by Mary Morgan

Chapter 1 - page 1

Do you, like me, find that there are a number of different ways by which each of us sees the same event? For instance, a child playing with a toy… The proud parents would see only clever things that child does with the toy. Whereas a brother or sister would see what they would do instead - with that toy. A stranger would be critical and judge the child's intellect whilst playing with that toy. The child would only see the toy! So this is how I saw my life.


I was the third child of a family of four. I had an elder sister and brother, and a younger sister who died the day she was born.

My father was 24 years older than my mother and therefore old enough to be my grandfather by the time I was born. He was a gentle person, thoughtful, kind, and as much as his age would allow him - a playful man. Because he served in the First World War and was wounded by mustard gas which burnt his lungs, he was already very ill by the time I was born. I had a father for such a short time, but what I missed out on in quantity I gained in quality.

This is Merridale Street in 2000.  Our house and shop were just where the pub is.  There were houses on both sides and the Ring Road was not there.


My very earliest memory was of a day, when I would be about three years of age. I was in my mother's arms on the front doorstep of the shop and my mother was talking to some of our neighbours - and they were all crying. This must have left an indelible mark on my memory because it wasn't until I was much older that I realised this would have been about the time that the 2nd World War had just been declared.

Consequently, for my parents the next four years were filled with the dread of bomb damage, the drone of overhead airplanes, explosions, fires and people you had grown up with getting killed. But for us kids the danger was never "real" so the nightly jaunts to the air raid shelter that dad built in the garden…taking bottles of tea and pop, a tin of biscuits and a pile of sandwiches was an adventure. We all had our very own gas-masks too! Betty and Peter, my older sister and brother, mom and myself would sleep in wooden bunks with plenty of blankets and heavy coats, together with a couple of stone hot water bottles or hot house bricks for extra warmth.

Dad was too old to be called up into the army - he was put in the Home Guard instead. He had to walk the streets at night and help the fire fighters, doctors and nurses get the people out of their houses after they had been bombed. He must have seen some terrible sights, but he never would talk about it.

The night that an incendiary bomb dropped three doors away from our house was the first time I realised that the war was including our family in it too. It shook us out of our bunks and we all fell in a heap on the floor. A big piece of shrapnel (bomb casing) hit the door of the shelter with a loud thud and burnt a hole in it. My mother lay there telling us not to be frightened, not to cry and not to move, but she was trembling so much herself that I clearly remember her teeth clattering very loudly in the dark silence that followed.

If we were at school when the air raid sirens sounded we were all shuttled into the underground coal cellars and boiler rooms. But as soon as the all clear was sounded it was back to lessons as usual.

It's funny how human nature makes us cope with disasters: life still went on as normal, even with all this going on!

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