To see all the bomb damage was my first look at what the war meant. We lived in a flat and we were told that Dad would not go down into the shelters as a result of 1st world war experiences and in the case of an air raid we would stay in the flat. We were warned that in the evening there would almost certainly be an air raid and there was. Dad had 2 Canaries in cages hanging on the picture rail and he took them down and put them on the bed. Why? I asked and mother said well just up the road is Clapham common and they have gun emplacements and when the guns fire everything will shake, and so it did. Noise from bombs and the guns was new to me and frightening. Some night’s dad was fire watching at the brewery where he worked as a drayman. He was too old for call up by one year I think it was and that was the amount he had put his age up by to join the army in the First WW to revenge the death of a brother. But even though he showed birth certificate etc they insisted they go by the date of birth on his army record. He had fought well in the Sussex Regiment in the trenches and was wounded on 3 occasions.
When the windows were blown in I used to go to a house where they would give you supplies to patch up the house, I did this often.
I had returned to Bonneville Road School and taken my exams and all the why’s and wherefore are blurred but I was going to Aristotle Road Secondary Central School down at Clapham North so it was either a bus or underground ride away but not yet it seemed as the school had been requisitioned by the Fire Brigade for their site with the playground having emergency water tanks in for them to top up their pumps and they had not handed it back so we HAD to attend Balham High School for girls and we would be the only class of boys. A whole school of girls and just us! We were chased at playtime and going home time while I ran to the underground station being chased all the way. I remember it so well. Miss William’s was the headmistress and a tyrant, so much so I decided to play a joke. In the assembly hall she kept her umbrella in a rack so I filled it with confetti. Of course she used it on a rainy day and the confetti stuck to her. Next day in assembly she said if the perpetrator didn’t own up the whole school would suffer. I was forgiven but after 3 strokes of the cane.
Eventually we did get back to our own school but only every other day because of bombing there were not enough schools so we could only attend alternate days. Mum was working as were most mums it was the law and so we the kids used to hang around playing pontoon for cigarette cards, this was the period when the doodle bugs had started and we would watch them in the sky and listen for that engine to stop and it start its dive then we would either run or just wait.
One summer night we had gone to bed, us children, and bed was a mattress on the floor in an area of the flat that had no windows, so no glass, and mother was looking out the front door. The sirens had sounded and we heard that noise of a doodle bug and it stopped. Mother came running in saying this is ours!!! Then there was a loud bang but it wasn’t us as apparently, from an onlooker it had spiralled down right above us then shot off to Hazelbourne road. In the morning I walked up that road on my way to school and large area of it was flat. The little row of shops was gone and nothing was standing just a few outside walls of houses. All the way up that road there were shelters built in the road and sometimes coming home you would be told to get in the shelter by a warden but you used to skip from one to the other until close to home.