Bombs dropped in the ward of: Knight's Hill
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Knight's 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:
Memories in Knight's Hill
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Contributed originally by granger (BBC WW2 People's War)
SHEILA GRANGER’S MEMORIES OF WORLD WAR II
N.B. Sheila Granger came to visit me, Rosalind Stew in my office at Age Concern Epsom & Ewell. She had heard about your web site but had no access to a computer so I edited her written memories for her down to less than 3,000 words. She has approved this version and asked me to submit it on her behalf. If you need to contact her, send me an e-mail and I will pass it on to her.
In 1939 I was nineteen and living at home with my parents in South London. I had met a young man called Don when I was on holiday in Jersey two years previously and I was there visiting him when suddenly our joy was shattered by the announcement of War. Don enlisted at once and expected to be sent to England but this did not happen and I soon met another fellow, Ralph, who worked at the de Havilland factory. He was a nice chap who took me out a lot and who very much wanted to marry me. Who knows I may well have drifted into marriage with Ralph. In those days marriage was considered to be the ultimate aim for a woman giving her security for her future and in return she would keep house and bear children (to be honest, that part did not very much appeal to me). Due to the war Ralph worked many late nights, which meant I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. I went with my friend, Milly, to the Lorcano (? sp ? Locarno) Dance Hall in Streatham; it is still there by the way but has since changed names many times. Milly had a dancing partner who suggested that he bring along his friend to meet us for a foursome and that of course is how I met Matt (never dreaming that he would be my future husband!).
A meeting was arranged, a blind date! To my delight he was very tall, 6 fit 6 inches in fact, and I a mere cheeky 5 ft! In those early war days we wore gas masks around our necks so we must have looked very silly. We did not strike a rapport immediately but I would say we felt comfortable with each other. It turned out that Matt also had a girl, Ivy, to whom he had been engaged for some years. However, she worked for the Admiralty and had been evacuated to Bath because London was considered to be unsafe in the war. Matt eas therefore lonely and willing to make the date just for a bit of fun and company. Now Matt was a very keen cyclist and loved riding out into the countryside. He missed this form of recreation with Ivy so much that he bought a bicycle for me and coaxed me to go riding with him. It did not take me long to become as keen on this way of life as Matt was. In 1940 Matt was thirty-one and had not yet been called up. We had glorious days out in the quiet countryside (there was no traffic around due to the war). Mutual thinking and a love of the country made our friendship strong. However those friendly feelings became more than just that. We then knew that we had a problem knowing that we wanted to marry. It was easy for me to disentangle myself from Ralph but more difficult for Matt who had been engaged to Ivy for many years. Ivy solved our problem by meeting and falling in love with a South African pilot. One day Matt came to my house with the news that he was a now a free man as Ivy had married her pilot.l He had a few mixed feelings as I imagine it was a bit of a blow to his ego. I had to comfort him and remind him that this was what we had wanted and he soon consoled himself with me. This made me wonder at the time if he was not rather fickle but I have to say that my thoughts could not have been more wrong because Matt was for the fifty years the most loyal, true and loving lover and husband that anyone could have wished for …
Memories race through my mind of lovely days out in the country on our bikes. I remember at one time we having a picnic and cooking sausages on a spirit stove with Spitfires flying overhead engaged in fighting with German aircrafts. It was frightening but quick thinking Matt threw me into a ditch near by and jumped in after me. We could easily have been killed. Despite the war the lovely summer of 1940 will remain in my thoughts for the rest of my life. I was really in love with this nice gentle giant as he was so often called.
