Bombs dropped in the ward of: Leabridge
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Leabridge:
- High Explosive Bomb
Number of bombs dropped during the week of 7th October 1940 to 14th of October:
Number of bombs dropped during the first 24h of the Blitz:
Memories in Leabridge
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Contributed originally by normanfosh (BBC WW2 People's War)
I was born in Navarino Road, Hackney, in 1929 and my first home was in Clifden Road, Homerton, where we lived until 1933. Then we moved to Firsby Road, Stamford Hill, where I was attending Northwold Road School, Stoke Newington in 1939.
The day before war was declared I was evacuated. There we all were in a crocodile clutching our cases and as we walked to the station, I saw Mum crying, frantically looking for me to say goodbye. The first time I had ever seen her cry and I was desolated. Goodness knows how long the train journey took from Upper Clapton Station or how we got from there to Old Warden in Bedfordshire
Then started the worst seven weeks of my life. Somehow or other, I finished up with
about twelve others from another class, none of whom I knew and they were all very
tough. We were billeted on the Lady of the Manor, Lady Shuttleworth. Sounded fine
but it wasn't. We were in dormitories and it could not have been more wrong for me - the first time away from home, apart from having my tonsils out in hospital. I still
shudder to think of the dinners in the village hall. Stewed rabbit twice a week; rice
without milk which they cut with a knife and added some unsweetened prunes. The
only good meal was sausages with delicious gravy. The village school was good and I soon became a member of the church choir, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Mum and Dad used to travel by coach every Sunday but had to walk a couple of miles to get to Old Warden. However, most fortunately I caught mumps after seven weeks and had to come home. I remember I had a bed down in the dining room and although the
mumps were painful, it was worth it to be home again.
Then it was a problem finding a school. The only one still operating was St Thomas's in Upper Clapton. But there were so many children wanting to go to it and so few teachers that I only went for an hour a day to start with. Then it was a day a week and increased from there. Despite that, I was one of the three who passed the Junior County Scholarship, having taken the exam at Millfield Road School in Lower Clapton.
So was I to be evacuated again? Fortunately not, because I was one of the lucky six
who got a place at Mercers' School, and whilst Mercers' was evacuated to Horsham, in September 1940 they decided to start operating from Holborn again as well, and that's where I joined them.
With the bombing, the journey to and from Holborn on the 643 trolleybus was quite
hazardous, so in the early days my mother took me to and from Holborn on the bus.
On one occasion, the 643 could not get through to Holborn so we took a bus to
Moorgate and walked through to Holborn from there. Fires were still burning and
there were firemen’s hoses everywhere. Another time, as I came out of school, the
sirens went, so we dived down into Chancery Lane Tube Station but had to get on a
train as they closed the station. So we returned home via the Central and Piccadilly lines to Manor House Station and took a 653 trolleybus home from there.
Around that time, nightly air raids began. So each night was spent in one of our cellars
in our basement, with me on a camp bed and Mum and Dad sleeping in deck chairs.
Later on we had a Morrison shelter in the basement and decided to stay in our beds
until the sirens sounded, when we came down the stairs carrying pillows and got under
the shelter until the all clear. It became such a routine that, on a couple of occasions, I
was found sleep walking with pillows under my arm at the bottom of the stairs.
When the bombs fell we used to count "one two, three ..." because I believe after a
certain number, it couldn't be you who was hit, so you were waiting for the bomb to
strike. Several times we had our windows blown in. One night an incendiary fell in
our front garden and Dad was busy dealing with that when a neighbour told us there
was another one in our back garden so we all had to dash there and put that out too.
The biggest fear was one on the roof.
Then there was one night we heard shushing which meant there was a landmine
coming down. In fact there were two falling on Clapton Common. One destroyed St
Thomas's Church and opposite a number of shops in Old Hill Street were destroyed
and about ten people were killed including our butcher Mr Bosley.
Immediately the vicar of St Thomas's, Father Dachtler, where I was a regular attender,
started the New Church Fund, and services moved to St Thomas's Hall, next door to
the Swan public house. Sometimes there was an ack-ack gun on the forecourt of the
Swan and throughout the War there was a barrage balloon on Clapton Common.
Because of the bombing, people were firewatching at home and work. Dad used to
firewatch once a week with two other Firsby Road residents, each of them, I think,
doing two hour shifts between midnight and 6am. However, in addition, he also had to firewatch at his factory in Hertford Road behind Kingsland Road Hospital once a week too. Whether they got a chance to sleep or whether they kept watch all night I am not sure. Whilst before the War, Dad made and repaired gas meters, during the War he was making fuel tanks for aircraft.
Other memories of air raid precautions were always carrying a gas mask wherever we
went, the blackout when, as there were no street lights, everybody needed a torch, and
vehicles had masked headlights and all homes had blackout curtains over all windows
so no light escaped. Even interior bus lights were put out when there was a purple
warning, when a raid was expected but was the stage before the siren actually went.
Later in the War, flying bombs, which we called doodlebugs appeared. You could see
them quite clearly, and when the engine cut out, they dived to earth and you dived for
cover. Later the V2 rockets took their place, but as they were completely silent you
received no warning. In the Summer of 1944, during morning school break, one fell
on Smithfield Market killing many people and showering us with glass in our Holborn
playground. The Headmaster decided to close the school for the rest of that term, and just brought in one class at a time to take exams in the shelter.
One enjoyable feature of the war time summers was going to school harvest camp for a month to Minster Lovell each year between 1943-1945. Quite a new experience and hard work too. In 1945, when the end of the war with Japan was announced several of us hitchhiked to London for two days to join in the VJ Day celebrations. Another school activity was being a member of the Honourable Artillery Company cadet force which met in Armoury House, City Road. That really was most enjoyable because you really felt you were contributing something to the War. Besides the military activities, we used to play football and cricket against local teams and also marched in the Lord Mayor's Show and took part in the Remembrance Day services at St Paul's Cathedral.
Of course, rationing was with us throughout the War and even continued into the first half of the 1950's. To help our food supply, Dad used to keep six chickens which ensured we were well supplied with eggs but I was not that amused trudging home from Stoke Newington High Street with a heavy bag of chicken balancer meal. Normally we did not eat many sweets, but because food was so short generally, we made sure we had our full sweet ration and there was always great excitement every Friday night to see what Dad had bought at the sweet shop. Two ounces of butter, a similar amount of cheese and ten pennyworth of meat a week really had to be stretched. Cooking and heating were difficult too, because due to the bombing, electricity, gas and water supplies were often cut off. Paraffin heaters were a real boon for cooking and heating but getting the oil was not easy.
How wonderful it was when the lights came on again and the blackout curtains came down. I remember celebrating VE Day in the West End with boys from school. It had been a long war!
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