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Wally's Story

Photo of WallyOn Saturday 25th April, I paid a visit back to my home as I had a day off from my barracks near Frome. A group of lads and myself had travelled up by army lorry and it had been left parked at the railway station to await our return at 11.15pm.

We all met up at 11.00pm as per orders to return to Frome but unfortunately the lorry wouldn't start. Just at that moment the air raid sirens went off but we didn't take much notice as this had happened many times before without incident. By now the driver had investigated the problem and went to phone the camp for a replacement part. As he got through, we heard the whistle of bombs, followed by an explosion nearby, which seemed to come from Southgate Street. Although we were under the arches at the station we dived to the ground.

We then heard the drone of many more aircraft, which I recognised as being German by the note of their engines. I had already experienced the savage bombing of Plymouth during the five months that I was there and I had been very lucky to survive when an unexploded bomb failed to go off when I was just a few yards away. When I did move and go around the corner it exploded lifting me off my feet with the blast. On another occasion I was in bed when the window frame blew in on me!

When I was posted near to Bath at the end of March, I thought it would be great to be close to home and it would be a quiet rest after the dangers of Plymouth. I was wrong and I found myself in the middle of it once again.

St JamesWith more bombs dropping and fires breaking out we guessed that Bath was really going to get a bad raid. We could hear many planes overhead. Not only were they bombing from a low level but they were also strafing the streets with their machine-guns and it seemed to be close to the St. James' Church area where my house and parents were. I was very worried about their safety but I was not allowed to go and see as the lorry had been repaired and we were ready to leave for the camp.

As we travelled up Wellsway we could see quite plainly the aircraft coming in at low level as they dropped their bombs. The following morning I applied and was given permission to return to Bath to see if my parents were all right.

When I got there I was appalled to find that the house had been hit together with other buildings including St. James' Church (pictured right) which was nearby.

I was relieved, however, to discover that my parents had been taken to a hamlet near Downside Abbey at Stratton-on-the-Fosse. They were all right but they had lost everything.

I did hear that the whole family of a friend of mine, Albert Prescott, who was serving in North Africa, had been killed. They were living in Southgate Street close to the Odeon Cinema which was there at the time.

Other information

Wally went on to train as a paratrooper and was dropped behind the enemy lines in Normandy on D-Day. His aircraft was hit by shrapnel and only four or five survived the drop; Wally being one of them. He was captured and spent the rest of the war in Stalag IV near Dresden.


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