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The Alarm Clock Bomb Scare

by Radio Ulster

Contributed by 
Radio Ulster
People in story: 
Jean Boyd
Location of story: 
Northern Ireland
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
17 February 2005

This story was given to Conor Garrett and transcribed by Elizabeth Lamont


There was one night so it was that we had a very bad blitz. Apparently some boat that was in — and I don’t remember the name of it and if it hadn’t been here the South of Belfast would have been flattened for they were able to, you know, track the aircraft and that. We knew a lot of people that was killed in the Blitz — can’t remember the names now, but at the time there it was heartbreaking to think of it, you know, to think of it, you know.

Well, whenever the siren went off, we had our own shelter at the back — but we never used it. We went down to the one on the street so we were all together and it ended up sometimes you had a bit of a laugh to help each other but always, my Mother always brought her policies as that lady said and any few pounds that she would have had for there wasn’t much money — my father was in the Navy and she always had them ready for to bring with her to the air-raid shelter — so she did. It was just the seats — like you know, there was just the seats right round it and that was all that was in it. You just all had to crush all together into the seats for very few were refused like the ones in their backyard. They preferred being in the company, so they did — for my Father was in the Navy — so was my brother and then my Mother and the three of us always went into the one in the street. You always had to carry your Gasmask with you, so you had — and when I would have put it on me if it had have been on me a while, I felt as if I was going to suffocate or something. To other people, it seemed all right by them, you know. But we never had it on — only practising — so we had, you know, the times you had to do it. I mean — you couldn’t have played games for there was no light you see — you just brought torches and just a bit of a joke with each other until maybe the bombs would have started and then some people would have got nervous there and anyone who wasn’t able to try to help were the ones that was nervous, you know. (Was it frightening?) It was — at times it was really bad that night that the ship was there. It was really a bad night because with them, you see being there, and firing at them it was really very scaring — it went on for a good while too. It was very scary, so it was — especially as I say that night it went on so long, you know.

I got a new coat and I wasn’t to wear it until that Sunday and I coaxed my Mother to buy these shoes which was a bit dear for her and she ended up buying them and my Father was on leave from the Navy and the two of them were going out — so I thought I would put it on going out that night to the Picture House and that was the Willowfield on the Woodstock Road. And the Willowfield broke down. And we were in the First House — there was First and Second House which meant then that we were late getting out and I run down the Woodstock Road and there’s a thing called “The Smokies” that the Army had out and the smoke went away up into the sky. They were supposed to be to cover when the planes came over — the planes then couldn’t see down into the places you know and the oil sometimes would have been spilt about that they must have had used to work it and I slipped and fell in the oil and my clothes got cleaned. My coat got cleaned — twice - and the smell was still terrible. My shoes — and the both of them — had to be threw out. And I got into trouble — wasn’t allowed out for about two weeks because, like, money, my Father was in the Navy, money wasn’t big and my Mother, like, she couldn’t afford and it was hard for her. So, that meant you got into trouble.

I lived on Lower Mount Street — that was between Albertbridge Road and Mount Street and we would have went up to the Castlereagh Road at night during the Blitz and we went into a farm and we slept in their lofts and one night even one of the women said “Would you shut that door?” which was at one end. But she didn’t realise that the other end was all lying open — it made no difference. So this night, we heard “Tick, tick” and we thought it was a bomb so we all got up and run out — and as we were all coming down the road we still heard this “Tick” and then one of the women says “Oh, I forgot, I brought my alarm with me.” I thought she was nearly going to get murdered with the rushes of all down the road. So it was no bomb — it was her clock.

But we would have had a wee sing-song and then — that’s it — you had to go to sleep. And we would lie down on the straw and that was us

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