When war was declared I was seven years
old and was aged thirteen when it finished. I also had two sisters,
Dorothy and Sylvia. We lived at Waverley Cottages, near Woolwich
The day the war broke out I can remember
the neighbours talking to each other about it in our road.
As the bombing steadily grew worse we
got evacuated, along with our mother. My dad stayed behind and
carried on working with the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society,
as a driver.
We were evacuated to a village called
Shalden, near to Aldershot.
While we were away our house in Waverley Cottages got bombed
and, when the bombing eventually eased, we came back to a house
in Cheriton Drive, at number 13, the next to last house at the
top, on the left.
I went to school at the Slade School.
I think that I must have been about 11 years old when I went
to Plum Lane School.
can remember that if we were walking to or from school and there
was an air raid warning, ladies would come out of their homes
and ask us kids if we would want to take cover in their homes
and shelters, and so we would go into their houses till the
all clear sounded.
I think it was one Saturday, and it
was lunchtime. The air raid siren went. Dad always said to us
kids to go down to the cellar under our house when this happened.
These instructions were given to us to do if he was away somewhere
working, and so we did this. I remember a time when we were
in the cellar and we could hear a doodlebug (VI flying bomb)
coming. My mother was looking out of the cellar door, where
we were sheltering, and said to us, “All get down”.
I threw myself on top of my sister Sylvia and the whole place
shook. There was lots of dust and when we came out of the cellar
all the tiles were off the roof of our house and all the glass
in the windows were all blown in with the blast!
The Air Raid Wardens came round and
we went into the Anderson
shelter, situated in the garden, till the 'all clear' siren
sounded. We didn't sleep in the Anderson shelter because it
was really very damp.
That night we slept at the Slade School.
I think that it must have only been for a couple of nights.
We were then evacuated up north to Sheffield.
I can remember going to the Woolwich Council Offices and being
given labels, that were then tied onto our clothes. We all carried
our gas masks. Once again, my Mother and I and my two sisters
were evacuated (Victor, my brother, was not born until 1945).
As far as I can remember, we were taken
by bus to a railway station, somewhere in London. On the way
we had to get out of the bus and go into an air raid shelter,
situated above ground, as there was an air raid. Whilst we were
in the shelter there was a boy, who we didn't know, and he was
saying, “Don't shut the door” His mum said, “Poor
boy, he had been buried in a previous bombing.”
We got on a train and eventually arrived in Sheffield, where
we were taken by bus to a church or a school hall, I can't remember
which, and they gave us a meal.
People came and offered to billet some
of the children and families. No one wanted us, as there were
four of us. But eventually we were taken to a small cottage
and were billeted with a lady and her grown up son. We attended
school whilst there. We eventually returned to our home at 13
Cheriton Drive and I lived there until I married in 1952.
When we were at The Slade School, before
I was 11 years old, a lady used to come and bring knitting that
we did for the Merchant Seamen. The wool was grey and I can
remember taking home wool to knit a jersey.
My wedding to Peter Bastable at St. Margaret's
Church, Plumstead Common, 1952.
My sister Sylvia Crooks is standing extreme left and my other
sister Dorothy Crooks is the bridesmaid standing next to me.
My brother Victor is the middle of the children in the front
St Margarets Church was pulled down when I
went back to England in 1970; it wasnt there.
We emigrated to New Zealand in 1956.
Victor also lives in Wellington, New Zealand, same as I do.
Miriam Bastable (nee Crooks)