An Interview with Lucy Dearn, Joan Clay and Lawrence Basterfield

The Home Guard had the greengrocers during the War, they also used the Danilo. One night a plane was shot down over Blackheath, and two German pilots were captured by the Home Guard and taken to the greengrocers. During the War, they had a land mine dropped at the Old Men's Home, and everyone had to evacuate the area. We were moved to Blackheath, but you could see them carrying the old men on stretchers and wheelchairs and taking them to the Danilo, in the middle of the night.

Quinton during the War, we were on rations. Some of us worked at the Birmetals and we were on war work, we were always well fed, it was 2d for a soup, 9d for a meal and 3d for a sweet. We got 4/- for fire-watching, once a month on a rota, so we were out one night every month. At night you could listen to Lord Haw Haw on the wireless, he would say, "I know where you all are, I know where the Birmetals and Austin factory is, we'll get you!" We had the RAF on the Quinton Meadows and there was a barrage balloon at the back of the Hollybush in Ridgacre Road. One Saturday night/Sunday morning we were awoken by terrible noises, crashing/banging, one of the barrage balloons had come loose and it had knocked 19 chimney pots off and landed somewhere on the Wolverhampton Road. Lawrence Basterfield's dad had the post office and had to take messages.

From Birch Road opposite the shops on the corner of White Road, in the central reservation was built an air raid shelter, as soon as the sirens went a lot of people used to take all that they needed in a wooden box. Sometimes when the air raid started and it was bad, the buses would park up in Birch Road and the drivers and conductors would take some of the seats out of the bus down the shelter for the people to sit on. A lot of people wouldn't go down the shelter; they said I might as well die in the comfort of my own home. The shelters were "Anderson shelters", you had to dig a big hole in your garden and then put this shelter in and then cover it over with turf. The ARP wardens came round and would shout, "douse that light!" even if there was just a crack of light showing. All food was rationed but if you had an allotment you would grow your own vegetables to supplement your rations.

© QLHS 2005


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