Bombs dropped in the ward of: Uxbridge South

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Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Uxbridge South:

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:

No bombs were registered in this area

Memories in Uxbridge South

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Contributed originally by Joan Quibell (BBC WW2 People's War)

The year started off well, even though we were frantically busy at work. I had my leave very soon to look forward to but first I celebrated my 19th birthday on the 6th January. I had letters and cards from home, and at lunchtime Mary, Marion, Rita and I adjourned to the Express Dairy for my birthday banquet. They sang “Happy Birthday to You” at the tops of their voices and treated me to Fresh Fruit Trifle! There was a lot of jelly about this concoction and ersatz cream, but we loved it and it was always reserved for special occasions. It was a sparkling day, surpassed only by the excitement of going on leave shortly afterwards. That leave followed the familiar pattern of previous ones and as always the days flew. In no time it was back to Uxbridge and once more into the fray.

Soon after this I was on night duty when we had an air raid, and the anti-aircraft barrage was terrific. Seven enemy bombers were shot down and I found it fascinating to be actually “in” on a raid, with the various A.A. Batteries being controlled from our H.Q.

I spent most of March in Harefield R.A.F. Hospital where I had been sent for several X-rays and tests after feeling off-colour. Their verdict was a slightly inflamed appendix which, with luck, should settle down. They decided to keep me in for the entire month, being stabilised they said. It was a very long, slow and frustrating month during which I was kept sane by the visits from my comrades. I had a 48 hour pass before resuming work, thus I was able to dash home and assure them I was fine.

But, on my return to Uxbridge, I was presented with a shock, for I had been posted to the “Y” list. This was something that happened automatically if you were sick for three weeks or more, and it meant that I was now available for re-posting, liable to be sent anywhere. The thought of leaving Uxbridge filled me with dismay, but fortunately it did not come to that. I was posted instead to another department to “G”. How can I begin to describe “G”? Well, the latter stood for Gunnery, and there were three sections — “G (Ops)” which covered the deployment of artillery: “G (Int)” — short for Intelligence: - and “G (Training)”. The Department was housed away from Hillingdon House in literally a Jerry-built building — it had been constructed by German Prisoners of War who had long since disappeared from the scene. It appeared to have been built of breeze blocks with windows so high up the walls it was impossible to see through them. There were various small offices where the Officers were housed, a large room which was the general office and a slightly smaller one, the typing pool. In here were three shorthand-typists for each of the three sections, making nine of us in all, with a desk and typewriter apiece. There was, in addition, a cast iron coke stove, very similar to the one in Hut 6, and a couple of duplicating machines, one a Gameter Multigraph which ran off stencils, and the other a Fordigraph which was a strange contraption that involved copious amounts of purple liquid to do its copying.

It was here in “G” typing pool that I met Marjorie McIver (known as Mac), Joan Lindsell (known as Lindy), Doris Keane, Queenie Hastie, Helen Kopelman, Anne Butler, Betty Taylor and Jean Poynter. Ma, Lindy and Doris worked for G(Int). One of their daily chores was to go down The Hole, as it was known, to obtain the weather forecast. The Hole, because it was situated underground, was the main operations room for R.A.F. No. 11 Fighter Group Command. To this inner sanctum every morning, Mac and Lindy and Doris went in turn to get the meteorological report. They also typed screeds of highly secret intelligence information pertaining to Ant Aircraft.

Queenie, Betty and Jean were in G (Training) team which was responsible, as its name implies, for organising the training rotas for A.A. officers and batteries within the Group.

That just leaves G (Ops) and it was in this section that Helen, Anne and myself held sway. The nine of us lived quite harmoniously in that dingy typing pool and, in between working, would natter, niggle, moan and groan, laugh and giggle, to our hearts’ content.

We were true to our sex, as when we did not possess a window from which we could perceive life passing by, we wanted one. But when, after much trouble, the GD men knocked out a piece of the wall to disclose a very dirty window, we decided we did not want people to see us sitting by the fire, so we immediately “bunged” it up with any old pieces of cardboard we could find, to obstruct their view.

