Bennett Road

My lucky escape

By John Starley

 
Photo:Bomb damage in Bennett Road

Bomb damage in Bennett Road

From the private collection of John Starley

May 1940

I have a very vivid recollection of an event which happened in Bennett Road when I lived there during WWII; I was just seven years old at the time. I am not exactly certain of the date, but I believe it was May 1940. On this particular day I was in bed but was woken at about 6.30am by a deafening explosion. I instinctively pulled the blankets over my head, which was a good thing because seconds later the ceiling came down over me.

I was covered in rubble

Minutes later my Mum came rushing into the bedroom; as she told me later, she had feared the worst and thought I had been killed or even badly injured. Apparently I was covered in rubble from all the debris of the ceiling but otherwise I had not been injured. My mum carried me downstairs and shut me in the cupboard under the stairs. This had previously been our coal cellar but had been cleared out to make a bomb shelter of sorts.

Photo:My mum and me outside our house

My mum and me outside our house

From the private collection of John Starley

Considerable bomb damage

I remember that I was left in the cupboard for some considerable time because my parents thought that was the safest place for me while they helped friends and neighbours to clear up the damage. Apparently three bombs had straddled across our street, demolishing two houses. Many other houses in Bennett Road had all of their doors and windows blown out in the bomb blast. Many slate roofs were also badly damaged. I had had a very lucky escape that day.

This page was added on 09/06/2013.
Comments about this page

It is so fascinating and nostalgic to see the comments and the photos sent in by John Starley. Just a few short years later that would have been my mum standing on the front pathway, and myself sitting on my three wheeler. We played for hours on that front path. I notice that the iron garden fence is still in situ. When we moved to the house in 1944 there were only the stubs on the garden wall where the fence had been cut off by welding torches and taken for the war effort. As far as I am aware the iron work taken all over the country was taken with the promise that it would be replaced after the war. But as things were, probably an impossible task owing to finances at that austere time. The bomb damage as John has described was ironic as we played on the empty spaces where those houses would have been which we called the bomb site. We were a bit naughty sometimes as the bomb site was very near to Mr. Perry's little orchard where we helped ourselves. He never moaned at us kids, all he said was "you can have as many windfalls as you like but don't pick the apples from the tree". The cupboard under the stairs was where we kept our coal (and odds and sods). It had two doors, one straight in front of you when you came from the front door, the other one had an odd angular top as it was cut to accommodate the rising staircase. We called this cupboard the meter cupboard as the electric meter and fuse box were in there. Very nostalgic.

By Mick Peirson (09/06/2013)

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