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A Child's Memories of World War 2: Living in Manchester

by brenhud

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02 June 2004

Joe and Lucy Hudson and family -

We lived on Bradford Road, Manchester when war broke out. I was 18 months old and my sister Ada was 2 years 6 months. My father who was born in 1907 did not go to war because of an injury sustained to his foot as a teenager.

My mother was born in 1915 (her maiden name being Cuddiford) and must have had a very difficult time bringing up such a young family during the war. Our brother Frank was born 6 weeks prematurely in October 1940 just prior to the Manchester blitz. I remember my father taking time off work to look after my sister and myself whilst my mother was in hospital.

When Frank was only 4 weeks old Ada and myself both went down with whooping cough and inevitably he also became ill right in the middle of the blitz. The doctor could not send him to a hospital as they were all full with casualties from the bombings. He did not hold out much hope for my brother as he was born prematurely but my mother nursed him through and he survived.

During the worst of the air raids my father had been sent to Liverpool to help with the clearing up after the terrible battering they had received.

At Christmas 1940 the air raids were particulary bad and it seems that most of the fire engines and crews from Manchester and surrounding areas had gone to Liverpool to help out thus leaving Manchester in a very vulnerable position. My father's sister lived in Stockport and said that as she looked up Wellington Road towards Manchester all she could see was a big red glow - it was as though the whole of Manchester was on fire. Ten months later she arranged for our family to move to Stockport away from the bombing and I remember travelling with my father and my mother, sister and brother coming later - I was very shy and frightened when left with relatives until my mother arrived. I do not know how I would have gone on if I had been evacuated like many other young children in Manchester.

After my brother had recovered I remember a time when the sirens had sounded and she was on her own with Ada, myself and Frank and as it was quite early in the evening we were not in bed. I had been playing with two baby food tins into which I had placed my feet - she could not get the tins off and had to drag me to the air raid shelter making a terrible din with the tins on my feet. A neighbour eventually came to our rescue.

After moving to Edgeley, Stockport, though it was nothing like as bad as in Manchester, we did have to travel to the shelters in Cheadle Heath - I can still remember the smell of the dank wet walls of the caves which had been converted into air raid shelters. I hope to visit the shelters soon as they are open to the public.

Other frightening memories concern the blackout - I hated the dark and one morning I woke up with the bed covers over my face -I thought I was suffocating as when I uncovered my face it was pitch black and I panicked thinking my face was still covered.
I remember the gas masks and my sister remembers the one for my brother into which he had to be placed - she hated the thought of him being put inside and has been claustrophobic all her life - I am sure that is one of the reasons why.

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