Mike's Story of Twerton
Reproduced from the BBC's WW2 archives (see below)
The BBC permits archived stories to be reproduced provided it is not for profit, but copyright remains with the original contributor. I have added photographs to illustrate his story.
Mike's own words
During the Bombing
During the war years my father Norman White had a 'magic eye' radio which had an indicator hand to show the station being used on the radio at the time. My father always had the radio on so he could watch the hand because it started swinging across the dial as aircraft approached Bath. When the aircraft was almost directly overhead the needle swung wildly to and fro.
On the first night of the Blitz Dad was a little late getting us out of bed to go to the air raid shelters. We distinctly heard the bombs falling and Dad pushed us under the dining table. In doing so he pushed me out the other side, grabbed me by an ankle and yanked me back in the shelter of the table just as the ceiling fell around us and the plaster and laths from the walls imploded on to us.
We were trapped under the table until the wardens came round the houses calling out to see if anyone was injured. Dad yelled out that we were all right but trapped. I was pushed out between two pieces of the ceiling and I had to find my way to the front door across other pieces of debris and pull at the debris blocking the door a little whilst the wardens pushed the door from the outside.
After what seemed like an eternity the wardens forced the door open a little and I was pulled out and passed along a line of rescuers to safety. I then had to wait a short while for my father, mother Amy and sister Maureen to be rescued.
We then had to run through Twerton village to an Aunt Lizzy to seek shelter only to find their house was also damaged, so we ran to another Aunt Elsie in the High Street. Although their house was also damaged, we were able to live and sleep in the kitchen for the remainder of the war.
I was exactly two years and seven months of age at the time of the raid, but it is still as real to me now as it was then. The memory of being rescued will never leave me.
On another occasion my mother was taking my two sisters and me on a walk through the village when a lone aircraft flew over us. My mother and another aunt were arguing as to whether the aircraft was British or German when we saw a bomb leave the aircraft and hurtle towards the ground. My mother threw us on the ground and jumped on top of us. We later heard that the bomb landed on the other side of the river, about two hundred and fifty yards away. It failed to explode.
On VE day we were in the village High Street which was packed with revellers. Bunting was strewn across the road between the Old Crown pub and my Aunts house and dancing was taking place. I and by now, two sisters Maureen and Joyce were sitting atop the piano which my Aunt Freda was playing, when a vehicle came down through the village. The driver asked what the celebration was about and everyone called out 'the war is over'. The vehicle had to reverse back as no one would allow it through the dancing.
For several days I can remember saying to Dad that there were not any bombs the previous night. Although he kept saying that the war was over, it took us children a long time to understand.
When we returned to our house we noticed that next to ours, three houses were standing and three others had been flattened. When this actually happened, I do not know as I had not been allowed back to my own home for over three years. I do not know whether there were any casualties in those houses as I never saw the occupants again. I prefer to believe they were rehoused elsewhere.
Mike lived at Number 23 The Close, and that house was so badly damaged that it was considered unsafe to enter. Numbers 17 to 19 were the ones Mike described as "flattened", and the bomb that caused that damage fell on the first night.
The Old Crown was on the corner where The Close meets High Street. If the VE Day bunting was stretched from the Old Crown to Mike's aunt's house, then his aunt may have lived at Number 32 or an address very near it.
The casualty records show that nobody resident in The Close was killed in the bombing. As Mike hoped, they were rehoused elsewhere.
WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.
In the BBC archive, this memory was credited to "Mike White", Article ID: A4052657.
If you are reading this Mike, and can add anything to this story, I would be delighted if you would get in touch. The Contacts page explains how to do this.
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