Bombs dropped in the ward of: Mill Hill
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Mill Hill:
- High Explosive Bomb
Number of bombs dropped during the week of 7th October 1940 to 14th of October:
No bombs were registered in this area
Number of bombs dropped during the first 24h of the Blitz:
No bombs were registered in this area
Memories in Mill Hill
Read people's stories relating to this area:
Contributed originally by photo34 (BBC WW2 People's War)
I was 5 years old when the war began; we lived in Mill Hill, a suburb of northwest London. I went to St Paul’s infant school. We learned useful things like threading laces and tying bows so teachers did not have that chore of putting our shoes on. Numbers were in patterns like dominos or cards. That is why in those days to discover if a person was mentally deficient he was asked, “How many beans make five?” The answer from the number patterns is ‘Three plus Two’. Knowing that could keep you out of the lunatic asylum.
We were issued with gas masks and had to take them to school every day. They built a large shelter under the playground with a gas tight door. I don’t think there was any way of replenishing the air if a hundred kids were locked up down there for more than an hour. If the door got obstructed there was an escape tunnel which led out into the church grave yard. We only had one practice use of it while I was at that school. The teachers complained the tunnel was too small for their bottoms and the gas mask boxes kept jamming up against the walls.
Our house was rented and quite large. I had a younger sister and brother. Dad was a carpenter, working on new houses and flats that were being built to re-house people from the slums of London. He started work just after the First World War and had seen the results of the mess our rulers had made of our country, not because of the war, but their sheer incompetence. At various jobs through the Twenties he developed attitudes that were much different to the ‘Gung Ho, Rule Britannia’ attitude that is displayed in films about the war. He, his brothers and friends believed no matter who ran the country, they would still be sawing wood and banging in nails for some fat b***** to make a profit. In principle at least, they believed in the Russian way of life and all the negative stories were just propaganda put out by the government and Tory press. That was probably half true and may have been the birth of spin.
I can remember one day when we had no money and no food in the house. My brother was still being nursed and my sister had some baby food, but me, my cousin, Aunty and Mum had nothing. Dad went out after dark to an empty house where he had worked and seen some potatoes in the garden. He dug them up and brought home a small boxful. Mum cooked them and made us one of the most satisfying meals I can remember.
Dad also hated Jews through his experiences of working for and with them at the film studios.
The experience clouded his judgement for the rest of his life. He could have had a good job at Elstree or Pinewood after the war, but he never forgot how badly he suffered before the war.
Because we had a large house at the very beginning of the war we had two couples of Jewish refugees billeted on us. They were OK but used our sympathy for their hardship to get favours done. They worked hard making handbags in our front room, they got a business started and left us for a posh flat in Hendon. Funny they never got called up to help with the war effort. Some of our neighbours got sent to work in factories. It did not help when after the war dad was modernising houses and the Jewish customers were trying to persuade him to do the work saying it was bomb damage so they could claim a grant. A Labour government was in power doing good things for the working classes so Dad did not like fiddlers.
Because of these attitudes Dad, his brothers and friends did not rush to the recruitment offices. His brother and brother-in law were called up anyway. Uncle B**** was in the RE’s, but he could play the piano so he spent the war from France to Berlin entertaining the officers and sergeants in their messes. Uncle F**** was in the RAMC making sure he never got promoted because leaders led by example which could be dangerous. Both my uncles each had a wife and two lovely children to come home to; their priority was to survive
In 1940 we moved to Apex corner, the junction of the A41 and A1, close to the main railway line from London to Edinburgh. We had a Morrison shelter delivered. This was a huge steel table with steel mesh sides. Dad was able to assemble it himself although DIY and ‘flat-pack’
had not been officially invented. We three children slept under this table and when the bombs came closer mum would crawl in with us. Dad insisted on staying outside to watch the ‘dog fights’. At that early period we only had one scare, I was in the toilet and a bomb passed between our house and next door over the round-about for the A41, A1 junction to land on a house in Glendor Gardens. You can guess what I did when it went off! Funny I still remember getting dust in my eye as it whizzed by.
