- Contributed by
- People in story:
- CHARLES F. Gardiner.
- Location of story:
- Birkenhead/ Stockport.
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 15 November 2005
Birkenhead Blitz and V.E. Day
On VE Day 8th May 1945 I was Eight years of age and at the time, was living with my Aunt who was my mother’s sister in Bredbury Bar, which is a rural village just outside Stockport in Cheshire and four miles from Hyde where years later the infamous doctor Shipman had his surgery.
The reason why I was living with my Aunt in Bredbury Bar up to VE day, was because my mother and father, who were living in Heather Brow, Claughton Village Birkenhead thought it would be safer for me in the country as Birkenhead which is where the Docks and Camel Lairds the shipbuilding engineers were based on the River Mersey, was constantly being bombed by the German Luftwaffe and sustained very heavy bomb damage.
My father always went outside the house to see how many tiles were broken and other damage to the house from the barrage of shrapnel, which fell from the sky from allied guns, due to the exploding ammunition from our ack-ack guns that were trying to bring down the German Bombers. I can actually remember when the all clear siren went and the bombers had returned back to Germany
I can also recall that on one such morning my father went out to inspect the usual damage and excitedly called my mum and me outside into the garden which was about one acre in size and there just by the side of one of the apple trees was the remains of what was left of a German bomber, most of the fuselage and part of the wing. Which was very quickly removed by the authorities due to the fact that unexploded bombs may still be in the wreckage? But it hadn’t stopped my mum having a look inside, despite my father’s objections; I also wanted to have a closer look at the wreckage to see if I could find anything that might have been left by the crew, but dad kept tight hold of me saying “It’s too dangerous to go anywhere near that wreckage”.
In the 1940s Heather Brow, was a Nursery supplying fresh vegetables and tomatoes to the local community but has now been transformed into a small residential development.
On V.E.Day, I can remember that it was a beautiful sunny day, very mild and warm for that time of year, all the people seemed so excited everybody was smiling and looked so happy it was amazing and even though I was so young I could notice that there was such a change in people attitudes who were in latter days looking miserable in comparison, so it was lovely to see everyone so happy and carefree and in obvious party mood.
This was soon brought about as all the neighbours in Sandringham and Elm Tree Road which is where my Aunt lived, brought out all the tables and chairs from their houses to make an endless chain of tables down the centre of each road and which were soon full of food of all kinds, from sandwiches to cakes of all descriptions, jellies, blancmange, trifles, ice cream and everything that the ladies could lay their hands on as most food and meat etc, was still on ration. They had all been very busy in the kitchen and they were determined that it was going to be the biggest party of all time. All the kids were sat down first to what I can recall was the best spread I have ever seen and so, after we had all eaten our fill, it was then the turn of the grown ups to sit down at the tables and then the merriment started all over again, one can imagin how much beer was drunk on that day, enough I suspect to make the local brewery managers rub their hands with glee.
All afternoon on that day there had been entertainment laid on for all the kids of all ages it was fantastic. When evening came all the tables and chairs were moved to the side of the road and the music started everyone was dancing in the road until the early hours and looking back I think that that was the only time in my life that I didn’t have to go to bed before my mum and dad.
C.F.GARDINER 11TH NOV 2005
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