Memoirs of school life in Leicester, during the war.

    I remember the day after the raids we used to compare notes at school as to where the bombs fell. I used to have a list, but it has long gone.

    School boy's were allocated ARP centres to go to act as messenger boys in case of communication disruption. My centre was in Wharf Street.

    Leicester was one of the evacuation areas for London children and due to the influx of evacuees the schools had to be double booked up. One set of children attending from about 6.00am to Midday and the second set from 1.00pm to 6.00pm. Due to the shortage of teachers the senior pupils were co-opted to act as teachers, until retired ex-teachers could be organised. It was quite an experience to be on the other side of the desk! It was also arranged for us to spend a lesson a day in the school gymnasium, packing small parts for the army.

    Anti-aircraft guns were stationed on the Wyggeston Boy's school playing field for some time - we got quite friendly with the soldiers. It was a single barrel gun and was there for about 3 weeks, date unknown, but I left school in mid 1944. I remember we had a time when nearly every afternoon there was an alert and we had to file down the 'trenches' (air-raid shelter) with our gas mask's. In the evening, we had fire-watching to do. I was stationed at the school in Western Park until about 10.00pm when another person took over for the night. I remember the night of the big raid on Coventry. I could see the big red glow in the sky while fire-watching. What with all the gas mask practice and going down the air-raid shelters during alert's, it was a wonder we ever managed to pass our examinations!

    I remember, while out camping with the Scouts, a Lancaster Bomber crashed about 1 mile from our camp site. The weather was fine at the time and I think it was in the afternoon - it was getting dark by the time we got to the crash. By the time we arrived, guards were situated around the crash, but we did find a smashed 1155 receiver in a field some distance away - this 'trophy' was much admired at school!

    After air-raids, many children would come to school with bits of bombs they picked up - one lad even had a complete incendiary bomb, which had not ignited - this was rapidly confiscated by the teacher!

By J. Eley

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