Pamela Netherstreet

Recollections of evacuation, air raids and bomb damage.

Separation

Pamela was 10 years old at the outbreak of war and lived with her mother and father in Ladywell, Lewisham. In August 1939 the family were on holiday in Broadstairs. After only a few days in Broadstairs, Pamela’s father, a member of the Territorial Army, received a telegram requesting him to report for service. Pamela recalls the day her father had to leave the family, ‘to this day I can see him standing by my bed that night in his uniform saying good-bye and Mum, my aunt and I crying our eyes out’.

'We didn’t hear a thing when the bomb hit'

Shortly after the outbreak of war, Pamela was evacuated with her school to Tonbridge, Kent, where she remained until Christmas. When the Blitz started in September 1940, Pamela and her mother left London and evacuated to Oxford, and after two months relocated to Harpenden. Relocating to West Wickham in January 1941, the family’s house suffered bomb damage only a few months later. Pamela recalls:

‘The siren went about 9pm and very soon the whole area was completely ringed with flares, it was a most amazing sight...Mum and I took shelter in the cupboard under the stairs. Uncle, who hated being confined in any way, stayed in the kitchen...Auntie wanted to go to the loo and was on her way upstairs, but Mum pushed her into the downstairs toilet and then came back to me. We didn’t hear a thing when the bomb hit. All we felt was the sensation of a lift rushing down, but of course we had been lifted up first. Eventually everything settled down and there, right in front of us was a perfectly shaped tunnel, but unfortunately my right leg was pinned down by a beam, so I could not move’.  

The family were eventually rescued by the Home Guard. The Home Guard corporal who rescued Pamela received a medal for bravery for his actions that night.

To Birmingham and Beckenham

For three months, Pamela and her mother stayed and Birmingham, near her father’s base, before returning south and being re-housed in Beckenham. Pamela remained in Beckenham for the rest of the war and experienced the V1 and V2 rockets in the area. Pamela recalls, ‘The first night we heard this roar of a low flying plane and looking out saw the flames coming from the tail, thinking our guns had brought it down we were delighted. But not for long when more followed and as soon as the engine stopped we dived for cover’.

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This page was added by Malin Lundin on 28/05/2012.

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