Matt then decided that, although he was a printer exempt from war duty, he would volunteer for the Forces. This upset me terribly and I tried to persuade him not to join but he felt he had enjoyed a fairly easy life up to that point and felt it was his duty. The dreaded day came at Easter in 1941 when he was called and sent to Blackpool. I remember thinking how stupid he was to go and that he need not have done so. I did not understand at all. However, having lived with him for fifty years I now realise that he was a man of high moral code and principles. His good character remained with him for the rest of his life, which probably explains why he was so loved by all. He stayed in Blackpool for a year and I travelled up at weekends to visit him. Those were hard days and I do not know how I got through them. I dreaded the thought that he would eventually be sent abroad and perhaps even be killed. When the call for embarkation came we decided to get married at once thinking that if we did not we might never get the chance. He got forty-eight hours leave and a mad rush was on for the wedding with the help of my wonderful mother. Thanks to dear Barbara Cartland who campaigned for brides to obtain the special privilege of having material for white weddings, I already had a wedding gown made and two blue ones for the bridesmaids because we had always planned to get married at some time. A dear vicar of St Luke’s Church at Norwood agreed to marry us at short notice, what seemed like thousands of telegrams were despatched and a photographer was arranged. My husband wore his civilian clothes against the rules and on September 20 we had a lovely white wedding with the sun shining. After the service we went back to my parents’ house where as if by magic many guest had gathered for a wonderful buffet spontaneously arranged by my mother, her neighbour and friends. It was a miracle that they managed to obtain chocolate biscuits, jellies, sandwiches and even a homemade wedding cake with a Union Jack on the top. In the middle of the music and dancing an air raid came with guns going and bombs falling but no one cared and at midnight we were ordered to go off for our honeymoon. Friends lent us their house overlooking Norwood Park but we only had until the next evening when my husband had to journey to Liverpool ready to sail to unknown destinations. After a tearful parting from me Matt was gone. The next time I heard from him he was in North Africa; it might as well have been the moon as far as I was concerned. The worst part of my life followed. For the next four years all I had of Matt were his letters and what wonderful letters they were. I received them four or five times a week. They never stopped coming. They meant so much to me in those dark days when bombs were falling, the terrible V1s and V2s. The letters continued so bright, cheerful and optimistic. The army soon realised that Matt was of officer material and tried to promote him but he turned them down. He did not want the responsibility. Instead he found himself in Italy and North Africa driving around in a lorry delivering water.
Meanwhile I lived in my mother’s large house. She had given us three rooms on the top floor which I furnished and decorated myself. I had help from some Irish workmen who had been sent here to clean up the damage caused by the bombing. I hunted the shops for second hand furniture and soon I had a three room furnished flat ready for my warrior’s return.
I worked from 8 — 5.30 in an office of a perfume making company at the Elephant and Castle to which I travelled by bus from West Norwood. I often had to dodge behind vans for cover from the bombs. I remember one occasion coming home at six o clock when a bomb fell en route and we all had to get off the bus at Herne Hill. We had to go into an underground shelter and stay there all night. We were only a quarter of a mile from home but we were not allowed through and our poor mother worried all night about us but there was no way of letting her know we were safe. I still remember that night. There were no lavatories — only buckets behind a curtain. My sister and I were desperate to spend a penny but we did not want to use those buckets so did not go all night. After that and several other hair raising experiences, I left the job in Walworth and moved to the T.M.C. (Telephone Manufacturing Comapany) where I often worked night shifts but was walking distance of home. I remember one terrible night when the East India Docks were bombed. We could see them blazing from Norwood. We spent many nights in my father’s makeshift shelter which he had made in the place where we stored our coal. We literally slept on blankets on top of piles of coal. On one occasion some houses in our street were bombed — there was glass everywhere. The first thing my mother did was to check the gas so that she could make a cup of tea and then she set to work sweeping up all the glass. Despite the wartime shortages we did not go hungry — we always had bread, biscuits and soy sausages. There was a Civic Restaurant at Norwood which provided a simple, basic cheap meal for the bombed out. We survived the war and eventually my husband returned and we enjoyed fifty very happy years together. Sadl, just eight weeks after the big celebration we held for our Golden Wedding my Matt died leaving me desolate but with a lot of lovely memories and photos.
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