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St Ives beach attack

by cornwallcsv

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
cornwallcsv
Location of story: 
St Ives, Cornwall
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A6077036
Contributed on: 
09 October 2005

This story has been written onto the BBC People's War website by CSV storygatherer Liz Norbury on behalf of Margaret Bunney. They fully understand the terms and conditions of the site.

August days at St Ives always followed a certain pattern. The family rented a cottage for the holidays, and every morning, my father caught the little train to Truro and returned in the evening after work.
On one particular day, my mother and I spent the morning at the Harbour Beach, and then back to the cottage for lunch, buying ingredients on the way. (There were no fast food, ready meals or snacks!) After lunch, we made our way to Porthminster Beach, and because the tide was very low, we settled ourselves on the rocks below the Pedn Olva Hotel. I changed into my bathing costume and ran across the firm, golden sand into the shallow water. I had to wade out some way before it was deep enough to swim.
Suddenly, a large plane came low over the point from Carbis Bay, firing machine gun bullets as it crossed the beach. Panic broke out, and it was difficult to run in the shallow water. I found my mother in the shelter of the rocks.
We made our way back to the cottage. A bomb had been dropped on the gasworks (the site of the present Tate Gallery), and a large piece of masonry had been blown through the roof of the house. As the only cooking facilities were gas, we couldn't even boil a kettle.
As we were unable to get home for several days - or even telephone my father in Truro - we had to join other holidaymakers hunting for cafes with electric cookers. On Sunday, the bakehouse opened to cook people's lunch.

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