- Contributed by
- Worcestershire Libraries and Information Service
- People in story:
- Avis Leedham (nee Hughes)
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 20 October 2004
In 1939 I was seven, living with my Mom and Dad in St. Albans. Dad operated a transport business between London and Birmingham, but immediately war was declared the four large blue lorries were commandeered by the Government to transport troops and ammunition. We hurriedly returned to Birmingham and had to live with my Nan and Grandad in Blundell Road, Sparkhill.
My new school was Greet Infants, where a large brick shelter was hurriedly erected and we frequently had to take cover, carrying our gas-masks with us. In Grandad's garden we all helped to dig out a large hole for the Anderson shelter, which my Dad and Grandad fitted with a double and two single bunks.
Uncle Frank, Mom'#s brother, joined the Royal Artillery and was serving in Crete when it fell to the Italians. He was able to escape and the rest of his war took place in Egypt and North Africa. During this time he rescued anothher soldier who had been badly wounded by a mine, who turned out to be his cousin Arthur! Uncle Charlie (aka Wag) Dad's brother was in the Royal Airforce and was in the reescue party when the Duke of Kent was kill4ed, his aircraft crashed near Wick (Scotland). Both uncles safely survived the war. Dad became a special Constable and Grandad an Air Raid Warden (he had served in the first World War and lost three brothers in that conflict).
When the bombing of Birmingham was at it's height, we didn't wait for the siren. We went straight to the shelter almost automatically. I remember well my siren-suit, rather like the one Winston Churchill wore, but mine was bright pink, carrying a spare candle and my favourite doll. To me it was all a big adventure. We always had to wait for a lull in the bombing to go up from the shelter to the outside lavatory. I shall never forget the night it was my turn to go up with my Nan. She was just seated when there was the sound of a large explosion - she dropped to her knees, asking God to spare us adn he did!) We laughed many times about this incident in future years. That very evening our wire-haired terrier, Trixie, decided to give birth. A warm and safe bed had been prepared for her under the stairs, but sadly, only one pupy survived, although Dad stayed with her throughout. We called the puppy Lucky!
Lucky too were my Auntie Queen and Uncle Bed who lived in Kings Heath and had been visiting us. Returning home they found their house had received a direct his, but at least they were unharmed albeit homeless.
Youi never forget the wonderful people who shared yourlife during those harrowing and stressful years. It was not all doom and gloom, band eventually all celebrated together with great street parties, both for V.E.Day and V.J.Day.
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