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A Close Shave

by cornwallcsv

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Archive List > The Blitz

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Donald Jackson
Location of story: 
Plymouth, Devon
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
06 August 2005

Don's family joining in Victory Day Street Party at Gifford Terrace Rd. Plymouth.

This story has been written onto the BBC People's War site by Storygatherer Lucy Thomas (Callington U3A) on behalf of Donald Jackson. They fully understand the terms and conditions of the site.

My name is Donald Jackson. At the time of the incident I'm about to recall - in 1940 - I was seven living with my parents in 7 Gifford Terrace Road, Plymouth.

There had been some air raids in Plymouth in July and August but we weren't involved until Nov 6th when there was a raid and we went to our shelter in the bottom of the garden. The all clear went so we came back in the house and my brother, who normally goes to the corner of the road after a raid to talk to his mates, was not very well so he stayed indoors. We were all in the dark in the dining room when mother heard this noise which she said was a bomb. My father, who was now an ARP man with his helmet on, said "don't be so bloody wet.

Next thing, the house came in!

Following the first Instructions issued, my brother dived for the hall. Unfortunately the door blew straight back at him and knocked him back into the room. He was bruised but had he been in the hall he would have been shattered because there was glass all the way through to the glass porch. My sisters and my self hid with our heads under the table with our bums out in the air. Mother was hit on the head with a pot of lard which jumped off the stove.

Later we were taken outside and across the road to a neighbour. We were black all over and covered in muck! Next we were taken along the road to my Aunts house where we had a good bath.

But for the fact that my brother, being poorly didn't go, he would have been on the street corner to discuss the events of the raid, when the house on the corner, about four doors from us, was hit. Two or three of his mates were killed.
Had the German dropped his bomb a fraction of a second earlier he would have taken out our family and about 30 odd people who have been descended from us since. It's all a matter of luck so I suppose we were lucky.

Then we moved up to the top of the road to temporary accommodation in a house that was condemned and we lived there for forty years.

We enjoyed the blitz, which was hellish for parents but very exciting for kids.

When I think back, thinking as a father now, it must have been terrible. As kids it was very exciting.
As someone said "I see lights in the sky and flares, and hear all the noise".
We knew that if you could hear the bombs they weren't going to hit you because they whistle and that meant they were going elsewhere. The one coming at you, you wouldn't hear, that's how the one that knocked our house down, or at least damaged it, made a rushing noise which my mother identified but my father didn't. It didn't sound like a bomb because of the angle it was coming.

We could hear, the clinking of chains when the aerial mines were coming down, aeroplane noise, planes flying over burning. Quite a lot of things were going on.

The scary bit was standing in the house doorway where we were waiting until there was a lull in the bombing so we could rush to the shelter.

Hyde Park School at the end of the road was bombed and we were sent to other accommadation because the school was out of action for a while. I remember seeing the fireman up on the roof chopping the slates and the timber out because it was all burning.

Our main pastime as kids was collecting shrapnel which is bits of bomb and shell. From which we used to get tremendous scratches and big infections. This was pre penicillin; we had Detol and bandages that stuck to your leg and that sort of thing.

One of the things that I remember is that I got my Christmas and my birthday present early because my birthday is in December and we were bombed out in November. As part of the move I was able to get my hands on a card board fort and soldiers, which was intended for my birthday. So that was some excitement. That seemed more important than anything else.

When we moved to the top of the road we used the bottom of the road, now a bomb site, as a play area. There was lots of good climbing stuff.

There was a bomb dropped here which didn't go off. It was all roped off and we kept away from it. They removed the ropes and said it was all clear so we got the rubble from the buildings and filled the pit up. A bit later they came along and took the bomb out. The bomb had gone in at an angle so luckily we were OK.

Another memory I have refers to my Aunt whom we went to stay with. She was bombed herself. Fortunately the bomb didn't go off. The bomb came through her roof, leaving parts of the roof dangling in her front bedroom upstairs, and then through the ceiling into her porch and just lay there. My aunt was quite happy, walking back and forth getting her important papers and personnel effects together over this bomb.

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