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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Parents of Malcolm George Smart
Location of story: 
Kingston upon Hull, Yorks
Background to story: 
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Contributed on: 
01 December 2005

This story has been added to the BBC People'War site by CSV Kate Langdon on behalf of the author Malcolm George Smart. They fully understand the terms and conditions of the site.

Hull was very badly bombed during the period 1942-1945. To this day, sixty years on, if I hear wartime sirens sound they send a shiver down my back. As a toddler some of the stories I am about to relate I actually remember and some were told to me when I was older.

1: The sky was lit up by flashes. Close to our house was an anti-aircraft battery and each time the guns fired the house shook; the noise was very loud. We took to the shelter after tea and stayed all night. In the morning we left the shelter. Later in the day I was walking near the rear of the shelter and saw a long cylinder with fins sticking out of the shelter. I told my mother and she called some soldiers. We were very lucky that night as the bomb was an incendiary and could have killed all of us.

2: This story is in a lighter vein. Our house backed on to the cemetery and one day I was in the garden looking through the fence when I got a real shock. Standing in the grounds was a figure in long white robes, lit up by the afternoon sun. I ran to my mother and said "I've just seen Jesus." She laughed and explained to me that it was a priest who was attending a funeral.

3: My father Alfred Smart was a fire fighter based at a station in the centre of Hull. At times I stayed at the fire station and was put under the snooker table for safety. My father took me on the fire engine on its way to the station, I had never seen and could not understand what I saw that day. Huge fires were burning and the road was covered in rubble. Dogs were dead at the side of the road and some people also. I thought that the whole of Hull was on fire and did not understand why the firemen did not put out these fires. When I was older I knew why.

4: Evacuation - The war continued and things in cities were grim. I was evacuated to the northeast, to a fishing village called Filey. My mother said we would be safe there away from the bombs. This turned out not to be the case. At first I settled into a different way of life. Ma Camish was our host. She was a stout woman who wore fisherman's clothing and smoked a clay pipe. She was very kind to us.

One day I wandered down to the beach and saw all this barbed wire. I went round this wire and started to walk across the space between the wire. The next thing was a soldier shouted at me not to move. I stood very still, which was just as well because I was in the middle of a minefield. More soldiers arrived and I was taken out of the area. As I stood on the beach some distance from the minefield I heard the noise of a plane followed by guns firing. A kiosk on the beach, very close to me, was smashed to bits ... so much for the safety of Filey!

5. My mother and I moved to Harrogate to relations and stayed until the end of the war. Father survived the war and when we all returned to Hull it was a devastated city. Our house was saved but many of our friends died in the conflict. My uncle was a commando in the war and also survived.

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