- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Eva Sambrook, Claire Sambrook
- Location of story:
- Meole, Shrewsbury - Shropshire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 22 September 2005
Shrewsbury wasn’t too badly affected during the war. There was the rationing that I’ve mentioned already and there wasn’t much traffic on the roads - the Midland Red buses were running but not like they used to, and often when they did run they were very full and you’d have to stand. There were a few taxis but they were very expensive, so more people than ever had to walk or cycle, or those that could find the petrol could use the car.
Petrol was rationed of course and very dear, but we were allowed a small allowance for our farm machinery - we didn’t have a car at the time anyway. We had some petrol to spare because of this, so we were able to give some to a friend who would sometimes take us out in her car, but it had to be an essential journey. Downes’s garage was in Meole at the time and still is. I can just remember Mr Downes starting to sell petrol. Before that he used to hire bicycles out, I remember hiring a bike. (It was sixpence an hour for children or a shilling an hour for grown-ups.)
I remember a few planes going over, but at night time you could hear the German planes going over. They were going to Liverpool and places like that. They made a slightly different sound from ours and you learnt how to distinguish the difference. Night after night when you went to bed you’d wake up and hear the buzz of these German planes going over to bomb the cities.
It was very frightening but we got used to it. One night, instead of going on to Liverpool, they dropped two of these bombs at Edgebold (on the way to Hanwood). I remember the night it happened; all of our windows upstairs and down burst open, and with no lights (you daren’t have any lights on) we couldn’t see a thing! Claire and I were sleeping in the same bedroom at the time as we were so frightened at night and I remember Father coming in and calling out “You alright girls?” We were alright, but of course we’d woken up with all the windows blowing open with the force of the bombs. Luckily it didn’t damage anything — no one was hurt, not even any animals. I remember hearing afterwards what actually happened; everyone had something to say about it all. Kynnaston’s — the people who had the farm at the time were friends of ours so we went with others in a vehicle to have a look at the great big craters that had been made by the bombs — they were huge! But as I say, the bombs dropped in two fields and didn’t cause too much damage at all. They missed Shrewsbury town altogether.
We had blackouts in Shrewsbury — you daren’t show a light once it became dusk in the evenings, or you would be summonsed. The police were always going around and reporting if they saw anything like that. If they saw the tiniest chink of light anywhere you would be summonsed. We had to have big, thick, dark curtains to stop the light. I spent hours with a sewing machine sewing them together. You’d only need a candle to give off enough light to get you in trouble as the Germans might see you. I didn’t hear of anyone being summonsed locally, it went on but you didn’t talk about it. We were allowed small hand torches for getting about with, but you still had to be very careful not to show them very much.
I remember we had some evacuees staying with us to start with. The first three months of the war from September until Christmas we had two girls from Liverpool. They were girls of about 12 or 13 years old, but at the end of the term their parents wanted them back. They didn’t stay long because I s’pose they didn’t have the bombing in Liverpool which they’d expected, so all of the school’s from Liverpool that had been in Shrewsbury went back and we didn’t see them again. They hadn’t wanted to mix much with the Shrewsbury people anyway, I don’t know why but they didn’t like us so they’d rather be in Liverpool and risk the bombs.
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Becky Barugh of the BBC Radio Shropshire CSV Action Desk on behalf of Eva Sambrook and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
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