Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hanworth during the war

The first memory is of the V1 incident in The Close, Hanworth, on 20th August 1944.

I was in my aunt’s house in Devonshire Road and it was daylight when the warning went. I ran out of my aunt’s house to go to our shelter, when I heard a loud noise above, I looked up to see a flying bomb heading towards me. Then the engine cut out and it started to drop, I ran back into my aunt’s house and fell flat on the floor when the flying bomb whistled over the rooftops. A couple of seconds later there was a terrific bang and the back of my aunt’s house came in, I was under a lot of bricks and window frames. I managed to get out and went outside to see what it had hit, and it was a shelter at the bottom of my aunt’s garden in a field. The Shelter that the bomb hit had my mate in. He got out alive, but his parents, in the next shelter, were killed.

29/30 Nov 1940

We were in our shelter one night when the warning went. A few seconds after, we heard the German planes come over and they started dropping bombs. All of a sudden there was bombs whistling down and a big explosion. Although our shelter was underground dust was everywhere. When the all clear went we went out to see what damage had been done. We could see flames and smoke coming from over the back of us from Devonshire Road. We found out later a bomb had a direct hit on a house and damaged other houses in the street, but lucky enough no-one was hurt they were all in the shelter.

During the war, we had several dog fights in the sky above us. Planes from Hanworth Airport used to take off and you could hear them diving about and their guns going off. One day they shot down a German plane, which came down on a golf course on Twickenham Road. Me and my mates went along to see it, the police had put a rope around it to stop people getting too near, but we could see the skid marks it made when it came down and apart from bits of the plane missing, it was intact, but you could see the pilot was still in the cockpit, dead. We had a lot of barrage balloons all around us to protect the planes in Hanworth Airport, but I had never seen any planes get caught in them.

Most nights we would go and sleep in our shelter at the bottom of our garden that my dad had built. He was a bricklayer and he built it deep down so we would be safe. One night we were down there and it’s a night I will never forget, talk about a cat with nine lives. The warning went and in no time at all, we could hear bombs dropping, I must have just dropped off to sleep, the next thing I remember is my dad running into the shelter telling us to get out quick and make our way down to the shelters in Hanworth recreation ground. We didn’t know till later that we had been sleeping only 10 yards away from an unexploded bomb in next door’s garden. This is a night I will remember for the rest of my life.

This particular day I was in the Rex Cinema with my mates when the screen went blank; then on the screen it said ‘file outside’. When we got outside instead of turning right to go home, the police told us to go left and go the other way home. We didn’t know at the time what was wrong, but I had just got home and was about to open the door when there was a terrific bang and my back door fell in and I was knocked to the ground with glass and bricks on top of me. I managed to get up with just a couple of cuts. My mum and dad were out at the time and we found out later that a land mine had come down and got stuck in some wire and cable and hadn’t touched the ground, but it sagged, touched the ground and went off.

This particular night the warning went and German planes came over and started dropping flares and incendiary bombs all around Hanworth, the sky was lit up, it was like daylight. We could see we were going to have a big raid so we all got in our shelters when all of a sudden we heard bombs whistling down. They were after the planes in Hanworth Airport.

Next morning when we came out of our shelter there was debris all over the place, me and my mates use to go looking for bits of bombs and bullets and burnt out incendiary bombs.

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