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15 October 2014
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Children of the Blitz

by Open Learning Centre Liverpool

Contributed by 
Open Learning Centre Liverpool
People in story: 
Ken Blasbery
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
30 April 2004

I lived in the ouitskirts of the city and were deemed to be safe and not to be evacuated.
At home there was my mother and father and my younger brother, Vernon. We were an average family and my father was the Chief Bunkering Officer for the port of Liverpool as he had been working for Shell Petroleum at the Dingle Oil jetty. We were given a telephone for his job as he would be called at all times of the day and night. At Christmas 1939 we went to the Pavillion Theatre to see Old Mother Riley and Kitty McS hane in 'The old woman who lived in a Shoe'. At the start of 1940 our mothers were ready to begin buying the food rations which had been introduced at the beginning of January. We returned to school after a break of about 6 months as the schools were deemed to be unsafe in case of daylight air raids. We had been having lessons in peoples' hoiuses and at local churches. Our school also had air raid shelters built in the playground. We had 399 boys at school and the education department decided that if you could walk home within 5 minutes of a siren sounding in schooltime, we could go home 263 boys could, andone afternoon there was a practice where 263 boys went home but all forgot to come back.
Our first night raid was on the 17th August 1940, when a girl and a boy fromour senior school were killed in adjoining Anderson shelters in their gardens. Monday 2nd September saw the first daylight raid, and we setoff for home, but it was marble season and that was more important than an air raid. After about 20 minutes we heard the noise of an aircraft, but carried on playing. Suddenly there was a sound like hailstones, and, loking up, we saw a German bomber flying low over us and the gunners were firing at us! We moved very swiftly into a garden and safety.
A 13 year old boy stole a car valued at £100 and was seen by police in Warrington travelling at '60 miles an hour through the town. He was chased and eventually caught as he failed to negotiate a letf hand bend and finished up in a field of cabbages.
My dad was admited to the Royal Infirmary with Appendicitis, and was operated on. As he was being moved out of the Theatre, the hospital was bombed, and as he was still under the effects of the anaesthetic, he was transferred along with many other patients to the Floral Hall, Southport, where my mother eventually found him after 3 days of searching.
After the night raids we would go out before going to scholl to pick up Shrapnel and take the pieces to school. Sometimes the pieces would still be hot and a few burns were sustained.
At the start of 1941 we had what I consider to be the worst meal of the war. We had one tin of Tomato soup and a few potatoes between tho four of us.
We had to have no more than 5 inches of water in the bath to conserve fuel.
The average household lived on less than £5 a week. Food cost £1 14/10d, rent 10/10d clothes 9/4d fuel and light 6/5d. Miscellaneous items £1 5/7d.
The war was costing £11,000,000 a day, and a war budget income tax was imposed of 50%.
The first 'Soap' was broadcast called 'Front line Family'. This was a government propaganda exercise.
The May Blitz commenced on Thursday 1st May 1941 until the 8th. There are many harrowing stories and a few comical ones, such as the bomb that fell on Batty's dairy where there were 19 cows and a dog. The dog was blown out of the building, got up, shook himself, and trotted off. One of the cows was blown out into Arundel Avenue, which is at thetop of a hill, and landed just in front of a policeman riding a bike. The poor man could not stop in time and was sent hurtling over the handlebars into the road.
At school, mid day meals were to be introduced and 85 boys and 84 girls started to have them.
Then the first Americans arrived in Huyton.
The field opposite our house was dug up to prevent gliders landing and the trenches left behind gave the local boys a wonderful battlefield to play on.
The school got its first telephone. The number was Huyton 1617.
Sweets were rationed on 27th July, and the school had its salvage collection weighed at 28 tons collected in 6 months.
I was in Hospital for Christmas 1942 as I had crashed into an upright of the goal playing football at school. Our doctor had tried giving me medicine but there was no improvement, so I was given the magic tablets M and B, which were the ultimate in treatments. Unfortunately they did not work, so I was admitted to Alder Hay hospital. On Christmas Eve we were entertained by the nurses and during the night we were given presents by the wounded soldiers who occupied the upper wards.
The schol bought a wireless after we were inspected by a member of the BBC Education department from Manchester.
In 1944 Hitler ordered all children over 10 years to register for war work.
I left school on 4/4/44 and went to work i a Solicitors office before returning to the Liverpol City College of Art and Printing.
In japan all schools and colleges were closed and all over 6 years old were ordered to register for war work.
On 15 june, Family Allowance was introduced at 5/- for each child after the first. Dad had to pay tax on it.
On 30th July the 'Robinson Family' the first daily radio drama serial was broadcast beleived to be the forerunner of 'Mrs Dale's Diary'.

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