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- Kay Pitts
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- 28 September 2005
KAY PITTS - 14 September 2005
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I was born in 1912 and was 27 years old when the war started. The bombing started really seriously in London in August 1940. In September my parents had an oil bomb dropped as a direct hit on their house, it went straight down through their bed, into the foundations, but luckily at the time they were sheltering in the garden. They phoned me the next morning, telling me they were homeless. I collected them and took them back with me to South Ealing. We decided to make up beds in the cellar in the basement. This was the first time I had ever been in the cellar.
That same evening my house was hit by a bomb and we were all buried in the cellar. There were my father and mother, myself and a friend from next door, who had come into our house because their own cellar was too crowded. A beam that had fallen from the ceiling pinned down my father. My mother was lying in water, because a water pipe had fractured and I was lying under a gas pipe, which had also fractured. The neighbour (Pat Thornton) was unhurt and was lying just by my side. Nobody was seriously injured, just cuts and bruises and extreme discomfort. Unfortunately it took three hours before rescue came. It was the AFS that rescued us. They had to remove some bricks from the cellar wall in order to pull us out. Because I had been inhaling the gas I was pushed out first. Unfortunately I was sparsely dressed, having only French knickers and bra on. When they wanted to push me out feet first, I protested and pleaded, please may I go out shoulders first. This was ignored and my dignity was destroyed. A fireman flung me over his shoulder and I was promptly sick all down his back, after inhaling so much gas. All four of us were rescued, and we were taken to a shelter, when we arrived there the kindness of the people already there was incredible. They rushed to their various homes to get clothes for us to put on. We later learnt that from 17 neighbours only 6 survived. How lucky we were.
The next door neighbours had let out the top part of their house to a family of four, mother, father and two boys about 7 or 8. The mother was an amputee; her leg had been hit by a cricket ball and had gone gangrenous. A fireman saw a foot sticking out from the house damage, he pulled at it, and it came away in his hands. He fainted clean away. Pats parents, Mr and Mrs Thornton unfortunately died as a result of the bombing. My friend Pat in fact later married the man who rescued her
Having lost my house and its contents, all I was given was 40 extra clothing coupons, so I had to exist the whole of the winter, which was very cold, with only one skirt, one blouse, which were frequently washed and one unlined raincoat. About a month after this had happened I restarted work in the office of a firm of Bakelite moulders. A company that we supplied work to, wanted restocking and they sent us a message saying “For god’s sake send us some adapters, we have been bombed, blasted, bewildered and buggered.”
Four months later my husband was killed in a bomb blast, so I was really penniless, I just lived with friends. The morning I started worked we found 5 unexploded bombs around us and my boss said that I was a jinx.
Very much later on I came to visit a friend in Sutton and about 6.0 pm the air raid siren started and the bombs started falling. I was with a friend, we got on a train at Sutton station and just as we reached Clapham Junction a bomb fell on the signal box and another one on the back of our train. We had to get out of the train onto the track, which was not easy, and then walk along the track to Clapham Junction station. I got out of the station and onto a tram, the tram in front had stopped and been deserted, we had to push this tram along to Victoria Station. There was a pub on the corner called the Windsor Dive, we were watching the flames of the burning docks, when a bomb fell somewhere close at hand and the blast blew us straight through the doors of the Windsor Dive and straight into the bar, where we stayed or a couple of hours, before proceeding to Greenford, where I was staying.
Later on, just a few months later at the beginning of 1941, I got off a bus at Greenford Halt, went round the corner to where I was staying. When I returned the following morning on my way back to work, there was a huge crater where I had got off the bus the previous evening. Had I been two minutes later, I would have been killed.
In 1942 I took a flat in Muswell Hill, they had not had any bombing in this area. The day that I moved in there were 300 incendiary bombs dropped. The whole atmosphere was quite funny as people were running about with buckets of water trying to douse the bombs.
In January 1943 my husband was married with one child. On the baby’s first birthday, his wife went with her mother and the baby to get gas masks, they had just returned to their house when it was hit directly with a bomb. Unfortunately all three members of his family were killed. My husband was at work, it was lunchtime and he was given a message to return home immediately. As he turned the corner there was a huge gap where his house had been and no sign of his family. The only identifiable remains that could be found were half of his wife’s gold bracelet and one baby shoe, nothing whatever belonging to his mother in law. After discovering all this had happened and his life was in ruins, he was told by an official at the scene to go back to work and try and forget it.
Apparently the plane had five bombs on board. The first one had been dropped on a school at Lewisham and had caused the death of about 400 children. The second one dropped on my husband’s house and the other three were jettisoned en route to the coast to escape across the channel. The whole incident caused a major political upheaval as there had been no air raid warning in the area of the school and the children were all having their lunch. These incidents were investigated and a certain labour politician was blamed for these terrible events.
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