- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Anne Patricia Lovell/Kenneth Double/Florence Double
- Location of story:
- Bath, Somerset
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 06 May 2005
The war years are a time I remember as a neighbours-pulling-together period of my life, as a child born in 1935 to a warm, loving and close family. We lived at 6 Clarence Place, Lower Weston, with my grandmother at No. 1 where her cupboard under the stairs had been reinforced and turned into a shelter so there we all gathered when the sirens went. My cousin and I were put to bed in a nest made at the lowest point, while the adults gathered round a card table to play. One aunt had hysterics each time she heard the siren, and I remember my cousin and I being highly entertained by this, as my mother would slap her and then wave smelling salts under her nose.
I was about 6 one sunny day, standing at grandmother’s front door with my uncle Ken, five years older. We were watching a plane coming over quite low when my uncle suddenly pushed my grandmother back into the house hard, and she staggered backwards, arms flailing and shouting at him. He threw me down on the path, and himself on top of me, and we watched as a black object hurtled down straight towards us – me not understanding any more than Nanny had; but then the object hit the ground a few yards from us, the ground vibrating underneath – and then silence. Absolute deadly silence as we gazed at the enormous crater with the bomb standing at its centre, stunned and amazed.
Then suddenly all hell broke loose as the air raid wardens rushed in to cordon off and evacuate the street, with fears that the unexploded bomb had fractured the gas and water mains, so no lights were allowed. My father was asleep after his munitions night shift, not knowing a bomb was right outside his window; we had to throw stones to wake him and he filled my doll’s pram with essentials and took me off to the timber community building at the city end of Locksbrook Road, where we spent the night amidst family and neighbours, much to the delight of we youngsters; my mother worked underground at the Ministry of War offices at Monkton Farleigh, and of course with no communication she had no idea of what had happened until she found herself unable to approach our street, and no idea of whether we were safe until she was directed to the “Adult School” as it was called, to find us safe and well. I believe that the bomb had been dropped by a plane returning to its base after a raid on the docks at Bristol.
Later, we children found it exciting to emerge from the shelter after what had been two terrifying nights for the grown-ups during the Bath Blitz, looking at whose houses had been devastated and watching the factories burning along the lower Bristol Road. By that time my father had been moved to Stroud to continue with his “reserved occupation” as a valued toolmaker and he came off his night shift one morning to the news of the Blitz; again, no way of establishing if his family had survived and no public transport, so he hitch-hiked from Stroud, relieved to find us all in one piece, and he took me and my mother, with my aunt and her four-year-old son (her husband was with the RAF filming the bombing raids over Germany) back to Stroud – I can’t remember how we got there, but he was a very determined man and he soon found us somewhere to live and we had a couple of very happy years on Brimscombe Hill with no more raids, only the usual shortages to cope with.
I remember a lot of things about the war years, rationing, make do and mend, playing on the bombed sites, and so on, but I expect you will have a lot of those memories and I felt a more personal item would be of interest; we certainly had a wonderful series of street parties on VE and VJ days, when my grandmother's home was host to the ice cream container!
Hope this is of some help to you in gathering information.
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