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Exeter Blitz 1942: Tale of the Sleepy Bus Conductress

by Liz Edworthy

Contributed by 
Liz Edworthy
People in story: 
Mary Edworthy(nee Huxham)
Location of story: 
Exeter
Article ID: 
A2011852
Contributed on: 
10 November 2003

My mother, Mary, worked for the first half of the war as a bus conductress in Exeter. She lodged with a family, the Langdons, in Ladysmith Road and told me many stories of her days with Exeter City Transport. Sixty years after those days she could still recall all the fares on every route!
In May 1942 Mr. Langdon was in the RAF somewhere in England and Mrs. Langdon took her daughter to Teignmouth to stay with relatives for a few days. My mother was alone in the house.
On Sunday 3rd May the weather was very hot as it had been for several days. My mother had to start work at 6:00am the following day, so she decided to have an early night. Around 9:00pm the air-raid warden called at the house to say that they had a warning of possible attacks that night. My mother refused to go to the shelter because she said that she couldn't sleep in the shelter. There had been some false alarms in the previoous week and she wanted a good night's sleep before her early start.
Having set her alarm clock my mother fell fast asleep. During the night she thought she heard thunder, which, considering the hot weather, was not surprising.
When she got up the following morning, my mother was upset to find that the water was off (a frequent occurrence) and set off to walk to the bus station. Her usual route was up Sampson's Lane and then down Clifton Hill. However there was a sign saying that Clifton Hill was closed, so she headed ffor Gladstone Road instead. As she walked along this road she noticed that St. Luke's College was on fire and wondered why this should be so!
As she turned into Heavitree Road, the main road into the centre of Exeter a policeman barred her way, asking her the reason for her journey. When she explained that she needed to be at work to take the first bus out he told her that there would be no buses that day since there were no roads!
For the first time that day my mother realised that Exeter had been heavily bombed during the night. The policeman did let her through and she arrived at the bus station. An inspector told her to go home and

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

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Posted on: 01 February 2005 by ToddGray

I am a historian working on Exeter in the war and would like to quote from you account in a book I am writing. Would you be happy for me to do this?
Dr Todd Gray
I can be contacted at drtlgray@aol.com or at 18 The Mint, Exeter, EX4 3BL

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The Blitz Category
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