At school they built brick shelters with reinforced concrete roofs, they had the gas tight doors and there were vents which could be closed in case of gas and opened to avoid suffocation. When the sirens went we would troop into the shelter for special lessons. There were no blackboards at first so it was more like baby sitting than teaching. Our class had 46 pupils and other classes were of similar size yet the teachers would get about 60% of us through the 11+ into grammar schools. Many children were from single parent families because the father was in the forces. You can’t help wondering why education is so difficult these days. In our part of London the air raids did not affect us very much. In the blitz the raids were mostly at night, towards the end of the war we were sent to the shelters fairly often because doodlebugs were on the way during daylight hours.
We boys wore short trousers all through the war years; in the winter the cold caused painful sores inside our thighs just above the knees. I’ll never forget or forgive Hitler for that. It bloody hurt. Clothing was controlled by coupons; some extra large children were allowed extra coupons. Wellingtons were cheaper than shoes, were probably coupon free and did not wear out so quickly, so in winter Wellingtons were our best shoes. They could give you another sore just below the knee and the probably caused chilblains. Another pain to blame Hitler for. We used to collect shrapnel, but had to keep it secret, partly because some incendiary bombs had a booby trap in the tail and there were butterfly bombs for children to pick up and be killed. The authorities were too thick to realise that even us kids of six or seven knew about bombs and we knew what shrapnel looked like.
A strange thing happened after the Battle of Britain; they re-opened the outdoor swimming pool near our old house. It closed originally to have a supply of water for fighting fires, but there was nothing much to burn near the pool. It was staffed and run from May to September right through the war. I used it as a second home. At Saturday morning pictures we would watch Johnny Weissmuller play Tarzan then at the pool, swim under water re-enact the films. That pool played a major part of my life right up to the 1950’s. It’s a garden centre now which makes me a bit sad.
Dad was sent away to build huts for air force personnel in East Anglia. He dined on the finest food he’d ever had in his life. The farmer’s wife where he was billeted sent him home with a box of eggs and some chicken once a month when he was given leave. That posting did teach dad that the people running this war were just as bad as the ones who ran the first one.
He was always complaining about the waste and inefficiencies. Years later I worked with an electrical engineer who worked on the same project as dad and he had the same complaints.
The people in charge were a bunch of public school boys who hadn’t a clue about building and through ‘connections’ were given a nice safe little job.
We followed the war by reading the papers and listening to the news and hearing the discussions of our parents. It all seemed fairly matched and our parents feared a long stalemate like the WW1, but Alemein seemed slowly to swing the pendulum in our favour then there was more good news than bad. There were a few frights Arnhem and the Battle of the Bulge, but generally we knew we going to win.
We were not particularly hungry; our parents had endured hard times for most of their lives so mum knew a few cheap filling meals. Suet pudding, layered with bacon and herbs. Mostly stodge with occasional bursts of flavour. At school we had pilchards with mashed potato and a helping of grated carrot with shredded cabbage; very healthy. I am sure our stomachs shrank so we were filled up easily. We were certainly much thinner than kids of today. We could easily count or ribs. One Christmas dad made a couple of wooden revolvers, the lady across the road knew a scenic artist from the film studios who painted our revolvers to look real we were thrilled to bits to have such realistic toy guns.
One night there was a knock at our door. It was Nan and Aunt M****, she said.” You’ve got to take us in we’ve been bombed out”. Aunt M**** got married to a lorry driver from Glasgow and Nan stayed with us until 1947. She still worked at the laundry and sometimes walked home a distance of about 8 miles. That generation were tough having been brought up on hardship. She sometimes took me to the variety shows at the Golders Green theatre; I remember trying not to laugh at some of the rude bits to save embarrassment. Other treats were our uncles coming home on leave always loaded with presents and exciting stories. Not bravery but things they had got away with. One man found a bottle of rum, drank it all, fell unconscious into a ditch, was overrun by the Germans then while he was asleep our troops recovered the ground. He boasted that he went to France with 25 bullets and came back with 24. He used one to mend the pivot on a toilet cistern.
