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15 October 2014
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The Day Hitler Tried to Kill Me - Twice!

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Family Life

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Joan Clifton, Lillian Smith, Henry Waite, Edith Waite
Location of story: 
Brighton, East Sussex
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
05 January 2006

This story has been added to the People's war website by Eleanor Fell, on behalf of Joan Clifton, who has given her permission for her story to go on the website and understands the terms and conditions of the site.

I will never forget one particular day in May 1943, when I was eleven years old. I was at Elm Grove Junior School, which used to have elm trees either side of the road in those days.

Usually I would go home from school for my lunch break and once a week I would help my mother, Lillian, to collect our rations from the local grocers store in Down Terrace.

On this particular day my mother was comforting my aunt, Edith Waite, who had lost her son Henry Waite. Henry was in the RAF and had been killed over Dortmund a couple of days earlier.

My mother told me that I would have to stay at school and have a school dinner, rather than coming home and helping her to get the groceries. During the school dinner hour a German plane dropped a bomb which landed on our Grocers in Down Terrace and the Goble family who owned it were all killed and we would have been if we had gone to get our rations.

At the same time that this was happening, I was running across the playground being machined gunned by the same German pilot. I was running as low as I could with all the other children. The teachers were screaming 'Get Down, Get Down', but my instinct was to run to the shelters and I must have looked have looked like a duck waddling, as I tried to reach the shelters. Luckily not one child was killed and we all got to the shelters safely.

We were horrified to find out about the death of the grocers family and my mother said 'It could have been you and me in there Joan'. I believe that I am here today because of my cousins death, so something good can come out of something terrible.

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