- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Leonard Attwell, Franklen Attwell, Fred Bale
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 29 April 2005
You request true stories from the Blitz of Cardiff during WW2. My father worked in the Gas Industry all of his life until he died whilst working on a gas main in 1962.
During the air-raids that took place over Cardiff in 1941, my father and his colleagues had to climb the fully loaded Gasometers by means of the maintenance ladders which were attached to the holders, carrying buckets full of sand. These buckets of sand were the only means they had of extinguishing incendiary bombs which landed on top of the holders. Some of the incendiary bombs penetrated the steel of the holders and were lodged in the dome. Since the air-raids occurred at night, the incendiary bombs were extinguished and made safe until the following day when the site engineers would make a more permanent repair.
These are the unsung heroes of world war two, hither to, unknown. I have corrected this injustice by bringing their brave deeds to your attention.
I remember vividly the night in January 1941 when Cardiff was bombed. I lived in Jubilee Street, Grangetown, which was adjacent to the Canton Loco Sheds the target sought by the bombers. It was the early hours of January 3rd (my brother’s birthday) that bombs and Landmines rained down on us. I was eight years old.
We were in the Anderson Shelter which my father had built half submerged in the back garden, with several feet of soil over the top. He had also built bunks in the shelter and fitted a sand-bag shielded door to the front of the shelter. It was a bitterly cold January night that my mother, father, brother and I huddled together in the shelter. Just thinking of that night brings back the whistle of the bombs falling and the terrible explosions that followed. It was in the midst of this that my father went back into the house to get some blankets despite the screams from my mother for him to return. He did return with an armful of blankets just in time, for a nearby bomb blew off the sand-bag shielded door of the shelter, and the blast lifted the shelter a few inches, then it dropped back into place.
My father spread-eagled himself over us, to protect us and I could hardly breathe.
Until that night my mother had been afraid of thunder and lightening, but that night cured her.
The following morning after the all-clear siren had sounded we emerged into the street to discover half of it had disappeared as the result of a land-mine. I had lost most of my little friends that night, some I was later told had sought refuge under the stairs in the misbelief that they would be safe. They possibly thought that it would be warmer there than the freezing cold Anderson Shelter. I doubt that they would have survived if they had used the shelter because of the close vicinity of the land-mine.
We made our way to my Uncle Fred’s house which was a couple of hundred yards away, they escaped the bombing. We were warmly received and they were glad to see us alive.
Other relatives in Ely had sent their son Hubert on his bicycle to see if we had survived. Of course he did not find us because we were at Uncle Fred’s and he assumed that we had all perished. You can imagine the joy that his parents knew when a couple of days later we turned up on their doorstep.
A few days later we were evacuated to Abertridwr where we remained until 1944 when we returned to Cardiff, and lived in requisitioned property.
Though I have reason to hate the German people, I do not because they, when called up have to abide by the rules as we ourselves have to do. I blame those at the top who give the orders and direct my hatred there.
I can only assume that the upheaval caused by those ugly wartime events were responsible for making me look for more beautiful things in life. I have strived to help people throughout my life and I still do. See my website at www.leonard-cares.co.nr
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.