Bombs dropped in the ward of: St Margarets and North Twickenham
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in St Margarets and North Twickenham:
- 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 St Margarets and North Twickenham
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Contributed originally by patsyp (BBC WW2 People's War)
The War – 1939 onwards
My earliest real memory was, believe it or not, the announcement on the radio that we were at war with Germany. My mother had been bathing me in the kitchen sink and I was standing on the draining board waiting to be dried off when my mother suddenly ran to the radio and started to cry. I too began crying. I didn’t take kindly to being left dripping! I subsequently learnt the reason for my mother’s tears.
I have a few distorted memories after this but can remember very clearly both the Anderson and Morrison shelters being installed. I couldn’t wait to sleep in the shelter in the garden although I gather my father didn’t take too kindly to me peeing in his ear! I was on the top bunk above him. My mother confirmed that this really happened!
The war to me was full of excitement. I had no fear. As I kept trying to tell my mother “If we are in one of the shelters and a bomb drops on us we will be fine”. The innocence of youth.
My father joined the Home Guard and was made a Sergeant because of his previous experience in the Army. He was not called up because of the job he was doing for the Air Ministry. I believe it was considered to be important war work.
My mother tells me that, from the very first moment that war was declared she was expecting bombs to be dropping on us! I remember her tears.
Although I have stated that I had no fear, I do remember a temporary tightening of the tummy when the air raid siren sounded. However, the excitement overtook the fear. On one occasion I was standing at the back door after the siren had sounded and watched the searchlights dancing across the sky, the silver barrage balloons magnificent when caught in the light. I could hear the thud of the guns and see the puff of smoke in the sky whilst I searched desperately for the object of the attack. I was not disappointed - there it was, an enemy plane – intermittently exposed by the searchlights as it tried to take evasive action.
I stood mesmerised and was totalling ignoring the fact that my mother had been calling me to get into the shelter. I am afraid I ignored her to my cost. In her panic to get me into the shelter she grabbed me by whatever came to hand – it happened to be my pigtails!
When I was four, I started school at a Catholic School that was run by the nuns who were very cruel. I remember falling and badly grazing my knee. When I told a nun I just received a severe- ticking off for being careless.
On another occasion I dropped a box of beads on the floor. I was made to pick up every one including those that had fallen between the floorboards. Even though I was crying and my fingers had splinters – no pity was shown.
I used to try and lock myself in my bedroom every day because I was terrified of going to school. Eventually my father decided enough was enough and took me away from the school.
My experience of Catholicism was not a happy one. I remember that every now and then a priest and a nun would visit my mother and I was made to leave the room. They always left my mother in tears.
Many years later my mother told me the reason for their visits. They wanted to know why she had no more children and threatened her with excommunication from the church if she dared to use birth control.
The war was a time of rationing. We had ration books that contained a certain number of coupons a week for such things as meat, sugar and butter.
We only had dried eggs and dried milk. Even clothing was rationed. My mother managed to eke out the frugal meat allowance by cooking such things as mouth-watering stew and dumplings. Her jam roly-poly puddings cooked in muslin were magnificent. In spite of the hardships, our food was nutritious and filling.
Occasionally, my mother would fly to the shops having been told by a neighbour that a delivery of oranges had arrived. She would queue for as long as it took to bring home perhaps only two oranges. I had never even seen a banana never mind eaten one. This was the luxury food that all children coveted.
I was a shy child and (I’m told) well behaved. Both my mother and I remembered well one occasion when I was not on my best behaviour. It was the day I was taken to the local clinic to get my Mickey Mouse gas mask. No amount of cajoling or inducement was going to get this monstrosity on my head. It was hideous and I can smell the rubber even now.
Eventually, I gave in and tried it on. It had a rubber tongue that blew a raspberry every time I exhaled. This contraption had to be carried around in a cardboard box like a shoulder bag everywhere I went. I really couldn’t understand why. I think my mother tried to explain to me the danger of being gassed by the Germans but how is a small child able to understand what gas is?
Chronologically I may be getting the order of events in the war wrong but I can remember the bombings starting. It was often just my mother and I curled together in the indoor shelter when there was an air raid as my father was often out on Home Guard duty. My mother used to hold me tight and I remember very clearly how she shook until the all-clear sounded. We could hear the thud of bombs dropping around us, sometimes feeling the vibration of the closer ones.
Another painful memory of the indoor shelter was my mother nursing me whilst I was sobbing with the pain of earache. I suffered from this greatly and there were no antibiotics then. My mother used to warm a teaspoon and pour a little olive oil in my ear then plug it with cotton wool.
When I was five I was taken into Hospital in Twickenham to have my tonsils removed – the cause of my chronic earache. This was an unforgettable experience. There were no such things as children’s wards in those days and one’s parents were not allowed to visit – they could only look through the window. The post-operative pain was dreadful and the Ward Sister sent for the Matron to force me to drink some Bovril (which drink I hate to this day). I drank it and promptly vomited. I think you can imagine how painful that was. All I could eat when I got home were bowls of custard.
