Bombs dropped in the ward of: Sutton West
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Sutton West:
- 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:
No bombs were registered in this area
Memories in Sutton West
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Contributed originally by jill_murch (BBC WW2 People's War)
(Jill Constance Murch — nee Mayersbach ) d.o.b. 29 January 1931
I remember the 3 September 1939, the beginning of World War II, very well — I was 8 years old, my sister, Jacqueline just 4, and we were both suffering with Mumps. My father had boarded the windows of the living room downstairs, in which our beds had been moved for safety — and there we suffered with painful, stiff necks in semi-darkness. I remember hearing the siren warning us of the start of the war and the bustle and coming and going of friends and neighbours.
Earlier that summer of 1939, while on our last holiday beside the sea for many years to come, I recall being given a ride in a REAL tank by the Army along the beach and bumping my head — the first of many frightening, dangerous — but strangely exciting episodes over the next 5 years, until the war ended when I was 14.
I also recall in those first days of war that there was some pact or understanding between my parents, that should my father be taken away or killed if occupied by the Germans, that my mother, sister and I would be prepared to take our own lives — how, I have no idea - I think tablets — but I have no recollection of fear — just it being a fact of life/death/war, etc.
The next few months were strangely quiet, but busy, with an Anderson shelter being built in the back garden (later covered forever, it seemed, with bright orange marigolds) and kitted out with bunk beds for Mum, Dad, Gran (of course), my sister, myself, plus our Manchester terrier, Nippy, and my pet canary! At school we practised getting into the air-raid shelters, built on the school playing fields, without panic and having our gas-masks continually updated with extra filters being taped on to the ends.
During 1940, however, it got noisy — very noisy! The air-raid sirens whined continually the throb of bombers flying overhead, ack-ack guns firing throughout the night and the sickening thud and vibrations of bombs dropping. There were other silent dangers — land mines descending by parachute and devastating whole streets and always incendiary bombs to fire buildings and light the way for the enemy bombers.
There were the searchlights too, criss-crossing across the night skies and the barrage balloons to try and stop the bombers — which were often fired and flared into flames. Flames from the burning London Docks also lit the night sky all the way to the suburbs where we lived and during the daytime fighters — Spitfires and Hurricanes — could be seen attaching enemy aircraft — dogfights we called them. The images are still strong in my memory — I can visualise them clearly — but they still, strangely, held no fear — just a perverse excitement. Of course, when the ‘all clear’ sounded, and each morning on the way to school, we all — as children — searched for trophies and souvenirs of the bombardment - the priceless pieces of shrapnel, which we hoarded and gloated over; pieces of aircraft and stray spent bullets were even found. I have often wondered since how these happenings shaped the adults we became — I know I still find life extremely exciting and have no fear of ‘taking chances’.
With regard to EVACUATION — at the beginning of the war there had been meetings at our schools to organise being shipped across the Atlantic to the Americas, but because ships with evacuees were being torpedoed and sunk, it was decided to keep together as a family and accept the consequences … so we continued to sleep in our cosy Anderson shelter most nights. On one occasion we emerged from our cave to find what looked like a cannon-ball on top of our shelter — we quickly called the local air-raid warden — who laughed and told us that the local bowling green pavilion had sustained a direct hit the previous night and all the ‘woods’ had been sent flying across the town — with one coming to thud on the roof of our shelter- it was used for many years thereafter as a souvenir door stop.
Britain became filled with soldiers, sailor and airmen from all over the world — Free-French, Polish, Norwegian, West Indians, South Africans, Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, etc., and, of course, after 1941, the Americans. These young men — and women — in all manner of smart uniforms, brought even more excitement to our young eyes — they were so full of life and enjoying themselves — aware, now I realise, that they could have been close to death — as we all were.
I watched avidly each day the newspapers and the thick rows showing how the armies fought back and forth across the continents — especially the progress across North Africa and then across to Sicily and Italy. The place names are still imprinted in my memory.
As D-Day, 6 June 1944, approached, huge waves of Allied bombers throbbed overhead towards Europe, and the surrounding roads and lanes in Southern England were packed with tanks and trucks full of servicemen.
The Germans then began a further blitzkrieg with thousands of unmanned flying-bombs — the Doodlebugs or V1s, followed later by the devastating V2 rockets. The sound of the throbbing engines of the flying-bombs cutting out followed by a terrifying thud and shudder, still echo in my head.
