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Family at War

by Eddie Gardner

Contributed by 
Eddie Gardner
People in story: 
Eddie Gardner
Location of story: 
Tolworth Surrey
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
09 November 2003

The Gardner Family in 1946

Our Anderson air raid shelter was one of the biggest in the area and it had to be because it had to be big enough to hold 10 people.
Alfred and Beatrice Gardner and their 8 children (4 boys and 4 girls).

The shelter was used every night during the Blitz but after my mother and the 4 youngest children were evacuated to Pentewan in Cornwall my 2 older brothers and myself preferred to sleep in our beds.

My father worked at night for the News Chronicle and Star (National Daily and Evening Newspapers)and he had his own office as Garage Supervisor and he only came home on Sundays.

My first experience of being bombed was on the 16th August 1940 during the first daylight air raid in this area, a bomb fell about 100 metres from my shelter.

One Sunday morning in November 1940 2 bombs dropped on Tolworth Hospital - my brother and I were asleep and awoke to the sound of the 2 bombs whistling down followed by the explosions.
The house fairly lifted with the impact and the sound of breaking glass was immediate - I was sure that the house next door had been hit but it was the Hospital about 200 metres away.
As we rushed to the shelter we met a very strong smell of cordite (gunpowder).

Some time later my brother was called up for service in the Army.

In September 1944 a flying bomb hit the building next to the one where my father was working.
I saw him the next day and he took my up to the flat roof to show me the tail unit of the exploded flying bomb.
He compained to me of a very severe headache since the bomb exploded.
The next day I went up to Manchester where my mother, 3 sisters and brother were evacuated (the 2nd evacuation because of the flying bombs)

We were joined by my eldest sister Marion who was in the Womens Land Army and my eldest brother (engineering) and we all returned home together on the Saturday.
My father was phoned to see if he could get home but said that he would see us on the Sunday morning .

As he had not returned by 10am on Sunday my mother asked me if I would go up to his office and find out what had happened.
I took my youngest sister Rosemary aged 9 with me but when we got to his office it was locked up and although I asked people in the building if they knew where Alf Gardner was they could not help me.

The next day I was called to the Personnel Office where I found my eldest brother who told me that Dad had been found dead.
He had died from Cerebral Haemorrhage and it was thought that this was a result of the effects of the flying bomb.

400 bombs fell in the Surbiton area including 20 V1's and 2 V2's.
The memory of those long nights of the Blitz with the throbbing of the German bombers engines carrying their heavy loads of death and destruction, the whistle of the bombs as they came down and that explosive impact cannot be forgotten and my area (Southwest London) was not the area most heavily bombed.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

The Blitz Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
Family Life Category
London Category
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