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15 October 2014
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The Dark Hole

by culture_durham

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Rose Hails (nee Stokoe)
Location of story: 
Ashington, Northumberland
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
11 May 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Durham Clayport Library on behalf of Rose and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

Safest place in the house, apparently, the cupboard under the stairs known locally as the “dark hole”

Paraphernalia removed at the outbreak of war, ours was kitted out as a cosy camp. It seemed the sirens sounded mostly at night. Dad would carry my sister and I in turn from our beds to the safety of the dark hole. Then he would leave the house for Air Raid Patrol (ARP) duty returning after the “All Clear” sounded.

Snug as bugs on our “shaky down” (mattress on the floor) with army surplus blankets and hot water bottles. Our Mam would sit on a chair near the cupboard door telling stories, never showing fear, so we were unafraid.

When raids were very heavy, Dad would vacate us to the communal shelter in our yard, there were two at the end of our street. Soon families would file in. It was funny to see friends, wearing scarves, gloves, coats, pixie hats (girls) or balaclavas (boys) over striped pyjamas sitting on the wooden benches. “Jack Shine the Mickies” (candles in jam jars) would be lit and a sing-a-long would start up. The two shelters competing “Roll out the barrel”, “I’ve got sixpence”, “the White Cliffs of Dover”, “Lily Malane” etc. etc. Then, magically, our Mothers would produce flasks of warm, sweet tea and jam sandwiches.

It never occurred to us children that the War would not be won and Hitler sent packing because our parents, grandparents, older brothers and sisters in the Armed Forces were the backbone of our Country. No one complained of being stressed. The term had not been invented.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Tyneside and Northumberland Category
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