World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

Doreen Bellamy 

The end and the beginning

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Dennis Martin, Margaret Carol Shaw
Location of story: Baslow Derbyshire Brampton Chesterfield
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Maggie O’Neill of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Doreen Bellamy.

The End and the Beginning

10th April 1944

My brother Dennis and his two friends went walking on the moors near Baslow. There they found used grenades, mortar bombs and cartridge cases. They played with them pretending to bomb things. On the way home Dennis found another mortar bomb, about 9 inches long, it had two bullets stuck in it and it was dented a bit.

The two friends kept the collection they had played with while Dennis kept the nine inch mortar bomb. The boys went home next door while Dennis went into grandma’s house. He was staying the weekend. Dennis put the bomb on the kitchen table and came back with some pliers. As he tried to open the shell it exploded killing him instantly and badly injuring Grandma.

Dennis was 14 years old, had just left school and was to start work the next day at East Midlands Motor Services. He so wanted to be a motor mechanic. A grand lad, looking forward to the future and earning a bit of money to take care of Grandma.
On 17th May 1944, our sister Margaret Carol Shaw was born. As one life ended another began.

The Air Raid Shelter

As children in the war we stuck together, older siblings looked after younger ones and despite moaning “Have I GOT to take her with me?” the answer was always, “Yes you do”.

We lived in a pit village called Poolsbrook. It was surrounded by black tips, buckets clanging along the top spewing out black dust and waste. Half a mile down the road was Ireland Colliery with air raid shelters at the side of the canteen. The shelters were covered over with soil and grass grew alongside brambles. Each had a square shaft with iron rungs to a depth of 12 feet.

A short cut home took you over the air raid shelters, but you had to be careful. I explained to my little sister to only step where I did to avoid the shafts. Little did I realise her legs were half the size of mine, so she couldn’t always step where I had.

The inevitable happened, one minute she was there the next gone. Down the shaft she flew hitting the iron rungs en route. She cried of course poor soul, but looking at her from the front I could see no damage. The back view was a different story, for slowly her white blonde hair was turning a pinky red!

Before going home we called at Mrs Smedleys a very kind neighbour who gently cleaned and cuddled my little sister. Luckily for me we only washed our hair once a week so nature took its course and the wound had healed. The flight down the air raid shelter remained a secret from our parents forever.

This happened just after the war in 1948.