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15 October 2014
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Ambulance Duty in Liverpoolicon for Recommended story

by Lancshomeguard

Contributed by 
Lancshomeguard
People in story: 
Mrs M.C. Iddon
Location of story: 
Liverpool
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A4453076
Contributed on: 
14 July 2005

This story has been submitted to the People's War website by Jenny Finch of the Lancshomeguard on behalf of Mrs Iddon and added to the site with her permission.

(1) During the war I was a young nurse assigned to ambulance duty in the Liverpool area—The ambulances were on constant call all through the bombing leaving the crew little or no time to stop for a drink or a bite to eat.
One night after working flat out for well over 48 hrs we were called out to the Old Roan Pub - the cellar doubled as a store for child welfare (dried milk etc). The cheery soldier manning the huge tea urn inquired as to whether we’d had a drink-of course we hadn’t had time—so he swiftly served up tea and corned beef sandwiches albeit the tea was whitened with dried baby milk and the sandwiches resembled door stops —nothing has ever tasted so good since!

(2) Part of the job involved meeting the hospital troop trains at Old Roan station in the black out, we had to feel our way through the hundreds of bodies-the stench of blood and death filled the carriages and the cries of the wounded echoed all around—we only had the tiniest torch hung around our neck, those who were dead we left and those still alive- some suffering horrendous injuries were tended in the dark before being ferried to hospital-a lot of patients came all the way up from London as their own hospitals were full.

(3) During the May blitz we were caught short and dived for shelter beneath the ambulance as incendiary bombs reigned down all around, bombs tore up the tram-lines curling them into the air like huge chair springs there was shrapnel and debris flying in all directions. The funny thing was I don’t remember being afraid but do remember being greatly annoyed that Gerry had held us up when there was so much to do.

(4) The next day just fronts of houses remained with a sad cat or dog sitting on the front step outside the door it was very pathetic, I remember a canary still caged swinging lopsided from a tree singing it’s head off. It was common sight to see small children sat atop piles of rubble crying their eyes out, or people with handcarts clawing through the debris of what was left of their home attempting to salvage some small family treasure. I remember still today the faces of mothers as they searched frantically for lost children either on the hospital ward or in the make shift mortuary. I recall one poor mother claiming a baby boy who wasn’t hers-she tearfully returned him a week later saying she had lost her own baby boy and just wanted a baby to hold. We had no time to stop and think about mortality or the horror of it all, it was leave the dead and help the living—on and on through that seemingly endless bombing. Oh what joy and relief when the war ended though a terrible sadness hung like a black cloud because almost every family had lost something or someone dear to their heart?

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Nursing and Medicine Category
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