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Coventry Raid 14 November 1940

by Hetty9

Contributed by 
Hetty9
People in story: 
Rose McKie (formerly McGlasson)
Location of story: 
Lillington, Nr Leamington Spa
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4057959
Contributed on: 
12 May 2005

Coventry Raid 14 November 1940

I was 6 years old when we were bombed out of our home in Kinross Road, Lillington, near Leamington Spa in Warwickshire. We had 2 cousins staying with us and my father and their father were away on business. When the air raid siren went off, we children were excited — it was lovely to watch the big silver barrage balloons and the searchlights raking across the sky, even if it was very noisy, with all the noise and the ARP men shouting out in the road about keeping the lights covered — all our windows were covered with criss-crossed strips of sticky brown paper, the sort used to do up— in this case it was to lessen the damage caused by flying glass if a bomb was to go off and shatter the windows. We also had blackout curtains, like everyone else.

I was one of six children and with the cousins; we were eight children and my mother and auntie. Mum has been making curtains for a time before the raid, and they were all hanging at the windows, new and very smart — they were cream with rows of green, orange and blue braid along the bottoms of them. She and Auntie Florrie had also been bottling fruit from the garden, as everyone did in those days. The bombing raid seemed to get louder and louder and we were all sitting underneath a bit table for safety! I thought I was a war casualty as a tiny piece of glass had caused a very tiny cut on my toe!! After a while it wasn’t quite so exciting because my Mother and Auntie were getting very frightened, and would scream when another bang went off, which made the children start to get very edgy — most of the bangs were caused by bottles of fruit exploding in the larder with the explosions, we learnt afterwards that 2 land mines had exploded in the road, killing some people and badly injuring others, but we didn’t know that at the time.

Eventually it all got so bad that we had a loud banging at the door, the ARP men had come to take us out of the road and we were all passed high up from hand to hand into a waiting lorry, you couldn’t walk as the ground was covered in broken glass. From there we were taken to a very large and crowded house where there seemed to be hundreds of people, just like us in their night clothes — the house was called The Grange, but that’s all I knew about it.

We must have been very tired as the next thing I remember was going back with my Mother and sister the next day to our house to see if Mum could find a change of clothing for us, but the house was in too bad a condition to allow us in. The front door was open and there was a big gaping hole in the wall which adjoined the garage and my uncle’s car was in there sitting under a huge heap of rubble, he and Dad were away in Dad’s car. I cried because the day before one of my teeth had come out, and I wanted us to go in the house and collect it, so I could have the tooth fairy money, but no luck and my mother was devastated to see all her lovely new curtains had blown out into the garden and were hanging on fruit bushes and trees.

In the meantime, we didn’t know it, but Dad and Uncle Bill had come home and found the house in that dreadful state and no-one there, and thought we must have all been killed. The scene all around was total devastation, so it was understandable and they had a very bad shock, but then someone told them where we were being kept until new accommodation could be found and we all cuddled each other a lot! But we had to move up to Cumberland as it was called then, as our house was declared to be uninhabitable and so my Granny up north found us a house where we lived for a few months all together until we moved back down south. I still remember it as exciting, because life moved very slowly in those times as a rule — but when I was older, I realised what a tremendous worry and turmoil it had been for everyone old enough to see it for what it was — those old air raid sirens still conjure up such pictures for anyone who survived the Blitz. If you get a chance to visit a museum, such as Flambards in Cornwall, where they have a replica of what it was actually like, with the noise of the sirens and the searchlights, the barrage balloons, even the smell of all the burning that followed the explosions, and the odd screams in the night, go and have a look at it and see what you think of it.

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