- Contributed by
- Earl Shilton Senior Citizens Centre
- People in story:
- Audrey Collier nee Turner Bryan Turner (brother) Elsie / Arthur Turner (parents) Gertrude / Oliver Cockerill ( G/parents) William / Lillian Turner (Uncle /Aunt)
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 03 September 2004
This is Audrey Colliers story: it has been added by Jim Lord with permission from the author who understands the terms and conditions of adding her story to the website.
I was four-and-a-half years old when the war started, and my family lived in the centre of Coventry in Bishop Street. My father did not qualify for military service due to a childhood illness. He and my mother were steward and stewardess of an artists' club. My maternal grandmother was an artist based there and took singing engagements locally. During the air raids on Coventry, father was on fire watch, mother, my brother and myself were put to bed on mattresses in the wine cellar under the club. There were some strong archways between the beer and wine cellars and this is where we took refuge. I was awake during the bombing, and can remember being afraid. On one occasion when father came to check on us, I asked would we still be there in the morning, and this made my parents cry. As the raids intensified the heavy furniture from the bar came tumbling down the stairs towards the cellar, so that later when Father returned he had to dig his way through to us. The building had been destroyed and I was very upset at losing my two pet budgies.
My mother wanted to find her parents, who had lived only a couple of streets from us. When we got there the row of houses had been destroyed totally. It was horrible, everywhere seemed to be burning, we could see Broadgate and the Cathedral on fire. I can recall my mother looking for her parents, there were bodies in the gutters and I can still see her lifting sheets and tablecloths checking to see if my grandparents were among the casualties. We returned after a while to find that my grandparents were there looking for us. We managed to borrow some clothes from Neighbours that had been a little luckier than ourselves, and I remember I wore a pair of boys trousers and an overcoat. Grandmother was to take mother, myself and my brother to Rhyl, to some friends of hers. The men were to stay behind clearing up. There was no transport and we took all day to walk to Stratford on Avon. There we rested that night in the local morgue, and nuns fed us bread and jam and cocoa. We stayed in Rhyl for about a month and then came home to lodge with my uncle's family
(my father's brother). Perhaps this hadn't been such a good idea as he lived very near the Morris factory. Dad had taken a job where he had the use of a small lorry. If the raids were not servere we and my cousins were put under the steel table that was a shelter. If the raids were heavy we all got into the lorry and rode out into the country away from the town. I recall one night, I was sat between that my parents in the cab, when a bomb dropped in front of us. Father got out and there was a hole the size of a bowl, Dad said to mum, I think we had better get away from here. The next time we went that way, there was a crater the size of a field. Eventually we managed to rent a house of our own. There was a barrage balloon at the end of the road, the WAAFs were billeted out. We had one staying with us (Bridget) for a while. We got to be quite self-sufficient we grew vegetables, reared rabbits, chickens and pigs. There was a heck of a lot of black market trading. We were sworn to secrecy if we saw or heard anything. I can remember being sent shopping with the ration books as soon as there was a whisper of anything special at the local Co-op. ( check number 62319) On the ground my father was renting was an orchard that had gone to ruin. By this time father had started a haulage business (3 or 4 vehicles). When V.E. was declared the men cut down some of the trees and made a bonfire, there were 20 / 25 houses in the street, the women got together and cooked supper and my Dad bought fireworks, many of us had not seen them before. The celebrations were great, the party lasted all night, the bonfire lasted a week (with a little help of the local kids). This was all repeated on V J night.
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