- Contributed by
- Isle of Wight Libraries
- People in story:
- Peter Kilby
- Location of story:
- Twickenham, London
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 18 October 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bernie Hawkins and has been added to the website on behalf of Peter Kilby with his permission and he fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
I was born and brought up in Twickenham in west London where my father worked in a builder’s merchants and before the War joined the AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service), later to serve throughout the War in the London Fire Service.
My first memories of the blitz were of sleeping in the steel Anderson Shelter in our back garden, with the walls streaming with condensation and outside the horrendous noise of the air raids in progress, and remember the night when my best friend was killed when his house in the next road suffered a direct hit.
Without doubt the most terrifying experiences came with the advent of the V1 flying bombs. While my father was on duty I quite often stayed at my grandmother’s house nearby to Twickenham Railway Station. One Monday morning I was awakened by the noise of a flying bomb flying overhead when its engine cut out, followed by the sound of it gliding to the ground, followed by a deafening explosion and then an eerie silence. Afterwards there followed the sound of breaking glass, slates falling and walls collapsing. I ran out of the house and was sick in the garden. My grandmother gave me a small glass of whiskey — I was about 12 at the time.
Later that morning I went into Twickenham town centre where the bomb had fallen, next to a small hotel by the River Thames, where I was told some people had died while eating breakfast, killed by the blast but without a mark on their bodies.
Later that day, the authorities decided to evacuate the town of women and children, and together with my mother, father and younger brother David, who was seven years old, we caught a train to Waterloo Station. Almost immediately, there was another alert and the train was stopped and out of the window we saw another bomb flying towards us. Immediately my parents flung my brother and me to the floor and lay down upon us to protect us with their bodies. Fortunately for us the bomb dropped short of the train, but then we thought of the people who had “copped it”. (Afterwards, at my parents’ funerals, I remembered what they had done for us that day.)
Together with my mother, who was pregnant at the time, and my brother, we were put on a train, with name tags in the lapel of our coats, and ended up in a town called Bromborough, on the Wirral, where I then went to grammar school in Port Sunlight. Because I arrived late for term I had special Latin lessons by a young lady teacher whose perfume I can still remember — so it was not all bad.
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