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Leicester 1940: Boyhood Memories of the Raids

by Geoff Phillips

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Geoff Phillips
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10 November 2003

Memoirs of the raids on Leicester during 1940.

At the time of the Cavendish Road daylight raid on 21st August 1940 my friend Geoff Ireland and myself (We both lived in Trafford Road off the Humberstone Road. and were 11 at the time) had gone to Humberstone Park to fish for sticklebacks in the brook. I had treated myself to a new penny net. We heard the bombs fall before the siren went and when the siren sounded we dropped our fishing tackle and ran for home. As we ran down Humberstone Road people called us to come into their shelters but we were determined to get home. Geoff ran down his entry at the top of Trafford Road and I ran on to No. 47. As I ran down the entry the “all clear” sounded. We returned to Humberstone Park but someone had pinched my new net!

On the night of the November 19th raid my sister Pam and I were alone in the house in Trafford Road. My father was reserved as a Bus Driver and was on Duty, My Mother was teaching at Moat Road. night school (now-a-days we would have been in more danger from the Social Services than the Germans!). We ran down the garden to the Anderson Shelter and the first bomb was falling as we went through the opening. Our near neighbours the Cundy’s joined us minutes later. Although no bombs fell near us I distinctly remember the high-pitched tinkle of bricks falling. My Mother and Father managed to get home in the early hours after the raid and I can remember the excited reunion on the lawn. Although I can appreciate the horror that some people suffered I can only remember the feeling of excitement rather than fear.

The next morning Geoff Ireland and I went on the Tram to the City Boy’s School but they could not pass Freeman Hardy & Willis which was still burning, so we got off and went round the back streets to school. Our Form Master Mr Hancocks arrived a bit late to take the Roll call still in fireman’s uniform and very dirty and unshaven. After school the Trams were not running so we had to walk home. If my memory serves me right we went up London Road. across to East Park Road and diverted at least once because of damage or unexploded bombs. The Grandfather of my wife, Barbara (nee Rennison) was Harry Bowerman (at some time Alderman). He was a denist and his surgery was on the corner of Frank Street and Humberstone Road. He lost his surgery in the Frank Street bomb, and had to be relocated on the corner further down Humberstone Road (Spinney Hill Road, I think).

By Geoff Phillips

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