Air Raid Shelters

We didn't sleep in the house too much for quite a period

Photo:Old air raid shelter in Westminster Road

Old air raid shelter in Westminster Road

Renee Cromarty

Well we were always very frightened.  I remember the shelters being put up in the garden.  My Dad dug out for the Andersen shelter - made it like a little palace inside for us in the end. I remember us all in the shelter absolutely praying it wouldn't stop near us or above us but of course they did because they  hit the top of  Green Wrythe Lane. A row of houses got bombed up there with the doodlebug. We used to just lie there, quite frightened, but singing and sort of trying to keep ourselves amused. We didn't sleep in the house too much for quite a period when all those doodlebugs were coming over. Croydon Airport of course had one or two aeroplane fights.  We were all playing in the street and suddenly the ARP men came running along.  "Get those children indoors.  There's a dog fight,"  And it was the Germans having a dog fight with our men.  Course the mothers came out frantically taking us into the shelters.  It was a frightening time.  I didn't say that I enjoyed it much.  I did have a sister that insisted on standing at the door of the shelter because she just wanted to watch everything whereas I was rather up in a corner. (Doreen Porter née Wilkes)

Happy Birthday!

I spent  all day on my 11th birthday  in the air raid shelter on my own. The air raid went on all day long and it  poured with rain all day long and I had some books in there and there was nobody you know -  we didn't  go in each others' shelters.  We would stay in our own shelter.  So I stayed all on my own there .  That was a birthday that really I'll remember. (Jean Kitchener née Fitches)

"Each evening at nightfall the sirens would sound and we would go to this hole in the ground, six feet square less the four-inch wall of concrete.  I don't think we had a mattress, just a waterproof sheet on the floor; we also had cushions, blankets, hot-water bottles, torches, candles and sweets - as much as rationing would allow.  Everything had to come out each morning or it would have been rather wet by the next night.
(An extract from Memories of a Morden Lad 1932-1957) by Ronald Read, published by Merton Historical Society - Local History Notes No. 30.  The booklet can be purchased from the society very reasonably.)

We used to have to take our mattresses over there every night ..

Desmond Reynolds

This page was added by Cheryl Bailey on 26/06/2010.
Comments about this page

One incident during the doodlebug period sticks out in my mind.It was a Sunday morning and most of the neighborhood were out in their gardens when we heard a doodle bug approaching. It stopped above our road and you could hear all the voices along the road in unison saying "it's stopped". These things were so unpredictable that you never knew if they were going to glide or come straight down. So everyone breathed an audible sigh of relief when it started to glide and we knew we were safe. It was quite a while before we heard the explosion so we never knew where it finished up.

By Peter Leonard
On 13/03/2011

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