World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                   Raymond Mawhood 

The Dark Days

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Raymond Mawhood, Frederick Mawhood, Edna May Mawhood
Location of story: Sheffield, Kenley, Farnborough
Background to story: Civilian

 

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Michael Maw of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Raymond Mawhood.

Overnight my life changed from one of blue skies, plenty of sweets and catching bumble bees in the local park in jam jars, to dark skies and collecting shrapnel.

The Sheffield Blitz occurred on the 12th December 1940. Mother, Dad and me vacated the house in Arthington Street to go across the street to a friend’s cellar.

Suddenly, the cellar rocked, as a land mine exploded at the bottom of Meersbrook Park Road. One person was killed in the blast, but, fortunately, we were all safe ... except for my budgie. My friends, who were Chinese, had a lucky escape when a bomb exploded in front of their Chinese Laundry, on London Road. They were called Yun Bun.

In the crater was a burst water pipe, from which I collected water, as all the mains were broken. We all had to go and live at my Grandfathers, on Bradfield Road, as the blast from the landmine had blown off all the doors of our house and taken out the windows. I did not fancy Bradfield Road, as there were a lot of unexploded bombs roped all along this road. We soon got back home.

In 1942 my father was called up into the R.A.F., and in 1943, he passed out as a photographer at Farnborough. My mother, Edna May Mawhood, sold the contents of the house and, with me in tow, went to live at Farnborough. This was quite exciting for me, as a nine-year-old. We lived in various digs.

I saw Canadian soldiers playing gambling games. Lots of planes were flying about the area. I saw a spitfire and a German plane flying together. They were testing one against the other – the German plane was a captured one.

Dad was posted to Kenley (Caterham-on-the-Hill) Spitfire aerodrome. He used to process the cine films shot in action by the pilots. J. E. Johnson was a Wing Commander in charge of a Canadian wing. From the house I lived in you could see the Spitfires taking off. I often got the occasional wave from a pilot.

One night, a German plane was shot down over Kenley, landing, by a miracle, bang in the middle of the village green. All the crew were killed. My father, Frederick, saw the logbook and it turned out he had been awarded the Iron Cross for bombing Sheffield from 19,000 feet. So my budgie was avenged.

Dad went overseas to the Azores and landed on the 8th of October 1943. I did not see him again until April 1946. My mother and me came back to Sheffield and lived in many houses until finally, along with Dad, in about 1951 I got a corporation house.