Bombs dropped in the ward of: Queenstown
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Queenstown:
- 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 Queenstown
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Contributed originally by Royston John Skipp (BBC WW2 People's War)
London in War Time
Researching for the BBC archive has brought back many half forgotten memories. I guess I was to young to realise what war meant to the civilian population and the losses in terms of property but more especially friends and family. It is a pity Mum and Dad are no longer alive as I am sure they could have added greatly to this contribution.
Peace in our time?
Before World War Two Dad was a Window Cleaner running his own business in the Tooting and Balham areas of London. He even employed an assistant. Sometimes Dad would go out in the morning and clean enough windows to pay for a cooked breakfast in the local café. Then when he arrived home later short of money, he would tell Mum that people did not want their windows cleaned that day.
Dad. The photo that should have appeared here is dated 29th February 1936
What a handsome fellow no wonder Mum fell for him.
Dad enlisted on the 20th June 1940 at Deryes (That’s what the name looks like in the book.) into the Queens own Royal West Kents, at the age of 27. Luckily I still have his ‘Army Pay Book’, which is full of information. It shows his medical classification as A1 on the 4th June 1941. I also have his war medals one of which shows that he was in the First Army.
Dad enlisted and in uniform. Photo dated 14 December 1941
By the time he was returned to England from Algiers he was classified as C. the book shows him as having been returned to UK by troopship on 1st August 1943. Mum was just glad to have him home again when so many did not return, however he was a changed man. He was suffering from Anxiety Neurosis, Shell Shock to you and me. He suffered sudden ‘Black outs’ for the rest of his life. Not that he got a war pension as a result.
A few years before he died at the age of 85 we managed to get him a small award for hearing loss due to his War Time army service. When he was discharged from the army hospital in 1943 he was told, ‘You are ready to go home, you don’t want to claim a pension do you?’ Well what would you do? He wanted to get home to us and was afraid that a claim would hold him up.
Why did those stupid politicians on both sides declare a war that nobody else wanted?
I do not remember our trip to Scotland to see Dad before he was taken away to the war in Algiers but it must have been very traumatic for Mum.
Photo of Dad and his army unit, second from the right seated. Unlike the others this photo is not dated
I wonder how many of the troop survived the conflict?
I was born at The Woodlands, Colliers Wood on the outskirts of London on 16th February 1940.
It must have been really difficult for a young couple who had been married only a few years to discover, first that I was on the way, then that war was being declared. We were living at 3 Banstead Way at the time. I can only try to imagine the stress my mother experienced bringing up a child in wartime London and Dad being away. Apparently we moved a few times until we arrived at the house that I remember.
Photro of Mum and I. November 1942. Me at age two.
23 Wickersley Road, Battersea.
Mum used to tell us a story that went something like this. She had taken me in my pram for a walk in Battersea Park. She sat on a park bench for a rest before returning home. Mum was startled by a voice. She had not seen the old lady arrive at the side of the pram.
"He is going to be very clever with his hands."
"Pardon," said Mum.
"He will grow up to be an engineer." The old lady leaned further over the pram then stepped back when she realised that Mum was getting nervous about the sudden intrusion.
"I’m a spiritualist you know, and I can see an aura around most people."
"My name's Mabel, and this is Roy." Mum had introduced us with renewed confidence. Well you made friends with people much easier during wartime.
It was difficult to believe there was a war on in the early days.
The old lady asked if she could hold my hand for a moment.
"Well, all right," Mum had agreed doubtfully. She looked with some trepidation at the grimy hand that reached into my pram.
"Yes, he's going to be creative in many ways and you will be very proud of him." The old lady’s popularity rating must have risen somewhat at that statement.
Battersea Park had become chilly all of a sudden. Mum glanced away from the pram for a moment as the wind blew a cloud of dust in her eyes. It blinded her for a few seconds, but when her eyes cleared, the old lady was nowhere to be seen.
What the old lady had said came true when I started work in 1955 as a motor mechanic. Was it a prophecy come true? Or was it the fact that as toys were few and far between Dad would go into the bombed out house next door and remove a door lock and give it and a screwdriver to me to play with. I guess it depends on what you like to believe.
When we got home from our walk Mum found that although she knew he was back in England, Dad had come home unexpectedly. He did not have a front door key so our neighbour had let him in through their back garden. He climbed over the fence and in through the unlocked back door. While he had been away Mum had got a little dog. Binky had let him in the house all right then got him trapped in a corner of the kitchen. Dad in his nervous state could do nothing but wait until Mum and I returned home. Mum never let him forget that incident. Later when Mum had to go into hospital Dad had to have Binky put down. I don’t think she ever believed it was for a genuine reason.
Photo of Binky
Battersea Power Station was of course a prime target for enemy bombers so we had our fair share of ‘Whoosh bang ooh nasties’.
Dad told me this story of when he and I had been in Battersea Park. I had ridden the nice little three-wheeled bicycle he had bought me until my young legs had become too tired. We were making our way slowly down the street towards home when a Flying Bomb exploded with frightening, deafening, force in the next street and showered the area with debris. It created a choking, all enveloping dust storm that temporarily blocked out what had been a bright sunny day.
When the dust cloud blocked my view of home, I left the new tricycle and ran in the direction of home. I burst in through the dilapidated front door and ran into the kitchen.
'Oh mum,' I said apparently with tears running down my cheeks, 'I thought you were dead.' The tears had streaked the dust that had collected on my face.
'Don't worry, I'm all right,' Mum replied.
'I couldn't keep up with him.' Dad had appeared at the kitchen door out of breath, sweating, and carrying the discarded tricycle.
