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Air Raids on Southampton

by alicem

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Julie Harrison
Location of story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
12 November 2003

My first memories of World War II, at the age of 4, are the sirens and blackouts and of going down to an Anderson air-raid shelter at the bottom of the garden built by my father. There was a particularly bad raid and I remember going to the shelter, but my grandmother (she was in bed) was refusing to leave the house. I ran back to try and persuade her to come and eventually we were all sitting in the shelter, with a little kerosene lamp burning and blankets over us. The shelter was just dug out with a trench in the middle and two long seats either side. The roof and front were of corrugated iron with earth presumably from the digging out, all over the top. I don't know how long the raid lasted, but when we eventually emerged to find our house had been hit, a bomb had exploded in the front garden and there was glass everywhere. A lot of our belongings were ruined, including a beautiful dolls house of mine.

My next memory is of being evacuated to Romsey, and of sharing the kitchen and bathroom with the Francis family who owned the house. My mother, brother and I were in one room and my grandparents in another. We had a shelter (a sort of cage) I think it was called a Morrison, where my mother, brother and myself slept.

I was 5 on the 28th July, 1941 and so it was time for me to start school and I started at Romsey Infants, I think it must have been Sept 1941, but not certain. Sometime in 1942 we rented a house at Testwood. I then attended Testwood or Totton Infants for a year. My grandfather caught the bus to his office in Southampton every day.

The war was still on of course and I remember at one time my brother and I were playing in the Recreation Ground at Testwood when the siren went off and of feeling very frightened and of running home.

In 1943 we returned to Southampton when it was a little safer and my Grandfather rented a house opposite our old home that had been bombed, until after the war when it was rebuilt.

I can remember Ration Books for food and clothes and that we could not have many sweeties and that my mother bought lots of second hand clothes for me.

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