At home life was humdrum with occasional high points, low points like deaths of friends fathers were not spoken about, it was bad for moral. We knew D-day was approaching but not exactly when; the first I knew was seeing hundreds of planes with black and white stripes on there wings flying south, some planes towing gliders; the noise was more like a continuous cheer than engines. At school we all felt very happy, we knew it would all soon be over, but did not know what would change. I suppose we expected more toys, more variety in our food, nicer clothes, and more sweets having our parents and uncles’ home and not being threatened. On VE night I saw the first fireworks in my life. I can’t imagine where they came from; they must have been saved from before the war. Another treat that night was eating a potato that had been cooked in the embers of the fire. That’s twice a meal of potatoes had pleased me.
Next day all our attention was on Japan. There was no remorse about the atom bomb; it could have been 4 times as big and we would have cheered. That is how war and propaganda can brainwash a nation into thinking anything is right for our side. I hope we are never forced to go through such an experience again.
Contributed originally by footslogger (BBC WW2 People's War)
Remembering the War
I have recently been told about this site initiated by the BBC.so that peoples memories of that great conflict can be recorded for posterity.
It is hard for me to know where to start being unused to doing this type of recording fro other people to read, and whether the items that I am writing about will be of interest to this web site.
First a brief introduction.: My name is Raymond and I was born in London England, but after being “Demobbed” couldn’t settle down and moved to Canada a few years later where I have lived ever since. My home is in a town in an area known as “The Greater Toronto Area” or GTA for short which is in the province of Ontario.
So where should I start with my reminiscing? How about this as a beginning?
In August 1939 I went on holiday to Herne Bay in Kent and one day walking along the front I heard the sound of aircraft engines and being interested in aircraft I looked up and saw what I identified as a Lufthansa Junkers tri motor passenger plane coming in over the coast it was quite low all silver in the sunlight and I noticed the red background with the big black swastika on the tail fin, and seeing it I thought (which I suppose at the time a strange thought for a fifteen year old boy though again maybe not with all the talk of war going on) I wonder how soon the pilot of that plane would be over England again but this time dropping bombs.
I watched until it disappeared in land then I forgot about and went to the local cinema and saw maybe appropriately a film called“Fire over England” with Laurence Olivier though the action took place in Elizabethan times
September 3rd 1939 : Living in Finchley in north London I was with my friend (also named Raymond) who lived on the same road as me but at the opposite end of it; and for some reason I was at his home instead of my own listening to Mr Chamberlain’s speech declaring “That Britain was now at war with Germany“.
At the end of the speech not be sure what to do as his family were in a sombre mood we left the house and decided to walk down to the end of the road back to my home to see how my family were taking the news, and I suppose also to see if anything was going to happen that we had been warned about, we just reached the end of the road and the sirens started to sound, we both stood stock still for a moment and then did a mad dash back to his house ,I swear we covered that distance in less than 30 seconds and it is a long road, at his house we both suddenly stopped and then strolled very nonchalantly inside only to find all his family sitting in a cupboard under the stairs.
Of course the “All clear” sounded soon afterwards. We again went outside Ray’s house and outside several houses people were standing and looking up and wondering most likely like us what the warning was all about, and I am not sure how long after the All Clear sounded this event happened, that we heard this loud explosion, naturally we wondered what it was and whether bombs had fallen.It was rather a mystery and it
wasn’t until some months later that I heard a rumour that an RAF plane had crashed,
I was told at Hendon aerodrome which was not far from us, but at the time this was never confirmed.
When I was in London on a visit a couple of years ago I went to the RAF museum at Colindale the site of the old aerodrome and was looking through its history records and there I did find an entry which confirmed that rumour of a plane crash Apparantly a student pilot on a training flight was coming into land, miscalculated his approach and crashed into a house in Colindale, unfortunately killing not only himself but several people who were in that house.
Naturally as a young boy all that was happening was very novel and exciting for me, although my parents did not think the same, especially my father who served the Middlesex Regt. in the first war.
He became an Air Raid Warden, so I thought I would the same but would only be accepted as a messenger which was fine for me, I was issued with a steel helmet and a respirator, and was told my duties would be relaying messages from the District Wardens office to the various Wardens Posts in the district.
