- Contributed by
- Braintree Library
- People in story:
- G. Proctor
- Location of story:
- Coulsdon, Surrey
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 15 November 2004
I lived at home throughout the Blitz, sleeping in the safest part of the house against the downstairs wall and close to the chimney breast. A spare mattress was slung from the picture rail and balanced on a bookcase and was intended to protect this corner from falling debris. It was more likely to have come down and suffocated us at the slightest vibration! The window was boarded up in this room and elsewhere sticky brown paper tape criss-crossed the windows curtained with blackout material.
When the sirens sounded and things got noisy — aircraft overhead and a variety of gunfire noises, sometimes punctuated with whistles and thuds of stick of ten bombs — we all crouched quickly in the nearest “safe” place. This would have been under the dining table, under the stairs or even under the branches of a tree. My closest escape was when a jagged piece of shrapnel struck the pavement 3 feet from where I stood and gouged out a 2 inch deep hole in the tarmac. On that occasion there had been no warning sirens.
My bedroom afforded me a view of the sky to the west and north and I remember seeing the red glow in the sky when London burnt night after night.
Once we set out to visit relatives at the end of the Northern tube line with my father carrying a 6 foot laburnum sapling he had promised them. The first part of our journey was accomplished without delay but on arrival at London Bridge tube station we found it was closed with an “UNEXPLODED BOMB” notice. Undeterred we walked on to Moorgate picking our way through streets littered with broken glass and debris and small fires where gas pipes had been fractured. We had glimpses of earlier bomb sites with smoking buildings and firemen struggling to damp them down.
Moorgate station also was closed as was Bank. Perhaps it was time to give up and go home via a Lyons teashop for a cuppa. Back at London Bridge we found ourselves diverted to a bus. Another unexploded bomb had been found on the line which we had travelled on earlier.
At this point my mother noticed that my father was no longer carrying the laburnum tree
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