- Contributed by
- little brown jug
- People in story:
- Kathy Jones
- Location of story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 17 April 2004
The day the war started I was with my friend. We were out on our bikes in Edmonton on the hill where, at the time the Empire Cinema stood. We didn’t hear the actual declaration of war on the radio, and the first we heard of it was when a man who was passing us warned us that war had started and that we should go home. We hurried home to get indoors as the sirens were sounding. Being young girls, only seventeen at the time, we thought it was all so exciting and funny. But nothing happened that day. Then life returned to normal, like getting up and going to work. There weren’t any air raids for quite a while.
A few months later, my sister and I went to the Alcazar Cinema one evening and I remember the film very vividly it was “Sweeney Todd the Barber”. Coming home in the dark, we were looking over our shoulders because we had been so afraid by what we had seen in the film. Little did we know that the first bomb to drop on Edmonton would drop on the Alcazar Cinema later that night. The sirens started sounding, and in our panic to get down to the shelter we all scrambled in and my sister swore she had swallowed her two false teeth, because she had pains in her stomach. We had quite a laugh afterwards because we found them in her bed. We still had our sense of humour despite the serious situation.
My brother went off to war in 1940 aged 19. My sister and I worked at a Jameson’s chocolate factory in Dysons Road and I also took up first aid. I had to stay behind and help all the others to get down the shelter, which was dug along the side of the factory. I sometimes used to entertain them with my ‘Hunchback of Notre dam’ impersonation and other silly things just to keep people’s minds off of what was happening. Not that I wasn’t frightened myself.
Life was a struggle for our parents to feed us all because of the rationing, we didn’t get much food. Looking back, we now know that we had quite a healthy diet really.
We were living in ‘Florence Road’ when the Blitz started, and at the bottom of our road there was a rubber tyre dump and it was set alight by incendiary bombs. We all had to leave our homes because of the smoke and go to the shelters at ‘Craig Park’ but we were allowed back eventually.
We were bombed out of our house in Florence Road, some time later, never to return. It was a terrible tragedy that night because a whole family we knew were wiped out in a house just behind ours, and there were many other deaths and casualties. We hadn’t been to our shelter for a week or so because my mother suffered from very bad bronchitis and she couldn’t be left alone and we couldn’t go down to the shelter on our own. This turned out to be very lucky for us because the night the bomb dropped near our house our shelter was blown in and we would probably all have been killed. We would all settle together (except dad, who always slept in his own bed) under an iron bedstead frame with a mattress over it and held up by two chairs and a table pushed next to it with a mattress underneath it so that we could lie down and sleep. We thought this would give us some protection if the house was damaged by a bomb.
We believe a German plane had been caught in the searchlights and dropped its bombs. We found out afterwards that the bomb was an aerial torpedo. When we heard the bomb coming down I threw myself over my nephew who was only about two years old. If I hadn’t done this I would almost certainly have been injured or killed because when the glass blew in behind me there were great big pieces of glass embedded in the wall right where I had been sitting. I thought my foot was hanging off because I could see blood but to everyone’s amusement afterwards I only had a quarter of inch cut. Someone shouted, “put that light out” but nobody could catch it because the gas lamp was swinging backwards and forwards furiously. We had to get out of the house because there was no roof, no windows or doors. Dad who had been asleep in the bedroom, didn’t want to go down to the shelter, he was quite happy to stay in bed, with all the glass around him. He went back to bed afterwards, but the rest of us went down to our neighbour’s shelter but it was very crowded and we only had half our bottoms on a seat because there was nowhere to sit. When we wanted to go to the toilet, someone had to hold the lavatory door up because it had been blown off its hinge. It was wintertime and we were all hugging hot water bottles because we were so cold. The next morning we were told we had to get out of the house, but we still had to go out to work and then later that day we were found temporary homes and we were all split up. We lived apart for about a week until they found us a flat in Craig Park Road, and the family were back together again.
As war progressed, the doodlebugs started to come. One night we could see a doodlebug flying very close and knew it was about to drop and we called for dad to come down to the shelter but he called back “It’s alright I’m in the mint”. I don’t know what protection he thought that lying in a patch of mint in the garden was going give him. We laughed about it later. This was the Doodlebug that fell on the ‘Blue Anchor’ pub, in Angel Road. There were quite a few lives lost again that night.
Then a doodlebug landed on my brother’s house, which killed my brother’s wife. He’d just been home on 14 days leave to see my mother who had been very seriously ill. When he was contacted about a death in the family he thought it was his mother that had died, but his commanding officer informed him that it was his wife.
We had quite a lot of bombing at this time, but to young people, I don’t think we really stopped to think just how serious it was and to some extent found it more exciting than frightening. Mum and dad obviously did find it frightening, they took the brunt of it all but we were young and weren’t so bothered.
You didn’t see or hear the V2 rockets at all until they landed and exploded, but the V1’s were quite fascinating to watch. You could see the flames and you could hear them and you knew once the engine noise cut out that they were going to fall.
We had guns going up and down the railway lines, firing continuously, but they didn’t really do much damage to the enemy planes, they were only able to keep planes from flying too low.
There was a molotoff cocktail dropped on the big houses near Pymes Park one night and we were in the shelter that night at Craig Park. We experienced the actual blue flash that came right through the shelter because it was such a big explosion.
Looking back it was quite frightening, but we took life in its stride and did what we wanted to do irrespective of how our parents felt. My mother must have been absolutely terrified for us, when we were out late but we were enjoying ourselves in our own way.
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