Bombs dropped in the ward of: Avonmore and Brook Green
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Avonmore and Brook Green:
- 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 Avonmore and Brook Green
Read people's stories relating to this area:
Contributed originally by Suffolk Family History Society (BBC WW2 People's War)
Of course, 'way back in the 1930's "teenagers" hadn't been invented. In those now far off days one remained a 'child' -dependent on, and obedient to one's parents for more years than is often the case now, and the age of 'Majority', supposed adulthood, was 21, when you got the 'key of the door'. So, in the early 1930's, having moved to Acton from Kensington, where I was born in the 1st floor flat of 236, Ladbroke Grove, I grew towards my 'teens, enjoying a secure and happy childhood, doing reasonably well at School (Haberdashers' Aske's Girls' School, Creffield Rd) making friends and with freedom to play outside, alone or with my friends, and with no thought of danger from strangers, or heavy traffic.
And so, in 1939, I was 13 years old, when the war began. We had been on holiday in Oban, Argyll, where I now live, and as the news became more and more grave, and teachers were called back to help to evacuate school children from London, and Army and Navy reservists were called up, we travelled by car across to Aberdeen on Saturday 1st Sept. After a night in the George Hotel, and thinking the Germans were already bombing us when a petrol garage caught fire and cans of petrol blew up one after another, we caught the 9am train to London, Euston. The car travelled as freight in a van at the rear of the train (no Motorail then). The train was packed with service personnel, civilians going to join up and other families returning from holiday.
All day we travelled South. On the journey, there were numerous unscheduled stops in the 'middle of nowhere', and a severe thunderstorm in the Midlands added to the tension. Our car, in its van was taken off the train at Crewe to make room for war cargo (as we learned later). In normal times, the journey in those days took 12 hours to London. With the storm, numerous delays, and diversions and shunting into sidings, it was destined to take 18 hours. As darkness fell, blackout blinds already fitted, were pulled down and the carriages were lit by eerie dim blue lights. Soldiers and airmen sprawled across their kitbags in the corridors as well as in the carriages, sleeping fitfully. Nobody talked much.
Midnight passed, 1am. At last around 2am, tired, anxious and dishevelled, we finally arrived at Euston station on the morning of Sunday September 3rd.
My Mother and I sat wearily by our luggage in the vast draughty booking hall while my Father went off to see if, or when the car might eventually arrive. There was no guarantee. There were no Underground trains running until 6am, and, it seemed, no taxis to be had. In the end we sat there in the station forecourt until my Father decided that he could rouse his brother to come and collect us and our luggage. And so we finally reached home, had a brief few hours' sleep and woke in time to hear Mr Chamberlain, the Prime Minister, make his historic 11am speech. Those who remember it all know the icy shock of those words, that - 'consequently we are now at war with Germany'.
The air-raid sirens sounded almost immediately, though it was apparently a false alarm, but my parents decided that we would go and live at our country 'bungalow' at Ashford, Middlesex. Ashford in those days was little more than a village. London airport was a small airfield called Heathrow.
The 'bungalow' was simply one large wooden-built room, set on brick pillars, and roofed with corrugated asbestos, painted green, with a balcony surrounded by a yellow and green railing. Three wooden steps led down into the garden. Two sash windows gave a view of our large 3 acre garden, curtained with floral -patterned chintz curtains. Inside at one end was a sink fed by a rainwater tank, and an electric cooker, a large table, chairs and a large cupboard for crockery. Normally, we had, pre-war, used it for summer evening or weekend visits, returning home at night. It was only a six mile journey along the Great West Road.
Now, though, with war declared hurried preparations were made to leave London, as my parents didn't know what might happen in the way of possible attack on the Capital. Several journeys were made by car with mattresses, bedding, food, extra utensils, clothes and animals (two cats and two tortoises). The cats roamed free, having previously been used to the garden when we went on holiday, when they were housed in the bungalow and fed and cared for by our part-time gardener. They loved the freedom and the tree-climbing and never went astray. The torties, though, had to be tethered by means of a cord through a hole drilled in the back flanged edge of the shell (this is no more painful than cutting one's nails) until a large secure pen could be made, and a shelter rigged up.
