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15 October 2014
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Bombed Houses and Bomb Sites

by fred clark

Contributed by 
fred clark
People in story: 
Clark Family
Location of story: 
Catford Downham area of S.E London
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4029833
Contributed on: 
08 May 2005

Bombed houses and Bomb sites
Our family lived in the Catford area London S.E.6 , when the German bombers targeted London they would come in from the east following the Thames towards London and the Dock areas. The corridor of land north and south of the thames from the coast running up to London became known as bomb alley, Catford was one of the districts situated in the alley, so recieved a lot of bomb damage during the blitz
Bomb damage was something you could not miss, you got used to the sight of piles of rubble where once stood someones home, sometimes the buildings were slightly damaged perhaps windows blown out,as had happened to our house, very often a building had some of its exterior walls reduced to piles of bricks, exposing the interior rooms with beds and furniture tattered and broken like a dolls house that had suffered from a childs temper tantrum.I can remember seeing rows of houses where the damage caused by blast had a peculiar effect, as if a giant hand had scooped out the roof timbers and tiles leaving the dividing walls in the loft space between each house. Bomb blast did strange things, a building could have severe damage but sometimes fragile articles like mirrors or vases remained intact and standing on mantlepieces whilst devastation was all around. The most recently damaged houses ands shops had a very strong smell that I recall, the smell was one of damp plaster.There were very many bombed sites around our area some of which were more like craters and many of them remained for a long time after the war, they were ideal playspaces for young children perhaps our parents may not have agreed. The sites were quickley taken over by clumps of weeds and often amongst the weeds could be found such things as blackcurrents, rasberrys,the occasional fruit tree, flowers and gooseberry bushes. The gooseberry's, we used to call them 'goosegogs' for some unknown reason, I remember in particular as they often supplied a quick snack on journeys to and from school. There was a sizeable bombsite on the corner of Waters road where it met Verdant Lane, this was used as a shortcut to the chip shop and Wilsons sweet shop.There are houses there now but this site remained unchanged for years. One incident I remember when i was playing with some friends on a bombsite near to my home,was quite unpleasant for my part. One of my friends picked up a piece of tubular iron gave it to me and said that I should blow it like a trumpet. I put the tube to my mouth only to discover that there was an ants nest inside it, unfortunately I got a mouthful, I won't forget that taste in a hurry. I will end this section with an image that remains in my mind, I believe this is a memory of just after the war. My family were travelling across the east end of london near to the docks, there was a very large area of waste land where once stood many buildings, the remains could still be identified. Amongst this desolation stood one lone, untouched building the only survivor of what must have been an horrific attack if my memory is correct it was a small shop.

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Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
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