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15 October 2014
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A Night I Shall Never Forget

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Mrs Dorothy Cox
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Contributed on: 
12 July 2005

This story was added to the website by a CSV volunteer on behalf of Dorothy Cox, who has given her permission for her story to appear on the site, and understands the terms and conditions of the website.

I Joined the Civil Defence in 1940 at the A.R.P.Control Centre which was house in the dungeons underneath the Guildhall in Plymouth. I started as a telephonist taking messages from Air Raid Wardens in their depots around the city etc.We did 12hour shifts and on the night shifts were allowed to sleep (if quiet) for part of the time.
We had many small raids. Later I was promoted to Plotting Officer. There was an enormous map of Plymouth and its environment on the wall of the Inner Sanctumin which we congregated 9during major alerts) the Town Clerk, Chief Constable, Medical Officer of Health and various others.My job was to plot the bomb incidents etc on the map as they came in. I also talked on the phone to the R.N. base at Mount Wise and often spoke to Vivian Ellis who was acting as Liason Officer there .

On the night of 21st March 1941 we had a red alert (warning of a MAJOR raid)and it turned out to be the Blitz and Plymouth was utterly destroyed. The Guildhall received direct hots by both destructive and incendiary bombs and we underneath found there was only one way of escape- by now the walls were red hot. Luckily we all got out but we lost the Deputy Town Clerk who had gone out on a mission and was never seen again.

After this we joined with Devonpont Control centre underneath the meat market. In April, a month later,Devonpont was blitzed and we were taken by bus, at the height of the raid,to Pounds House an above ground mansion in the middle of Central Park (ridiculous! we said - a sitting target!)This house remained untouched for the rest of the war!!

I was married in August of that year to my Royal Navy fiance and had to send to Cheltenham for material etc for bridal clothes as all the main Plymouth shops were destroyed.

I still have a charred eggcup found later in the debris of the Guildhall!
P.S I also became quite an expert at table tennis!

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