- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Derek Luke
- Location of story:
- Selly Oak, Birmingham
- Background to story:
- Civilian Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 02 February 2005
A CHILD'S WAR NEAR BIRMINGHAM
I was only ten when war ended, but remember when I was eight or nine years old going to school in the morning after an air-raid and finding shrapnel in the road. All the children picked up pieces and when they got to school they compared them to see who had the biggest pieces. That person was them top of the class for the day.
MY DAD WAS A POLICEMAN
My father was in the police force, which was considered a reserved occupation and he was stationed near home. He had to go out each evening to survey problems which arose during the raids. The worst evening I can remember was after the sirens sounded not going into the air raid shelter, but hiding under the stairs during the bombing of Hubert Road in Selly Oak. That night a land mine was dropped at the bottom of the road, which destroyed many houses, and under the stairs we were showered with glass and pottery — everything fell from the shelves. It was the most frightening night of the war for me.
POLICE CALL OUTS
I lived in Birmingham thought out the war. Police at that time were not just policemen dealing with crime. My father was in the motor division, so when a call used to come for him to go, he used to take what ever car was available from the Black Maria or even an ambulance to see what was wrong. He often came home very stressed having driven through Birmingham while bombs were falling all around him.
THROWN TO THE FLOOR
One evening while running to the shelter there was a whine from a bomb. My mother threw me and herself, to the floor just before a hug bang, which sounded as if it was in our garden — but it was some way off.
Most people had their own shelter in the garden consisting of heavy corrugated iron sheets. These were delivered to you home and neighbours all helped each other dig holes about three feet deep to put the shelter in. This was then covered with soil to give some protection from the bomb blast and shrapnel.
I lived on a hill outside Birmingham and as we went into the shelter during a raid, I could see Birmingham University, lit up with flares and searchlight in the sky often catching and enemy plane — quite a remarkable sight.
Our local recreation ground in Raddlebarn Road, used to have a barrage balloon tethered there and it was exciting to see it winched down so you could see just how enormous it was.
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