- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Thomas, Marion and Iris CHAPMAN
- Location of story:
- South Shields.
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 30 April 2005
This story has been submitted to the People's War website by Don and Betty Tempest of the Lancshomeguard on behalf of Iris Colloby and added to the site with her permission.
One particular raid on Tyne Dock, South Shields, turned out, for myself and many others to be a night to remember. My Father was on Air Raid warden duty in the town square, adjacent to the docks, when my Mother and I woke up to the familiar sound of the air-raid siren. As we made our way to the Anderson shelter we felt the house shudder as it reacted to the impact of falling bombs, and we opened the back door to the familiar glow of the search-lights and the drone of aircraft overhead. Far from dashing into the shelters however, the neighbours had joined together and were gazing up at the brilliantly illuminated night sky, eventually focusing on a German airman descending on a parachute, caught in the probe of a searchlight. As young as I was, I remember the extraordinary feeling of comradeship and support which came from that group of people.
When my Father returned home the following morning, he told us that one of the cinemas, adjacent to the town square, had been packed with people, who all crowded into the underground air-raid shelter. The shelter received a direct hit, and they were all killed. My Father had been on duty with a friend, who was killed outright by the blast. Already traumatized, my Father walked home, to be met by the sight of trees bordering one of the towns cemeteries, festooned with the remains of bodies blown from the graves. Every other house in the street opposite had been bombed into rubble.
One of our neighbours, who had lived only two house away from us, had been killed that night - blown onto the roof of his house.
There was a continuous stream of neighbours calling to offer help and comfort to his family. The 'Togetherness' of the people was evident again in the sheer joy of the 'Victory' Street Party in 1945. My school celebrated too, holding a very special 'Victory' Day Assembley, when I felt honoured to be chosen to read one of Winston Churchill's graet speeches.
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