My Father's brother joined us, his wife and son having already left for safety, and to be near his son's school, already evacuated to near Crowthorne, Berks.
After sleeping on the mattresses on the floor for a few nights (all 4 or us in the one room, of course), bed frames were brought from home and a rail and a curtain rigged up to make 2 'rooms' for privacy at night. My Father and Uncle slept in a double bed, both being fairly portly (!) and my Mother and I shared a single bed, which was rather a tight squeeze. There was no room for 2 double beds, and I was fairly small. After a few nights my Mother decided that we would have more room if we slept 'top-to-tail' and so we did this.
The lavatory was about 10 yards along a side path, and had to be flushed with a bucket of water. We were lucky in that we also were able to tap a well of underground water, for which my Father had rigged-up a pump. So even if there had not been much rain to fill the house tank, we could always obtain pure water from the well. Later we were connected to the mains. The lavatory emptied into a cesspit which my Father had dug.
This was the period of the 'phoney' war. I was enrolled at Ashford County School, which I only attended for one term, as we returned home to Acton at Christmas.
My own school had been evacuated to Dorchester with about half its pupils. Many parents, like my own, had decided not to send their children away. Later, some of those who had been evacuated became very homesick and returned home. Soon the school in Acton re-opened, with many of the Mistresses who had also returned to London. The Dorchester girls shared a local school, with both sets of girls attending on a half day basis.
Ration books and clothing coupons, food shortages and tightened belts became the norm, as, at school, did gas-mask drills in which we donned our masks and worked in them for a short while to become used to them. They smelt dankly rubbery. However sometimes we had a bit of fun as they could emit snorting noises!
My Mother had lined curtains with yards and yards of blackout material, and our large sash windows were criss-crossed with sticky tape. A stirrup pump, bucket of water and bucket of sand stood handy in case of incendiary bombs. All through the war, wherever we lived, we each kept a small case ready packed with spare clothing, wash things, a torch, and any valuables.
Wherever we went we carried our gas mask in its cardboard case on a strap over our shoulder. We each wore an identity bracelet with name and identity number. Mine was BRBA 2183. Butter and bacon rationing began on Dec. 8th - 4 oz of each per person per week.
Contributed originally by Janet_daughter (BBC WW2 People's War)
10th. August 1940
To Fus. WA Barter 6472227,
No. 1 Platoon,
Block No. 2,
58 Walterton Road,
Have you been enjoying the heat wave we’ve been having these last two or three days? It must be nice having the sea breezes, it’s been like an oven up here. I didn’t quite know what Mum would like for a birthday present, so I asked her. She said she would like a chain with a pendent so I will get her one if that’s alright with you. I think that’s nice, for her to choose something like that don’t you? Jess is going to get her curtains. I think I’ll get her a hat, I may have a day off on Saturday so we will get the pendent then so you will be able to see it when you come home. That’s nice you getting leave. I bet you are glad.
You were asking about the room, well the rain doesn’t come in at all now and I have got the window box. It fits fine, it has scarlet (?) in it now. I haven’t got anything else new for the room, I’m still broke. Jess is the one with all the money, she spends it like water. The settee does look nice, we must get some nice cushion covers. You were right, those green ones do look awful. I don’t quite know which colour would look nice, a softer green or a completely different colour. Can you think of one? Jess wants to get a carpet. I would like a patterned one wouldn’t you? It looks more cosy.
Ray came the other day, I didn’t see him as I was working late. Mum says he has gone very thin. He has seven days leave, he doesn’t know yet where he has to report to when it’s up. He seems to have been to a lot of different places since we last saw him. Mr. Ward has been this last week, Mum had to entertain him as Dad & Son were away. He has been very queer again, what a life always being ill.
Ray is here again tonight. He seems a bit brighter, he was rather fed up the other day. He’s growing a moustache, I don’t like it much.
Old Joe is waiting to be taken to post this letter so I’ll say cheerio,
PS I started this letter this afternoon and finished it tonight.
