- Contributed by
- Phil Hurst
- People in story:
- Sue and Fred
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 08 April 2005
Letter from Aunty Sue to her sister Lucy (my mother) dated Sunday, 16th November, 1940. This was written at the height of the bombing raids on Midland cities. Coventry had been devastated two nights before this date, the city flattened and the cathedral destroyed.
45 Williams Road, Cannon Hill, Birmingham 12
My dear Sister,
I hope this finds you all well. I was pleased to get your letter some time ago but I’ve been such a time writing back. But there’s no time for anything these days. We always seem to be in the shelter. I hope you are finding it peaceful. I expect you have heard it has been dreadful here lately, we’ve not been properly undressed at night for ages. Some nights we don’t go to bed at all, the raids start about 7 pm or before and sometimes we don’t get the all clear until 6 o’clock next morning. Some nights we get it about 12 o’clock, perhaps go to bed and have to get up again almost straight away. We’ve had some very near ones here and our nerves are dreadful and we get so tired and fed up. The city centre is in a terrible mess, either burnt down or direct hits with high explosive bombs, people rendered homeless, the sights are awful. What do you think of Coventry, it’s heartbreaking. They dropped some here on the way there (it’s only 16 miles from Birmingham). We had the warning at 6.30 that night and did not get the all clear until 7 am next morning. They never stopped all night and our guns were on all the time, they came right over here. All our fire engines rushed there and special buses to bring the injured into Birmingham. Hospitals are full and food was sent from here straight away. Coventry is now closed, nobody can come in or go out and it’s much worse than the papers and wireless say. We’ve not been out today, we’ve managed to get a sleep this afternoon. I’m writing this early waiting for the siren to go.
Where is Philip working these days, hope he is going on alright. I had a letter from Alice last week. Give my love to Lizzie when you see her. Fred sends his love. Mason’s had their warehouses and offices bombed and they lost thousands of pounds’ worth of food, and they had several shops bombed, one next to Fred’s. Haven’t we had a lot of rain lately — perhaps when we get some fog we shall be able to go to bed at night. Mary* came for a weekend not long ago. She looked well and as young as ever, considering what they’ve gone through. She talked about going to Evelyn for a time at Bournemouth, it’s quiet there now. Must close now and try and get some supper ready. Try and write soon, and remember us in your prayers. You can’t realise how much we need them.
Much love Sue and Fred.
The original of this letter is in my possession now, being left in my mother's papers when she died. It is a sad and poignant letter which arrived the day before my mother had received a telegram to say that her sister and her husband had been killed in an air raid. A stick of four bombs had been dropped believed to have been aimed at a factory building at the bottom of the street which took out several dwelling houses in the process. Theirs was one of those houses. The bomb that wrecked their house had landed between the back wall and the shelter. The rear of the house had taken the full blast. My father who was a rescue worker visited the site a few days later.
Incidentally their pet dog, who was in the shelter with them, survived the blast and lived out the rest of his life with Fred’s parents in Market Drayton, apparently none the worse for his ordeal.
*Mary was another sister, mentioned in the letter, who lived in London and had herself experienced several weeks of day and night raids by the Luftwaffe.
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