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by actiondesksheffield

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10 May 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk — Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Gillian Gelder, and has been added to the site with the author’s permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
My first memory was a moonlit summer night; my daddy was carrying me from our house to the dugout. I felt safe; I could see and smell the flowers.

We always slept in the dugout. I can remember listening to the drone of Jerry planes and lying in huddled fear on my top bunk as bombs exploded in the near distance.
Skeletal walls of buildings stuck up on High Street, around Swallownest. There were a lot of hit and run raids, often without warning. On one occasion I was with my dad and David; a Jerry plane was over the town and Dad was able to see the whites of the pilots' eyes and pressed us down underneath him. The pilot did not open fire. I do not remember this incident but was told of it much later. I was also told that I watched the boats returning from Dunkirk.

Even more terrifying was the memory of shopping down town on the other side of the bridge; we were in Chads. Suddenly, a blast splintered through the ceiling. Everyone took off and ran for shelter except me. I made for the door at lightening speed. I had worked out in my childish mind that if nothing was above me nothing could fall on me. I forgot about the plane, Mum chased after me and I was hauled into the safety of the shelter. When the all clear sounded we made for home past the station. There was fallen masonry all around. British Home Stores had taken a direct hit. The Baptist Church between British Home Stores and us had protected us. Later my mother told me that the grocer had tried to persuade her not to go to town that day. The raider was shot down; at last it was over. No more bombs! It was VE day. The relief let rip. The lights were put on and the prom. was lit up. I can remember dancing round a bonfire on the prom. near the south pier in between two large sailors. Of course there was romance. I was going to get married when the war was over. I was just seven then.


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