- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Mrs Audrey Kyle Mr and Mrs George Bettis Gordon Bettis
- Location of story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 07 July 2005
I was born on the 13th of February 1929 which made me ten years old at the outbreak of war.My parents were publicans in the East End of London. I had been due to be evacuated but my brothe, who had his 14th in the August and could leave school , persuaded my parentsnot to send him away and naturally as his kid sister if he wasn't going i certainly wasn't . My response to our not wanting to leave them was "we'll all die together" fortunately later on in life we could have a good laugh at this.
The public house overlooked quite a busy street market, and after the speech telling us we were at war with Germany, i was sitting at an upstairs window when the siren sounded, women started to run home and the market traders packed up in record time, fortunately it was a false alarm.
My father bought some canvas camping beds and put them in the cellar, so for the first months we slept among the beer barrels, nothing seemed to happen so once again my brother decided he had had enough of sleeping there and took himself back upstairs to his own bedrooom.Needless to say what he did was good enough for me so i followed suit. My parents seemed to be of the same opinion that nothing was going to happen, so when the blitz started we were all sleeping upstairs.
I should have said that all schools had closed, so for some time i had no schooling at all, then childeren started to drift back to London and schools were reopened with a few childeren of varying ages. Lessons were not taken very seriously,possibly as no one knew what was going to happen. One school i was at would take us down into shelter and hand us some knitting and we would knit socks and comforts for the soldiers but not in my case as i was not blessed with the art of needlework although as i got older i did improve.
The blitz itself when it started was nightly, and although we did not sleep in the cellar again, the moment the siren sounded we went down to the cellar. Although i did not hear the broadcast myself, i was told lord Haw Haw had said the bombs would fall on our part of London mentioning a big jewish department store as their target, which was on the corner of the street where we lived. I think human nature is such that you never really feel anything is going to happen to you, so hearing my father and brother arguing about the type of bombs that were falling seemed quite natural one of the worst nights was when the incendiary bombs fell. One actually exploded in the roof and brought my bedroom ceiling down with a large piece on my pillow wher my head would have been. It was belived that the way to smother them with sand or they would explode.The ones that fell on our building and set light were fortunately put out by my father brother and uncle who was home on leave from the army. My uncle was glad to get back to Aldershot after that experience! The firemen where helpless as the mains had been hit and water was short the building mentioned by Lord Haw Haw was burnt to the ground.
We moved to north london when i was twelve. Much to my disgust we moved on the Thursday my mother found me a school on Friday and i started Monday. My father was called up and joined the national fire service. He was on a fire barge on the thames and had only just got off as a buzz bomb fell and sank it. My brother when he became 18 trained as a wireless officer and joined the merchant navy. We were ver lucky as a family, and although both my mother and father cames from big families and a number were in the services no one was lost in the war.
Perhaps i should add that despite the bombing rationing and general shortages the cockney humour never failed and quite unprintable songs were sung about Hitler and his men.
One other thing comes to mind buses were request stops to reserve fuel, on the bus stop there was a notice which read " face the driver raise your hand you'll find that he will understand" underneath read another notice " i know he will the silly cuss but will he stop the B***y Bus. Audrey Kyle added this with her permission she is aware of what this story is used for.
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