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Narrow Escape

by cornwallcsv

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

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West Ewell
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Contributed on: 
10 January 2006

This story was submitted to the People’s War website by Doreen Bennett on behalf of Michael Giles, The author and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

It was in 1940 that my father thought of a brilliant idea. At that time we lived in what was then a small village called West Ewell, near Epsom, Surrey and the German bombers were coming over every night, and the evenings were long with just the radio and the fear of death to keep us occupied.

Unfortunately West Ewell was on the outer fringes of London which was ringed with anti-aircraft guns and balloons to scare of the bombers and as a result the bombers would drop their load and scoot off as fast as a tail wind take them.

However, to return to my father’s idea. My father consulted with several neighbours and it was decided to hold card parties in each others’ houses and a date was set for the first one.

That date duly arrived and my parents and I locked up the house leaving our dog ‘Pip’ to look after things for us. The party was in a house two doors away and we settled in for a nice evening. Ignoring the sirens we heard the drone of the bomber’s engines as they came on their nightly visit.

After starting to play we heard the familiar sound, like a whistling of bombs and we all ducked under the table, we then heard an enormous explosion “Gosh” we all said “that was near” and indeed it was. We all went to the back door of the house to look outside but for a while a cloud of brick dust obscured our view but when it cleared there was our house completely ruined. One bomb had gone through the roof on to the bedroom floor only to explode on the downstairs floors and blowing out all the walls to bring the upstairs down to where the downstairs floors used to be. If we had been at home we most certainly have been killed. We all called for our dog never hoping that he would have survived but out he ran, covered in dust and dirt and wagging his tail as fast as it would go and miraculously he was unhurt.

There we no other card parties as our family had to split up after spending that night sleeping on the floor at a friend’s house.

My father went to his brother’s house with ‘Pip’, my brother went to his sister’s house and mother and I went to Bideford to stay with to stay with another relation. All these relations were on my mother’s side of the family.

‘Pip’ was none the worse for his ordeal and lived for another ten years

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