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Ron Moore's Memories of the WW2 Blitz

As a family we lived at 79 Leverson Street, Tooting. It was a terraced Victorian house that had been split into two flats. The Moore family had the ground floor flat. That is me, Ron Moore outside the front garden. Today the house has been improved with double glazing and new pebble dashing. It did not look this good in the 1930's. We were friends with another Family named “Platen”. The daughter was Cynthia who was our friend. The house was too small for our family of eight so my parents looked for a bigger house. It is amazing that the house is still standing as the row of houses on the other side of the road have been re built after they were demolished by German WW2 Bomb. Aunt Nell , my mother's sister was a formidable woman who ran a newsagents sweet shop in nearby Kettering Street on the corner with Fallsbrook Road. My Mother's brother Uncle Ted Groves also lived in Eastwood Road. He was a watch maker and jeweller who worked in London.

                       

I went to Eardley Road School, Tooting at the end of the road. The school is still there. It survived the blitz bombing. That is me standing in the same gateway I passed through to go to school back in 1934.   The Fallsbrook Road sweet shop, where I used to buy thru'penny gollywog sweets, is still there opposite the school's main gate. We moved to 95 Southcroft Road when I was 5 and half . I distinctly remember riding to our new home on my three-wheeled bike. It was a big improvement over the small ground floor flat of 79 Leverson Street In Southcroft road whe had use of the whole house. I lived there until I was 28 when I got married to Monica Elwine. In those days we could not afford holidays our only treat was once a year when we would have a day at the seaside. You have to remember that travel was not like it is today.

        

I continued at Eardley Road School until I was 14 and I became the school Captain. I took my Prelim exam at the age of 11 and past but we were not able to take any more exams because of the War had been declared plus we had to stay at the same school. We had the choice to be evacuated but my Mum said “If anything was going to happen it would happen to all of us”, I was very disappointed as it seemed that they were all going to have a good time. Unfortunately for some it did not work out that way.

My earliest memory of the War was when it was declared on September 3rd, 1939, it was announced on the Radio at 11o’clock by the then Prime Minister, (Neville Chamberlain) that War with Germany had been declared. Shortly after that the Air raid sirens sounded and we all rushed down the Anderson Shelter and I remember crying, it turned out to be a false alarm and the All Clear sounded soon after.

My Mum would not evacuate us out of London. She wanted Les and me to stay with her what ever happened. She already had four of her sons away from home fighting in the war. 

England was quiet for sometime, my next memories was that my friends and I were swimming at Tooting Bec Swimming Baths. We were getting changed to come home when the attendant banged on the door for us to open it. We thought she just wanted to see us in the nude (we were of that age!) but she just wanted to tell us that we had to go home as there were enemy aircraft in the area.  As we were walking home there was a “Dog Fight” in the sky, we watched for a while but then we thought that we ought to go to the shelter on the Common.

From then on we had a lot of daytime raids and the “Battle of Britain” began. Hitler did not get things his own way so he concentrated on Night Time bombing. We spent most of our nights in the Anderson Shelter and that was very uncomfortable also they used to flood when we had a lot of rain. These shelters were half buried in the ground with earth heaped on top to protect them from bomb blasts. They were made from six corrugated iron sheets bolted together at the top, with steel plates at either end, and measured 6ft 6in by 4ft 6in (1.95m by 1.35m). The entrance was protected by a steel shield and an earthen blast wall. Anderson shelters were given free to poor people. Men who earned more than 5 a week could buy one for 7. Eventually the Government decided to have them concreted half way up on the inside. As a family we were a bit overcrowded and decided to start sleeping indoors again and take our chances.

I used to deliver newspapers in the mornings and often the air raid siren would sound and the Ant-aircraft guns would start firing. I would have to shelter under the Front Door porches to avoid the shrapnel. Many of the houses were bombed in the area but in those days the bombs were quite small and they only damaged two or three houses but along came the land mines and unexploded bombs they did a lot more damage.

The air raids let up for a while as we were winning the war in the air, but then came the “Doodle Bug” and the V2 Rockets. When the Air Raid Siren went they were mostly over Croydon so I had to stand on top of the Anderson Shelter and blow a whistle if I saw one, all the neighbours ran for the shelter. One day we had the first of the Seasons new peas and the dinner was just put on the table and a Doodle Bug landed nearby and exploded and the entire ceiling came down on top of the dinner, we were very annoyed at Mr Hitler. Unfortunately my poor old Dad had mobility problems from his time in the Artillery trenches during WW1 and he could not get to the shelter in time and he went to run back indoors but luck was with him as he only got to the doorstep just as the ceiling came down and covered him in dust and debris. He was not hurt. My brother, Les’s friend’s sister was sitting on the toilet and the bomb went off and the water tank blew off and landed on her head, it knocked her unconscious but she came round later and was okay. One of my aunts, who lived local, was bombed out but the family were all okay.

Another time my friend, who was one of twin, was delivering papers in Southcroft Road and he was sheltering under the porch of a house and one came down and he was killed. I was one of the many people helping to clear the site of debris looking for the injured, but when the bodies were found us young lads were cleared off.  Many of the neighbours thought it was me. It was my lucky day.  

Around this time I had started work as a Apprentice Compositor at the Local Newspaper, “The Tooting and Balham Gazette” My starting wage was 12/6d week and when I finished my seven years I would be earning 4.40 a week. Often we had to run for the shelter, once I was between the works and shelter and the engine of the Doodle Bug stopped and you had to dive straight to the floor. Another time I was about to switch of my Machine and as I pressed the button. All the dust came from the fanlight windows and the glass broke, fortunately it was wired glass and it stayed together. A V2 rocket had landed in next road and did terrible damage and a lot of people were killed.  I went round to see if I could help, I saw a man with a great gash in his face also a baby was crying on the second floor of a house where the sidewall was down. I had to leave and go home when I was there I cried my eyes out. Unfortunately with the V2 Rocket ,you had no warning it was faster than speed of sound and it just exploded. It might have been a good thing as you would not know it was coming, but you could not take shelter.

But life had to go on and we all got accustomed to it. Around this time we had a message that my Brother Sid was wounded and was in a hospital in Warwick in Staffordshire. Mum and I had to go to see him he was in a bad condition; he had bad burns on his hands and face and was wounded in his leg. Eventually they moved him to Bishops Stortford where they had to remove his leg as gangrene had set in. Whilst we were there I was very impressed with the moral of the Soldiers that were in there. They all had the same sort of bad injuries. It was very uplifting and they had a great sense of humour. 

Whilst Mum and I were in Warwick the Air Raid Siren went off, Mum and I panicked, we asked someone where the Air Raid Shelter was and he said not to worry, as it was only a practice !!! At that time they did not have very many Raids in their area. We were all very happy when our troops got further into Germany and all the bombing stopped. 

When the war ended there were many parties. The Granada Cinema at Tooting put on all their lights and everybody danced outside in the Road. One of the good things to happen after the War finished was the end of Rationing and Chocolate was back in the shops again. My mother and father had no war time duties except to look after us kids and Dad had to go all the way to Neasden  when he worked Pitman, Printers and Publishers. Cyril was the only Regular he was in the Air Force before the war.

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If you have any new information or photographs please contact Craig Moore son of Ron Moore at craig.moore@blueyonder.co.uk