We actually worked quite hard. Mid-morning we would go in relays to the NAAFI for coffee or tea. Tea was 1d and coffee 1 ½ d and neither bore the slightest resemblance to the actual beverage it was supposed to be.

We also went in relays down to the Camp in Hercies Road for our lunches. The first lunchers would meet the second lunchers who would ask “What is it today?” and “What’s for sweet?” If the answer to the latter was “Plonk” our hearts would sink, for that was our name for Tapioca Pudding which appeared all too frequently on the menu and which we loathed. We formed the opinion the Army had enormous reserves of tapioca somewhere. It looked like frogspawn in the big mess tins and tasted quite revolting.

I was getting slightly more money now. What with my first year’s increment and passing my Grade I Trade Test, I felt I was doing well. Rita celebrated her 21st birthday on 31st July with a party given by her parents in Frascati’s Italian Restaurant in London. I was invited and greatly enjoyed the occasion. I gave her 10/- as I couldn’t think what to buy her. As that represented almost half my weekly pay, it was quite a sacrifice, but she was a good friend and I made it gladly.

About this time, the first of the Americans arrived in Uxbridge. Some of them worked in our office and we found them an absolute phenomena. They chewed gum ceaselessly, had scant regard for discipline, were very casual in their dress, seemed to have a personal issue of Jeeps and called their officers by their Christian names. We were astonished, never having encountered anything like them before.

In August the Army laid on something special. They decided that H.Q. staff would benefit from visiting an actual operational gun site on the South Coast. On 10th August Mac, Lindy, Betty, Anne and I clambered aboard the lorry which was to take us to Rye. We sang as we lurched along. At last the cry went up “There’s the sea” and sure enough, there it was. Our first glimpse of the sea for such an age, grey and menacing with barbed wire rolls all along the beaches. The lorry drew to a halt and we jumped or clambered down. We were given an escorted tour around the gun site and then issued with ear plugs. Feeling slightly silly, we stuffed them into our ears, and then the guns thundered forth. Even with the plugs, the mighty noise was shattering. We ducked and flinched and cowed much to the amusement of the Gunners. “Thank you ever so much” we said when the barrage had ceased. “It has been most interesting”. We said goodbye to the sea, then it was back into the covered wagon for our journey home. It had been a break from the usual routine.

Platoon evening continued of course, with compulsory attendance at various lectures, but on 18th August we had one with a difference. It was decreed we would all go out blackberrying. We had a marvellous time and bore the fruit back to the Camp cooks who turned it into jam. This would be doled out in large soup dishes in the Mess, a positive magnet for the wasps. Sitting in the Mess was hazardous at such times, you were constantly flailing and swatting.

The War news was distinctly better now, and we said the tide seemed at last to be turning.

On Friday, 3rd September, we had a service to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the War, and British troops invaded Italy.

On Tuesday, 7th September, I woke in a happy mood, for it was my day off and Ruby and I had arranged to spend it together in London. We made our way to the Services Club, there to have lunch and play some table tennis. After our meal we went over to the Games Room and sat down to await our turn. A sailor and an Air Force chap were using the table at the time, playing a cracking game which we watched with interest. Suddenly the ball ricocheted off the sailor’s bat, came flying across the room, to land fairly and squarely in my lap. The sailor, grinning broadly, came over to retrieve it. “Sorry about that” he said, as I handed him the ball, and I liked the way his brown eyes twinkled. When their game was completed, Ruby and I played, and then the sailor and the Air Force chap challenged us to a game of doubles. Ruby partnered the Air Force lad, whose name was Jack Kenyon — “But I’m always known as Ken” he said. I partnered the sailor with the twinkling brown eyes, called Les. We played several games, and then had a break for tea, during which we learned a little more about our new acquaintances. Ken was a Yorkshire man, a radio operator stationed in London at the Air Ministry. Les was a Londoner, home on survivor’s leave. He was serving in Light Coastal Forces and his boat had been sunk in action in the Channel two days before. He made light of the incident, saying it had earned him 14 days respite. He was 23 years old and a Leading Telegraphist who had been serving on MLs, MGBs and MTBs since entering the Navy at the age of 20. I took to him enormously and readily agreed to come up to London to meet him again on the following Friday evening.

