Alan and Graham: Our Family and the Blitz (1940-45)

Figure 1.-- Here is a map of Wood Green showing the sites referred to here. There were many other places where bombs fell of course.

After Graham and I left for America, we no longer knew what was happening at home. Our parents of course wrote, but they did not want to worry us with details about the Blitz. Thus most of what transpired at hime we found out after we had left. Father before we left installed a Morrison shelter and the Battle of Britain had just begun (July 1940), but London was at first off limits for the Luftwaffe which at first focused on the Channel ports and RAF. London was not targeted until later (September 1940). The RAF proved so effective against the Luftwaffe bombers thst the Germans shifted to night bombing. This continued fir several months, but finally tailed off in 1941 as the Germans shifted the Luftwaffe east tgo prepare for Barbarossa (June 1941). After American entered the War (December 1941), the air defenses over Britain became so effective, that German bombing became very rate. This changed after D-Day (June 1944) when the Germans began the V-1 attacks. The primary target was Londoin. This was also the case with the V-2s. I think our home was fortunately just outside the zone of greatest danger. Wood Green is some 5-6 miles from Docklands, and probably regarded then as the 'leafy suburbs'.

Preparing for the Luftwaffe

The Government encouraged individals to prepare for the anticipasted Luftwaffe attack. There were two principal options. Many local houses had outside Anderson shelters. But father chose the inside Morrison shelter for us. He set it up just before we were evacuated to America. Thus we had a reinforced kitchen rather than an Andersen shelter. The other option was a Morrison Shelter. This was built before my brother and I left home. There was a criss-cross of large timbers, giving extra support to the floor above. We had a large strong table underwhich the family would snuggle down. There were two exits -- one into the back garden, and the other into a side passage.

Our Sister

My sister was too young to be included in the evacuation scheme. I think the age limit was over 5. She stayed with my parents in Wood Green and went to a local school. She was 9 when the war ended.

Wood Green

Wood Green is a district in north London, England, located in the London Borough of Haringey.I think we were fortunastely just outside the zone of greatest danger. Wood Green is some 5-6 miles from Docklands, and probably regarded then as the 'leafy suburbs. Most of the bombs in our area fell nearer Wood Green centre. This is about 6 miles from the London Docks.

Public Shelters

There were surface shelters across the road in the park. There was also the Tube (Underground) stations. Wood Green tube station is on Wood Green High road with Bounds Green tube station to the north of the area and Turnpike Lane tube station to the south, all are on the Piccadilly Line. The Tube station at Wood Green was about half a mile away from us. Luckily Bounds Green station wasn't used, as it was near near the surface; the tube emerging to ground level a few hundred yards from the station platform. A bomb hit the tunnel and the platform area was blasted. Fortunately this was at night and the station was un-manned.

Our Grandparents

My Grandparents' house was demolished by a direct hit. They had moved just before the war to Southgate.

Father's Cousins

My father's cousin was headmistress of a primary school in Dagenham, E. London. They were evacuated to Ipswich, which seems crazy as it was a port in Essex in the thames Estuary. Nearer to the Luftwaffe bases than London! Later they were sent to Wales, but many children drifted back to their parents during the 'Phoney War'. While still in Dagenham, her house was hit by an incediary bomb, which she extinguished with water and a stirrup pump (The pumps were issued to thousands of householders.) The later type of incendiary bombs used to explode if doused with water, and sand was recommended.

Air Raids

At some point my uncle, aunt, and two cousins stayed in the house with my parents. He worked in electronics in a nearby factory. Transport from their home in West London necessitated him being closer to the essential work. Fortunately the house had five bedrooms. My brother and sister are now deceased. My parents always used the reinforced room during raids and at night. That meant my parents, my sister, my uncle and aunt and two cousins. By then there were bunk beds in the room.

V-1 Attacks (1944)

our house escaped serious damage during the Blitzx, although there was blast damage, from a V1 flying bomb later in the War (1944). The Germans started firing the V-1s at London after the Allied D-Day lsandings in France (June 1944). A V1 doodle-bug hit about 100 yards away from our house. My father was on fire watch and he saw the V-1 heading towards our house. Unlike the V-2s you could see them like a plane. It narrowly missed the church opposite then suddenly vered to the left and hit two houses 150 yards down the road. My School playing field in Highgate was hit by a another V-1. Demolishing most of the gym. Luckily no children were hurt. North London suffered most from the V-1's. They flew into Muswell Hill, the first high point after the bombs had cleared the City. When I returned home, there was still much uncleard bomb damage. I remember seeing a whole row of Edwardian Terrace houses that had been completely demolished by blast. Curiously there had been no fire, and all the timbers were uncharred. It had been caused by three or four V-1's hitting the steeply rising ground just in front of the houses which faced South over the City of London below. It was a disadvantage of having a fantastic view. [HBC Note: Unlike manned bombers, the Germans had no way of assessing the accuracy of both the V-1s and V-2s. By this time of the war, Allied air supremecy was so absolute that reconisance flights were suisidal and as the Allied advanced in France virtually impossible. MI-5 was very sucessful in rounding up German agents. Thus all the Germans had to go on to assess the accuracy of their targeting was press reports and the British released disinformation to divert as many V-1s and V-2s from central London as possible.]


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Created: 12:42 AM 7/11/2010
Last updated: 6:54 AM 7/11/2010