My family, having resisted being separated, now had to accept the inevitable evacuation and in late June 1944, my sister, Jacqueline (now aged 9) and myself (13) along with our fellow pupils and schoolteachers, were put into coaches to be driven to Paddington Station. I remember seeing tears in the eyes of my parents and wondering why they were upset — I have understood very well since and will never forget their sadness.
We journeyed westwards from Paddington, complete with our Evacuee luggage labels attached to our jackets and were excited by where we might arrive. Single railway coaches full of children were left at various stations long the way, but we continued westwards and I hoped that we would cross the’ border’ into Wales - we did and reached the little market town of Builth Wells in mid-Wales. At the local school we were lined up and picked or chosen by local people — my sister and I were almost the last, as most families only wanted one child, but I had promised my parents that I would look after my sister and refused to be separated.
A family of mother, father and small son, took us initially, and we slept in the attic on camp beds with just blankets — which felt itchy, not having sheets — and I was expected to do housework and look after their small boy.
However, it was fun with our fellow evacuees and the local children, although we had our lessons separately in the local church crypt with our own schoolteachers. We discovered the local Monday market with all the sheep and cattle, the new smells and noises; the beautiful River Wye nearby, the fish shimmering below the bridge and the hills, mountains and quarries in the surrounding countryside.
There was also a large Italian prisoner-of-war camp nearby and these strangers with curious accents talked to us children over the fences and hedges from their camp and excited our imaginations as to who these aliens were and from where they had come. Their camp was close by another river — River Irfon — across which was strung a ‘swing bridge’, which swayed alarmingly and below which we paddled and tried to catch minnows in glass jars on string.
In early August 1944 our parents arranged to visit us, but that very weekend our original foster family had moved us to a new family with a motherly lady originally from East Anglia and a married daughter working in a local war munitions factory, whose husband was a prisoner in a Japanese camp in Burma — I never knew whether he survived. As our parents arrived, a message was received that our home near London had been hit by a Doodlebug/flying bomb, so my poor father had to return immediately. However, I feel had they not been travelling to see us, they may have been killed as the raid took place about midday on a Saturday and they would have both been t home in the house.
As there was now no home to return to my mother obtained work as a housekeeper/cook in a large house/farm in a nearby village, and when we visited her there — by walking along the local railway line — we got to know the local Land Army girls, who came indoors to see my mother for meals and to warm their frozen fingers after harvesting potatoes, etc. I was intrigued by the tales they told my sister and I about their adventures!
At school we were taught a poem remembering the slaughter of the Allied parachutists at Arnhem in Holland and the local recreation ground - or Groe —alongside the River Wye became a parking area for a huge convoy of American servicemen, awaiting their turn to be sent over to the battles in Europe. (I wonder how many survived?) As with the Italian Prisoners-of-war, these servicemen were kind and gentle, appeared relaxed and patient to talk to us all, and answer our incessant questions and curiosity about their homelands.
Around Christmas 1944, my father, weary after long journeys to visit us and having been blown off his bike by bomb blast on his way to war work in a munitions factory, arranged for us all to move nearer home at a relative’s farm in Hampshire and where my grandmother had been living. This gave us yet more new experiences — collecting cows from the surrounding fields for milking, finding hens’ eggs, watching the butchering of rabbits for food (I still cannot face eating rabbit) and bathing weekly in a tin bath in the kitchen by gaslight, with candles only to climb old strange stairs to bed. We also watched Dakota aircraft flying in and out of nearby Hurn airport with supplies for the European front.
I started attending a commercial college in Bournemouth and being curious — yet again — the Canadian servicemen housed in all — it seemed — the hotels along the cliff tops. It seemed to our young yes that all the young men in the world were wearing uniforms, even the local village boys in their sea cadet and air ranger uniforms.
May 8th, 1945 — the end of hostilities in Europe and everyone in the village of Throop celebrated around a huge bonfire. Within a month or two, my mother, sister and myself returned to our home to rejoin our father — at least, living initially with a kind neighbour, until our poor old war-damaged home had been patched up and we could return to some sort of safe and peaceful life again.
I only realise now, as I’ve grown older, how anguished my dear parents must have been — worried about the welfare of my sister and myself and distraught the loss of their home together — although at the time we were not along — a huge number of families had similar, often worse, sadness. Accepting the love and care which we did not question, my sister (I believe) and I (for sure) recall the War Years and especially our evacuation, as a huge adventure and jolted my innate curiosity and fascination with other peoples and their ways of life which has never left me.
Images in Sutton West
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