Friday evening saw me hot-footing to Baker Street, without a pass I might add, fingers tightly crossed I wouldn’t encounter a Red Cap. At Baker Street Les was waiting and we had a couple of delightful hours, just talking. He afterwards escorted me on the train back to Uxbridge and made a date to meet again the very next night. We got on so well together. He had such an honest face, such a dependable air about him, I instinctively knew I could put my whole life in his hands. We talked about our dreams for the future, and he said he always hoped that he would marry one day and have a family, but questioned the wisdom of getting romantically involved while he was doing such a dangerous job. He then declared, despite cautioning himself against it, he had fallen in love with me and I said I felt exactly the same. I returned to Uxbridge on wings.

On 14th September I was again on Night Duty. Les rang me about 8 o’clock to say he’d had a wire recalling him off leave and he had no idea when we’d see each other again. He gave me an address to which I could send mail and begged me to write.

On 16th, to my absolute joy, I got a wire from Les to say he was coming back to London again to resume his leave. I dashed up to Charing Cross — once more minus a Pass and also notwithstanding the fact it was Platoon evening. We were reunited and nothing else mattered. On Sunday 19th, he asked me to marry him and with a heart full of love and joy I said yes. We knew it couldn’t be for quite a time but we made the promise to each other that one day our dreams would come true.

On 20th October he retuned to Dover. I went to see him off at Charing Cross and met several of his crew members who were also going back.

Letters arrived from him informing me he had gone to Portsmouth but was still unsure of future movements and then he was in Brightlingsea but again didn’t think that would be for long. Then a letter arrived at the beginning of October telling me they had picked up their new boat and he would continue to be in Home Waters. That at least was some comfort. He was now on M.G.B. 695.

Then on Wednesday 6th October I began my leave. It was marvellous to be home again. I told Mother and Pop all about the love of my life. Mother made little comment but listened patiently to my eulogising. Then on the 13th I had the most thrilling and exciting surprise, in the form of a wire from Les saying he was coming to Birmingham that very day. I rushed to meet his train and then I bore him home. I ushered him in and introduced him. He looked so smart and resplendent in his naval uniform. Mom and Pop shook his hand and made him welcome.

The end of my leave soon arrived and we said Goodbye to Mother, Pop and John and caught the train back to Euston. I had been feeling so unwell that when we arrived I returned to Uxbridge straight away foregoing the few hours we were going to spend in London.

I was still the same next day, so I was told to stay in bed and a doctor was called. He had me promptly admitted to Hillingdon R.A.F. Hospital where they said it was the appendix again and this time it would have to come out. However, an observant Sister, whilst making up the bed next to me, looked at me with interest and noticed I was changing colour. She came and stood by me, peering into my face and announced I had Yellow Jaundice. This is precisely what I had. It was a nasty illness but at least I was spared the surgeon’s knife. Les had returned to his base and sent letters expressing his concern.

I felt very poorly for the first few days and slept most of the time. Gradually I began to improve.

Les was now back in action, and on the Ward radio I was sickened to hear that Light Coastal Forces had been in combat with E boats off the coast of Lowestoft and that casualties had been incurred. My prayers were answered and I heard that Les was safe.

On 30th October I was pronounced well enough to go out and was given a week’s sick leave. I went home and 7 days of Mother’s care and home cooking worked wonders.

On 7th November I spent my first day back in “G” for a month. I was soon back into the swing of things and in no time at all it was as if I’d never been away.

Letters from Les were now my chief source of pleasure. On days when they arrived I would be in seventh heaven, and on days when they didn’t I would know keen disappointment. I went to visit his family and was given a very warm reception. They clearly were all so proud of their sailor hero.

