- Contributed by
- Wymondham Learning Centre
- People in story:
- Gladys Spencer
- Location of story:
- Stoke Newington
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 18 March 2005
This story was submitted to the BBC People’s War site by Wymondham Learning Centre About links on behalf of Gladys Spencer and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
I was married in London in 1940, when the city was being bombed daily by German aircraft. The bombing raids had disrupted my wedding and the bombing continued after we returned from our three-day honeymoon and moved into a flat in Stoke Newington. My husband was a sheet-metal worker building aircraft. He used to get some terrible looks from people sometimes when he took the bus to work; people who probably had sons and husbands fighting overseas. They couldn’t have known that he’d been rejected as a soldier because of poor eyesight, and that he was doing essential war work. He worked at various sites including Mitcham, where he got a lift to work with a friend. One day as the car drove into the site yard a bomb landed directly in front of it. He told me later that they woke up to find themselves running down the road, with no memory of having got out of the car. Fellow workers in a car in front were killed.
I remember once we saw a German plane being chased by one of ours and we stood watching in the street shouting “Catch him! Catch him!”
I remember a night bus driving behind searchlights scanning the sky for aircraft, keeping in the dark between the moving beams to avoid being picked out by bombers. A passenger in a hurry complained that the driver was going too slowly.
Policemen then wore helmets with a metal spike at the top. One young policeman going on duty was hit by a piece of shrapnel that forced the spike of his helmet into his skull.
After an incendiary raid one night my husband and a neighbour went out to see if anyone needed help. They found a man knocking on a front door, unaware that the house behind it was alight. It was quite funny.
We went to live in Hemel Hempstead, where there were fewer bombs. Another family who did the same were killed by a bomb there, while the house they had left in London was still standing after the war.
There were hundreds of similar stories. I don’t know how we kept sane. It was a terrible time — terrible. I wouldn’t want to go through anything like that again.
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