Alan Stanley

  1937 -
  City of Birth:
Romford. Essex. Great Britain.

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Alan's Story > Chapters > 6. Alan's War. Six.

"Alan's War. Six." 


Date Range: 01/01/1940 To 05/08/1945   Comments: 5   Views: 7,022
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It was September 1940 and now the German bombers were coming over nearly every day to drop their load of bombs on London and the Docks, and Romford was under the flight path.When it started to get dark we would have to go to bed, but no sooner did we get upstairs than the alarm sounded, and we would have to get up again and put on clothes over our pyjamas and go to the shelter.
In the beginning nothing much happened so we stopped going down the shelter and instead if there was an alarm mum would make us lay on cushions under the dining table which was made of oak and solid construction. (It was still part of the furniture in the dining room when the house was sold when my mother died in 1998). Mum put the rest of the cushions from out of the chairs on the top of the table and we would stay under there until the planes had gone home. There wasn't enough room for mum or dad, just Chris and me. As time passed and houses in the area were set on fire by 'Incendiary Bombs' we started going down to the shelter as soon as the siren went off. Air Raid wardens standing on the roof of the Town Hall or on the specially built watch towers searched for approaching bombers and set off the alarms if they thought that we should go down the shelters. Soon we were down there every night and some of the day so dad smoothed out the cement floor and made the bunk beds. We kept the straw mattress for the bed indoors when we were not using them, because it was damp down there and some days it smelt awful, but mum said that it was better to smell bad than smell bad and be dead!
As soon as it got dark and the siren sounded 'bombers approaching', then the pitch black of the night sky would be lit up with a lattice pattern of Searchlight beams. Waving crazily around the sky, one would pick up something and then all hell would be let loose with every 'Ack Ack' gun in the area blazing away at what sometimes turned out to be a straying Barrage Baloon. These huge gas filled ballooons, the size of a two storey house, were tethered to the ground by steel cables which were supposed to decaipitate any low flying stuka or fighters. We never heard of any wingless planes in the area, but perhaps, my dad said later on, that was where Adolf got his idea for the V1. We imagined a red faced Reichmarshal Goering flying between two balloon cables in his special Messerschmitt, suddenly finding that he had a new kind of airplane. We imagined in school that there would be lots of Mein Gotts and Himmels before there was a gigantic SPLOSH. Take days just to sweep him up.
The balloons in Romford were concentrated around the gas works in Crow Lane, where large steel tanks held millions of cubic feet of gas made from coal. A few well placed bombs or rockets would have caused all sorts of chaos. Half of Romford cooked on gas and there were still lots of gas lamps lighting the streets and homes. Further along Crow Lane was the Oldchurch Hospital and the Romford Brewery. My dad said that could be a disaster.
We lay in our blankets listening to the noises around us and waiting for the daylight and the 'All Clear'. The smell of damp and dust was strong and it mingled with the smell of paraffin. The smell was even in the blankets, even though mum washed them.
I could see dad's legs as he stood on the steps at the doorway looking over the fields at the back. It was getting light.
We shuffled up the garden path, towards the house, blankets dragging on the ground trying to point out everything that our parents seemed not to notice.
All the windows were gone, and the backdoor was wide open and looked very strange. The garage was a heap of splintered wood, with the car underneath. Dad started pulling at sections of the roof laying on our car and mum pulled it to the side.
"Doesn't seem to be damaaged much. Windscreens cracked but the rest seems to be only scratches. Next doors garage seems to have taken most of the blast."
We looked at the mess that was once Kentish's garage leaning against ours.
"I have to get ready for work, but first I better go see   how Mr and Mrs Witham did"
They were not in their shelter, having gone to their daughter's the day before and not being able to get back home in time before dark, decided to sleep the night.
We pulled wood out of the way of the car and helped to move roofing tiles to the side so dad could back out into the road.
Mum said the car sounded rough. Sounded alright to me!

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Member Since
Aug 2007
Gina Pertonelli said:
posted on Mar 13, 2010

Alan, your stories are amazing. You were just a kid, so you probably knew the danger but didn't really grasp the enormity of what was going on until you were an adult. I love readnig these through the lens of you as a child.

Member Since
Feb 2010
Alan Stanley said:
posted on Mar 13, 2010

Thanks for your kind words.

Member Since
Aug 2008
Marina Dallup said:
posted on Mar 14, 2010
I concur

Alan - great stuff. I can't believe all that you experienced!

Member Since
Feb 2010
Alan Stanley said:
posted on Mar 16, 2010

Thanks for your kind words but it was nothing compared with what some went through, in fact if you read on you will find that we really had a pretty good time. Being evacuated to what were almost family was not so bad. I have read of some kids who were scarrd for life by the families that took them in.

Member Since
Aug 2007
Antje Wilsch said:
posted on Mar 16, 2010

I like the pictures you uploaded too from WWII