Ivy Diffen: My memories of school days during the War, I was 9 years old attending Moulsecoomb Junior School, when the war started. Trenches had been dug in the grass bank, across the playground, opposite the school and at the back of the houses in Hodshrove Road.
When the sirens sounded, the lesson in the classroom stopped immediately, and as quickly as possible we were to collect our coats from the cloakroom next door and hurry across the playground to the trenches. Once inside we were expected to continue our lessons. Often it would be a long time before the All Clear sirens sounded then we were allowed to return to our classrooms, quietly and in orderly lines.
At first it was fun, but very soon that novelty wore off, especially when it was raining, or possibly snowing. Then we would have preferred to play in the snow having snowball fights. However, looking back it was done for our safety and a small price to pay, which of course we didn’t consider at the time.
Celia Currie: I have been trying to recall my memories of the Morrison shelter we had in our dining room. It was a metal rectangular piece of equipment with solid top and walls with open work to give more light on the sides and it was pushed up against the wall. There was a mattress inside and room for about 5 people huddled together. I do recall that my father’s friend’s family lived in Clapham which suffered quite badly from bombing raids and as uncle was a baker and worked nights, auntie and her daughter used to spend time with us and they used the shelter as well. We did have to make forays into the shelter when the sirens went off, but I don't recall being frightened. One of my happiest memories is of us children performing various shows on the top which we thoroughly enjoyed - not sure about the audience. My next door neighbours had an Anderson in their garden and that seemed to be there for some time after the war ended. I am not sure how long we retained ours and where it was taken to.
Dave Richardson: In 1943 when the Luftwaffe bombed the Preston Road viaduct our house in Prestonville Road, although some distance from the explosions, suffered blast damage and we were subsequently rehoused in Hodshrove Road. There was no air raid protection in the Prestonville house, when the sirens sounded it was a case of everyone under the stairs.
By contrast the Hodshrove house had a Morrison shelter which took up most of the living room and could easily accommodate a family of 4 or 5 people.
My first experience of this shelter was to run full tilt into the corner of it, chipping my forehead bone and ending up in the Royal Sussex Hospital. Like many of the congregation of St. Andrews I attended Moulsecoomb infants and junior schools where the shelters were substantial reinforced concrete tunnels set in the playground embankment. When the sirens sounded we were shepherded into the shelters where we sat on slatted wooden benches.
Discipline was generally very good until the occasional "dog fight "overhead. This would cause great excitement among the boys who wanted to get into the playground to see if there were any souvenirs to be had as cannon shell cases and shrapnel were the great collectables of the day. One morning I was lucky enough to find a large piece of shrapnel in our back garden, that day at school I could have traded it for large amounts of tabs or alleys.
Bernard Fennell: My memories of school Air Raid Shelters during WW2. As a school boy during the greater part of WW2, I lived in the outskirts of London and witnessed the bombing blitz on London between September 1940 and May 1941. We were directly below the flight path of the German bomber planes heading towards the Capital. During this period, air raid sirens sounded during the evening, and most nights were spent down an air raid shelter in the garden. Although we were some distance from the raid on the City, we were able to see the London skyline glowing red, reflecting the devastating fires and defensive gunfire.
Whilst at school, the air raid shelters were located below ground in the school playing field. When the air raid siren sounded, we gathered up our exercise books and headed across the field to the shelters. The intention was to continue with our lessons, very difficult in cold and damp conditions and uncomfortable seating. Although not on the same scale as the London raids, bombs were dropped quite close to my home, causing considerable damage in the area.
During this period of conflict, stray German fighter planes strafed with machine gun pedestrians in the street. I did witness this terrifying experience myself. The current school boy hobby during this time was collecting fragments of exploded shells and bombs.
Joyce Owen: I went to Coombe Road School. When the air raid sirens went off we had to leave our lessons and go into the air raid shelters which were in the school grounds. I am not sure if they are still there. Whilst in the air raid shelter we would have to continue with our lessons, but that was hard. On one occasion I remember the sirens went off and we went to the air raid shelter and when the all clear went we came out and the air was filled with feathers. A bomb had hit the pub at the bottom of Bear Road and had destroyed a mattress that was filled with feathers and that’s what we could see in the air.