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Schoolboy in Rushden

by Civic Centre, Bedford

Contributed by 
Civic Centre, Bedford
People in story: 
Dave Clark
Location of story: 
Rushden, Northants
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
09 June 2004

I was an eight year old schoolboy in Rushden in 1940. I went to Alfred Street School. One morning in October 1940 German aircraft came over and dropped a stick of bombs over the town and one of the bombs hit the school. It landed in the classroom next to mine and it killed six or eight children. One was a cripple boy, we always said, "Poor Johnny, he couldn't get out!" The ceiling came down in my classroom, it was chaos. We were led out to the air raid shelter in the school playground. I remember my father came to find me. I remember him taking me home on the crossbar of his bicycle. I was quite proud, being covered in dust, quite a hero. But we were devastated by the loss of the children. I still haven't got over it. We knew Johnny quite well because his mother did some cleaning for us.

I remember lying in bed in Rushden hearing the bombers going over to Coventry and we heard them coming back again. I remember one night a German bomber dropped some more bombs on Rushden. Everyone was on the floor in the entrance of our house, my mother, two uncles and myself buried underneath them. They said, "Where's the old man?" (My grandfather.) "Oh, he's upstairs, he said he'll go under the bed if it gets worse!" We had dug a shelter in the orchard, deep into the clay and covered it over, but we never used it because it filled up with water.

My father, Bernard Clark, was an ARP Warden for our street. He was responsible for distributing the gas masks to all the occupants in the street.

My father volunteered for the RAF at the age of 35 in 1942. He was referred to as 'granddad' by his fellow recruits. After his tranining, as a wireless operator, at various sites around the UK he began his operational career. His operational base was Skellingthorpe in Lincolnshire. He made 9 successful missions as a wireless operator/air gunner (WOP/AG) on Lancaster bombers. His final mission was made from Conningsby, Lincolnshire on January 27th/28th 1944. When I got home from school the extended family were all sitting around the table and I was told that my father was 'missing'. He was 'missing' for about 18 months before we knew that he was dead. I've never really come to terms with his death, I was always expecting him to walking in at home.

We had a lot of evacuees in Rushden. We had a boy staying with us and I was horrible to him, being an only child. But I've regretted it ever since. My mother was a billeting officer and she was in the WVS. We also had a teacher, Mr White, I think he was from Pinner in London. Also, later, we had a Canadian soldier, a Free French soldier billeted with us. We also had Mr Arthur Duckenfield, a jockey from Doncaster. His unit, the Hussars, was based in Rushden. Our street was lined with tanks of the Hussars in Rushden.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
Northamptonshire Category
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