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R Tindall-I remember: Childhood Memories of Llandaff and Huddersfield

by Huddersfield Local Studies Library

Contributed by 
Huddersfield Local Studies Library
People in story: 
R Tindall
Location of story: 
Llandaff and Huddersfield
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
12 February 2004

This story has been submitted to the People's War website by Pam Riding of Kirklees Libraries on behalf of R Tindall and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

Teatime, full moon, crack of Anti aircraft guns, and searchlights sweeping across the sky, lighting up the silvery Barrage Balloons - forming boxes to trap the enemy planes. Lying near the back door were my blanket, bottle water and boots. On my shoulder, gas mask and Duffle-bag, containing Torch, playing cards, Ludo, Snakes and Ladders. These were vital accessories for the nightly trip to next door's Anderson Shelter. We didn't have one, but we were on the list to have a Morrison Shelter, steel with wire-panelled sides, to be put in place in the lounge. This was better than the freezing puddled floor Anderson. We could sleep in it.

Going to school was quite exciting and little bit fearful, especially as the big guns on the Anti aircraft base looked menacing. We had to pass them. Sometimes the sirens sounded and we had to go into one of the public shelters. We might stay there for several hours before continuing to school. No sooner had we arrived at school the sirens would go again, and past the splinter-net covered windows we would hurry to the brick air raid shelters across the playground. Often the German planes could be seen swerving and dipping, black silhouettes, engaged in a "dog fight" against a beautiful blue sky. The docks being their targets.

As we cycled to school we often found bits of shrapnel which we all collected and swapped with each other. We tried to get some from each part of the city. Our house was very near to the cathedral at Llandaff, Cardiff, and on the night the German bombers attacked, they dropped loads of incendiaries and a Land-mine, which landed in the church yard. The brilliant light from their flares lit up the whole area. Our lovely cathedral, no roof no windows no top to the spire. It was so sad. The wardens made good use of the stirrup pumps as the incendiaries fell in backyards and on rooftops of houses round about. In our house doors were unhinged and ceilings collapsed. Soot fell and put out our fire. Gas and Electric failed. For days we had an oil lamp for light and cooked on an oil stove. It was very cold as snow had now fallen. Soon the council I think, sent workmen to nail corrugated Iron sheets over the shattered windows. Snow and biting winds crept in through the cracks. As the raids increased we were all weary and nervy from lack of sleep. Big tarpaulins covered the damaged roof.

It was decided that it would be better if I was evacuated to relatives in Huddersfield. I soon settled down at my new school, everyone was very kind. I was in the choir and enjoyed speech days in the Town Hall. When the time came for me to leave school I went back to Wales. Now I had to decide on what I was going to do, urgently, or I could have had to join the services! My family decided that I should become a Nursery Nurse and so I became a probationer at one of the many wartime Nurseries. They opened very early and closed late - to accommodate the needs of the women war workers. I used to love the early shift when we gave the sleepy children their breakfast. The favourite was dried egg scrambled and sweet grainy chocolate drink. Kindly donated to Britain by the Canadians. Tuna fish sandwiches were gobbled up at tea times. One day I had to go to a nursery in the docks it was in Tiger Bay. This was an area abounding with colourful characters belonging to people of many Nationalities. Today, cleaned up and modernised. I moved to another nursery near the mouth of the river, we could see the channel and watch the boats going up and down. Mysterious grey green camouflaged shapes or Merchant Ships. One day we saw a Hospital ship and I couldn't help but wonder how many people on board could appreciate the sparkling water and warm sunshine. Once a boat docked and the rare Banana was said to be available. One mother queued all morning and had one Banana yes, only one! and when she gave a bit to her child he spat it out and cried - a strange taste to him. Eventually I went to train at a Nursery Nurses college in Kent. Thank goodness the dreaded doodle bugs were dying out. After receiving my certificate I went back to Wales and to work as a Staff Nurse in the wartime nurseries where I began.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Childhood and Evacuation Category
Bradford and West Yorkshire Category
South East Wales Category
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