Bombs dropped in the ward of: Higham Hill
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Higham Hill:
- 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 Higham Hill
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Contributed originally by Harrogate Theatre (BBC WW2 People's War)
This story was submitted to the People’s War website by Justine Warwick and has been added to the site with the full permission of the author. The author fully understands the terms and conditions of the site.
I was born on the 29th May 1930 and was brought up in North East London as an only child. On the First of September 1939, two days before war, I was evacuated to Bedfordshire. Our school was shut and parents had received a letter to say they had to send me away if they wanted me to get an education. So there I was with my suitcase and label! Off we went, through the recreation ground, and much to my surprise there were all the mothers, lined up to wave us goodbye. We went from the local train station to one of the London termii. I don’t know which one it was, but I do know we were on the train a long time! My parents had been told to provide us with food for journey, and I remember that one of the things they were told to give us was dried fruit — so we sat in the train eating raisons and sultans.
Round about tea-time we arrived at a station, which may have been Bedford, and were put on a bus. We were all very tired. We were taken to a small village called Farndish, and people were quickly dispersed, although not all in same village. Together with two girls in my class, we were taken into the care of a lovely childless couple. He was the village postman and they lived in a thatched cottage. There was an earth closest at the end of the garden — and because we were used to all the mod cons we thought it was dire! The lady gave us a postcard to write a message on to our parents and she wrote something to comfort them too.
They put the three of us in a huge bed in the attic. The first night though we just could not get to sleep — we were very over tired and excited. The lady of the house had pointed out that there was a wooden commode so we didn’t have to go out in the night. When we couldn’t get to sleep though she sent her husband in to talk to us. We eventually settled down. On the Saturday we wandered around the village and in the field across the road we watched the shepherd counting his sheep.
On the Sunday the man of the house had us all in the living room. He had the radio on told us to be quiet as we were going to hear about whether we were at war. We heard Neville Chamberlaine telling the nation about we were at war. I didn’t really know what it meant I suppose, I just knew it was something serious. For a few days we had lessons (our own teachers were with us) and they were given in the kitchen of the big house of the village. But then they told us we were going to a school and we had to walk. It seemed like miles and it probably was. It was September as well so it was starting to get cold and wet. I remember that that was the first time I realised that people in authority were capable of plane speaking. I came from Walthamstow, and one day before we went to the school, I heard someone say “That Education Officer from Walthamstow is a bloody fool”. I was nine.
I think for about three weeks we went to this school and then they realised it was too far for us to walk in winter. They couldn’t find another school nearby so they moved us to another village, not far away across the fields called Wymington. We were all assembled in the village hall and all the other children went off with somebody and was left sitting by myself — it was dreadful. I heard these two fellows saying “Oh she’ll make a nice companion for Mrs Rich”. Before long, Mr Rich came in with his bicycle. This couple had agreed to take an evacuee but the lady was not very well so we had to wait for her husband to come. I remember walking up the hill to their house with him pushing the bike. I discovered they were a lovely family and until earlier this year I got cards from their daughter. They had a daughter, Dorothy who was 23 and a son, Herbert who was 21. Dorothy had to share her bedroom with me. How kind. There were quite a lot of us in the village from my school.
Mr & Mrs Rich invited my parents for Christmas and gave up their room. Herbert had to give up his bed. Dorothy was a talented knitter and knitted me woollies.
At Easter nothing had been happening in London so more and more children had been going back. Because we had our own teacher with us and there were so few of us, we had a really good education and I did well in my 11+. But my mother was missing her only child, and not in good health so my father came for me in the Easter of 1940. Later that year that was when the blitz started.
We had an Anderson shelter and slept in it most nights. But when the two nearest bombs came we were in the house asleep — I think we were all unwell with flu.
The war just seems like a long succession of bombs, rationing, and bad news. A couple of lads from our street were killed in service.
I can remember going to school after air raids. Where the houses had been destroyed there was plaster in the road and we used to use it to mark out hopscotch grids. There were some very big bomb sites.
After I’d taken my 11+, I had to go to a school that was the other end of the borough called The William Morris School, for two years. The one I should have gone to, George Gascoigne, had been damaged. The little girl that sat next to me was killed in an air raid and I imagine her family too. I think her name would be in the book in West Minster Abbey.
Then they patched out school up and I was very releaved. While we were there we had the doodglebugs and eventually the B2’s. The B2’s were the most frightening of the lot — suddenly out of nowhere there would be this enormous explosion and then several seconds later a noise would come like an express train — it was very odd. You would wait for the next noise of an explosion but of cause it had already happened as they travelled faster than the speed of sound.
Whilst we were at school during air raids, if there was still an air raid by the time we were due to leave school we could only go home if our parents or someone else’s took responsibility for us and took us home.
I remember things about the campaigns, about AlAlemain and Italy and obviously D-Day — John Snag of the BBC who announced the opening of the Second Front. And then there was Arnham which was a tragedy. I remember Richard Dimbleby going into Belson and the accounts on the radio. There were two magazines at that time — Illustrated and Picture Post I think. One had the first pictures of Belson. I remember my mother saying to my father that she didn’t think I ought to see it, but he was happy for me to.
The two occasions when the house was most damaged and one was where it wasn’t a terribly big bomb, but just around the corner from us a whole row of terraced houses disappeared. The other was further away between my grandma’s and mine - and it contained 2000lb’s of explosive and the whole of the crossroads disappeared. And I can still remember the furniture moving.
For all those years I have exchanged Christmas cards with Dorothy and this year I sent a card and didn’t get one back. But not long after I had a card from her nephews and they said that she died last year. She was well into her 80’s. They said she had always spoken of me affectionately and was very pleased to get my cards. A few years ago I went to my Great Nephews wedding. His mother lives in Northamptonshire and she took me to the two villages I had stayed in. The first one with the house with thatch roof now had a slate roof. And where we had watched the shepherd was now a housing estate.
The other one was very much the same. We didn’t call, but we did visit the school.
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