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Mike's Story

Mike originally added an entry to the Visitors Book, and later e-mailed me more details. I then added the illustrations and comments.

Mike's own words

At the time of the bombing of Bath, I was living at 13 Richmond Place with my parents Bert and Bella Ruddock, and my sister Audrey. I was 10 years old at the time and Audrey was 20.

I remember that there was a Static Water tank opposite St Stephens school on the edge of the common (it was still there until well after the war). I remember that there was a small public shelter in the boiler Room of the church hall on Richmond Place and a larger shelter with food, first aid etc. in the crypt of St Stephens Church, but if there was a raid we all got under the kitchen table. It was a good thick one like they all were in those days.

As most boys did then, we knew the difference in the engine sound between the German planes and our own. The German engines had a WhumWhum sound so we could guess whether we had to take shelter a lot of the time, and we were generally correct.

incendiary bomb

Incendiary bombs were mostly magnesium with a steel tail which guided it as it was dropped. The magnesium burned with a fierce white heat, leaving just a white powder behind. The steel tails did not burn though, and they were often collected as souvenirs.

After the first night some of my friends and I went out looking for souvenirs. I remember one game was who could find the tail of an Incendiary Bomb. We went looking down Lansdown Road and the Julian Road area.

On the second night a bomb blew our rear windows out. I think the bomb that did it was either from the one in Mount Beacon Place or the one that landed by the water works in Bill Phillips's field. Richmond Place was surrounded by fields at the rear then, and Bill Phillips had a farm behind Richmond Place.

The House that was bombed in Mount Beacon was owned I think by Commander Pakenham. We had been to his house in 1939 when we were fitted for our gas masks there.

As there was no gas or water from the mains after the bombing, we had to fetch our water from the spring below Charlcombe Church. All the people collected jugs, basins, anything that could carry water. It was quite a walk around Charlcombe and back. We thought it was fun, but it must have very hard on the older people. The Salvation Army Tea Bar arrived at Beacon Hill Common too, which must have helped. The Charlcombe spring lasted for many years, but I think it was stopped up by the Water Board after the war because the water was not pure. Well it was pure enough for us to use when there was nothing else, and it saved us all from thirst.

After the second night some buses and coaches were sent up to evacuate people to Farrington Gurney. My father and a few others would not go. I remember Father and Mother having an argument about it. Anyway, we stayed behind, and there was no raid that night, so when the others returned we felt like brave children!

I remember the talk about Dr Middlemass later on after the war. Many believed she should have had an award for the service and commitment that cost her her life. People and survivors never forgot her name. I know I never have, and I was just a boy of 10.

 

Comments

Commander Pakenham lived at Number 5 Mount Beacon. The 250Kg bomb that destroyed his house also wrecked the water main in the road outside.

Dr Mary Middlemass had been on duty at the Snow Hill First Aid Centre on the first night of the bombing. She had gone back to her home in 29 The Paragon for some refreshments and was just setting off back to the First Aid centre when the second raid started. Her house was destroyed by a direct hit, killing her and everyone else in the house, including her two sisters, Jean and Elsie.

 


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