- Contributed by
- BBC Southern Counties Radio
- People in story:
- Geraldine Lewin, Maggie Jones and Nurse Durrell
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 09 July 2005
This story was sumbitted to the People's War website by Garry Lloyd onbehalf of Geraldine Lewin. She has given her permission for her story to go onto the website and understands the terms and conditions of the site.
At the age of about four, during an air raid, I was protectively bedded down, with my mother and sister, under the stairs. The safest place at our cottage in Shepperton. At about two a.m. the house shook to a huge explosion, and the sound of our windows smashing. My normally fearless mother was on her knees praying.
We crept out at daylight to find men in the garden inspecting the damage. But the real casualty was not our cottage. It was Sound City, now renowned as Shepperton film studios, a couple of hundred yards away. Sound City, under its boss, Alexander Korda, was famous for movies with stars like Ava Gardner, David Niven and Anna Neagle. That night large areas of the studios were destroyed.
Miraculously only one person died, the unit’s Nurse Durrell. Her hut suffered a direct hit.
What the enemy did not know was Sound City had become a secret factory manufacturing parts for Wellington bombers. Movie technicians were also using their
talent for illusion making fake tanks, and a model army, out of canvas and wood. They were placed on Dover’s beaches to deceive the Germans about the D-day invasion.
We knew Sound City’s secrets because my aunt, Maggie Jones, worked there. She eventually became wardrobe mistress to the film stars. We had sought refuge in Shepperton after being bombed out, earlier in the war, from our home near the Surrey docks, while my father was serving as an Intelligence Corps dispatch rider behind German lines. So shocked were Shepperton’s villagers by Nurse Durrell’s death they contributed to the building of a community hall in her name. Sadly it disappeared when the land was sold off by a post-war local council.
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