- Contributed by
- Wymondham Learning Centre
- People in story:
- Mr and Mrs Lawrance, their children Geoff, Roy, Peter, Rosemary and Val
- Location of story:
- Harringay, north London
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 09 March 2005
This story was submitted to the BBC People’s War site by Wymondham Learning Centre on behalf of Val Ruffles and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
Val Ruffles (nee Lawrance) who was four in 1944 recalls:
In 1944 I was four years old. My family comprised three brothers, Geoff 13, Roy 16, Peter 19 and my sister Rosemary aged 21. My younger brothers attended grammar school, my eldest brother was in the army and my sister had had to leave school, just before taking her matriculation, to work in a local factory to help the War effort. My father was in the Metropolitan Police and my mother looked after us all — having refused evacuation for any of us — deciding it was better for us all to go together should the bombs come in our direction!
We lived in Harringay, North London and our road, Warwick Gardens, had the Ever-Ready factory at one end, the Harringay Arena at the other end and a hospital to the rear — a prime target.
One night in 1944 Peter was in our garden watching the night’s activities when a doodle bug suddenly cut out. He ran for the house as the bomb hit the Ever-Ready factory; he didn’t make it to the house but, as he hit the ground, the back fence fell over him and half the roof fell on the fence. Inside, Roy and Geoff were sleeping downstairs in the Morrison shelter and at the sound of the bombing Rosemary swiftly joined them. I shared the front downstairs room with my parents and my mother always put a screen in front of the window. The bomb blew our roof off and blew in all the windows. In the front room the glass blew into the screen and the screen blew on to the bed — and still I slept!! It was the noise of the family talking that woke me up. I walked into the hall, looked up and asked why I could see the stars.
The family had all congregated in the room with the shelter and Peter staggered in with the quip, “Anyone want a cup of cocoa?”
Later that night, when the dust had settled, we were all sent to the Salon Bal ballroom in Harringay High Road, where I have a strange memory of ladies in fur coats drinking tea.
As my father was a serving policeman we couldn’t be sent far away and were evacuated to Stoke Newington!!! A little closer to East London and the heart of the Blitz!
No trauma counselling for us — just a feeling that we had to make the best of the hand dealt to us and to thank God we were all still alive.
We all survived the War, but I know my father never fully recovered from all the dreadful events he had witnessed.
Thankfully I have lived with my family for the past thirty-seven years in peaceful Norfolk.
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