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Dorothy's Story

Dorothy posted her story to me after unsuccessfully trying to add it to the Memories Book.  I have placed it here rather than in the Memories Book so that I can illustrate it.

Dorothy's own words

Inside St AndrewsI was 11 years old and happy in my world in Bath. I had just heard that my exam result (11+ as it became known) had gained me a coveted place at Bath High School. We could see the High from our back windows, across the gardens, mews and field, we lived in Park Street. I was in my last term at Harley Street school and on Sundays I went to St Andrew's Church. 

On Saturday April 25th I went to bed and was woken by my mother and told to put on my coat as we had to go to the cellar steps. We had done this before but nothing had happened. Down we went from our top two floors flat to join our 3 neighbours from the other two flats. This was to be our refuge for the next three nights. 

I remember the awful noise, and the sound of machine gunning and aircraft very low. My memory is that the second night on Sunday was the worst, I did not know at the time that our area of Bath was being bombed. The smell of the bombs was awful and I could never cope with Guy Fawkes night afterwards. There were endless enormous explosions. 

My father had suddenly said "I am going to bring the car round" He kept it in a mews going off Park Street. My mother was terribly anxious until he returned safely. As he came down the steps of the cellar there was an appalling loud explosion. We later learned that a huge bomb had landed on the Common and also a bomb on the mews.

When we went back upstairs after the All Clear we found nearly all our windows were blown out and all the shutters had been blown inwards. Later my parents found that the roof was damaged also. As day dawned and all seemed quiet apart from noises of people, ambulances etc. we looked out towards the High School and could see that it had been damaged (Hope House) My father had to get to his MOD work in Corsham, but came back as he found immediate streets impassable by car. He later got there but I don't know how!

I was not allowed out and my aunt came on the Monday to take me to my grandmother in Felton, so it was to be four months before I saw the damage. My parents had been found accommodation in Corsham near my father's work. Auntie took me out by a strange route and to this day I am not sure how we got out of Bath with me seeing little but small crowds here and there and piles of bricks or stone.

St Andrews on fireWhen I came back I have one of my saddest memories. My mother (obviously forgetting that I had seen nothing of the devastation near home) asked me to go to the shop for her. I remember rounding the corner into Julian Road and standing terrified and lost. St Andrew's church had gone, the whole road appeared to be two lines of stacked rubble, not a familiar shop any where. A policeman came to me and said "Alright love? Are you going somewhere?" I was crying by now and asked him where were my shops.  The sweet shop, the bakers, the grocers etc. He took me along to a pre-fab sort of building which was a Co-op. Everything familiar was gone. My world had gone. I was told that Harley Street school had been damaged too.

mass funeralLater, with a friend, I explored what else had happened to my lovely home city and discovered that one of my school friends had been killed at Kingsmead.

I had also learned some days after the blitz that my mother's sister, a beloved aunt, had died with her neighbours in a table shelter at Southdown. She had moved there recently from the Upper Bristol Road. The picture of the mass burial at Haycombe shows my mother and my uncle who was in the army, amongst the mourners.

Two years later we moved to Corsham to be near my father's work and I was transferred to Cbippenham Grammar School.  From there I went to college and to teach in Hampshire and abroad. 

By one of life's strange twists I later returned to the area and two of my children were educated in Bath, one at Bath High, and one at King Edward's.


Bath High School was badly damaged by two bombs.  One classroom wing and the gymnasium were ruined, and Hope House itself plus the other classroom wing were badly damaged and declared unsafe.  Blast damage from these bombs also damaged Lansdown Place East.  Hope House was restored after the war and remained Bath High School until 1998 when it merged with the Royal School (further up Lansdown Road) and is now the junior school of the Royal High School.

Pictures of the Julian Road area are in the Photos section.


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