Various observations during 1942-43 which I recall or which have been prompted
by family photos are:
- House numbers on pavements. During 1942 the house numbers were painted
on the pavements in front. Presumably this was so that if a row of houses
was obliterated they could still be identified. The 'St. John's Ambulance
cross' against the number could have been to signify 'first aiders'.
- The requisition of garden railings. All of the front gardens in the
street were kept very neat and tidy, with wrought iron railings set atop
low brick walls along the front, bounding the pavement, usually in front
of a privet hedge. In 1943 they were all removed, because steel was
needed for the war effort. They were never replaced.
Huxley Estate, Edmonton, c1942 showing a house number
with the St John's ambulance cross painted on the pavement, the iron railings
still in position prior to removal for the war effort and the complete absence
My father was employed in an engineering factory working 12 hours shifts 6 days a week, and between shifts he was expected to do fire watching on the factory roof.
- Fire watching. My father worked at the head office of the Abbey Road
Building Society, (later to become Abbey National) at the top end of Baker
Street, London. The building had a tower, rather like a bell tower, about
five storeys up, and this was the look-out position for the fire watchers,
of whom my father was one. He sometimes took me with him, which involved
an all night stint looking out over the local area of London, and presumably
alerting the authorities as necessary. Imagine watching the London Blitz
from that vantage point!
Every able bodied male had to do fire drill, if only to protect his own house. I can remember my father lying in the street trying to put out a small
practice fire with a stirrup pump. He was holding the end of the pipe in one hand and in the other a metal plate with a slit in it to protect his face while another man was pushing and pulling on the pump handle. The pump was standing in a bucket of water. The fire brigade went around the streets teaching groups of residents this fire fighting drill.
- Incendiary bombs. Closer to home, I remember one Sunday morning going
with my father along Fore Street, Edmonton. A stick of incendiary bombs
had evidently been released and had fallen on the houses and the flats above
the shops along the east side of Fore Street (a main road running northwards
out of London). They had penetrated the roofs and had landed in the houses.
I remember seeing a burning mattress which had been heaved out of an upstairs
window and had landed on the pavement - a rude awakening!
There were also butterfly bombs. These were small round canisters from which protruded a rod at the end of which were some wings. They were painted in various bright colours so as to look like a child’s toy. They did not explode on impact but lay on the ground until some small child picked it up out of curiosity. The result is too evil to think about. We were shown an example of one of these devices at school assembly and there were posters put up to warn people.
- Landmines. A landmine fell on or near the North Middlesex Hospital,
and this may have been the one that flattened
the Clarke house in Pymmes Villas, but I was really too young to remember.
I remember the surviving Clarkes living in Gloucester Road which must have
been where they were re-housed.
The P O W Camp was Italian
and located at the Saracen Rugby ground in Firs Lane just behind the Edmonton
Cemetery in Church Street.
- Prisoners of war. There must have been a prisoner of war camp nearby, although I never
saw it. But the story goes that a family in the next road to us found some
chap wandering aimlessly on Christmas Morning and invited him in to share
in their Christmas dinner. So there were some better facets as well.
This website Join me in the 1900s is also known as
Join me in the 1900's.