"I was born in 1935, so was too young to join the armed forces. I was five when war broke out, and at that time we lived in London. The address, from memory, was Dalebury Road, Kensington. I heard my first air raid sirens there, and shortly after the outbreak of way my father, who was in a reserved occupation was moved to Reyroles factory in the north east, so we moved to Boldon Colliery, where my mother was born, and where her family lived. We therefore missed the worst of the blitz, but even in the north east, the air raid sirens were a fairly nightly occurrence, and the docks at Newcastle were a regular target. I remember we lived just across the road from the primary school that I and my brother attended; less than 50 yards away in fact. Every time the sirens sounded, my mother would wake us children and carry us, half asleep down to out air raid shelter which was in the back yard. It was a brick construction with a concrete roof, and it was fitted out with bunk beds, which my mother kept ready.
My father, on the other hand, chose to ignore the sirens and stayed in his bed, apparently of the opinion that nothing could affect him. His attitude was a source of some friction between my parents, as I recall, but that all changed one notable night in 1941, I believe.
That night the sirens sounded, and as usual, my mother carried my brother and me down to the shelter, leaving my father again in his own bed. It was a worrying time. The ack ack guns were very loud; there was a battery quite near our house, and we often heard the unmistakable drone of the Dornier bombers as they made their way to the dockyards. Then a raider, either lost or damaged, (I don't know which) dropped a stick of bombs which fell in a progression right across the colliery.
The first few fell some distance away, but each successive crump was closer and louder, until one bomb fell into the schoolyard just across the road from our house. And with an almighty roar, the school collapsed into a heap of rubble; and all the windows in our street was smashed by the concussion. Luckily, the school took the full force of the blast, and it was completely destroyed, but it did save our street from serious damage, for the next bomb in the stick fell some distance further on.
But the point of my story is this. As the first bombs fell, and as the explosions got closer and louder, we heard my father upstairs slamming doors and obviously wide awake and rather anxious to seek the safety of the shelter. But when the bomb that wrecked the school opposite landed, we heard the thump thump of his feet down the stairs, until, with a speed that Roger Bannister would have envied, he arrived in the air raid shelter, rather flushed, and still trying hard to preserve his dignity.
I do recall my mother looking rather askance at his arrival and saying, "You're up then?", in a matter of fact voice. And I do recall that from that night on, when the sirens sounded, both my father and my mother carried us down to the shelter, and there we all stayed until the all clear.
The next morning we realise how lucky we had been. Had the bomb fallen on the other side of the school, our street of terraced housing would have taken a direct hit. But fortunately the school buildings absorbed the force of the explosion, and all we lost was some plaster from the ceiling and the windows. And we didn't even get a school holiday, for we were all transferred immediately to another school.
Contributed by fulminator
People in story: Raymong Glen, Irene Glen, Donald Glen, Alan Glen
Location of story: Boldon colliery.
Contributed on: 12 July 2005