- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Beryl Sago
- Location of story:
- Croydon, London
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 28 December 2003
I was seven years old when the Second World War started. I lived on a large housing estate on the outskirts of London, and the street I lived in was on a hill. On a fine day it was possible to see Croydon Aerodrome at the foot of the hill.
When the war began there was a flurry of activity, building air raid shelters and issuing gas masks, but everything seemed to quieten down after a while with nothing apparently happening, and people became complacent.
One lovely summer’s evening my friend and I were allowed to take our doll’s prams to the local park, a short distance away. We were on our way home again, pushing our prams along a street towards a corner, around which was the top of the hill of the street we lived in. We were aware of aircraft overhead, but being so near to Croydon Aerodrome we were used to the sound and sight of aeroplanes and were not perturbed in any way.
At this moment, my father was talking to the next-door neighbour in the back garden and remarked that the planes seemed extra active that night and appeared to be playing games. When gunfire appeared from the planes, they both agreed that they must be practising in case the Germans should ever attack. It was then that they realised one of the planes was German, and that the other planes were firing at it.
At this point my friend and I had reached the corner and turned into the street, so that we were at the top of the hill at the precise moment that the German plane swooped down with bombs dropping as it flew the length of the aerodrome and then away into the distance, pursued before our very eyes by the firing British planes.
The scene in front of us was one of panic as mothers and father emerged from the houses, scooped up their children who had been playing out happily only seconds before, and ran back indoors with them.
At the sight of the falling bombs I froze to the spot, opened my mouth and screamed at the top of my voice. I let go of my doll’s pram and it went careering down the hill where someone caught it half way down. Two women I had never seen before got either side of me and dragged me into the nearest house where they calmed me down until my mother arrived on the scene.
The lone bomber did not return but we were not to know that, or whether others might be following. No warning had been give and everyone was taken by surprise. I lived to tell the tale but never forgot witnessing the bombing of Croydon Aerodrome.
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