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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Blitz 1940

by SAP2553

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Norman WJ Henney
Location of story: 
East London
Background to story: 
Merchant Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
16 November 2003

Before joining the Merchant Navy in 1941 my father was an apprentice engineer with Harland and Wolff and lived in a terraced house in East Ham. So far in the war my fathers school and church had been demolished by bombing. At the age of 18years he was a member of the Local Defence Volunteers which later became the Home Guard.

During the air raids he used to take to the streets to help the air raid wardens. One night the area around his home was subjected to an intense bombardment by German aircraft dropping both cluster and incendiary bombs and landmines.

He patrolled the streets with stirrup pumps ready to try and extinguish an incendiary bombs when a searchlight beam lit up a landmine drifting close to where he was in the front garden of some terrace houses. There was a low wall as a boundary at the front in which had been iron railings. These had been removed as part of the war effort. My father took cover by crouching behind the wall - the land mine exploded close by and as he tried to stand up he found he couldnt! Had he lost his legs? Was his spine damaged? He thought you dont experience pain if you are seriously injured.

He then looked down and found he was kneeling on the hem of his long overcoat, he moved the coat and stood up uninjured!

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