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I remember the first day of the war.
My father worked for George Senior, as a forgeman. My mother had a little bakery on Burgoyne Road. The day War broke out my father, who had joined the TA, was in the Isle of Man training with all the other Senior’s employees. Automaticaly on the outbrak of War they all went into the York and Lancs.
Father was stationed at Woodhouse Central School. I remember on one occasion he had to go to London to take some concientous objectors and I can remember seeing him in all his corpoaral’s regalia (includung puttees) marching down Burgoigne road to tell my mother he was going – she was upset because at that time, of course, London was regularly being bombed.
On one occasion while Dad was stationed at Woodhouse, the man next door, called Jimmy who had a picklet shop and went round with a bell and basket selling picklets all around Woodhouse and Sheffield, came in to our shop and told my mother Dad wouldn’t be coming home today because they had all been confined to barracks for beieng drunk and disorderly – they had smashed up the Royal Hotel. Mother got my sister Betty and I ready and we went on a bus to see him (and repremand him!)
When we got there he was guarding the school. While Mother and Dad were talking, a soldier brought a pale of cocoa out and a couple of mugs for my sister and I – we thought it was a right treat!
My father was due to be drafted to fight at Narvic but in the event he was excused because men who were specialists in steel were needed at the forge. His friend Sgt Bill Kay, however, did go and most of the unit were captured or killed but Bill found a fishing boat and escaped over the North Sea. It must have been an horrific journey but he did get back to work at Seniors.
The day of the Blitz.
When the siren sounded we went to next door’s reinforced cellar. We were there with Mr & Mrs Knubley and their son Gordon, Mr & Mrs Frith from the Post Office, Jimmy, me and my sister, Mother and Dad and Bruce (our dog). Mother sat in an arm chair with us all around her. Mr Knubley had been into town to see what was happening and came back shouting that we’d never seen anything like it – every thing on fire – Infirmery Road and the whole of central Sheffield! Firefighters were being killed!
Bombs were dropping all night and the air raid Warden kept shouting “are you all right?” When all of a sudden there was a terrible, earth shattering noise – everything shook and everything came tumbling down the cellar, dust – choking dust, and smoke – everything went silent for a split second. We all stood up at once and tried to get through a door to the next cellar but the Post Office was next door and the door was locked so we turned and tried to get into Mother’s cellar but that was even worse than the one we were in. Some of the men went through but they were told it was worse there – a landmine had been dropped on the corner of Burgoyne Road and Bloor Street killing thirteen people. We could smell fire by now. It transpired that the coal fire upstairs had blown out and set fire to the house. We managed to get upstairs and put the fire out. The only casualty in the cellar was my father who had been trying to hold the cellar ceiling up directly in front of the cellar grate where there happened to be a small bath, keeping light from the cellar from showing, the bath was blown onto the back of the neck.
Next morning after the all clear we went upstairs and through the kitchen, there were no windows or doors left, the yard was knee deep in slates and rubble and curtains were blowing about – everything looked devastated – even Mother’s bread ovens and the stairs had gone!
We were all directed to Burgoyne Road School, half of which had been seconded to AFS, to have something to eat and drink. As we went in I saw through the glass partitions a man laid out with a child – both were dead.
After that we were sent up to a church in South Road to sleep but Mother wouldn’t stay there, we went to stay with Dad’s sister at Attercliffe so we were there on Sunday when the bombers came back.
On that night Dad had gone back home to fetch a few things – and the dog. On the way back the blitz returned so he dod a detour to his mother’s at Pitsmoor and shoved the dog down her grate! Then he ran back down Savile Street right through the Wicker. He said he’d never seen anything like it. There were a lot of incendiarys – everything was on fire and live electric cables jumping about all over the place.
At Attercliffe we were in a long communal shelter in aunty’s yard in Wentworth Street but we only stayed a few days then went back to Pitsmoor where we lived in one room in Rock Street for a few weeks before we got a little terrace house next door to Granny’s.
Connie Bentley, WW2 People’s War.
This article is reproduced from the BBC, WW2 People’s War. This is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.