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15 October 2014
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The Offley Explosion

by Hitchin Museum

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
Hitchin Museum
People in story: 
Mary Sanchez (nee Robbins)
Location of story: 
Offley and Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
24 October 2005

In the winter of 1943, my sister and I were invited to a birthday party of a friend who lived in Offley near Hitchin. My mother took us there and we trudged through thick snow. Either there were no buses or my mother couldn’t afford the fares.

We had just got into my friend’s house and taken our coats and Wellingtons off when there was a loud knock at the door. A tall, well built American soldier had come to tell us to get out of the house as soon as possible because a lorry load of bombs was going to blow up nearby. Children and adults rushed outside to the end of the garden and threw themselves into a ditch. My sister and I didn’t even stop to put on our Wellington boots.

There was a huge explosion and all the windows of our friends house were blown out and glass scattered over the frugal party tea laid out on the table. We were all safe, though and that was the important thing.

The WVS in Hitchin ran a wonderful clothes shop during the Second World War. Parents would take the clothes that their children had outgrown and the shop assistants would award points according to the state that the garments were in. Other clothes from the shop could then be ‘bought; with the points. No money was exchanged.

There was great excitement sometimes when new clothes would arrive, sent as gifts from Canada. My mother used her points to obtain a new dress for me from Canada. One of the few new garments I ever received as a child.

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