Next day I got a wire from Les disclosing he was now in Penzance. They’d had some torpedo tubes fitted and were re-designated M.T.B. 695. He sent me his photograph which I framed and put on the shelf over my bed.

Mid November saw me once more turning my thoughts to Christmas shopping. Les wrote that it looked highly unlikely he would be home for Christmas — they were doing some trails in Irish waters. His parents had invited me to spend Christmas Day with them as I couldn’t get up to Birmingham.

On 20th December I posted off all my little gifts and cards. It would be my second Christmas away from home and the thought saddened me. But I threw myself into helping to decorate the hut. We put up coloured paper chains and greenery, liberally decked with cotton wool snow. Very effective we thought.

After duty on Christmas Eve, I made my way to London to Regents Park, and spent Christmas Day with his family. My thoughts hovered between a certain person on the high seas and my own dear folks at home. Boxing Day saw me back at work and very busy.

The War news was getting better and better and a letter from Les brought the joyful tidings that he hoped to have leave in January.

And so, here we were, on Friday the 31st December, the end of a year that had, for me, been wonderful. I fervently hoped it would be the last of the War years, that 1944 would bring us peace. Rita and I dashed into town and arrived in Trafalgar Square to find the crowds already dense, swinging and swaying and laughing. You would have thought no-one had a care in the world. We joined in the singing, quickly catching the mood of revelry. The din was quite tremendous until silenced as Big Ben struck midnight. Then all hell broke loose with a giant roar. Everyone began wishing everyone else a Happy New Year, kissing, hugging and singing Auld Lang Syne. Welcome 1944. Please be good to us.

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Contributed originally by Stan Wood (BBC WW2 People's War)