21st. August 1940
To Fus. WA Barter 6472227,
No. 1 Platoon,
Block No. 2,
58 Walterton Road,
I’m sorry I have not written before, the time has gone so quickly and I have been rather busy, not much time off. We have not been able to take the rest of the snaps yet. Mum was saying you liked the snap of the group which I had in my room. I don’t know where the negative is but you can have the snap, so here it is. Jess liked it too so we must try and find the negative.
Ern came on Sunday, he seemed all merry and bright. He hopes to get seven days leave soon, so he hopes it will be in September when Lill has hers. Do you see any chance of getting yours yet? It would be nice if you got it next month then Jess will be at home. We could arrange to go for some picnics and as you can now swim you could teach me so when we take a house at the seaside one year we shall be able to go in the sea.
Mr. Childs came today, he brought a photo of Ray. You can hardly recognise him, and that moustache, but old pop Childs is terribly proud of it. He’s given us one. Mum is trying to find Joe’s photo for you, the one where he is standing by himself. She found one of the first Joe, it’s quite a good one too so she will send it as well. Glad to hear you have a good cook but you had better not eat too much or you will bust those pants of yours.
What do you think of the raids we nearly had? The RAF must be jolly good to stop them from getting here. Son gave me the ten shillings. Mum hasn’t got the necklace yet she is waiting until next week when I leave this job then I can go and help her choose it. Tibs is sitting on the table right on the pad waiting for a chance to give the pen a swipe. He’s got a habit of getting up when Mum starts to play cards, he has a fine time. She had nearly got it out last night when he sent them all flying. She was wild and he sent sons pills right across the room. He’s quite a footballer. He is getting fat again and, wonders, he’s washing himself.
Mum doesn’t seem able to find one of Joe by himself so here is one with Dad. It’s quite a good one. Well, I will close now.
To Fus. WA Barter 6472227,
No. 1 Platoon,
Block No. 2,
Kent. Jessie Barter Gorring(?)
I expect you will have got the socks by now. I only posted them on my way back because we are miles from anywhere now. I shall have to walk a mile to post this, then there is only a box on a post, so I expect you will get this on Monday, although it is only Friday now.
I went home on Wednesday and we had an air raid from nine till four in the morning but we did not hear much. If I had known I would have gone to bed but of course you can’t be sure they won’t get through. We just heard a gun about every two or three hours and a single plane overhead. I was tired the next day. We went to Kensington and got the curtains. I also got some fire irons on a stand for the fire place, they look quite nice.
The tomatoes are getting along fine. I counted 27 good sized ones and a lot of tiny ones coming on, they take a long time to turn red but they are nice firm ones. There is a lovely garden where we are now, loads of plums and apples. I took a big tin box full of blackberries home on Wednesday and we had a pudding with some of them.
On our way to the station we picked up a young soldier, he was going on seven days leave, to Leicester. It was the first leave for five months he said, he seemed quite excited about it. There were four other soldiers in the train going up but they were going back from leave, to Ireland. One of them had a stainless steel mirror in a case, he took it out to show the others and told them not to pinch it. He had the last one pinched when he left it on a washbasin. “And it wasn’t there when you went back?” said one of the others, so surprised, of course everybody roared.
Have you seen a photo of Ray? Mum has got one, he has grown a moustache and it makes him look about 30 but it suits him I think. Quite a posh uniform he has on, with a peaked cap. I think they are much smarter than those convict caps they dish out now.
About the socks you sent back, I shall have to get some different kind of wool I think because it doesn’t seem to wash well. I’ve started some grey ones now and I’ll get the other when I go up next time. I’ll try and send this pair next week. Well Walt, I must stop now if I’m to get this posted. I suppose you are so used to air raids now you would miss them if they stopped,
29th. Aug. 1940
To Mr. H. Barter,
58 Walterton Road,
Fus. WA Barter 6472227,
No. 1 Platoon,
Block No. 2,
I got your letter with the programme in it (QPR) you gave me a few happy moments looking at the two teams. I see that a lot of the young ones were not playing so very likely they are in the army too now. Looking at the fixtures I see that we are fielding two teams this season. It seems as if the air raids are going to mess things up a bit though if the match has to be stopped each time, still we must hope for the best. I shall get the evening paper each Saturday so I shall be able to see how they got on and I may be able to see a match when I get my seven days leave.
