Lucky Escape for a Baby Girl
I was born in 1937 and lived at 86 Edward Avenue during the war. Edward Avenue was a quiet street, on the outskirts of the city, in what's now Braunstone Town. I have two sisters, one born in 1941 and the other in 1944. I knew that at some period during the war, a bomb, which was meant for the nearby Lockheed (Jones and Shipman) factory, was dropped in a field nearby. In my mind, over the years, I had thought that my younger sister, the one born in 1944, had been the one in danger when the bomb dropped. However, recent discussions with my sisters made me rethink my original thoughts. As I now live in Australia and my sisters still live in the UK, these discussions were carried over a number of letters.
Clearly by November 1944, when my younger sister was born, the war had moved away from Britain, and except for the V1 rockets, the skies over Britain were largely safe from Luftwaffe bombing. Realizing this, I now came to the view that it was actually my elder sister who was the one involved in the bombing.
So, it would transpire that on the night of 10th January 1942, as normal, I was sleeping with my mother in the Morrison shelter, which was in our front room, and my sister was in her pram in our back room; this was the room that we normally lived in. Our house was situated in the last row, directly opposite the field where the bomb dropped and exploded. The resulting blast blew out all our windows facing the field. All the glass from our upstairs windows blew in, as did the windows in the downstairs kitchen. However, by some miracle, the glass in the back room blew mainly outwards. My sister's pram was facing the window and if the glass had blown in, then she almost certainly would have been seriously injured or killed.
There was also a fair amount of shrapnel that flew around. We even found it in our pantry, among our rather meager food rations. One large piece had punched a hole at the top of one of our back fence palings. The hole remained there as a constant reminder of that night. It might still be there to this day.
That the bomb had been dropped that night, I knew, but the exact details of the incident only became clear through further research. It would seem that on the night of 10th January 1942 a lone Dornier, out on special operations against special targets, dropped a Heavy High Explosive Bomb (500kg), while aiming for the factory. It missed, and the bomb ended up in a field 150yds from Turnbull Drive. The Dornier bomber was later intercepted by a RAF Beaufighter, and after jettisoning it's remaining bomb over Twycross, it crashed near Nuneaton. The crew of 3 bailed out and were later taken prisoner.
So, what remained? The crater, where the bomb exploded, eventually filled with rainwater. Over the next few years, vegetation grew around the outer rim and turned it into a natural looking 'pond'. I can remember spending many happy hours there, collecting frogspawn, etc.
As the whole area has now been built over by houses and roads I expect nothing remains to remind us of that night, except perhaps... that hole in my old back fence.
22 October 2005.