for 5 year olds. Our flat was above a garage with dozens of cars and our shelter a sandbagged area in another garage up the road, many nights we walked up the road to it amid the lights and noise of the explosions with the occasional foray into the middle of the road [under my dad's tin hat] to gather any pieces of shrapnel and bomb cases so beloved by boys of my age. The crowning incident was an incendiary going into the garage and through the seat of an Austin 7 singeing the horsehair stuffing to an awful smell but providing a delighted small boy with most of the remains of the bomb!! Our near neighbour [within fire hose range]as we found getting wet when watching the beautiful lead hexagonal spire of All Saints church melting into the fire that gutted the body of the church, again on another night a stick of bombs straddling our flat one close to which took out the whole of the basement of a 4 storey house killing a man in his armchair but leaving the basement side walls and the rest of the house untouched. Again water was cut off and my brother and I were dispatched to Weekes Furniture Depositary in Whiteladies Road well ablaze and attended by fire engines from which we begged a bathful of water to stagger home with, exciting to see the firemen on ladders but so cold that icicles formed on the ladders. Car headlights were covered with just a central slit and we watched with fascination the oxycelyne cutters taking the garden railings and gates, collecting with gusto saucepans etc [sometimes over enthusiastically to maternal disproval] for the "build a spitfire" campaign. After the blitzes!! in 1942 we were evacuated to relatives in Trowbridge [one bomb one week after we arrived]but came back after 8 months only returning[my brother and I] to collect by bus a fowl to be plucked and dressed for the Christmases. Cairns of stones were built on the Downs to deter glider landings the barrage balloon site on Fountain Hill intrigued us lads, and later the Americans with their camp on the own occupying the big houses in Clifton [later to be used when empty by us as adventure areas] and then came the maps of the progress of the war avidly scanned by us following the arrows and learning geography in the process,one tinplate toy searchlight truck being very overused. My weekly outing was with Dad to a very battered city centre and lunch at British Home Stores with no glass just all hardboarded up then to news theatre for cartoons and Pathe News I can only imagine the trauma of my parents seeing their their 5 year old taking his gas mask everywhere but to me growing to 11 in it, it was exciting and sometimes very scary but it is a very great tribute to my parents and adults around me that not until I was a parent myself did I realise the tremendous strain privation and worry they went through to try to ensure I was as unaffected as possible. I never remember being hungry though the meat stews were more veg than meat and I can now understand the tremendous feeling of relief at the 1945 street party and the pleasure with which I was presented with my first banana at the age of 11.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Bristol Blitz's

Posted on: 23 December 2003 by Researcher 237389

I lived in Eastville during the War. We were in the Shadow of Purdown where a Heavy Antiaircraft Site was built we were so close that when the guns were fired the blast shook the Blackout Shutters on our windows.We saw the flash so we knew that in 2 seconds we could expect the blast.I am short of time but I will be back to tell of my journey to School across Bristol after the Nov. 24th 1940 Blitz.
Merry Christmas From Australia


Message 2 - Bristol Blitz's

Posted on: 27 December 2003 by Researcher 237389

It seems very strange now, but after one of the heaviest raids on Bristol (Nov.24) I started off to School the next Day (Monday), I was at the Technical School in Bedminster a 1/2 Hour Bike ride across town.I called in to my friends house and then cycled into the thick of it.There were leaking Fire hoses across the roads, leading to still smouldering buildings in Old Market St.As we turned left into Temple st(?) we could see the devastation caused in Castle st.Almost all the shops were in ruins.In Victoria st it was the same as well as the road running along the "Cut".
There was quite a crowd of kids waiting outside the locked gates of the school, and we began exited dicusions on our experiences. Evetually a teacher arrived and told us to come back on Wednesday when the School had been cleared of hazzards (Unexploded Bombs etc.)this gave us all day to explore the inner city so we set off and found our way to Bristol Bridge having to skirt bomb rubble and burning buildings. The Firemen were too busy to bother with 2 stupid boys dicing death or injury.
Trying to get to Temple Meads and home we were turned back by Police who had sealed off Victoria St.Then to our amazement we couldn't get out of Bristol Bridge.Wine St. and other streets were devasted and were impassible. We finally carried our Bikes up the steps to the Markets. From there we found a way to Colston Ave. and then home. One bizzare sight was a man on a ladder against the remains of a factory pumping a Stirrup Pump onto the smouldering remains of his workplace, he may as well had tried to put out the fires of Hell.

Message 1 - Bristol in the War

Posted on: 16 July 2004 by Stanley H Jones

Very interested to read your accounts of the Bristol Blitz. Living at Trowbridge we were compared with you well outside the 'firing line'. You mentioned the bombing on Trowbridge. This was probably the raid in my memories when Trowbridge was bombed. During the war my dad worked for Ushers Brewery and actually delivered to Bristol at the time of the raids on the City. We certainly had some vivid first hand accounts which stay in my memory. Its good to able to read and recall similar memories on this website - thats what its all about. I too was an eleven year old just after the war ended. I have two personal pages under my name covering all parts of the war from a childs point of view.

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