You wondered if I have heard anything of the shelling of Dover, well, we can hear the bangs in the distance but not very loud. They come over about every eight minutes and on Saturday about six were sent over.
So you went to see “Jack Ahoy” last week, I saw it when it came out first which was a long time ago, I did not think much of it at the time.
We still have a lot of air raids down here, we had one last night at 12.10. I don’t know how long it lasted as I went to sleep again. We are doing a lot of field training now as we are getting towards the end of our training. We were out all the morning, running all over the shop and some of the ground is very soft and slippery and we get in a real b—mess by the time we are finished. While we were out a raid came and we saw a bunch of eighteen German planes go over on their way to London, whether they got there or not I don’t know. On Tuesday we went out to do some wiring and tomorrow we are to start to dig trenches so we look as though we are in for a lot of hard work.
I wrote to Uncle Bill the other day so I should hear from him soon, He may be busy now that the air raids have come to his part of the world and he will tell me about it I expect and I shall pass it on to you as I don’t expect you have seen him just lately. How is the work going now? Has Mr. Ward been over again? Is Harry still working with you, will you let me have his address so I can write to him sometime?
Contributed originally by Marine117570 Arthur Hill (BBC WW2 People's War)
Talk about lonely, I was the only one. The train arrived at Lympstone Royal Marine Training Depot, and I was the only one not in uniform to get off the train. I walked into the guardhouse and asked where should I report, and the response was,
“What the bloody hell are you doing here? Nobody comes here this week, its the blank between intakes.”
“Right” I said,”I'll be off home then”.
“Oh no you won't! We've got you and we'll keep you.” And that is how I spent a week in civvies, surrounded by thousands of uniforms, and not a soul to talk to, except the cook, who felt sorry for me, and kept feeding me with bowls of char.
The following week, my intake arrived, and the Colour Sergeant in charge said to me,
“You know your way round, so you can lead them”. Lead them? I couldn't even understand them, not one of them came from south of the Humber, most seemed to be from the borders of Scotland. All week I had been parading around in sports jacket and grey flannels, and having at last been issued with a uniform, I tried putting everything on. Never been so overdressed in my life. The flannels, (underwear) were universal, and big enough for two, the shirt seemed to be lined with sandpaper, and the khaki was stiff enough to stand on its own.
And the BOOTS! I'd never worn boots, and these were like the iron boots out of the torture chamber. In the following six weeks of drill, they rubbed a raw ring around my ankles, and when it came to slow march, the pain was excruciating. By this time we were regarded as fit to be seen in uniform, and were allowed outside the camp, but not far, no leave. Carrie and I had been engaged since the last November, and in a letter home, I thought that as my first leave would be Easter, perhaps that would be as good a time as any to tie the knot.
From that moment on, events were out of my hands entirely. My mum and Carrie started planning immediately, and it took off from there.
Meanwhile, our training had taken on a new aspect, in the field. We were moved to Dulditch, an area that had been shunned by all the other services, as fit for nothing, except perhaps, as a decoy airfield. It rained, we were under canvas, and the whole site was a quagmire, ankle deep in thick red Devon mud. All night long there was a continuously renewed queue at the latrines. In the mornings, a shut-up-pill, and at night an open-again pill. Somewhere in between the sun shone, and we got some intensive field craft training, sometimes up to 20 hour stretches, and when we slept, it was total.
One night, after getting a couple of bottles, one of the blokes flopped out on his back, snoring like a pig. After throwing anything loose at him without result, we decided that more drastic action was needed. So we all surrounded his bed, a hand each, and carried him two miles down the road to the sewerage farm, dumped him by the pond, and left him to sleep it off. He turned up on parade in the morning looking like he had had a good night, though he was still a bit whiffy. The rest of us had also had a good night’s sleep, so who's complaining!
