VE Day: A resident reminisces
Jean tells her story about the end of World War Two, 70 years ago today.
"I remember a bomb came through the flat and into our block. It went through the roof of number 15 and for some reason turned and came through the side of the block and down into the courtyard. I didn’t see it happen but I remember being scared by the noise. I don’t think anyone was hurt but it left a gaping big hole.
I was only five when the war started. My mum and dad thought I was too young to be away from them but my brothers were both sent to Adelstone, Woking, which we thought was miles away but of course it isn’t. One was sent to live on a farm which he loved; the other was sent to a very strict family. He was a town boy and didn’t take to the country. He always wrote letters asking to come home.
I remember an air-raid shelter being built under ground on the estate – there was an entrance/exit either end of the courtyard. They were like rabbit warrens, built like small boxes with nothing but bunk beds. I’m not sure what they used for a toilet.
Because we lived on the first floor, we never went in there. My dad taped up all the windows so the glass wouldn’t shatter and if the air siren went off we would gather in the hall which didn’t have any windows, shut the doors and wait until we had the all-clear.
As a child I didn’t really understand the war. All I remember is the camaraderie. Everyone was constantly in and out of each other’s homes. Parents were forever feeding other people’s children sandwiches and bread pudding. Everyone knew each other.
Contributing to the war effort
The only time I ever felt sad was when the register was called in class. It was then you knew if someone was missing and you probably wouldn’t see them again but on a whole, it was a big adventure. Bombsites were like playgrounds and we used to collect shrapnel on our way to and from school.
There was a garage next door which used to make aeroplane parts and I remember the railings on the estate being taken down and melted down to make armaments. We used to donate our saucepans and other metals too.
War is over
I don’t know where I was when I found out WWII had come to an end but I remember the street party. There was music, trestle tables, food and bunting. Mums and dads waited on the children. We had such a great day.
I still live at Chelsea Manor Street estate. I brought up two sons here, one of which still lives on the estate. I really like it. We live just 100 yards from the Thames and are close to both Battersea Park and Hyde Park and are within an easy distance of shops and theatres.
It is hard to believe we are commemorating the 70th anniversary of VE Day. I think we will probably go out for a meal to commemorate."
We commerate World War One here and look at its impact on our residents and communities.
Our records show that by 1916 there were 2,637 Peabody residents serving with the armed forces. We believe 350–400 died on active service.