'He's all right, but you had better sit down, you know what the Doctor said. I'll make us a cup of tea.' Mum’s cure for all ills was a cup of tea, and it generally worked.
In later years we worked out that my earliest memory was probably at about the age of three. 1943 it was and the War was well under way before I was born, so nobody can blame me. We were at Granny’s flat in Begansa Street in London. Granddad, who had served in the First World War in India, now looked after the horses for a local dairy. He was also an air raid warden. You know the ones that used to shout ‘Put that light out,’ at any house that showed the least chink of light after dark. The flat had its windows blacked out, as was the law. You cannot imagine the total darkness that occurred when the money ran out in the electricity meter. I can clearly remember the vision of Dad’s red glowing cigarette end coming towards Mum and I in the total blackness. I think I must have screamed in fear.
“Stand still Vic,” Mum shouted to Dad above my fearful cry.
Then someone put a shilling in the meter and the room was once again illuminated. In later years when, every winter, I ‘enjoyed’ a week off school for my turn in bed with the dreaded influenza, I would become a bit light headed and would see that vision all over again.
Another memory I have of our time at the flat is of the little hut just inside the large double gates. It had a hand operated petrol pump alongside. I had wandered inside the hut just as one of the men took his top denture out. Mum said I spent the rest of the day trying to take my teeth out. She tried to explain to me why mine would not come out. Well hey Mum, they will now.
Mum told me that one morning I had gone missing. She knew that I had to be in the yard somewhere as the gates to the road were closed. She eventually found me in one of the stables sitting playing in the straw underneath the biggest carthorse you can imagine. Much to Mum’s relief I came out of the stable when quietly called. The horse I had been sitting under had a reputation for being bad tempered. Ah well! I have never had trouble with animals, only the human kind, usually of the female persuasion. Hmm!
If you could get granddad to tell his 1st world war stories we kids always found them fascinating. I still treasure his medals that were passed on to me by Mum and Dad. He was a sergeant.
Mind you although she was quite severe in her general demeanour, Gran had her moments. One day an important gentleman called at their house. Well he wore a smart suit, white shirt and tie, so he must have been important. It was just after dinner and the plates were lined up along one wall of the dining room. The family’s pet dog was working its way along the line leaving the plates licked clean. The gentleman watched the dog’s progress, and then looked up at Gran.
“Ah! That’s alright,” said Gran in her usual straight faced style of humour, “That’s how we do the washing up in this house.”
I do not consciously remember much about the bombing proper, only things associated with it. Such as dad hanging a large picture on the wall of our house at Wickersley Road to cover up the crack that had appeared due to the flying bomb that dropped in the next street.
I should have had a brother but sadly he was still born. I still cannot remember whether he would have been older or younger than me. My sister remembers Mum telling her that the shout went up one night, ’Put that light out.’ Mum climbed up on a stool to adjust the blackout curtains and fell, my brother was subsequently stillborn.
The kids, bless them, regularly got into the bombed out house next-door and lit fires. Nothing changes does it? The smoke would come into our house through a hole in the stairs. One night I was grabbed from my bed and with dressing gowns wrapped loosely around us we went out into the street while the fire brigade investigated.
Because of Dad’s shell shock, we were allowed one of the Morrison shelters. This was the one you assembled indoors and used as a table. It had two sides that were plain steel and two that were wire mesh. You assembled it with one of the plain sides facing the window to keep out shattering glass.
One night when the siren started howling it’s warning, according to Mum, our cat carried her kittens one by one down three flights of stairs, and placed them carefully in the shelter with us. But she would not stay in the shelter herself. She must have instinctively known where her kittens would be safe.
We won, I think.
Eventually peace came to a troubled world and the celebrations started. I remember being seated on the brick built air raid shelter in the middle of Wickersley Road. Surrounded by all the other survivors from our street, we had our photograph taken.
Group photo. That’s me forth from the right seated on the roof of the shelter.
How about that hat? I wonder what’s happened to the others in the photo?
That last Christmas before the end of the war we had a visit from Father Christmas. A knock came at the door and for some reason I was told to find out who was there. When I opened it I saw this tall figure dressed in a red suit, sporting a long white beard and carrying a huge sack slung over his shoulder. I think I must have simply shut the door again and returned to the room where Mum was waiting.
“It’s Father Christmas,” I whispered.
“Well let him in then,” I was told.
I do not remember how many children were there at the time but I know I was very lucky. I was given two train sets. I distinctly remember one of the engines had a figure of Father Christmas. As it ran around the track he banged a little drum. “Offer Father Christmas a sweet”. Mum told me.
In later years when the story was related and I had found out that it had been my Dad all along, I also found out that the sweet was to disguise his voice.
My aunt Min used to arrive every so often with a pile of food.
“I don’t feel like eating on my own,” she would lie. She knew very well that money and consequently food was in short supply. Mum would be persuaded to play the piano for a good old sing-along and for a few short hours the war would seem very far away.
When this picture was taken I think we were on holiday, probably at Southend, our first after the war ended.
I was five years old when the war ended. I think it was out of some sort of perverse bravado that we stayed in London until the end of the war, then moved out into the country to Burrow Street, Stathe in Somerset.
Due to the effects of the war on Dad’s health, and the fact that money was always short when he was cleaning windows, Dad changed his trade. He became a gardener for a series of big houses in different villages until we arrived at the village that was to become our home for the next twenty or so years. We soon realised that the local Fire Brigade was using one of the old Air Raid Sirens to call the men in to the fire station. The look on mum’s face when that awful racket started proved that her wartime experiences had not been forgotten.
I pray to God that it never happens again
RJS. 2609 Words
Images in Queenstown
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