On the last day of the course, we were out on pre-dawn patrol, followed by yet another mock battle. Mid-afternoon we were gathered together for an analysis of the day's mistakes. That is when I took the opportunity to remind the officer in charge that I was off to be married in the morning, and had been granted leave to go a day early.
“Good luck” he said, “you'll have to find your own way back, you'll find your leave pass and ticket in the company office”.
So there I was again, on my own, doing a mad dash. Tickets, best uniform out of a kitbag, local station to Exeter. Now, there are two mainline stations, and as I'd never been this way before, I picked the nearest, St. David’s. Big mistake! Not a direct line; change at Bristol, and having got there, found that there was no train due for another two hours. And that was stopping at all stations.
So that is my excuse for not turning up for my wedding until 10:00 a.m. on the day, looking scruffy. But I did make the Kensington Registry Office on time.
All's well that ends well.
Contributed originally by brightJohnNich (BBC WW2 People's War)
War in Kensington
All through the war my Mother, two brothers and me lived in London, Kensington, just off the High Street. . I can still remember anti aircraft guns being stationed in Hyde Park and Holland Park either side of us. In fact my aunt Queenie was in the ATS on a gun battery in Hyde Park.. They never shot anything down. Partly due to the fact that the searchlights couldn't reach the height of the aircraft. The lights just gave a target point for the bombers. Still Churchill said it would scare the pants off the Germans so the guns kept thundering and missing. My brother Paul, our friends and me used to collect shrapnel from the guns and bombs. Useless great chunks of metal really. We kept them in boxes for 'swapsies'. The things' kids do.
We lived in a mews backing on to our school playground. A nice enough if small flat which used to be a stable hayloft in the earlier part of the century. I remember at the beginning of the war when a temporary mortuary was set up at the bottom of the mews and a building erected in the playground to store bodies and coffins. Not pleasant particularly when a bomb hit the store and burning bodies were blown all over the playground. My mother couldn't eat red meat from then on. The blast and hose water damaged our flat so we were evacuated to an aunt in of all places Exmouth. Turned out to be as much if not more bombing there than in London. I went with my Mother, Brother Paul, Aunt Gladys and Cousin Angela. I remember us three children had to share a bed, inconvenient when I caught measles and had to be in the dark for three weeks. My Sibling and Cousin caught it as well so my Mother and Aunt were stuck in the house all day with a step sister they didn't get on with. As we got better we had to spend all day on freezing cold benches by the sea just to avoid the dreaded aunt.
My father and uncle were with the eight army somewhere in the desert. I remember Dad saying later that he was involved in the El Alamein conflict and lucky to come out alive. He was a motor mechanic in the Royal Signals. One day he was repairing a lorry when a German Stukka bomber attacked. He made a dive behind a wheel on the lorry but found his mate had got there first. Dad moved to another wheel as the bullets flew. When the attack was over he crawled out and called to his mate only to find him shot dead behind the first wheel Dad had gone for.
Dad went on to pass through Monte Cassino, just after the Allies had sacked it. Then into the rest of Europe before coming home in 1945.
My Cousin's father Uncle Bert had one or two near misses as well. Like Dad he was in the Royal Signals but as a linesman running telephone cables to the front. One day he and his mate were detailed to get to a ridge to wait the advancing British tanks. Quietly smoking a fag or two - he was always a great smoker (it killed him in the end) - he spotted advancing tanks and started to drive towards them. Half way there his mate said hang on I don't recognise the shape of those tanks. Sure enough they were Germans. Pulling the lorry around my Uncle beat a hasty retreat but the Germans spotted them and bullets started whistling through the canvas covering of the lorry one splintering the windscreen. They escaped ok and later found it quite amusing but I bet it wasn't at the time.
