- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Dorothy Watson
- Location of story:
- Stanmore, Middlesex
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 02 December 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War Site by Three Counties Action, on behalf of Dorothy Watson, and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
My Mother, Twelve year old sister, and I, had been to see the film, “Meet me in St Louis”, little knowing what was in store for us all that night.
My parents and sister were sleeping under the Morrison shelter in our dining room which looked out on to our back garden. A Morrison shelter was a steel framed structure which was for use in the house. I decided as I worked in London all day, I would take my chance and sleep in my comfortable bed upstairs, my bedroom overlooked the back garden. At 3.40am on 22nd March the V2 rocket landed at the bottom of our garden, and the garden of the house opposite us. Fortunately for us the blast from the V2 went away from our house tragically killing very many of the occupants of the houses backing on to our road.
The first I knew of the disaster, (unlike the V1 missiles one did not hear the V2 rockets if they landed close by) was waking up to bright arc lights, people shouting in the garden opposite us. Firemen and Air-raid wardens were at the scene. I saw shattered glass everywhere in my bedroom, part of a tree trunk leaning against the wardrobe. The wall between the front bedroom and my room partly demolished. My thought was to get to my parents. I jumped out of bed, got to the stairs to find rubble and debris everywhere. I climbed down what was left of the staircase somehow, and got to the dining room door. I automatically put out my hand to the light switch, amazingly the room was flooded with light. My Father was standing in front of the shattered French window in his pyjamas. He said, “Put that light off they will see me.”, to which the only answer could be, “Don’t you think they have too much to do to look at you!”
The V2 had landed on Past 85’s area, which was the part where I did my duty as an Air Raid warden. I was on call all that night, I felt a duty to go and help, as thank heavens the family miraculously were all unhurt. Although of course, as I realised afterwards, we were all suffering from shock. We must all have been knocked unconscious by the blast of the V2 for at least fifteen minutes because the first thing I knew were the lights and noise from the rescue workers opposite. I went to Part 85, the road was more like a ploughed field, paving stones were ripped up, mud and tangled telephone wires everywhere. My friend at Part 85 realised I was in shock, sent me back home, where of course I was needed far more to help my parents. The next day was spent cleaning the wreckage, and packing to leave as out house was too damaged to live in.
We were out of our house for three months. I returned to work after just one day’s clearing and packing what was left of our belongings. On my return to work the Head of my Department in the Civil Service asked me why I had been away from work for one day. When I told him about the V2 and that mercifully we were all unhurt, his rejoinder was, “Then why did you not report for duty as usual?”
No such thing as counselling in those days!
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