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David Webb interview: During the war

Tell us what happened when your home was bombed.

In 1939 my father built a concrete air raid shelter in the garden and when we were bombed every night we used to sleep in there all night on bunks. You could feel the ground shaking all around because they were bombing the main line to Portsmouth which was about 60 yards from our house. Then we were evacuated to the Blackpool area, Lytham St Anne's and Grange-over-Sands for a few months in 41. So I went to a primary school in Lytham and my elder brothers went to school in Preston. We came back at the end of 1941 and we didn't get bombed much until the V1s started in '44.

Then on 19th June '44 at 8.35am I was in the bathroom looking out of the window, getting ready to go to school, and I saw what I thought was an aeroplane coming towards me. Actually it was a V1 and the engine had stopped.

The V1 was coming towards me and it was gliding because the engine had stopped. I ran downstairs and as I passed the bottom stair into the front room where the air raid shelter was - the Morrison shelter - the explosion happened and all the glass from the front windows came horizontally across the room and bits of it stuck in the wall, in the plaster opposite. But because I was passing the open door, that collected some of the glass coming in that direction so none of it hit me - the splinters. That really saved my life because I would have got a very large numbers of splinters in me otherwise if I had been behind in the hallway or in front in the room trying to get into the shelter. The only injury I got was a sort of a mental thing for a few weeks which my mother said was similar to the shell shock that some soldiers suffered from in World War One. It was changed to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder later on, the same thing. But I think I recovered after a few weeks after I was evacuated to Loughborough.

What happened to the house?

I ran downstairs and it landed in the road about 50 yards along the road - Burstow Road. It demolished four houses and the roof of our house came off and all the doors and windows disappeared. So the War Damage Commission came along and put tarpaulins on the roof - what was left of the roof - and my father put plastic in the windows, plastic sheets. I was sent away to Loughborough to a family for a few months until the end of September '44. My mother and two brothers went to live at Blakeney on the north coast of Norfolk. I came back to Wimbledon College at the end of September '44.