The bombing became very intense – air raids most nights but something very sinister was looming – it was the doodlebug – a flying bomb. Of this I was afraid. I can almost imagine the drone of its engine now. Whilst you could still hear it you were OK but once the engine stopped, that is when you held your breath because this is when it dropped from the sky. We used to listen to it flying overhead and sometimes it seemed as if the engine stopped when it was immediately above us – but a few seconds later we would hear the explosion as it landed.
One morning after such an incident, we went to see the High Street, only to be confronted by complete devastation. We were not allowed to venture further than the railway bridge. The right hand side where David Greigs used to be had been flattened and several people killed.
As the air raids became more intense, there was pressure to evacuate the children to the country. I was terrified and didn’t want to go, neither would my mother let me. My father insisted that it was now so dangerous that my mother and I should go to stay with my grandparents in Hull. This we did. Again, this turned into a frightening experience.
We arrived at Paragon Station only to discover that Hull too had been having air raids. There were, of course, no street lights and my mother and I made our way to my grandmother’s house by torchlight. It was a very long way from the station and we were having to avoid craters in the roads and pavements. It was terrifying and both my mother and I were crying. Having got lost a few times, we eventually arrived at my grandparents’ home.
We had only been there a couple of days when an air raid warning siren went off and, having no shelters, we had to seek shelter in a walk-in coal storage cupboard. We all looked like chimney sweeps when we came out!
One of my strongest memories during my stay in Hull was opening my grandmother’s larder and seeing a very large earthenware bowl full of fresh eggs. I couldn’t believe it. My grandfather kept chickens in the back garden so we had real eggs! He used to let me collect the eggs – sometimes they were still warm.
My grandmother also used to keep a quantity of bacon rashers to crisp up in the oven – I have never tasted crispy bacon as delicious.
My grandmother used to cook on a large black kitchen range which was so shiny you could see your face in it. She regulated the heat by how much fuel she put in the burner. Her Yorkshire puddings were wonderful. These were served as a starter with gravy prior to having the roast beef.
It’s a good thing that her cooking was so good because my grandfather would not let me leave a morsel of food on the plate.
Whilst in Hull my grandfather would take me to the docks to see the fishing trawlers come in and unload their catches. It was such a busy place with the fishwives alongside the trawlers gutting and preparing the fish. I found it very exciting although it didn’t smell so good! We even went on the ferryboat across the River Humber occasionally.
After we had been in Hull for a few weeks my mother received a telegram from my father telling her that a bomb had dropped in the field behind the house and that some damage had been sustained. My mother immediately returned leaving me behind. I was suffering from impetigo at the time and looked a complete mess as my face was covered in gentian violet! I was very miserable and cried for ages after she left.
Eventually, I was brought home and discovered what had happened when the doodlebug had dropped behind our house. Apparently we were very fortunate because on the edge of the field there was a very large poplar tree and it seems that the doodlebug clipped its wing on the tree and was deflected downwards thus landing in the field rather than on the houses.
Further along the road there was much more devastation than we had sustained and many families had to be evacuated from their homes as they were so badly damaged. There was not a window left intact in our house but we were able to make do and stay put.
The air raid warning siren had sounded whilst my father was visiting friends a few doors away so he had to dive into the inside shelter with everyone else. After the bomb had fallen dad’s friend popped his head out of the shelter to have a look. My father hauled him back just in time to save him being hit by the ceiling falling in!
Dad was an air raid warden and the following morning he had to check on all the affected houses. As he knocked on the door of one house, the door fell in. It had somehow been blown off his hinges but remained in situ.
Two elderly spinster ladies next door had been sleeping in the same bed together and they and the bed came straight through the ceiling landing in the lounge. Miraculously neither of them was seriously hurt.
My cat disappeared after the explosion and didn’t return until some weeks later.
The crater formed by the bomb was quite deep and my friends and myself spent many a happy hour playing inside it – digging for pieces of shrapnel. We also found many pieces of broken crystal and china created by the bomb but the real treasure was the shrapnel. Sometimes the bottom of the crater iced over and we had great fun slipping and sliding.
The VE street party was a great occasion. In Lincoln Avenue trestle tables were placed along the road and all of the children were treated to lots of party food, jellies, cakes and anything that people could lay their hands on. My father wheeled his piano out into the street and everyone danced to the music whilst he played.
At the time, my Uncle Jim having come home on leave was staying with my mother and father. Later in the evening I had to leave the party to go to bed and my mum, dad and uncle were going to the Winning Post for a drink. The lady next door was in charge of me.
I remember clearly hearing all the fun still going on outside and I decided to get up, get dressed and go back to the party. As I walked down the path the lady next door saw me and I told her that it was all right as my mother said that if the noise disturbed me I could go back to the party!
Thus it was that when my folks returned, they saw me singing and dancing in the street. I was soon returned to my bed!
Yes, I have happy memories of my childhood in spite of the war.
