The Second World War started six months after my birth. It wasn’t my fault.
Gran’dad Bayliss had an air-raid shelter in his garden. I have an early impression of being carried down into it. There was a dim yellow light from candles and a lot of loud laughter.
At that age, reasons for being taken anywhere are never questioned nor, for that matter, are they needed. Since growing up, I’ve never heard any tales of blitzkrieg over Wolverhampton – so I suppose that Hitler didn’t know where I was and my family hid me in the shelter to prevent him finding out. Anyway, he never got me.
Mom told me, when I was old enough to savour the tale, of the night when the rocket-guns on Dunstall Park Racecourse were first fired. I think we’d stopped using Gran’dad’s shelter by then. Our house in Dunstall Road had the usual outside coalhouse and lavatory.
I was young enough to still be using the potty which, when I’d used it in the living-room, Mom would take up the yard to empty.
On this night, she left me on the armchair between the chimney-breast and the stairs door – a reputedly safe place in case of a direct hit by a bomb – and she sallied forth on her pot emptying mission.
It was as she walked up the yard, potty in hand, that the first ferocious burst of the rocket-guns – Mom said they sounded like a row of houses coming down – rent the night. Up went the potty into the air – and down again: all over Mom.
That just shows what privations we civilians suffered at the hands of the Nazis. All I can hope is that those guns hit a wicked Messerschmitt or something.
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