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A Frightening Air Raid in Sunderlandicon for Recommended story

by Northumberland County Libraries

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Northumberland County Libraries
People in story: 
Margaret Snowball
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Contributed on: 
02 July 2005


Friends of my boss ran the Air Training Corps, so he suggested that one of my colleagues, Norma and I would do clerical work for them. So, twice a week, she and I used to go to their headquarters and type out training schedules and keep records of stores for them. This was in the evenings, from about 6pm to 9pm. We worked for two very nice men, one was a bank manager and the other was a wholesale fruiterer. We were issued with Airforce caps, but no other uniform. This would be in 1942 when I was 18 years old.

One night, when Norma and I were working there, the air raid sirens started at about 9 p.m. just about the time when we were due to finish. We were asked if we wanted to stay until the raid was over, but as we knew that they opened up a bar after duty, we declined.

There was little aerial activity, so off we went. We had only got around the corner, when we realised that this was a very heavy raid. The anti aircraft guns were firing, creating the danger of being hit by falling shrapnel. Norma suggested that we knocked at the door of Christ Church vicarage, to ask if we could go into their shelter. She was a member of that church.

We were ushered into their basement, where all the family were assembled, including a very old woman stretched out upon and bed and wailing and groaning. We stayed there for about an hour, but there was no let up in the attack. We began to worry about our families and decided to leave and make for home. Norma lived about half mile away, but I had over three miles to go. There were no trams running. I think these always stopped during a raid, but they would have stopped for the night anyway by then.

It was the most frightening walk of my life. It wasn't dark, the searchlights saw to that, but the gunfire and noise of the bombs was deafening. I had to choose, after I made it through the centre of the town, crossed the river and come to Monkwearmouth, whether to take a shortcut, via the Ropery, a very dodgy area even in daytime, or stick to the main road. I took the main road, as it would be safer. I finally arrived home into the arms of a very concerned mother, much shaken, but at least safe.

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