- Contributed by
- CSV Actiondesk at BBC Oxford
- People in story:
- Beatrice Young
- Location of story:
- Poplar, London
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 23 October 2005
This story was submitted to the People's War Site by a volunteer from CSV Actiondesk at BBC Oxford on behalf of Beatrice Young and has been added to the site with her permission. Beatrice fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
I was 39 years old when war broke out, and lived in Abbots Road in Poplar, London, I had 2 children one was 4 and one was 2. I was born in the East End. When war came my husband was in the forces - the Artillery, stationed in Blandford in Dorset . When the bombing was really bad we had to go down to the Anderson shelters in the garden — a bloke came round banging on the door shouting “ the siren’s gone, hurry up”!
I had to get my two kids down to the shelter; they didn’t like it waking up every night! I bought a second hand tin bath and made it up as a bed and tucked the baby up with pillows and blankets with a camp bed for the eldest. I had a big basket packed up ready for the night and put clothes in the basket so I could dress them in the morning. I put a blanket round them and carried them out one at a time. I had to be organised with only me to do it. If it was really cold I took bottles for the children and I slept with my clothes on all night. I put a little night light on the step in a saucer and I’d take a flask of drink down and a bit of chocolate.
Whilst they were sleeping I’d open the door a little bit and sit and watch them up there fighting!
I had to get up early in the morning to queue up for shopping, if you weren’t early you wouldn’t get nothing and also if you were early you usually missed the siren. No sooner than you got the shopping or the old boiler on for a wash then the siren would go again.
We all had gas masks, my boy had a Mickey Mouse one, the little baby had to have one of those cradle ones like a basket with a cover over top and a pump outside. I had to go to the clinic (this was in1944) to be shown how to use it, to learn how to pump - too fast it would smother her, too slow and there wasn’t enough air. She screamed blue murder, she hated it, but I daren’t take her out - she screamed all the time, poor little thing. When the all-clear went I’d feed and change her and then put her back again. It really scared her.
When my husband got home on leave he was disgusted to see the state of the house, my roof had fell in and killed the canary! They wouldn’t mend your houses, it was a waste of time, they just put tarpaulin up but the rain got in and ruined the bed. I didn’t know he was coming; I was so pleased to see him. But he was still in uniform and the people on the other side of the street had just got bombed so the police nabbed him and he had to help get the bodies out there all day, and so I never saw him. He only had a fortnight’s leave! When he went back he said “you’re not staying here like this so you’re coming back with me”. It was beautiful there in Dorset. I stayed 2 or 3 weeks, but then he had to go to Ireland so all the mothers had to go home. My place was just too damaged, and whilst I was away someone had pinched my kid’s bike from the passage and all the coal I’d saved up, and the pushchair.
I went to stay with my sister in law and lived there till my husband got home from the army. He got a job in the cinema and I worked there with him part time. We had more 3 more children, 6 altogether.
My parents only lived a few streets away but when they were bombed out, I couldn’t find them for months and months. They were in Rainham. A warden told me where they were in the end and a good job he did. They were all right but the whole street was bombed out.
They were bad times, very bad times. I wouldn’t want to go back to them!
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