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Monday, September 13, 2010
When we were in the walled garden at Houghton I asked Dad about his experiences as a young lad of 11 during the Blitz.
Dad had been evacuated (along with one of his brothers and sisters) but they didn't like it and returned home!
The family lived in London's east end in the docks. They were not hit whilst he was there but on the first night a near miss blew out all the windows and doors. After 5 nights of saturation bombing they headed into Essex. He said that the dust made the day look like night and at night the light was so bright you could read a book.
Dad is not bitter about it. As he said Cologne and Dresden suffered a similar fate and the average man in the street had no control or wish for it to happen.
In Essex they were one of seven families put up in the old Priory. The Priory was a big building and his dad would go up to the roof and look back to London and see London alight and say "someone is kopping it bad".
They lived in the Priory for a few years until a V2 came down close and blew the back off of it. Dad was more scored of the V2's and V1's than he was in the blitz. As he said he was that bit older, when he was in London he looked out of the Anderson shelter marvelling at the lights whilst his older brother was scared as he KNEW the risks.
When he left London aged 11 his education stopped. He missed out on doing his 11 plus and the village school was years behind where he had been in London.
He has often said that being in the country (hard to think of Harlow as country) meant they ate a lot better. They kept chickens and grew lots of food.
Growing up in the thirties in London shaped him and his brother as they saw the poverty of the depression, something Mum never saw in the country.
I think it is important to chat to our "elders" to understand what they experienced and to be able to pass on their memories.