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A Cracking story

by SVC_Cambridge

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Submitted by Tommo Leader on behalf of Mrs. Johnstone
Location of story: 
London and Wales
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
27 May 2005

A Cracking Story

This story was submitted to the peoples war site by volunteer Tommo Leader on behalf of Mrs. Johnstone and has been added to the site with her permission.

The first time I heard an air raid siren for real, was the day war had been declared. I was at the Sunday church and we were told to lie on the floor with our heads under the desks. Later on, my dad came to fetch me and we took the shortcut through the allotments to reach home.
As the war progressed we would watch "Dogfights" between British and German planes shooting at each other and as soon as they passed by, we would rush around collecting the tracer bullets and any shrapnel we could find. These were trophies and we were proud of our collection.
We spent most in the Anderson air raid shelter which was built in the stables at the top of our garden, well away our house. My parents' house was not bombed, but on one night most of the windows plus the back door were all blown out, the backdoor landed up in a garden 4 houses up the road. After that we, we slept at the tube under ground station on lidos or bits of blanket or narrow bits of wood and we tried to be with our cousins and our neighbours as, otherwise, you never know who you are going to be near and my mum didn’t like that.
Most girls although belonging to the guides or the church life brigade were encouraged to join the girls training corps. We met on a Sunday morning and took lessons in aircraft recognition, extra French lessons and how to carry messages from the air raid precautions post. This last one was because, many times the phones were damaged and we were the only means of relaying messages. We were allowed to use our bikes but, often we would have to take a detour because the road was damage or blocked. At sixteen I started to travel to kings cross in London to work and to college. I have vivid memories of a "doodlebug", which was a rocket bomb driven by an engine, flying by the window as I was working on the top floor. I prayed that the bombs engine would not cut out because that meant it would very soon drop down. The main kings cross station and the road to St. Pancras station were caught by that one there are many stories of lost friends and cousins during the war. All my brothers and sisters were safe. When VE day came I was in a village in whales and there were wild celebrations, someone threw a cracker and it landed in my camel coloured jackets pocket. I took it home and my mum wasn’t best to pleased, that doesn't matter because I hated that jacket.

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