Bernard Hope Vauxhall
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In 1944 we lived in Belmore Street London. We had lived in the same area since I was born in 1935.
We were bombed out three times from the start of the war and finally finished up in Belmore Street just one street from
where we had been living when the war started.
Air raid warnings had become part of our lives, especially during the blitz and the latter part of the war but by the summer
of 1944 we had a constant alert throughout the day due to V1's and V2's.
It was Sunday and, as usual due to the dangers of flying bombs, Mum insisted that I play in the back yard near to the
shelter.
My Father had been on duty in the warden's post all Saturday night and, after dinner, had fallen asleep in his armchair in the
back room.
My two brothers and my sister were looking forward to attending a dance at the local school in Thessaly Road that evening.
In the afternoon the lady next door looked over the fence and asked my mother if I could go into her house and play with
her daughter who was getting as bored as I was at being kept in the house. Mum readily agreed welcoming the peace she
would get not having me moping around the house.
I went to the house next door and we sat playing ludo in the back room. I had been there for about an hour when we heard
the drone of a doodlebug. It got louder and louder and we stopped playing and looked up at the ceiling, something that
everyone seemed to do when one went over, why I will never know because all you can see is the ceiling.
Suddenly the engine cut out and we heard the whoosh as the bomb started to fall.
The girl's mother grabbed us both and pushed us under the table then joined us. It was a small kitchen table and to this day
I reflect on what would have happened if the bomb had fallen closer than it did for all three of us just had our head and
shoulders under the table with our bottoms sticking out in the open.
Suddenly everything went totally black, now whether this was imagination or not I will never know but, I distinctly
remember everything went black and there was complete silence. This must have lasted for just a few seconds then the
loudest and most terrifying bang followed by an enormous rush of air.
I was absolutely petrified, I scrambled out from under the table and remember screaming for my mother. I rushed out into
the passage way leading to the front door and frantically pulled on the door trying to open it. I turned the knob on the yale
lock and the door suddenly came away from the frame and fell towards me. Luckily the girl's mother had followed me and
managed to catch to door before it fell on me. I got out of the way and she let it fall to the floor. They told me afterward
that the blast must have sprung the door frame and wrenched all the screws from the hinges before the frame returned to its
normal position because when they looked there was not a screw to be seen in the hinges.
I rushed to my own front door, the door was open and I was just in time to see my brother helping my father up. When the
bomb fell Dad was still asleep and my eldest brother woke him and dragged him into the passage where they both lay as the
bomb went off. The chair that my Father had been asleep in, which faced the window overlooking the yard and, facing the
direction that the bomb had landed, was torn to pieces by large shards of glass.
I rushed out into the yard to see where my Mum and my sister and brother were, fortunately they had managed to get into
the Anderson Shelter.
The bomb had fallen on the Thessaly Road school where, in two or three hours time, the dance was to take place.
In the street behind the school many children had been playing and paid with their lives.
Mums insistence that I stay in was a good one.
Its funny but that seemed to be the last bomb I remember ever falling, I am sure there were many more but I guess the
trauma of that day has wiped all other memories from my mind. That is until we were told the war was over on May 8th
1945, three days after my 10th birthday.
I had spent six of my ten years at war but you know, I never received one second of counselling and, I think, I turned out
alright even after that experience.
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