- Contributed by
- Researcher 238630
- People in story:
- Elsie Mae Griffiths
- Location of story:
- Kings Heath, Birmingham
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 12 August 2003
I can clearly remember standing by my mother's side at the front gate. We stared into the cold November night and gave an involuntary shiver. An eerie silence pervaded the road which was bathed in brilliant moonlight. How it glistened on the frosted rooftops. A bomber's moon, whispered my mother. Then, as if on cue, the steady drone of an enemy aircraft began to invade the quietude, rudely intruding on this scene of winter beauty.
Mother had seemed somewhat uneasy on that particular evening, and the sirens had sounded ealier than usual with most of our immediate neighbours decamping to the underground shelter in the local park. Not so Winifred for she had decided to wait for my father who should have been coming off duty in his capacity as a Special Constable. However, unknown to us the impending situation had changed all that.
And now the lone aircraft moved ominously nearer, looking for the railway line across the road from us. Thus targeting our nearby communication and transport systems. Suddenly there was an almighty 'whump', as a stick of bombs was released ito our winter idyll and we too were blown backwards into our hallway. it was a miracle that we were not injured though I remember seeing the pavement rearing sky ward in great jagged chunks. In later years I realised that my mother must have been in a state of shock and panic when she yelled to me, come on we must run. We retreated crazily to our back door. But not before I had gathered Joey the budgerigar, complete with cage, into my shaking arms. It's a wonder that he did not die of fright, what with his brilliant yellow feathers all covered in choking soot.
We stumbled up the garden path and narrowly escaped injury again as our chimney pots crashed into the back yard. We didn't stay to reason why, as we ran along the entry into the open road. The Air Raid Precaution Wardens (ARP) were everywhere, shouting to everyone who was still out, to 'take cover'. But Winifred was unstoppable and hellbent on finding my father somewhere in this sudden madness. We did however, manage to deposit Joey with some kindly neighbours at the corner house. How they begged my mother to stay with them. But their words were wasted on her, as we careered off once more into the chaos.
Eventually we arrived in Kings Heath Village, our main shopping area. I can recall seeing a gun on its carriage being wheeled up and down the high street. There were also bits of shrapnel falling about our ears and we even escaped injury from that! Desperately we enquired at two main pubs, 'The Hare and Hounds' and the 'Cross Guns' but neither landlord could report that 'Jim' had been sighted. Obviously there were to be no 'quick ones' on this night of all nights.
Both of us now nearing exhaustion, I clutched my mother's hand tightly as we began to make our way back to the devastation of our home. Arriving at the other end of the road, we picked our way over the upheaved pavement. As we neared the house we could hear my father calling, 'Win, Win, are you in there?' Her reply echoed along the ravaged area, 'No, I'm here, right behind you, and where the hell have you been?' And there I shall leave the story, now a tiny part of British history. Yes the memory after sixty years, is almost as vivid as if it were yesterday. Just that one night and its consequences, which irredeemably changed my childhood forever.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.