World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                          Bernard poole 

Trapped when Duckmanton School hit by land mine

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Bernard Poole, Morris Poole, Teddy Rowe
Location of story: Duckmanton, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Norman Wigley of the BBC Radio Sheffield Action Desk on behalf of Mr Bernard Poole.


I was at home when the sirens went off. This would be late 1940. There wasn’t room for us all in the shelter as there were seven of us at home. Me and my brother Morris were sent up to the Duckmanton Hotel to shelter in the cellar. Another lad called Teddy Rowe was with us – I haven’t seen him for 60 years now. We sat in the cellar getting warm in front of the boilers.

Suddenly we saw a big flash and heard a lot of noise and could hear what we thought was the pub collapsing above us. We rushed to the door but it was jammed solid and we couldn’t move it. We couldn’t get out any other way. There were just the three of us down there because nobody ever expected something like this happening in Duckmanton and so the adults had stayed upstairs in the pub.

We were terrified. We thought it was the end of the world. I would be about ten years old and my brother about eight. We were stuck there for about three or four hours until we were dug out. We were unhurt so we went off to join our mates – we never thought of going home!

We could see the school was on fire and half the pub had been demolished. There was damage to houses that were near the school gates.

We found out later that it was a stray land mine (a parachute bomb) probably intended for the nearby Staveley Works and it had been seen caught in the branches of an oak tree near the school gates by two Air Raid Wardens. When it dropped it blew the ARP Wardens over the gates and it made them both deaf.

We afterwards went home and saw all the shop windows had been blown out. My mother wanted to know where we had been. She had been worried sick and had been looking for us.

Ever since I have been surprised and thankful that we survived. To the best of my knowledge I believe there were no fatalities.