The wartime memoirs of the Leicester Blitz - 19/20 November 1940
I lived in St. George Street, Leicester with my parents and young brother in a small terraced house. There was a cellar and an attic and we shared an entry with our next door neighbour. There was a small back yard with a lavatory at the end.
I remember the night of 19 November 1940 very well, although it is now over 60 years since the awful bombing of that night.
My father, who worked at Gents, St. Saviours Road, arrived home from work about seven o'clock that evening. He came in and said "Be quick, let's get round to the shelter as incendiary bombs are dropping." At that moment the air raid siren had not sounded. The shelter was at St. George's School, Colton Street which had been reinforced; this was where our family and many more people went to shelter during the air raids.
As we left our home to go to the shelter I remember very clearly seeing the curtains of Rowleys, Queen Street (part of the building was in St. George Street) were on fire; these were blowing through a broken window caused by an incendiary bomb.
During the night we could hear bombs being dropped, ARP wardens and other people would call into the school from time to time to report on what was happening round about. We also knew that fire engines were at work very near to us.
It was my mother's birthday on 20 November, so we were able to wish her 'Many Happy Returns' soon after midnight. This is why I shall never forget the date of the worst bombing in Leicester.
After the all-clear had sounded (I think if must have been between two and three o'clock) we made our way home, but it wasn't until just before nine o'clock that morning as I made my way to work at Wolsey Ltd, King Street. I saw the building of Lulhams (Shoe Manufacturers) which was situated at the corner of Northampton Square and Charles Street, still smouldering.
Later on that day we learnt that one bomb had dropped at the bottom of Swain Street bridge. Another one at the top end of Peel Street and a third one on Grieves factory (Knitting Machine Needle Manufacturers) in Queen Street, had been badly hit and there were some casualties.
Also very near to us were the factories of Freeman, Hardy & Willis in Wimbledon Street which was almost totally destroyed and Faire Bros.
Later, when we realised that we had been in the middle of such destruction we felt we were lucky to be alive.
By O. Farrands
Memoir originally published in "Leicester Our War"
David Dover, Beacon Views, Abberton Way, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 4NX