In 1939 I was working in a semi-underground building on a machine where my foot depressed a pedal and punched .303 calibre bullets into blued steel clips which my hands linked together. The end product was a measured ammunition belt ready to feed one of the eight machine guns in the wings of a Hurricane or Spitfire fighter aircraft.
By an ironic twist of fate, and a year later, I stood in a busy London street on the periphery of Shepherds Bush listening to, and watching, those same fighter aircraft spiralling vapour trails and firing their guns at attacking German war planes. I couldn’t help thinking:” I wonder if I filled those machine gun belts?” It was 1940 and I was now seventeen years old. The Battle of Britain soon escalated to the indiscriminate bombing of towns and cities in Britain.
I didn’t know it at that time but I would not return to my previous place of work until many decades later. Then it would be only to see the monstrous crater and mourn some of the victims I once knew who were killed in the terrible explosion at 11.10am on the morning of the 27th November 1944 at Fauld in Staffordshire. Then, thousands of tons of high explosive bombs that had been stored in the excavated caverns of Ford’s Gypsum Mine, blew a gigantic hole out of the hill at Hanbury causing death and devastation.
But I digress and deviate from my situation in 1940. I lived with my family (father, mother and younger brother) in a flat off the Uxbridge Road in Shepherds Bush. On that road, towards Acton, I had found work at a factory that made Aircraft controls.
Up above, in the wide blue yonder, fat, floppy, grey blobs of the Barrage Balloons dotted the London skyline. Sometimes these Blimps, as we called them, would break away from their moorings and dance erractically in the sky, dragging their distructive cables across the rooftops.
At the factory they formed a section L.D.V. an abbreviation for Local Defence Volounteers but better known at that time as Look Duck and Vanish. Later they became the Home Guard.
That autumn of 1940 saw many daylight air raids. When the warning sirens wailed we stopped work in the factory and crossed the busy Uxbridge Road to the shelters. These were the standard type resembling a long concrete tunnel buried half way into the ground with the excavated soil piled up on top. Hard, wooden slatted seats extended the length of those cold, damp musty smelling ovoid walls.
The daylight raids became so frequent the firm decided to employ men as spotters to watch from the roof. The siren was then ignored until the spotters sounded the internal alarm for raiders overhead. Then we could all go to the shelters. The sound of droning aircraft was very clear. Then the anti-aircraft guns stationed in Hyde Park and Wormwood Scrubs would open up forming a ‘Box-Barrage’ (a big square of exploding shells to divert enemy aircraft and perhaps assist our fighters). On one memorable occasion I watched fascinated as a big square was formed by many puffs of smoke from the exploding shells in the clear blue sky.
Well, as you know, what goes up must come down. Some people call it shrapnel but it wasn’t. The large, jagged slivers of metal, some about six inches or more long and maybe an inch wide were the exploding cases of the anti-aircraft shells. In this incident a shower of these shards clanged musically and frightfully on the road and pavement amongst us only to bounce high once more before coming to rest with a reverberant echo. Naturally I picked one up to add to my collection which included a nose cone and later a number of tail fins from incendiary bombs and a durolumin shaft and base of a container used for dropping clusters of incendiary bombs. None of these souvenirs were kept very long.
When the night air raids started, a multitude of searchlights stabbed at the dark sky. Most were white light but a few coloured ones mingled with the illumination all highlighted by the enforced blackout. No anti-aircraft guns were fired, and after several days of obvious inaction people began to ask why. Nobody bothered whether the guns were accurate at night or not, they wanted to feel that we were fighting back. When, without warning, it suddenly came the action was deafening. Every anti-aircraft battery in London seemed to be firing in unison. After that I saw no more searchlights piercing the night sky. There was a new noise to get used to though. It was the shrill screech of falling bombs. The blast of those near ones shook the house and the light bulbs danced erratically on the hanging flex.
Perhaps you’ve seen films of the so-called Blitz with families moving out to their cold and damp Anderson shelters? If so, spare another thought for those people who had no gardens to dig them in. I don’t remember anyone who had a metal in-door Morrison shelter. Queues would form long before dark with shadowy figures clutching bed rolls and personal belongings to enter the cellars of larger buildings. There were, of course, the brick-walled pavement shelters with a thick concrete, flat roof. These were notorious for collapsing like a deck of cards from an adjacent explosion. So, like many others, we made sure the black out devices were in place and just stayed put. When the night raid was really bad the family in the only flat above would join us and we would sit in the hallway. Under the stairs was supposed to be the best place. The hall or passageway from the front door was the nearest we could get. It was almost under the staircase of the upstairs flat.
Most nights the all clear would wail before daylight. The way I walked to work would reveal the tragedies of the night. The acrid smell of burning or the odour of premature demolished buildings would tinge the air. Deep craters in the road, some with ignited gas pipes flaming powerfully like an angry dragon in its lair. Houses reduced to debris. It was pitiful to see baths and lavatories hanging from broken walls and half collapsed floors. Churned up in the shattered bricks and mortar were the possessions of people, who for a while anyway, you wondered how fate had treated them. The cinema on the main road was one day a pile of rubble except for the entrance at the front. Ludicrous in a grotesque sort of way the still standing front wall advertised the film ‘Forty Little Mothers’ starring Eddie Cantor. Sometimes the air raid warning would sound again before I got to work and sometimes we could have a day or two’s respite without the wailing siren. On one such day, as brother and I returned to work at mid-day, a Heinkel bomber flew very very low over Shepherds Bush green and then opened up with its machine gun along the Uxbridge Road. Then, after we got over the shock, the siren on the green wailed its late warning.
But we were lucky really. Apart from a shard of metal smashing the back room’s sash window and an incendiary bomb which crashed through the roof. Yes, we nearly got it hot that night.
With no near explosions we decided to go to bed and catch up with some sleep. Startled, I heard a bang hitting the roof of the flat above us and then the hammering on our front door by one of the older girls from upstairs who was shouting that we were on fire.
When the fire-watchers arrived with their bucket and stirrup-pump they couldn’t get any water. Seemingly, in a panic, the bloke upstairs had turned off the water and the electric supply. Stupid as it may seem now, both brother and I dashed up and down the dark stairs carrying water in pots and pans to fill the fire-watchers bucket. We spilled more water over ourselves in the process. Eventually the fire was extinguished; but not before the bomb had burned its way through our ceiling and into our water logged front room. A burnt out sofa was pushed through a smashed upstairs window onto the pavement below. The horrible smell of burning lasted for days. There were many fires in the city that night but the worst was still to come.
It was Sunday evening and December 1940 had only two days left. Brother and I decided to walk into Acton and go to the pictures. The film was nothing special but it was somewhere different than sitting at home listening to the wireless. Halfway through, and superimposing itself on the mediocre black and white picture, a notice read:-
Not many people left. There wasn’t many in the cinema anyway. We stuck it out for another half an hour then, bored stiff, we decided to walk home.
Once outside in the cool of the night air we got the shock of our lives. The sky towards Shepherds Bush was blood red. We watched in amazement as the crimson sky swirled in what looked like agonized torment to the accompaniment of screaming bombs and the roar of anti-aircraft guns. Overhead, the intermittent drone of enemy aircraft engines seemed to follow us on that long, terrifying walk home. Houses that we had walked past on our way to the cinema had disintegrated into ruins. A long wooden fence beside the pavement we had earlier walked upon was pitted with the jagged holes of bomb fragments. The horrible thought that if we had left the cinema when the warning flashed on the screen we would probably have no legs now, hurried our homeward steps. A row of terraced houses in the street leading off to our right looked completely demolished and the vehicles of the rescue teams stood in silence, waiting.
The air raids continued into the new year of 1941. By March of that year my father's job had transferred him to the North of England. They called it Cumberland in those days. Mother, brother and I were left in London awaiting a letter to say a new home was available. When that day came we saw our furniture and belongings loaded into the van. With insufficient money for train fares, arrangements were made for us to travel north in the back of the van; but not that day. The furniture van was scheduled to set off at first light from a lorry park somewhere in Chiswick. We had to find the place and the only way to do just that was to walk.
As the evening sky darkened to night the wailing siren heralded another raid. That final night in London, as the whine of bombs preceded the house shaking explosions, we made tea from an old kettle and drank our fill out of glass jam-jars.
It was still dark when we left our flat in the very early hours. The raid had ebbed and flowed all night and the guns still blasted their shells into the sky. I think we turned left into Uxbridge Road where luminous strips on the forever darkened lamp post glowed in guiding light through the dreary blackout.
From Goldhawk Road I think our aim was to find the Chiswick High Road. As dawn broke over Chiswick the all-clear sounded. We were more relieved to have located the van and a disgusting and distasteful smelling lavatory than to hear the sound of that long, wailing note we had heard so many times before. The conventional air raids would continue for another couple of months.

