- Contributed by
- BBC @ The Living Museum
- People in story:
- Henry Silver
- Location of story:
- Neasden, London
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 09 July 2005
I was born in 1939 and lived in a semi in Neasdon. My first memory of the war when I was 2-3 was the drone of the impending arrival of the doodlebugs which I now know had a pulse engine. When the engine cut out into silence the bomb would drop. One of these bombs exploded close to the house and I was in my cot with one of the sides down. In the explosion I was thrown out of my cot onto the floor and remember all the dust flying up through the gaps in the floor boards. My mother rushed and calmly put me back in whilst my grandmother rushed in and asked "Is he alright?"
Another memory of Doodlebug V1 is when the whole family were at home one evening. I heard the sound of the Doodlebug when its motor cut out. My mother and father rushed in and literally threw me into the Morrison Shelter in the front room. This was built with steel and wire mesh painted green and designed to protect us if the house came down. I heard the pulse motor of the V1 cut out and the V1 started to descend with a whistling sound. My Mother said “ I think this is it” whereupon the pulse motor picked up again and diverted the bomb to about half a mile away which exploded shaking our house and all the other houses in the area.
Another experience I had was when my father came home from his Home Guard Duties on a Sunday afternoon. I was playing in the garden with his sten gun. I looked up and saw a spitfire chasing a doodlebug and firing at it. Again, we all rushed into the Morrison shelter. Why this area was so vulnerable, where we lived, was because in Dudden Hill Lane was the Post Office Research Centre which was targeted in the war. In fact this was the place where the very first computer was built.
Everybody used to go to the local cinema to gather together to keep each other company. When a man rushed in and said “are the Silvers here? Your house has had a direct hit” My father rushed out down the road to have a look, and came back with a very saddened face, and said it was a narrow miss, the six houses next door were knocked down, all the windows were out in our house, but there didn’t seem to be any structural damage, so we were very lucky. I was a little older at this time, probably around 41/2, and the houses were hit by a V1. Two people were killed.
A strange story about fruit. There was a GI going out with a girl further up our road. He came to our house one day and said to my mother “would your little boy like a banana?” She said that is very kind of you, yes he would. He gave me the banana, and I said “what do I do with it? He said “eat it”, whereupon I bit the top of the banana off and started to eat it, I said this is awful, he then told me you have to peel it first and showed me how. He also gave me some chewing gum, and he said you chew this, but don’t swallow it
I hope this gives some idea of what it was like to be a baby in the last War.
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