1941

"Living in a quiet village in North Wales meant that the war really had very little effect on us in many ways.  Obviously many young men were called up for the armed forces and I can remember some of them who did not return.  One young man who lived in the same street as me was on board HMS Hood when it was sunk and his family were distraught.  Some time later his father joined the local Home Guard group.  One Saturday night he was detailed to stand guard on the local railway viaduct over which the trains to London travelled.  On his way, he called in at the local pub and due to his grief at the loss of his son, he drank more than he should have.  To get to the viaduct he had to pass the local Co-Operative Store which had a large window.  By this time blackout regulations were in force and the window had a large blind on the inside.  With the moonlight shining the window became a shadowy mirror.  Our friend saw his reflection and, as he was wearing his uniform and carrying a rifle he imagined that he was looking at a German and so he charged right through the window which was shattered to pieces..."

(Donald Jones)

"This incident was told me on many occasions with much love and affection coming from my dad for his own father. With the blitz of 1940 continuing on into 1941, my father was again helping my grandfather with his day to day work chores and they were caught in a night raid at my grandfather's works.  They were there because he earned extra money stoking the small company boilers in the evening, the works being a 45 minute walk from their house.  As my dad and grandfather approached the works the air raid sirens started to wail but they continued with their chores, within 10-15 minute they found themselves literally within the heart of the raid. My dad remembered the walls of the building swaying by inches, and the ground shaking so much that it was difficult to stand. With bits of every sort of everything falling all around, his father picked him up and bundled him into the corner of a building and crouched over him covering him with his jacket, doing his best to protect him from the mess that engulfed them both - the love of a father for his son - My father in later years added he was the most frightened by this incident over and above any other in his whole life, he also added that he had never before or after heard noise like it, his father was shouting at the top of his voice, safety instructions to him immediately next to him and he could not hear what his father was saying..."

(Richard Archer)

"My Mum never really talked about the bombing in Nottingham during the war, compared to places like London, Coventry and Liverpool Nottingham got off relatively lightly until the night of the 8th of May 1941.  That evening, the air raid sirens sounded just after eight o'clock.  Whenever the sirens sounded, Mum's legs would start to shake uncontrollably but fortunately, my family lived next door to an air raid warden, a kindly man who  knew that my grandmother was on her own with six children (Mum was the eldest) with my Grandad being away at war and as soon as ever the sirens went this neighbour would dash round to the Warrington household and tie strips of red cloth around my Mum's legs so that she could run to the shelter - actually an old railway arch - at the end of the street.  On the 8th of May however, there was no time to get to the shelter.  My grandmother and all six children went down into the cellar of their house.  My grandmother had a basket full of Insurance policies and paperwork with her and two lengths of rope. Putting the smaller children between them, and each holding on to the ends of the rope to keep all of the children together my grandmother and Mum - who was only 9 - hung on for dear life as the bombs started coming down on the city, Mum told me years later that the house was shaking like the clappers and that they could hear water from an old canal running beneath the cellar in the darkness.  Mum was terrified, and hung onto the ropes shouting "Jesus! Jesus please save us!"  Whether he actually did or not is a moot point, but my family made it through the night and Mum - throughout her life afterwards - never once lost her Faith..."

 

(Julie Warrington)

"As I have said, to us children in our remote country area the war was a great adventure.  Only once, for a short time, did it have an effect on the area and even then it did not put is in any real danger.  I remember that I was fast asleep in bed one night and, even then I was aware of the sound of huge bangs.  My Dad came in and woke us all up and said "The Germans are bombing, come on..." and we had to go downstairs and all huddle together under our large kitchen table.  My sister Gwyneth, who was only 18 months older than me, was prepared for any eventuality and appeared at the top of the stairs wearing her vest, knickers, my Dad's waistcoat and her gas mask.  The German bombers, it turned out, were heading for Liverpool and would fly over our area to reach the city.  Nearby was a large chemical factory, and it was felt that they had chosen it as a suitable target but it was close to our range of mountains/  Navigation was not so advanced in those days and so they dropped their bombs onto the mountain itself, it was hot dry weather and the place where the bombs fell was covered with pine trees which immediately caught fire and could be seen for miles.  Obviously, the Germans thought they had found their target and they bombed the same spot each night for a week and then the raids stopped.  Our parents must have been terribly worried, but we kids enjoyed it all.  Water was cut off each evening but we had miners' tin water bottles underneath the table with us and we used to lie awake listening.  Obviously, a bomb would fall a bit close now and then and we quite enjoyed the loud bangs and the earth tremors.  The whistling bombs we found most entertaining!  After all that, there was one cow killed and a house in a neighbouring village destroyed and a man blown off his bike.  Sometimes, we kids would stand outside the house of an evening when the German planes flew over, their engines made a very distinctive noise and we would do a running commentary on them until our Dad came out and ordered us to get back indoors..."

(Donald Jones)

 

"My great Aunt Nora told me many years ago that on the evening of 8th May, 1941, when the Luftwaffe unleashed its fury on Nottingham, she, her husband (my lovely Great Uncle George) and my great grandparents stood at an upstairs window of their house in Forest Town, Mansfield, and watched the sky over Nottingham turn red as the fires from the raid took hold.  They stood in silence for a while, just watching, before my Great Grandma said quietly "My God, those children are there..." (meaning my Mum, her brother and four little sisters) and began praying for them.  Great Uncle George, who was a little more practical, said simply "Bugger Hitler, I'm going to get them." before jumping into his car and heading off into the night towards Nottingham.  Sure enough, he returned a few hours later with my grandmother and all six of her children.  My great Aunt recalled that "One of them had been sick all down their front, another had wet herself, and so the first thing we did was put the lot of them into the bath..."

(Julie Warrington)

During the blitz on Liverpool, Dad (Richard Baum) told me they went out to look at the sky one night, from here in Chester, as it was flickering red and bright as daylight.  They could see their shadows cast by it.

(Julian Baum)

During an air raid alert, Grandma gathered the two boys, and along with everyone from the road, headed to the nearest shelter.  Everyone was on edge.  Folk always packed some things in a bag, to stay the night in the shelter.  Grandma had included the alarm clock in her bag.  Part way across Hoole Bridge, the alarm went off.  Everyone jumped and dived for cover, they were so on edge.

(Julian Baum)

A lone bomber returning from Liverpool one night, seemingly attempted to bomb the gasometers by the river.  The bombs missed and left a line of craters across the Roodee, Chester racecourse.  Dad and friends hurried into town the next morning to hunt for shrapnel.  Dad said he found a particularly nasty looking fragment, but assumed Grandma must have thrown it out, as he had no idea what happened to it.

(Julian Baum)

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