World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                            R Priestley 

Doodlebugs in London

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Mrs R Priestley
Location of story: London
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the peoples war site by a volunteer from Radio Sheffield Actiondesk on behalf of Mr R Priestley.

Living in the east end of London I was working at Yardley’s, the perfume and toilet requisite firm. After the Battle of Britain finished, the German Air force switched from the daylight raids on the airfields at the end of 1940, to night bombing in an effort to halt war production and terrorise the civilian population.

I was seeing the results at first hand as we lived in the docks area that was heavily bombed, the air raid warnings being sounded almost every night. Next day we had to struggle to work, now in an aircraft component factory. There was little respite from the bombings and I survived when the neighbouring houses suffered a direct hit. I was living too far from the Underground, I was unable to use these deep shelters and the nights were spent in Anderson shelters dug into the ground, these gave little protection from anything larger than shrapnel or incendiary bombs.

The younger members of our large family were evacuated to Suffolk. By early 1944 a new weapon was launched on London and the South East. I remember going to work one morning and seeing a strange object flying low over the city, too small for a plane and making a different sound from the usual engines. Suddenly the noise stopped and the contraption crashed to the ground, exploding in a nearby street. This I learned later was a flying bomb or “Doodlebug”, a forerunner of the later rocket attacks. By the end of the year, many of the launch sites on the coast of France had been over run by the Allied Forces and there was a respite.

After three and a half years of almost nightly bombing, the end came and the lights were back on again. I married in 1942 and my husband was demobbed in early 1946, but we didn’t get a home to ourselves until 1947, living with one of my sisters until we got an ex-forces Nissen Hut.