- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Enid Woollett
- Location of story:
- Leatherhead, Surrey
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 09 November 2003
I remember hearing on the radio as I waited for friends to cycle to school that the Germans had invaded Norway It seemed that they were steadily coming across Europe and I remember thinking when will they reach us.
Living in Ashtead it was said that the Germans unloaded their bombs there if they had missed their targets in London, before flying back to Germany. Certainly there were many round about.
One night there was a landmine in the street behind us, it felt as if the back of our house had gone. All my family, were sleeping in the hall and the cupboard under the stairs. In fact only the landing window had gone and that dripped bits of glass all night, plop, plop so there wwas little sleep.
Another time I and my firends arrived at the corrugated gym to have a last rehearsal for a gym display. I will never forget it. All that was left standing was one short end with a long side with ribstalls on it swinging from the corner. A very large bomb had landed across the valley a mile or so away.
We had moved out from Tulse Hill, London, a landmine had dropped in front of the terrace where my father owned our house There were six houses in all except one the wall between dining-room and hall had fallen in one direction, in the one exception it had fallen the other way a someone was sleeping and was saved. In the road going across ours the Air Raid Warden opened the oor tho check just as it landed and was blown to pieces. Her parents were in the house. How terrible. Another family living in the same road whose daughter was a schoolfriend of mine before the war were wiped out.
If air raids sounded while we wer at school we had to go into the basements and teachers had to carry on as best they could. If they went on too long we were sent home in convoys on our bicycles, it happened that the most senior girl lived nearest the school (2 miles away) and lived the furthest at 3 miles away. I had to see the youngest gil home. We had instructions if you hear a bomb throw yourself on the ground. Then in 1944 was the year of the V1 rockets. I was called out from school to collect my little brother from school as my mother had heard a rocket, had looked up it hit the kerb, come off her bicycle and taken all the flesh off her kneecap. It took two hours to pick all the grit. I was taking School Certificate so between exams I was doing the washing, keeping the family going, while my mother sat with her leg up, we were sleeping in the hall, one of my cousins who had been bombed out from Chelsea snored, how I cursed her. With the V1s we heard them cut out, there would be a pause and then the bang but with the V2s there was no warning. We were doing our History exan when a V2 dropped, we heard the bang and just carried on writing. Then the headmistress came in to see if we were alrightand told us the English teacher carried on and suddenly realised the whole class had disappeared under their desks. I and another got Distinction that day, The highest I had got before was 74 when the Distinction level was 75 and the other girl something less. Was the headmistress who taught us marking hard or was some allowance made for the V2? I'll never know but distinctions were rae in those days. We knew the Head as "Death Warmed up and sometimes not even Warmed". Mind you she had come as Head to a London school at the age of 39 which was exceptional for the time, to a school where she had done her teaching practice and some of the same staff were still there. It must have been tough.
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