You don’t want to know that somewhere near ‘Rutland Water’ the half-shaft of the dilapidated van broke with a loud crack followed by a big skid and a stink of burning rubber, or that a year later I received a four shilling postal order (which I still have) and a leaflet which said :- ‘YOU ARE ABOUT TO BECOME A SOLDIER’. That’s another story.

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Contributed originally by Denisebrujis (BBC WW2 People's War)

It’s a morning in June, 1944 at Uxbridge Base west of London. Everyone is underground because the work they do out there is top secret. It is the Air Force Signal Control Centre. These headquarters were principally meant to test the operation of weapons when landings were taking place at the port of Dieppe, in France.

Renee Shalom is on duty. She is constantly watching Allied movements on screen and on controls. She works in the telex, and her boss is off today so she is in charge of anything that might be needed.

All of a sudden, a group of high-ranking officers comes in, all wearing uniforms with many important medals. They say they must send a coded message and it must be sent very carefully and with no mistakes. Renee is nervous but she sends the message, apparently without any problems.

The following day she finds out what she had sent - it was the communication instructing British troops of the launching of D-Day.

My mother was born in Manchester and came from an orthodox Jewish family of nine children. She was the first child to volunteer in the Air Force, quite courageous in that context and at that time.

Denise Chrem Shalom de Brujis - Maryland, US

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Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Uxbridge South:

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:

No bombs were registered in this area

Images in Uxbridge South

See historic images relating to this area:

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