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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
June Bottomley
Location of story: 
Ealing, West London
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

I was nine when the war started and we lived in Ealing. My father had a shelter at the bottom of the garden which was half buried: a brick shelter put up by a neighborouring builder.
We all went down there when the raids were bad. We emerged one morning to find an incendiary had gone off just outside the shelter, about five yards away or less and it had blown a hole in the fence. We didn't bother to mend it; it gave us easy access into the next door's garden. They were good neighbours, they didn't have children, but they didn't mind us popping through the hole every now and then.
The other thing I remember is we had a huge bomb in west Ealing and a family friend had got blown across the shopping centre there. I remember her telling my mother all about it.
I nearly got evacuated to Canada, but they cancelled it. A ship was sunk-full of evacuees, so my parents said I wouldn't go. I didn't want to go anyway, so it was a relief for me.
At school all the cloakrooms were reinforced and used as shelters. We had to take a piece of work in with us during the raids. We had to memorise a poem : "who is the happy warrior, what is he, that every man at arms is meant to be." I still remeber that. I was at Haberdashers Girls School in Acton. The school has since moved to Elstree.
I was 15 when the war ended and they had a very ladylike sort of street party, not the sort of thing we usually had in West Ealing. It was in Balmoral Gardens: we lived in Earlsmere Gardens, just around the corner.

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