So it was just the five of us in Exeter as my eldest Brother Geoff was evacuated to a school in Addlestone outside London. My Mother worried a lot about him and was pleased when the Battle of Britain was over and we could return to London. Of course we'd caught the first of the Battle of Britain and we used to go into the Kensington Underground station to shelter from the bombs. Can't remember too much of that myself as I was too young but you've probably seen the shots on television from time to time. Later we moved to a purpose built shelter at the bottom of our Mews. But we weren't welcome as the more adjacent residence said it was theirs and we were interlopers - so much for the war spirit. A shelter was then built under our house and we would go down there whenever a siren sounded. I remember my eldest brother used to come home at weekends and join us which pleased Mother. We had a bobby living opposite - a PC Marsh. Huge fat chap who looked most imposing and reassuring in his uniform. But looks can lie. One day an incendiary bomb fell outside the shelter and broke in half but didn't explode. The policeman heard the bomb hitting the road and suggested my brother Geof a fifteen years' old, go and investigate. Reporting back to the sheltering copper that the bomb was in two halves the quivering blob instructed Geoff to put sand over each half of the bomb and go and report it to the air raid wardens. My Mother went ballistic when she heard.
My Brother Paul and I were then deposited with another Aunt in Devonshire - Hill Croft where Whiteways had a cider production plant. I don't even have the vaguest recall but I'm told I was a difficult child refusing to talk whilst in London - maybe the trauma of the times, who knows. Anyway when mother came to collect us some weeks later, to her surprise I was talking freely using full sentences. She exclaimed he can talk! 'Course he can' retorted my Aunt in that phlegmatic Devonshire way 'he just didn't bother before as he didn't think there was anything worth saying' .My wife says she's not surprised as I still don't make small talk.
We then went again with my Cousin to some friends of my parents in Aryshire Scotland. The Scots on the West Coast wouldn't have known that there was a war going on apart from the rationing. I seem to recall we had a goodish time as it was near a beach for us to play on and I vaguely remember we had a garden with vegetables to play in something we didn't have in London.
By now I was of school age and went to St Mary Abbots, Kensington just at the back of our flat. A load of Gibraltarians were evacuated later to London and many of them joined our school. All the British mothers were up in arms as the evacuees brought head nits with them. Every time I smell disinfectant I still recall the steel combing of our hair to get rid of the pests and the plop as they hit the strategically placed news paper . Still they say nits only live in clean hair so I guess we were washed.
I also remember Italian prisoners of war or maybe they were interred residents, being billeted in Kensington Gardens. The prisoners weren't restricted and they had better food than us. We kids used to go to the camp and walk freely into the enclosures to cadge bits. I remember they gave us peanuts something I'd never tasted before. One of the Italians was an ice skating coach before the war and he spend endless hours teaching one of our neighbour's daughter's moves which she later used in becoming a World skating champion - I only wish I could remember her name. I know her mother used to pay the coach by giving him cakes that he shared with us. I liked the Italian prisoners - very friendly and they seemed to like children. They were all grateful to be out of the war so none escaped. Later on they were sent to Canada I think.
After the bombs Hitler launched his Doodlebugs. You know flying bombs. We used to watch the Spitfires chasing them and tipping their wings so they turned away from the city and dived into waste land. But we did have one land on a deserted Abbey near us. My Aunt lived across the Mews from us and the bomb blast moved her back wall about 10 inches out. It stayed like that for the rest of the war. In retrospect, how the floor stayed up is beyond me.
One day a Doodlebug fell at the top of Earls Court Road during the lunch hour. Over two thousand people killed and I can remember the bodies being transported to the mortuary at the bottom of our mews using dustcarts. Feet were sticking out the backend as the stacked bodies were shipped in. Us school kids used to climb up the mortuary windows to watch the bodies being dissected. Proper ghouls we were. Some of the older boys used to get inside the coffins in the playground store and others would then push the younger ones into the building. Huddling in the dark you can imagine the fear when all of a sudden a coffin lid started to open. But we were hardy then and had seen a lot so didn't need counselling like the kids would today. I remember the biggest boy was called Jackson. He smoked and was quite the hero to us small kids. Bit of a villain though and I think he ended up in gaol for burglary.
