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15 October 2014
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My most memorable day at school

by ateamwar

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Archive List > The Blitz

Contributed by 
ateamwar
People in story: 
Austin Segar, Gordon Woolley, Alan Williams, John Pugh, Brian Ball, Robert Gerrard and Geoffrey Porter
Location of story: 
Port Sunlight-Bebington-Birkenhead (Wirral) / Toxteth (Liverpool)
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A5032676
Contributed on: 
12 August 2005

The most memorable day during my days at school was the day a small party of us schoolboys went from Port Sunlight and Bebington to Toxteth in Liverpool to ‘sit’ the entrance examination to Toxteth Technical Institute.
This occurred during the first week of May 1941which to many people in Liverpool and Wirral became known as ‘The eight days May Blitz’, from Friday 1st to Friday 8th May1941.
The Wirral boys included six who were to become classmates after passing the examination, they were Gordon Woolley, Alan Williams, John Pugh and Brian Ball who with myself passed The Leverhulme Scholarship and Robert Gerrard and Geoffrey Porter who passed The Wirral Lands Scholarship.
I remember travelling to TTI for the examination with Gordon, Alan and John. We met at the then New Ferry bus depot on a morning after a particularly heavy air raid and caught the Birkenhead Corporation bus to Birkenhead Woodside Ferries terminal to board the ferry to Liverpool Pier Head.
The names of the ferry boats at that time included Bidston, Claughton, Hinderton and Thurstaston.
We had travelled to Liverpool very aware of the bombing raid the previous night as the dockside and industrial areas of Wirral had suffered badly during the blitz including Port Sunlight and Bebington where we lived, after such a raid burnt paper and debris rained down on the area when the wind was in our direction. On crossing the River Mersey the fires, smoke and smell made us more aware of the terrible devastation in the Liverpool City area.
Our plan was to catch the tram car from the Pier Head and travel to TTI in Aigburth Road but were informed at the Pier Head that due to bomb damage and devastation from the night before all Pier Head tram services were cancelled and the nearest trams on our route started at Great George Street. We therefore walked to Great George Street via James Street to the Victoria Monument in Castle Street, then along Lord Street and Church Street to the bottom of Bold Street.
All along the route there were shops and offices bomb damaged with most of them on fire from the air raid the previous night. With Bold Street being narrower the difficulty continued as we had to weave our way between the craters and avoid hindering the firemen, policemen and other emergency services attending to the devastation. We also had to avoid the water from the hoses as they sprayed the flames, the water as it ran down the road as well as the mounds of rubble and craters.
My most awesome vision of the day was when walking up Bold Street and seeing St Lukes Church at the top junction of roads engulfed in flames with the tower acting as a chimney. The brilliant red and orange flames and smoke were gushing through the tower, clock face roof and reaching hundreds of feet into the sky, the church being so badly damaged and alight that the fire service must have found it impossible to save.
We reached Great George Street, boarded the tram car and travelled to TTI to sit the examination.
In the late afternoon after completing the examination we returned to Great George Street and walked to the top of Bold Street with the intention of retracing our steps of the morning, we found the buildings still ablaze with the fire hoses everywhere and the firemen still busy on their task. Placed at the top of Bold Street were barriers manned by policemen who informed us that the area was cordoned off because of unexploded bombs still in the rubble. We had walked up Bold Street and adjoining streets in the morning completely unaware of the added danger.
We therefore had to make our detour along a route designated by barriers to the Pier Head to board the Birkenhead Ferry boat and then the bus back to our homes import Sunlight and Bebington.
A most memorable day and one which, I hope, will never be repeated.

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