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Surviving a Direct Hit in Bristol

by pblight

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Pat Blight and family (nee Baugh)
Location of story: 
Bishopston, Bristol
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
16 August 2004

I was born in 1936, consequently, much of my childhood was during the war. In 1940, we were living in Bishopston, Bristol, just one road away from my maternal grandparents. On this particular evening, my parents and I had been to tea with them and stayed for the evening. As we were preparing to leave, the sirens sounded, so of course we had to stay for the duration of the air raid. Up until then, most of the air raids had only caused the majority of the population minor inconveniences, the most common being lack of water afterwards, and having to fetch water in containers from the street corners when the water vehicles came periodically. My Grandfather was determined to have no more of this and as soon as the sirens sounded, he promptly filled everything in sight with water, including the bath which he filled to the brim.

Although we had been provided with an Anderson shelter in the back garden, only the day before, it was decided that it was much to cold to go into it and so we all squeezed under the stairs, as usual tea cosies and woollie hats on our heads to keep out the noise of the guns shooting enemy aircraft. I believe that on that particular night the enemy planes were trying for Filton aeroplane factory, but one or two got caught by search lights before completing their mission and, in danger of being shot down, dropped their bombs wherever they could. We sustained a direct hit, which took the whole of the back of the house off, vitually cutting it in two and making a huge crater in the garden, right where the shelter had stood. We were safe simply because we were under the stairs. The biggest danger we faced was from drowning, as the bath, basin etc were torn from their fixings emptying the water that Grandad had so carefully saved down the stairs and all over us! The poor wardens who broke through to rescue us, had not only the dust, rubble and escaping gas to contend with, but also to squelch through inches of water.

Along with many other homeless we were offered temporary accomodation in a local church hall, but my independant family turned this down, saying we'd all be fine in our house just a road away. On arriving however, we discovered a bomb had also been dropped in our road, and, although our house was still standing, not a window remained intact, so a chilly night was had by all. At least we were all still alive, some were not so lucky, indeed the following year, we were sharing a house in Westbury on Trym and I was lifted up one evening to look out of the window at the scarlet sky of Bristol city burning!

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The Blitz Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
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