I remember falling off a tricycle and hitting a large iron garage-door hinge. This perforated an eardrum and I had to spend two weeks in Guys Hospital at the height of the Dooddlebug attacks. I recall listening to the engines stopping and wondering where the bomb would fall on me. It worried my Mother no end and she used to visit every day for the two weeks I was in the hospital.
My poor mother went through a lot. She used to work to help make ends meet - there was minimal money coming- in with my father away. One day at work she got a call to say a bomb had fallen on the school. It hadn't it was a near miss but, she didn't know that and rushed home to find Paul and me sitting at the lunch table eating the food provided by our grandmother who lived with us at the time.
In fact not only did our Grandma live there but our Aunt Queenie as well. Unbelievable looking back that so many people could stay in such a small 4 roomed space. Probably explains why all three brothers now have such large houses. I recall Queenie had fads and one of these was Spanish dancing. She used to come in from her night shift on the guns and get her maracas out and click them until the early hours - that was until Mother asked her to stop as it was keeping us all awake.
Against all odds Queenie found a husband a gentle soul called Frank. They married and moved in with Aunty Gladys and her daughter Angela. Queenie changed her name to Lydia and so it remained to the day she died. Frank played guitar and Lydia took it up as well so Gladys and Angela had to put up with unsolicited musical evenings - every evening. Gladys also had a lodger called Elsie Tanner an old lady who loved cats and always smelt of fish and pee. Elsie ruled the house with her cats like a latter day Mrs Faversham striking great terror into Gladys and Angela. Eventually when Bert returned Elsie was invited to leave and we heard no more of her.
The Doodlebugs were followed by V2 rockets one falling on Harrods in Knightsbridge. The shell was in the Science Museum for some years after. But by now the war was effectively over and the mortuary was closed down and some years later the store in the playground was demolished
I can remember meeting my Dad a total stranger to me (I was only two when he went to war) at I think Paddington Station, when he returned. I can just visualise my Brother Paul and me as very shy children, not knowing what to say or do. Dad was then posted to Aldershot where he waited to be discharged. My Mother would take us to visit him. The smell of the cleaning paste he used to wash his hands of grease he'd smeared on himself in repairing lorries and other army vehicles still sticks with me. My Dad was an immensely strong man and once he appeared at home with a purloined army motor bike. Now our flat was serviced by narrowish stairs and we had an attic accessed by a portable ladder. Dad being impatient and not wishing to be caught with a 'borrowed' motorbike couldn't wait for help to arrive. He hoisted the thing onto his back and clambered up the stairs and ladder into the loft crooking his back in the process. I don't think he ever rode the bike but sold it to an acquaintance for probably not much money. Was it all worth it? I don't think so.
I can just about remember Dad and Uncle Bert getting their demob suits and the laughs as they paraded in the ill-fitting garments. Also Brother Paul coming across some, what he thought, were balloons in a drawer in Mother's room and how angry she was and told him not to meddle in her things again".
Bert's was a real character and his return saw a turn for the best in my young childhood. In those days everybody had an upright piano and Bert had a natural ear for music and it seemed to me could play any tune he put mind to. Probably couldn't it just seemed that way. He also bought a table tennis net and bats and I can still see my Aunt and Cousin Angela playing using their assumed rules of not letting the ball bounce on the table! He also bought a snooker table and dart board which Paul and me would play on when ever possible. He then obtained one of the first table top television sets. A nine inch tube with a large magnifying screen on the front so those viewing from the side could only see people with fat legs and distorted faces rather like today's overweight Northerners I guess. I remember seeing my first spiritual horror play on it and being scared to go to bed afterwards. I also remember Geof taking me to see my first horror film - 'The Spiral Staircase'. I've seen it since and it's laughable but it gave me nightmares for weeks then.
After the war we used to get pleasure from simple things. My brother, friends and me used to roller skate all over West London. To the Imperial Museum where there were always free travel films to see; to the park for a game of football or cricket. Playing tag in the Mews and rounders at Sunday school. Later ice skating at Queens Gate and once on Wimbledon Common in the winter. Getting sweet rations - the smell of the tuck shop um. I don't recall being bored.
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