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Dark Days - Darker Nights

by Peoples War Team in the East Midlands

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
Peoples War Team in the East Midlands
People in story: 
Lawrence Arthur Warner, Reginald Arthur Warner, Irene Warner
Location of story: 
Mickleover, Derby
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
05 August 2005

"This story was submitted to the site by the BBC's Peoples War Team in the East Midlands with Lawrence Warners permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions."

I was born in February 1937 at home, the top end of Station Road Mickleover, almost one mile away from the village and the only school. I had two older sisters who attended that school, so my dear old Mum was compelled to make the long trip, four time each day, morning to deliver, lunch time to collect. Then she had to collect them at the end of lessons. It was too much, with me in a pram and our collie dog called Mick.

My Dad found a terraced house in Warner Street down in the village and around the corner from the school and at six months old I was settled at our new address. There were 20 houses, ten down each side and I can still remember the names of every family. The only street lamp was a gas light half way down on our side, the even numbers. When the war broke out the four panes of glass were painted over, leaving just a small band of light, our living room had a gas light with a mantle that used to burn out quite often. It gave a dismal illumination to the room.

We made use of candles in the bedrooms and a little paraffin lamp flickered in the cold out side lavatory.

My Dad dug a deep hole in the back garden for an air raid shelter and covered it with steel sheets and earth. Some wooden steps led down to a rear seat out of an old Austin Car, when the sirens sounded and we would scurry down and all huddle up on this seat. Only blankets were wrapped around us and many nights were spent this way. I remember hearing German planes over head and anti aircraft guns firing from Kingsway in Derby. Pieces of shrapnel would whistle down, one large piece knocked off a back door at a house in Lodge Way.

My Father did not go to the services, his work at the Newspaper in the town was deemed to be of national importance, so he was an air raid warden and had to go on fire watch when the sirens sounded.

We had evacuees living next door, Bob and Bunny Rice, came from London and told tales of bombing and destruction. This made us fearful of the Germans and the aircraft. I can recall going to school with my gas mask, I only had a plain one, some of the more fortunate kids had Mickey Mouse masks, they were coloured red.

The nights were long, we played war games, machine guns and Tommy guns, tanks and fighter pilots in the street, is it any wonder we have grown up to respect our proud nation.

Masses of bombers grouping up for the thousand bomber raids, barrage balloons, tinsel that floated out of the sky, radar jamming devices, the bonfire and street party flags flying VE Day 1945.

Hooray…. Light at the end of the tunnel…..

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