Stories from Gladys Jones

I lived in a cottage with Mom and Pop. We didn't have an air raid shelter, so Pop moved our wooden table to the four walls, which met, between 221 and 223. This was to be our air raid shelter during heavy bombing. If the bombing was light we just stood and watched the dogfights. There was a Public Air Raid Shelter a hundred yards away; near Howley Grange Road. But it always had a few inches of water on the floor with water dripping down the walls. So Mom said, "Back under the table, we will die from the bombing not the pneumonia!" Quinton has always been known for the springs. When Pop thought a raid was getting very dangerous, he would come into the cottage from his air raid duty saying "Under the table with the dog Paddy". All lights out and no torches allowed. Pop was on duty but would always come back regularly to see how we were, we would here the Big Bertha Gun firing from Clent. Some moonlight nights one could watch the fights and figures in parachutes floating down. One night two enemy aircrew were captured and taken to the Danilo picture house. One night Pop rushed into the cottage saying "There's a landmine been dropped near Howley Grange Road, if it explodes the cottage will be destroyed. We collected blankets; ration cards for food and clothing. Food out of the pantry. We jumped into Pop's 3 car, which was used for shift workers but Pop was using the petrol ration to save his family. He drove us to the top of Clent Hills and sat in the car to get some sleep. At 5 o'clock next morning we returned and all roads were closed around Spies Lane. So we went to my Grand Parents whose house was near Kings Highway. We stayed a few days there all sleeping in the attic. I came home from work that night to find Mom had returned home. We crept under the barriers, the police shouted "'you fools but remember do not light the gas and have the windows open". Mom boiled water on the open fire using wood because coal was on ration. We were all back together at home "We will all die together".

The army a few days alter defused the land mine. The night Coventry was bombed Pop took me outside to stand on the front doorstep, putting his helmet on my head saying, "When you are an old lady you can say that in November 1940 you stood and watched Coventry burn". The sky was a glow with many different shades, orange, red, yellow and deep gold. Next morning walking up Spies Lane the world seemed different. I could pick up many pieces of shrapnel. You could always tell when it was friendly aircraft because the drones were short. During the light nights you could see the pilots in the low flying aircraft.

When the war was over many local boys and one girl didn't return, sadly resting in unknown graves.

I worked at Cadbury in the factory, until the War when I used to pack the food parcels for the forces. But we didn't used to eat it because it was called "hard tack". The pack was made up of biscuits, which you would need a hammer to break, chocolate which was like eating cocoa with water that had gone hard. We used to put notes in the parcels, hoping that someone would write to us, but they never did.

Eric Mantle was older than me but "Our Hero" he was an aircrew bomber. He died after completing many air raids over Germany. He was honoured for his war service but I cannot recall the details. All I remember was that he was very handsome in his uniform with his wings. I believe he was engaged to be married at the end of the war. Eric lived with his parents at the hardware shop, second on the right in Howley Grange Road from Spies Lane.

My Mom tried to help in so many ways with his mother's grief but they never really got over it and I believe Eric's father died a few years later from a broken heart. Eric had a sister and brother.

© QLHS 2005


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