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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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A Rude Awakening

by Greyfriar

Contributed by 
People in story: 
George and Ann Lawless
Location of story: 
Canning Town, East London.
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
22 April 2004

My grandparents, George and Ann Lawless, lived in Canning Town (East London) during their early married life - and the war.
My grandfather was a butcher by trade and my grandmother had a market stall selling mainly pets.
They remained in London during the war and gradually became immune to the wailing of the air raid siren; to the point that neither of them always bothered to run to the shelter if it was sounded.
My grandfather was basically night-blind so couldn't join the full-time armed services, but he was in the Home Guard. Often after an air raid he had to go to the bombed-out streets of East London and dig-out bodies in the aftermath.
It was something he couldn't really discuss afterwards, but we know he thought about it to his dying day.
One night during a particularly heavy period of bombing, my grandfather was out and my grandmother in bed at their Nelson Street home. The sirens started again and there was no way she was going to get up and dash to the shelter.
A bomb landed close to their home, just about flattening the street, but the force blew my grandmother and her bed through the window.
Fortunately she wasn't badly hurt - but the communal shelter on their street was completely destroyed.
There are times when getting out of bed are bad for your health!
It would be great if anyone out there remembers them - or the bombing of Nelson Street.

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