Roy Bartlett

Photo:Roy Bartlett reading his book 'A Little Boy's War'.

Roy Bartlett reading his book 'A Little Boy's War'.

Roy Bartlett

Photo:The family shop at the opening in 1936. The shop was damaged during the war by a parachute mine landing nearby.

The family shop at the opening in 1936. The shop was damaged during the war by a parachute mine landing nearby.

Roy Bartlett

Returning to London

Roy Bartlett talks about returning to London after being evacuated to High Wycombe for nine months.

A bomb in the garden

Roy Bartlett tells of a time a when an incendiary bomb landed in the family's back garden.

Recollections of evacuation to High Wycombe and life on the Home Front in Ealing.

Evacuation to High Wycombe

Born in 1930, Roy Bartlett was nine years old at the outbreak of war and living with his family above his parents’ hardware store in South Ealing. A week into the war, Roy was, along with his school, evacuated in red double-decker buses to High Wycombe:

‘On arrival at the village green we were – sorted out, I think the best expression, like bundles of washing in the Village Hall. People were coming in and sorting us out.... [M]y friend and I were among the leftovers...We were put in a car and toted around the village on offer. They hadn’t gone hundred yards, I suppose, the car stopped and it was surrounded by women peering in. My friend and I were terrified, we was huddled in the back of the car and I can remember all these comments, ‘Poor little Londoners’, ‘Don’t he look pale’, ‘Who’s going to have these two then?’... [Eventually] a kindly couple opened the doors and said, ‘Hello boys, would you like to come and stay with us?’

Returning to London

After nine months in High Wycombe, Roy returned to his family in Ealing only eight weeks before the commencement of the Battle of Britain. Back in London, Roy discovered that ‘both my brothers had been called up, my sister was now working in a munitions factory, my mother had joined the WVS..., dad was an air raid warden...[and] the cellar beneath the shop had been converted into a public air raid shelter’.

The Blitz

Although the bombers did not reach Ealing on the first day of the Blitz, Roy recalls how he climbed up the stairs to the top of the house and look over London.

‘I can still...picture that red glow over the horizon and pillars of smoke were rising which by next morning having encompassed London like a big umbrella and you could smell the acrid smoke of burning wood and it’s an image that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. That was the commencement of the Blitz and little did we realise at that time that staying down the shelter all night would become many, many months, exceeding the year, of nocturnal existence. Perhaps it’s just as well we didn’t know at that time’.

'A sudden awful reality'

The Blitz ‘was a sudden awful reality [but] strangely enough life adapted’. The family’s shop remained open and Roy continued at school. When a parachute mine exploded nearby, the family’s shop and home were damaged. ‘Down in the shelter it created something of...an earthquake effect. All the people in the bunks and chairs were hurled forward in to a confused jumble of bodies on the floor and my first conscious awareness was that my head hurt, my ears hurt and why was I lying on the stone cold floor? I tried to stand up and my leg buckled [and] you couldn’t see because the shelter was full of dust’. In the fall, Roy had injured his leg and was taken to hospital. The scenes in the hospital have remained with Roy ‘I can still picture the trolleys being wheeled around, blood-soaked blankets and at least one entirely covered blood blanket’.

Roy remained in London for the duration of the war and experienced the V1 and V2 rockets.

Downloads

Interview with Roy Bartlett
Interview with Roy Bartlett (267k)
To read the full transcript of Roy's interview please press the above link.

Returning to London
Returning to London (70k)
Transcript of audio clip with Roy Bartlett.

A bomb in the garden
A bomb in the garden (80k)
Transcript of audio clip with Roy Bartlett.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 02/05/2012.

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