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Reader Letter: 'I remember clearly that first night of the Blitz' Norwich man recalls a difficult time for our city

PUBLISHED: 14:26 21 November 2016 | UPDATED: 14:43 21 November 2016

IMAGES OF NORWICH BOOK
Chapter The Second World War, Page 45.
MEN OF THE NFS IN THE AREA OF RAMPANT HORSE STREET.
DATE 30TH APRIL 1942
PLATE P0874
firemen tackle a blaze during the blitz in 1942

IMAGES OF NORWICH BOOK Chapter The Second World War, Page 45. MEN OF THE NFS IN THE AREA OF RAMPANT HORSE STREET. DATE 30TH APRIL 1942 PLATE P0874 firemen tackle a blaze during the blitz in 1942

We take Norwich's picture perfect architecture for granted but it's easy to forget the hard times the city went through during World War II.

I remember clearly that first night of the Blitz.

With Dad in the army, it was just Mum and us three kids, sisters June aged six, Joycie aged four, and myself, then eight.

It was daylight when the siren first went. I had to run down two streets now gone, Salford Street and Chapel Street, to tell my nanny what was going on because she was deaf, but had to quickly return so Mum would know I was safe.

My nan would always give me a threepenny bit before running home, so I was risking my life for what’s now 1¼p.

Just to the left of Bishop Herbert House is an old sycamore tree, this was in our garden. Where Bishop Herbert House is now there once stood the William IV pub and opposite ours was a row of three-storey houses.

Mostly Mum would wake us up and we’d all go under the stairs during an air raid, but if the pots and pans started falling off their nails then it was a dash out back to our Anderson shelter.

That awful first night I remember going into the shelter but it seemed the stars were falling down.

I know now they were flares from the German planes.

I could see a neighbour, a Mr Howes, in his doorway shaking his fists to the Germans saying they ‘wouldn’t get him down no shelter’.

The house opposite ours got a direct hit. The tree in our front garden, its said, took the blast from the bomb.

Even so, come daylight from the shelter door, one could see right through the house’s front, middle and back door, which were no longer there. They were later to be found stacked up behind our shelter like someone had put them there.

I slept through the lot.

I can’t describe the horror on getting into the street – to my left beyond Globe Street I could see the backs of the houses in Norfolk Street, where before there were all houses so closely packed with only alleyways between Union Street and Rupert Street.

In one of those houses a nice young lady held afternoon Sunday School with a bun and lemonade.

Our other purpose-built Sunday School, near Crooks Place (Bignold) School, which had a mostly glass roof and verandah inside, also took a direct hit.

I heard that Woolworths had been bombed. I went there hoping to get my sisters some dollies, but where once there were so many colours was now grey ash and smouldering girders.

You can share your photos and memories of Norwich on our new facebook group Norwich Remembers.
Do you think it’s important to keep alive people’s memories of the two world wars? Let us know in the comments.

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