prayers almost answered.
During the war I think every schoolchild
went to bed and pray that they would wake the next morning to find
their school had been bombed! I certainly would place myself at
the top of this list and my prayer was very nearly answered on the
nights of 19th/20th November 1940.
November 20th 1940.
sirens sounded again - after the previous nights raid, fear and
apprehension reigned. I remember my mother being called to help
a next-door neighbour whose daughter became hysterical. I walked
into the hallway to find my father standing in the open doorway
to see if there was any immediate danger when suddenly he was blown
back into the hallway. We both fell into our back sitting room.
Then came the sound of an enormous Boom! I recall that suddenly
the house filled with fine mist (this proved to be plaster dust
from the ceilings which were all cracked like crazy paving.)
We regained our feet, and looking through
the doorway saw the glow of a fire about a quarter of a mile away
over the Crown Hills area, so my father decided to bike over to
the scene. He later reported it would appear that a German bomber
had crashed on Steels & Busks Engineering factory, with a full bomb
load. We now know that it was of course a parachute mine.
This mine caused widespread damage to the
area for almost a mile radius. All properties in surrounding roads,
Crown Hills Avenue, Elizabeth Street, Broad Avenue, Copdale Road,
Clumber Road, St. Saviours Road, Lang Hill and Coleman Road, suffered
damage to various degrees. Almost every house in the immediate area
had roofs lifted six inches out of line, chimneys damaged, tiles
and slates blown off. Front doors were found halfway up stairways
and many hundreds of houses had all windows blown in. Even plate
glass windows in Uppingham Road (1 mile away) were blown in. (I
heard estimates of 700 properties damaged.) Even houses damaged
on the previous nights raid, (Saville Street. etc,) which had been
temporally boarded up, had these boards blown in again.
My prayers were partly answered when we
turned up at school, (Coleman Road.) to find it had damage to the
roof and windows and we were given two days off whilst repairs were
undertaken. When we eventually returned to school we found almost
sixty pupils were missing. Childhood rumours suggested they had
all been killed, but we later found that many of them were evacuees
who had returned to London and the rest were pupils whose families
had had to move to other districts having been made homeless.
My prayers were not answered! But I think
I can claim "a nod and a wink"?
Mr. Terence Cartwright