At the beginning my job was rather quiet until the raids on London started and the things started to happen. and I felt a bit apprehensive riding around on a bike with messages especially during a raid with the ack-ack firing away and bits of shell coming down, I could hear the pieces hitting the ground. One time I heard some splinters came down and I think one must have hit my front wheel while I was riding as all of a sudden I had a flat tire which gave me a scare..
One of my most chilling experiences happened one night while I was out delivering messages during a raid. I heard this strange whistling and shushing sound that seemed to be coming down, the sound eventually stopped but I couldn’t see anything and it obviously was not a bomb, no explosion.
I continued cycling up the high road to point where there was a boulevard with some very high trees, and I saw something white hanging from one of them naturally I stopped to look and saw it was a parachute with something very large and black hanging from it I immediately had a good idea what it was A Land Mine ! Luckily it got snagged in the trees as I hate to think what would have happened if it had landed on the ground.
,I didn’t wait to look any closer but took off like the wind back to the local police station that I had passed, when I got there it took me a couple of minutes to calm down and then I managed to tell the police what I had just found. They got in touch with the army bomb disposal squad and in short time the area was evacuated and roped off. The army I was told later defused the mine and took it away.
Apparently this strange noise had also been heard by someone nobody was sure what it was and if it was some sort of bomb that had come down where it had landed, but everyone was very pleased that I saw the mine and reported it. I was quite excited about what had happened and told my parents afterwards, my father said you did a good job, but my mother naturally was horrified
A Home Guard experience
As soon as I was old enough I joined the Home Guard and went through all the training in what we were expected to do should the Germans invade Britain.
One exercise I went on was to do with house to house fighting, which we were doing in a partly finished housing site in Mill Hill, I was detailed to give covering fire with a grenade firing rifle and had to camouflage myself, there was a grass ditch at side of the road so I dived in there and as there was a lot of loose grass I decided to cover myself with just my head showing, a perfect covering I thought.
While I was lying there the local milkman came by with his horse and cart and stopped in front of me to deliver his milk (he could not have noticed me lying there for which I was pleased about) while he was gone the horse decided it was hungry and started to eat the grass that was covering me, not only that he also relieved himself at the same time which splashed all over me, I gave a yell and jumped up scaring the horse which took off at a great speed down the road with the cart , all the bottles rattling, some falling off, and. with the milkman who had just returned after his delivery, running after it calling the horse all sorts of names to stop which he eventually managed to make it do, then coming back to me to say some rather nasty things at what I had caused..
My platoon sergeant who came by to see what the ruckus was about and saw me rather wet and smelling not too good into the bargain, couldn‘t stop laughing neither could the rest of the platoon when they found out what happened and saw me all wet with bits of grass stuck to my uniform.
My mother told me to keep out of the house when I returned home until I changed in fresh clothing. The odour would not go away and I had to get a new uniform from the QM stores where again to my embarrassment I had to explain what happened to me. It took a long time for me to live this episode down! .
1942 I was still studying to be a mechanical engineer at and was possibly in theory exempt from military service, but on turning eighteen I decided to volunteer for the RAF. I was accepted and soon after orders came for me to report to Euston House to collect my travel documents for Penarth in South Wales for Primary Training , When I reported in with the rest of the intake we were told we were being put on Deferred Service as the RAF now had too many volunteers to cope with
So after all that excitement I was back in “Civvy Street” waiting for a recall which I hoped would not be too long in coming.
What I did get a few months later much to my annoyance was my call up for the army ,I immediately went to the RAF recruiting station at Euston House to complain and found some others like me there. We were told too bad that although we were on deferred service technically we not in the RAF so into the army you go!
Reluctantly I went to Canterbury and did my 6 weeks basic training again ,then posted to the East Surrey regiment for my Corps Training after which I posted to my battalion in the 3‘mortor platoon of “S“ company.
Until I went overseas it was the usual round of training, route marches, schemes etc
When we received our overseas postings we were issued with tropical kit including Solar Topees, so we all thought it’s the far east
Images in Mill Hill
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