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15 October 2014
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The Night Habberley Valley was Bombed

by HnWCSVActionDesk

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
HnWCSVActionDesk
People in story: 
Ron Jennings, Jack Tibbetts
Location of story: 
Habberley Valley, Low Habberley Nr Kidderminster
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A8875425
Contributed on: 
27 January 2006

Habberley Valley was a heathland beauty spot a few miles from Kidderminster near the small village of Low Habberley where I lived. As children we spent hours there playing games, cowboys and Indians, soldiers and Germans, collecting logs and sticks and as our grandmother lived there in one of a handful of cottages in the valley we thought of it as our second home.

It was after midnight on 16th May 1941 when the sirens went. We’d got used to the sirens and didn’t bother to get up anymore because there was never an attack that affected us. Suddenly we heard the whistling of dropping bombs coming down and they sounded very close by. In a second we were out of bed and dived underneath our hearts beating. The explosions shook our house but lucky for us there didn’t seem to be any major damage. Seconds later we heard one of the villagers Jack Tibbetts running down the road shouting ‘fire, fire……’

Me, my dad and younger brother Derek got dressed and ran up the road towards the valley. From the rock where you walk down into the valley we could see a red glow in the sky from the huge fire that was blazing away. It was well on fire although the bombs had only just been dropped. It was a strange site. The Waste, as it was called locally, was covered with fire in snake like patterns. I remember it was most unusual.

All the villagers, including evacuees, were there beating out the flames with branches and anything that came to hand. There’s a brass plaque there today to mark the spot which I helped get recognition for.

I was 13 and thought it was a marvellous evening. I can’t say I was scared — it was so exiting. We never gave it a thought that there might have been more bombs that hadn’t gone off, but looking back it could have been very dangerous.

Eva Landon lived in the White Cottage in the valley and we found out later that her father had shovelled up a small phosphorous incendiary bomb, and put in it in a bucket of water to put it out.

My grandparents lived in Ivy Cottage in the valley and they had a bomb land in their pig sty but luckily it hadn’t exploded. It was also lucky that they hadn’t a pig in there at the time

By the following morning the fire was out and we children searched high and low for any debris. We found lots of fins off the bombs. They were our trophies and I still have them today.

We thought that the bombs had been dropped in a straight line across the valley and later that night one in the same line hit the new Harry Cheshire Secondary School about a mile down the road nearer to Kidderminster.

The next day in daylight we realised we hadn’t entirely escaped unscathed at home. There was a crack in the wall inside the cupboard against the chimney in the sitting room and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still there to this day.

On the radio there was a report from Lord Haw Haw that a German Bomber had hit a factory on the edge of Kidderminster. In fact it was the school they’d hit. Harry Cheshire had a lots of glass windows that the pilot might have seen in the moonlight and thought was a factory by mistake.

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Sue Broome of the CSV Action Desk at BBC Hereford and Worcester on behalf of Ron Jennings and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

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