Your WW2 Stories

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  1. V1s and V2s aimed at me by Mr Hitler

    I was born in 1939 – 8 months before the war started and an incident happened while I was at Rotherfield Rd, School, Islington, London when I was 4/5 years old of which I have vivid memories. We were in the hall singing “Inksy Winksy Spider” when all the windows were blown in and dust was everywhere – A VI had fallen about 40 metres away on the opposite corner of the crossroads. There must have been a routine for such incidents but I wet my trousers (short) and did a runner for home which was only about 150 yards away. I could not get home by the shortest route so did a detour and was stopped by a short man in a blue boiler suit (probably an ARP) who escorted me home. My mother had gone to the school by the shortest route only to find I was missing. I was then escorted back to school and met my mother who was returning home. It was a mixed emotion from her, a scolding followed by floods of tears. It is only recently that for 80 years I have suffered from PTSD having what was referred to as “a weak bladder” – at least that is now my excuse.

    We lived at the western end of Shepperton Rd., with a factory next door that extended behind our back yard. Another VI landed near the junction of Coleman Fields and Prebend St. that demolished or damaged beyord repair all the houses in the vicinity and also those in Basire St.. The factory wall saved us from the direct blast but we had to move out and stay with an Aunt until the windows were replaced. This area became a marvelous play area after the war. All the bricks and rubble was piled into one big heap which provided a tobogan run for the section of Anderson shelter (“J” shaped) that we lugged to the top and sat on for the descent. The bombed out houses were also explorable and although the lower staircase was always removed, with a plank of wood, batterns and a handful of nails a replacement could be made. We did have to make our escape one time by jumping out of the first floor back window when a copper (policeman) came in the front. How we all survived the “play ground” is astonishing when you look back.

    Another fond memory of the time was spent in the cellar of the King George the IV pub, opposite our house at the corner of Shepperton Rd. and New North Rd. My mother worked there as a cleaner during the day and a barmaid in the evenings. A trap door in the floor behind the salloon bar led down to the beer cellar which also housed the coal bunker at one end and the air raid/sleeping area at the other. There was’nt a bed as such but a deep feather mattress about 60cm off the floor and the whole cellar was lit by about 3 light bulbs. When mum was working I was “put to bed” on the mattress and several times during the evening the trap would open and someone would come down to re-tap a barrel or carry up a crate of beer and I would be given a packet of crisps (plain with a screw of paper holding the salt). Particularly at weekends there would be a knees-up (dance) in the bar above and particles of dust would float down visible in the light of the bulb.
    I came across the bomb damaged maps at the London Metropolitan Archives a number of years ago and discovered that 2 x VI fell within 100m and 2 x V2 within 200m of our house as well as the bombs that demolished a row of houses to the west.

    I can remember hearing the noise the VI made as it came over and my mother counting when the engine cut out – if you got to ten then some other poor sod got it (excuse the language). How mothers coped mentally during those times I can only imagine although she was always spooked when an air raid warnng sounded during a film on TV.

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