School and Shelters – by JP

It was very, very safe and peaceful childhood up to the war of course.  We had an Anderson shelter, I can remember my father fitted it out beautifully and we slept there.  Normally we went to bed there, we didn’t get up in the night.  I can remember him getting us all up to see the fires of London, it’s an abiding memory is that.  And watching the German planes coming over.

So in your war years you weren’t evacuated?  No I had the summer of ’44 away because my sister and her little friend along the road were sent up to her friend’s grandmother in Loughborough and she said well I’ll have them, this is when the buzz bombs had started and of course both mothers had been directed into the factory but I came home to go to school in the September, oh she said I’ll have them if Jean comes as well to look after them and I came home in the September because that was my shorthand/typing/bookkeeping year, I couldn’t afford to stay away.  We were the school, the top half was for girls and the bottom was for boys and I can remember dodging under the desk because of the rockets going over, seeing the windows, we were all glass.  It was a wonderful school I don’t know why they pulled it down.

I can tell you also that we started out before we had our Anderson shelter, the air raid shelters had been built at the school.  Now you know all about the way Ham was handed over to Richmond and Kingston.  By the time the war started some of the council estate had been built and some of these frightful people who lived on the council estate were coming down into the air raid shelter, and also children could sleep but my mother could not so the Anderson shelter was a requirement.  She wasn’t that bad but she wasn’t used to people, I mean she had only been –  she’d gone from the orphanage into service, none of her relations had room for her and so she’d gone into service and she worked at Latchmere House as a parlour maid and dining room maid, but Latchmere House at one point my father, that’s where she met my father, he was a gardener at that time.  When Latchmere House sacked the people it had for people that had been in the war, of course these two youngsters lost their jobs.