- Contributed by
- People in story:
- David Davis
- Location of story:
- Heston, Hounslow, England
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 15 November 2004
My name is David Davis, born and lived at 289 Vicarage Farm Road, Heston, Middlesex from 1930 -1956.
I was eight years old when war was declared and within a couple of days, my brother and I were whisked off by our mother to go and stay with our grandfather in Warminster, Wiltshire, as evacuees. We stayed there for about nine months and then returned to Heston just in time for the start of the London Blitz and spent every night for the next ten months sleeping in the air raid shelter in the back garden.
Later on, in 1944, (then aged fourteen) there was the scourge of the V1 flying bombs (the doodlebugs). The one which dropped nearest to our house landed about 600 yards away in Summerhouse Avenue. Many houses were damaged and our house was the first one in the road where the lavatory pan had not been smashed or cracked. My mum said that if she had had a penny-in-the-slot machine, she would have made a fortune from the number of people who queued up to use our toilet!
But….. to my war wound.
Every Thursday morning, because of food rationing, my mum and our neighbour (“Auntie Rose” to me) would go down to Wright’s the Butchers, whose shop was in the parade opposite Hounslow West Tube Station. They would solemnly choose the Sunday “joint” (a pitiful little piece of meat), collect half a cloakroom-type ticket and pay. The meat went into the butcher’s fridge for collection on Saturday morning.
On a Saturday morning I would go, with Donald —son of Auntie Rose — and armed with the ticket, to collect the meat ration. We were both given two pennies as the ‘bus fare — penny each way — but being lads, would run down to the shops, and then have a penny to spend (it bought quite a lot in those days). There were no sweets to buy, nor was there any ice-cream. However, there were Askey’s ice-cream wafer biscuits, and you got ten for a penny — great enjoyment!
We would queue up at the butchers and when we got to the counter, would swap our ticket for the joint. Sometimes, if we were lucky, there were a few slices of corned beef — as a treat!
Now, with a “load” to carry, we needed to get the ‘bus home and would go and wait at the ‘bus-stop which was on a piece of waste-land opposite the tube station. Behind the ‘bus-stop was a very large emergency water supply tank (EWS), put there in case water supplies for fire-fighting were disrupted. The tank stood about four feet high and was surmounted by three strands of rusty barbed wire (? to stop you swimming?). The water was a horribly dirty greeny brown in colour, stagnant and could probably qualify for germ warfare nowadays. But while we waited for the ‘bus, Donald and I would stick our heads beneath the bottom strand of barbed wire and peer into the murky depths to try and see what old bicycle, wheelbarrow or pram or other rubbish had been chucked in.
One Saturday morning, there we were gazing into the cloudy water when “BANG”. We shot up, in the air in surprise and looked around. An enemy V2 rocket (no prior warning) had landed and exploded behind the block of flats about 400 yards away — Parklands Parade at the Henley’s Roundabout on the Great West Road. A huge column arose, and all the roof tiles literally shook and wobbled before smoothly sliding down the roof into the garden. There were a number of fatal casualties we found out a bit later.
Well, when the explosion occurred and we jumped up in shock, we caught the back of our necks on the barbed wire — and we bled.
We started to run home — carrying our precious and vital burdens — and were met by two distraught mothers, crying away, who presumably thought that the rocket had landed very near to us.
Big hugs all round — then “Look, they are hurt, they are bleeding!””Get them home quickly — we may need the Doctor!”The mums even carried the meat ration! We held our heads in awkward positions, groaned occasionally and I think Donald even limped a little. We got home, the very superficial but bloody scratches were cleaned up and were soon healed.
That was my war injury as the result of enemy action. No compensation, no injury benefit, no pension, hardly any sympathy. All I got was “Look at the mess you’ve made of your shirt, how am I going to get that clean?”
Could have been worse.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.