Memories of World War II
In the Spring of 1942 it was decided that Lilian would bring the children back to London and the family were re-united in the house in Briar Avenue.
The house in Briar Avenue survived the Blitz and the bombing and the V1 Flying Bombs. Life was not without its difficulties, though. We had a steel Morrison Shelter in the dining room and all four members of the family would often sleep in it at night if there were attacks threatened.
I remember that one day I never got to school day as each time I left home the sirens would sound with an Air Raid Warning. I would, therefore, have to return home until the All Clear sounded. I would then set off again. I hadn’t been gone long when off the sirens went again! After this had happened 3 times my mother decided that I should stay at home for that day.
The family moved from Briar Avenue in 1944 and went to live in Streatham Hill. This was more convenient for Robert to get to London Bridge (near the printing business) and for the two children to get to their schools. It was also a move up as the house at 86 Drewstead Road was a detached house.
I remember going with my father to the printing business on many occasions, both during the war and afterwards. On one occasion during the war we went by train from Streatham Hill Station to London Bridge. If you went by a train which arrived before 8am you could get a “Workman’s Ticket” which was (I think) a return ticket at the price of a normal single. My father was always an early starter and would take advantage of these discounted tickets. When we came to London Bridge to get the train home in the evening, we heard that the train was being diverted as one of the bridges had been destroyed by a bomb during the day. These events were a normal part of life at that time. I could not remember a time when it was any different.
Other travelling things that were “normal” were the gauze on the windows of the buses (to stop the glass shattering onto the passengers if the was a near miss), pulling the blinds down over the train windows (at blackout time), no streetlights, no lights in the shop windows, minimal lights on any vehicles that were running (and, of course, not many private cars), houses totally in darkness, district names and postal districts all removed from street names in the towns, almost no signposts on the roads in the country.