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My 1939-1945 Family Story

by ateamwar

You are browsing in:

Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Mrs Joan Carson. Featuring Mr James Fitzpatrick, mrs Edith Fitzpatrick and Mr James Edward Fitzpatrick (son).
Location of story: 
Kensington, Liverpool
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
15 June 2005

1939, I was six when the Second World War was declared. Kensington was and is still where I live. There was just my Mother and I at home, as my brother was enlisted into the R.A.F and my Father was a merchant seaman.

Night after night when Liverpool was being bombed, we used to leave the house and run to a cellar air raid shelter. This was under a fashionable ladies dress shop, known as Scott’s on Kensington road. Other nights we would take shelter at home under the stairs, taking comfort from my mother with my head on her knee. One night, at short notice from the sirens, when we were running across Kensington to the shelter, we could see the enemy aircraft over head like a swarm of bees. There must have been at least twenty planes heading over Kensington that night. On that night we heard of the awful death toll, resulting from a direct hit on Durning Road School which was below a ground shelter. I remember that the bombing got so bad that, at least once, we were evacuated from our home for our own safety, to a church hall in Kensington. When our school closed, our education became a part time situation. The Brae Street Primary school pupils had to continue lessons with their teachers in neighbour’s front parlours close to the school.

The nearest I got to being evacuated, was when my mother and I went to stay with my Uncle and Aunt in Parkgate on the Wirral. However my Mother was not happy being away from home, so after a few days we came back to our house in Needham Road. We were relieved to arrive back and still see our house in one piece.

During all this time my brother was training bomber and fighter pilots, at an R.A.F station in Canada, so during the war we hardly ever saw him. My Father, being a merchant seaman, was also away for long periods of time. One time he came home because his ship had been torpedoed. But he wasn’t home for long, before he sailed away on another ship. Two of the ships of which my Father was a crewmember, one of which was the ‘Adda’, were torpedoed. The ‘Mary Slessor’ was mined. At the sinking of the ‘Mary Slessor’, my Father almost lost his life clinging on to an upturned boat. He saw a lot of his sea mates perish at sea. Almost unconscious, he was picked and saved. His legs were in a very bad state and he had to be hospitalised. While he was at home, family members of the crew called to our house enquiring about their loved ones, but my Dad could not tell them anything.

My Dad was a hero, earning many medals during his sailing days. He was awarded:
1914-1918 GOLD GREAT WAR
1939-1945 GEORGE 6th SILVER STAR
1939-1945 GOLD GREAT WAR

Well into his retirement, he made one request, “No flowers please”, only the ‘Red Duster’ which draped his coffin.

'This story was submitted to the People’s War site by BBC Radio Merseyside’s People’s War team on behalf of Joan Carson and has been added to the site with his / her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.'

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