Doodlebug Hits Rushen Walk

A tragic story of wartime

By Ron Bird

An abrupt halt to Tweeddale Old Boys drama production

John Young remembers

Photo:This telegram was sent the following day on June 22nd 1944. It reads as follows; House badly damaged All ok Ivy same yesterday love all Doris

This telegram was sent the following day on June 22nd 1944. It reads as follows; House badly damaged All ok Ivy same yesterday love all Doris

Donated by Ron Bird

   V1-BUZZ BOMB, FLYING BOMB or “DOODLEBUG”

 

My first memory of the “Doodle bug” was when, at Tweeddale Road Infants School one day in June 1944, the air raid siren went. We walked to the shelter.  We did not panic as it had been quite a normal occurrence, especially in the early part of the war.

The shelters were long, concrete constructions each end of the school playing fields. They were partially below ground with steps down at one end and an escape hatch at the other. They must have accommodated at least two classes and we used to carry on with our lessons until the 'all clear' sounded. On this particular day, before we got into the shelter, we heard an unfamiliar sound. We climbed on top of the shelter and looked up to view a completely new type of aircraft. It turns out that whilst the Government had known about the V1’s, to preserve the secrecy of the Enigma code breaking, they had not advised the public of the impending raids. We therefore did not know what the aircraft was.

My second memory was when a doodlebug hit the nurses' home at St Helier Hospital. We walked across the field which bordered Tweeddale Road and Wrythe Lane to see the damaged caused.

Then, on the night of June 21st, we went down into our Anderson shelter in the back garden. For many months prior to June 1944 we had seldom gone to the shelter as the bombing and air raid warnings had become fairly rare. I do not know why Mum had started getting us into the shelter but luckily she did. I did not wake up when the doodlebug landed opposite us. My first recollection was being woken by an “Aunt” who lived in Wellow Walk. She assured my brothers, sister and I that everyone was alright. There were two families whose husbands were away in the forces. They used to get together and go into one or the other's shelter for company. Unfortunately, that night the shelter they were in received the blast and a child from each family was killed. Peter Hudson, aged 10, was a friend of my older brother and Janet Hardwick, aged 4, was friend of my younger brother. Her birthday was on the same day as my brother - 24 June 1939.

One of my “treasures” was a collection of cigarette cards. When I went down into the shelter I put the cards in my shoe. When I went out, I found a trail of cards down the side of the house and up to the front gate, I have often wondered how this happened.

We were lucky being in the shelter, as the chimney stack had fallen into one of the bedrooms and glass from the front window had pierced much of the bedding. I understand that if we had slept in the house only my mother and eldest brother would have escaped injury and possible death.

The house was uninhabitable but as we were not injured, my father who was awaiting transport to France, was unable to get leave from the RAF. We went to an aunt in Sidcup, Kent and after a couple of weeks were evacuated to Chorley Lancashire for the rest of the war.


This page was added by Beverley Walker on 03/10/2010.
Comments about this page

The V1 or Doodle bug that fell in Rushen Walk fell just one house over at the back of our house in Waltham Road, in the early hours, wiping out dozens of houses including ours. We were fortunate in that my family didn’t have any serious injuries. It would appear from Ron Bird's page that my information is not correct. I was given to understand that both the Hudson boys had been killed and Peter had been playing with a huge gang of us the night before. The other little girl killed I do not remember as she was much younger. I do remember that Mrs. Hudson was in a terrible state according to the neighbours. Many were cut by flying glass and bricks I remember that Lenny Briers who lived next door was being carried to an ambulance and his legs looked like a porcupine - he had so many slivers of glass in them. I remember waking with a mouthful of ashes and soot, seeing our dog frantically digging in the rubble where my sister Pat was buried. She had been sleeping under the table. Fortunately that had collapsed and saved her from the bricks. I had been sleeping under the chimney breast, hence the ashes and soot. Looking out of our house where there was no longer any front wall and seeing, the street full of people, heavy rescue workers, firemen, nurses. Apart from the rubble and debris there was ruptured gas lines and water mains, shooting flames and water high into the air, poor chickens with all their feathers blown off. There was no water to make tea, which was a disaster. No water to wash which didn’t bother the kids much. Despite all the damage and shock there was still humour. Joan Reynolds who lived opposite us, looked out of a window that had no glass or middle left and said, I always knew I’d be framed. It was amazing how quickly the relief services had got there, It wasn’t long before they had done a head count, had us all labelled and shuffled off to the nearest school which was Tweeddale, where the local W.V.S. and others distributed tea and biscuits and treated those suffering from shock. I still remember a blind man who had his dog with him and he was just shaking. They then organised and dispersed us to various rest centres where we would be able to sleep until they could billet us out somewhere, and to be given whatever clothes were available. This was the cause of great hilarity, as even with rationing which also applied to clothes, the younger women would still be as fashion conscious as they could be, I remember my sisters putting on leg make up and using an eyebrow pencil to draw a line down the back of their legs to simulate a seam, so it looked like they had stockings on. Imagine then what happened when the younger women size maybe 6-8 or 10 would be offered a pair of drawers that two of them could get into. There would be gales of laughter as the offending article was held up for all to see. That is what I remember most, despite having lost everything, people could laugh and see the funny side of everything. They seemed to realise in those dark days that possessions were not what life was about, it was family and community, everyone looked after everyone else. Yet there was worse to come, the V. 2 was even more powerful and destructive, also very quiet. Fortunately for us the war ended before it could really do the work that it was intended to do. Even when the war ended things were still very tight and rationing continued for quite a few years. Strange also to think how things can affect your life, that you know nothing about, I remember having terrible earache in the rest centre and next day being taken to the hospital. I have no idea what they did but do remember having my head bandaged. Many years later, about 50 years, I was driving a school bus and had to have a yearly medical. This particular doctor decided to test my hearing and said do you know you are just about deaf in your left ear. This was a surprise to me, anyway he sent me to a place to have a proper check and afterwards the young girl said you have had massive trauma to your ear, have you worked with heavy machinery for years? I said no and we were trying to think what could have caused it, when I remembered and said, "Oh it must have happened when we were bombed out." The poor girl had no Idea what I was talking about and when I explained, she nearly cried saying "Oh how lucky we are in Canada never to have had to experienced war close up." I agreed but am still trying to fathom out how the Army missed it? Ted Blowers.

By Ted Blowers
On 06/10/2010

What an interesting but sad read, I bought my very first house in Rushen Walk in 2003 but have since moved on. We backed on to a house in Waltham Road. I had always wanted to find out a bit more about the area as I moved there from SW London. Anyway, great read thank you!

By olipops
On 13/08/2011

Ted, we had friends who lived in Titchfield Rd whose house was made uninhabitable called Allisons, Iris,Sylvia and Sonny. That one prompted my mum to evacuate her children to Nottingham.

By Terry Kates
On 08/08/2015

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