The Bomb at Rushen Walk

The Wartime Memories of Rita Hilliard nee Neal

By Rita Hilliard nee Neal

Photo:Sylvia, Rita and Arthur Neal

Sylvia, Rita and Arthur Neal

Donated by Rita Hilliard nee Neal

Mum and Dad, Daisy and Arthur Neal together with my sister Sylvia and me Rita all lived at 6, Rushen Walk, this being near Rose Hill and virtually opposite to St. Helier Hospital. This part of the estate is quite near to Wallington which again was not too far from Croydon Airport.

Whenever there was an air raid which during the blitz was almost nightly, my mother would refuse to go down to the Anderson shelter. This was because she was a cripple (the term disabled not being used then) and she had great difficulty in getting into the shelter as the first step in was about 12'' down.

In 1944 Croydon Airport became the base of RAF Transport Command. There must have been some adverse activity at the airport and on the 21st June 1944 after a fierce argument between Mum and Dad, for the first time ever the whole family trooped off down to the shelter. Thank God we did as we were bombed out that very night by a direct hit by a V1 rocket (doodlebug) and our house was totally obliterated.

Two ladies one having one child the other two were in an Anderson shelter next door, this because both husbands were away at war fighting. The two Mums were best friends, so during the air raids would sleep together as families alternating each night in either of their two shelters. Which ever shelter they were in got 'the blast'. The older girl aged about ten with red hair lived. Peter aged eight and Janet Hardwicke aged five were both killed. Little Janet had beautiful blonde hair and was very pretty, she died on her birthday 21.6.44.
We survived but those two dear little children died.

Due to the gas mains going up and catching fire Dad badly burned  his hands trying to get us out of our shelter - he was in such a panic he was trying to get us out of the wrong end of the shelter. The ARP (Air Raid Patrol) Warden broke down the door and got us out.

My sister and I were taken to friends in Tavistock Walk the road we used to live in before we moved Rushen Walk. My parents were taken to Poulters Park, a rest centre for people who had been bombed out. Back at the charred remains of the house people were frantically digging for me and Sylv as they thought we were buried in the rubble. Mum and Dad went back to the bombsite and told them we were safe as we had been reunited in Poulters Park.

We lost everything, we had nothing left at all. Mum and Dad had friends who used to go hopping in Kent and even though the season hadn't started the Foreman allowed us to live in the huts, we had nowhere else to go.

Mum being a cripple was terrified Hitler would win the war. She knew she would have been sent to a Concentration camp and dealt with (exterminated).

This page was added by Beverley Walker on 06/10/2013.

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