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Dandy

The Blitz: BBC television tonight

I wasn't sure why anyone should want to watch a program on the blitz, but tonight's program was about London's East End and I suppose I wanted to see what understanding it might give me of my mother's accounts of fire watching,of listening for the sound of aircraft, the British and German planes sounded different having different kinds of engines, of people going into the underground to shelter. One of her brothers had three homes bombed flat....perhaps not surprising then that he would emigrate to Canada. She described how things changed with the start of the flying bomb attacks(doodlebugs), with the chug chug chug of their engines which would suddenly go silent, and the explosions that followed and then the more deadly and equally random rockets(the V2s)
Her joining up with the ATS took her out of the city and so far I have not worked out the chronology of this but she worked as a map tracer dealing with landowners claims for compensation where army vehicles had wrecked hedges and fences and flattened crops and was stationed at Thetford in Norfolk where she was to meet my dad as they made sandwiches together in the Anglo American Club on a Christmas day morning. Again I'm not sure of the chronology but he was an infantryman serving with an East Yorkshire regiment in the 50th Div of the Eighth Army. He had seen service at El Alamein , and gone into Siscily and Italy before coming back to England to go into France and Germany via the Normandy landings.He spoke very little of his war but from my limited knowledge of what happened he must have had some truly horrific experiences. He survived El Alamein because he was in the turret of his Bren Carrier and was able to jump vehicles when his own was crippled. The rest of his crew were lost. He survived appendicitis after an operation in Alexandria and opted for overland repatriation...the day after he left hospital it was bombed flat and the hospital ship he would probably have been on was sunk in the Mediterranean with the loss of hundreds of lives.
My parents married in Thetford with dad in battledress and mum in a borrowed wedding dress and after the war went to live in Hull where I was born in a third floor two room flat with a cooker on the landing, in a house that belonged to Marist College, a Roman Catholic establishment in North Hull . It was a case of taking what was available. Hull had lost a colossal proportion of its housing stock and large areas of the city centre were laid bare.We were fortunate to move into new council housing early in 1948.
The estate I grew up on was built on platforms of bomb rubble and the roads were likewise on causeways of bomb rubble whilst not far way there was an embankment of bomb rubble put in place to carry a bridge that was never actually built ,over the Hull Scarborough line. On trips into the city Centre there were numerous signs of the blitz. I shall probably write more on that after next week's program on the Blitz which apparently focusses in on a semi detached house that was bombed on North Hull Estate not far from where I grew up.

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