Contributed originally by Dorothy Rumbles (nee Bradbury) (BBC WW2 People's War)
Like many other girls my teenage years were spent during World War 2, working in factories, on munitions. Most teenage boys were in the Armed Forces.
I started work when I was 14 yrs 1938. The only work in our village was Horticultural, growing carnations and tulips, but when there was talk of war we had to turn some of the greenhouses over to planting tomatoes that was our contribution to the war effort.
I was working on a Sunday morning packing carnations ready for Monday morning market,it was 3rd September 1939, the radio was on, when the announcement was made, War had been declared, silence in the packing shed, our Boss came in to give us our instructions, should the air raid sirens go, He had installed an Anderson shelter in the grounds ,all prepared. He told us Gas masks and Identity cards must be carried at all times etc. He was about to show where the shelter was when the air raid siren sounded,so he took us to the shelter, inside he had put provisions should it be a long stay, and also an old gramophone and some Flanagan and Allan records, one of them he played was Underneath the Arches, so whenever I hear that hear that tune it reminds me of the start of WW2 Fortunately it was a short raid, I can't remember if any damage was done then but it was the start of things to come.
After awhile I had to leave for health reasons, so I had to look further away from home for work, which took me to the Great West Road ,Isleworth, which was about half to three quarters hour cycle ride from home to Gillettes. They also had to convert some space to install large machines , Capstanes, drilling and tapping ets. to make aircraft components, but they still had to produce razors and blades to supply the men in the Forces and civilians. I then became a machine operator, us girls had to were Brown Dungarees. Wooden Clogs, and Snoods on our hair, which was handy if we wanted to keep our curlers in, if we had a date, or was going dancing that evening, not a pretty sight, but we all had to dress the same so it didn't matter too much..
We worked from 8a.m till 7p.m when on days, 8a.m till 1p.m on Saturdays, 7p.m till8a.m when on night shift which was every two weeks, not very pleasant eating dinner at 1a.m. and trying to keep awake around 2a.m. Working at Gillettes we were very vulnerable because their clock was a landmark for aircraft, but of course like every where it wasn't lit up during the war, but somehow, we managed to escape any bombing
Cycling to and fro work in the winter was weird ,no street lamps, our cycle lamps had to be half covered to prevent the light from shining upwards I remember some very foggy nights I had to walk home it took me about an hour and a half, but a least there was no raids those nights, but it was still a bit scary.
I found two diaries 1943 and 1944 looking at the they read "Worked till 7 came home wrote some letters" ( I used to write to various lads that I knew who were in the forces), did some sewing, trying to make do and mend , because clothes were rationed by coupons, my friend's mother was a dressmaker, and lace was not rationed, but expensive, we bought some and she made us a blouse each, we thought we were the cat's whiskers. I think we wore them every time we went to a dance, we always looked smart even though we couldn't buy many clothes.
Any way getting back to my diaries, they consisted mostly of writing letters, or going dancing may be skating on Monday afternoons before going on night shift, where did we get our energy from. Dating was always with members of the Armed forces stationed nearby, but it was hard not to get too involved, because they would be moved on very shortly and it was sad having to say goodbye, not knowing if we would ever meet again. Although some girls did get too involved and found they were pregnant, the chaps were already married but hadn't told the girls. He moved on with no forwarding address the girls were left to fend for themselves with no government help those days, and parents weren't so lenient then, most babies were put up for adoption.
I have an entry for early 1944,letter from Jock, answered it, he was a lad to who my sister had given my address because he wanted a pen pal, this was in March, he was hoping to meet me if he was posted to the south, he even sent me a piece of tartan which he had carried around with him, he said it was for luck. We corresponded a few times , but in May I received a brown H.M.S card with a new address, I wrote, but never received a reply, he was in the 8th Parachute Regiment, D day was in June, I suspect he was in the D day landings, which was in June 1944.
I also read that in November 1944, my friend and I decided to go to a dance hall that we had not visited before, a Sailor and a chap in the R A F both on leave had done the same thing, we were asked to dance by them, and met up afterwards while they were on leave, my Sailor was posted to the far east, we wrote numerous letters, while he was out there, the Japanese surrendered it was on 15th August 1945 my 21st birthday, what a relief, hopefully he was not in anymore danger. He managed to send me an airmail for my birthday also I received a some what battered key card, he came home safely, we were married in 1946 and have a daughter and son and three lovely grandchildren, and he is still my dancing partner, and the one person in the Armed Forces I did get truly involved with.
Looking back I was a very lucky teenager I never really thought about the danger of war, I think we knew that we just had to get on with it, fortunately our village wasn't so vulnerable as those in the southeast of England those people had so much to contend with, and I admire their spirit.
I don't feel that I did anything to be proud of. My only restrictions were having to be home by 10p.m or 11.30 if I went to a dance, or I would be grounded for a week. I can understand that now I am a parent, in fact my or any parent had a lot of worries during the war, how our Mothers managed to cope with the food and coal rationing they were they were the hero's always a meal on the table and a warm fire to come home to We took our Mothers very much for granted, they did a grand job during World War II.
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