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15 October 2014
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Bombed in the School Clinic

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Gordon Dean, Mary Ann Thompson (Grandmother). Max Miller (Thomas Henry Sargent)
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Contributed on: 
25 August 2005

I was nine years old when World War Two broke out. I was born, and lived at 9 Pelham Street, Brighton, East Sussex.

About nine feet across the road was the Intermediate Boys Senior School. One night it was set alight by an incendiary bomb. We were dragged from our beds and taken to the air-raid shelter at Pelham Square (located at the southern end of our street). It was very dark, and I stumbled and fell over the hoses in the road en-route to the shelter. The next morning, Max Miller (a well known comedian) called at our home as he was a close friend of the family. “Is he alright?” he asked. “Of course”, said my Grandmother. “ I always put him (me!) under the stairs anyway!”. This was a favourite place during air-raids, and I can still recall the smell of Ronuk Floor Polish which was used on the linoleum. Another smell I can easily recall, was Zebra Stove Polish, which was used on the old kitchen range — where Max Miller often used to put his feet up to rest them when visiting my Grandfather.

On a more serious note, I will always remember the day I was trapped inside the school clinic. We had walked down from Stanford Road Senior Boys School to the Circus area for our woodwork class on a Wednesday. — I think I had been off school with a common child’s complaint in those days, impetigo. This used to be treated with an anointment called Antipeol. Mr Foggarty, our woodwork teacher knew that I had been off school, and said that I needed to go and get a chit from the school clinic across the road. I made my way over to the clinic, and had not been sitting there for more than ten minutes when it received a direct hit from a high explosive bomb. I remember being lifted off the bench, but nothing else. Ambulances and doctors soon arrived, and strangely enough I was dragged out by our family doctor, Dr Stuart Warden of Trafalgar Street. To this day, I still have a dent and scar on my forehead from the blast.

This story was added to the site by Elizabeth Legate on behalf of Gordon Dean. Gordon fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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