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15 October 2014
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A Little Girl's War: Gas Masks, ITMA, Manchester Blitz, Loss of Home and Father

by Glenys Hibbert

Contributed by 
Glenys Hibbert
People in story: 
Catherine Glenys Rees Hibbert
Location of story: 
Denton, Lancashire, south east of Manchester
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
25 November 2003

In 1939 I heard the news on the wireless. |I was six years old; we were at war. "What is war?" I said. I don`t think the answer was very complete, but we already had our gas masks and the fear in the face of my mother was tangible. A year before I had heard Chamberlain`s speech about peace in our time and my mother said "Thank God". My father said "It won`t last". At first we settled down to listen to the air-raid sirens and I stayed up well beyond my usual time to listen to ITMA. We were not afraid it seems; we were outside the City of Manchester, in a semi-rural area; no-one was evacuated; we were supposed to be safe. At school we went down to the air raid shelters occasionally and put on our gas masks.

Then, in 1940, the blitz on Manchester began and things became more frightening. My father used to go to the door to watch the glow in the sky. Manchester was 15 miles away. We had no air raid shelter so I used to go to bed with my sister in her cosy back bedroom; She was 17 and I was 7. We huddled together hearing crashes, bangs, noises which could not be coming from Manchester. They were much too immediate. Was it a shell? There was an ack ack gun in the farmer`s fields behind us. So many nights passed - divided between ITMA and a sense of terror.

On December 16th 1940 we were bombed. I was with my sister. My mother was sitting in a chair in the front room. She went down into the foundations. My father was at the door watching the lights over Manchester; he was killed. My mother was rescued. My sister and I felt the terrible vibration of the bomb, which had blown away the front of the house. Where we were only the ceiling seemed to have come down. We thought it couldn`t have been a bomb; the window was still there. We got up and my sister shook her shoes in case there might be something in them. She carried me along the landing to the top of the stairs. But there were no stairs. We gazed out on a full moon and a cascade of rubble where our house had been, but we did not fully comprehend. We went back the the bedroom - someone shouted to us to do this. At the window appeared Mr Unsworth, an ARP warden and Mary Unsworth`s father. He wrapped me in a blanket and carried me along the road for about five minutes. I was in my grandparents` house. My sister was there, and then my mother. I heard them say that Harry was dead. The months following were terrible; the air raids continued, night after night; the all clear was a wonderful sound.

But we survived and I grew up without really knowing that I had lost my father. Only now do I realise it and look back at what might have been.

The rest of the war was a background of well known deprivations; somtimes I was really hungry and often afraid. When the bomb dropped on Hiroshima I expected the same thing to happen to us as that was my experience so far.

I can never quite forgive the people who say "I had a good war"

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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 - 2079218

Posted on: 26 November 2003 by Glenys Hibbert

Has this contribution gone through? When I looked at the list it said "remove" by the side of it. Could you please tell me what this means? Thenks, Glencatherine


Message 2 - 2079218

Posted on: 26 November 2003 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Glencathrine

Yes, your story has gone through to the Editorial Desk, a very very moving story. As it goes on to other pages you will always be able to access it here: A2079218

The 'Remove' button confuses many. Everyone sees a 'Remove' button next to their own entry and only they can active it. It is there in case you with to withdraw your entry.

In your very sad and poignant account you mentioned ITMA. You can access it here: links



Message 3 - 2079218

Posted on: 26 November 2003 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

In my previous reply, for 'with' read 'wish'.

"Everyone sees a 'Remove' button next to their own entry and only they can active it. It is there in case you wish to withdraw your entry."



Message 4 - 2079218

Posted on: 28 November 2003 by Glenys Hibbert

Dear Peter, Thank you for your comments and explanation. What I wrote was very sad I know, but I thought it might seem very dull to someone else - sentences too short and so on. If you have any suggestions I should like to read them. Thanks again, Glencatherine


Message 5 - 2079218

Posted on: 28 November 2003 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Hi Glencatherine

I don't consider what you wrote dull in the least. As for any stylistic changes, if thought necessary, those will be made by the Editorial staff in due course.

At present there is a backlog of about 4 weeks.


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This story has been placed in the following categories.

The Blitz Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
Lancashire Category
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