Myrtle Payne

Photo:Staff and students clearing bomb damage on top of the RADA building. This photograph was taken by Myrtle with a box brownie.

Staff and students clearing bomb damage on top of the RADA building. This photograph was taken by Myrtle with a box brownie.

Myrtle Payne

Photo:Myrtle Payne

Myrtle Payne

Recollections of the London Blitz.

Myrtle Payne (nee Rowe) was 19 years old and had won the Leverhulme scholarship to RADA in 1940. Undeterred by the results of enemy action, she and her fellow students would do exercises on the roof of the RADA building every morning. 

Richard Attenborough (who won a scholarship the following year) is standing second left in the back row. 

In a journal he kept during the Blitz, Graham Greene refers to a parachute bomb which fell in Malet Street where 350 Canadian soldiers were sleeping. He also recorded:  ‘Women bleeding from cuts on the face in dressing gowns said that there was someone hurt on the top floor above RADA...Girl on the floor. Bleeding. Stained pyjamas. Her hip hurt.’

Myrtle’s memories of London during the Blitz are that:

It was a scary time. The family home was at Parliament Hill Fields and when night raids commenced my parents, my sister and myself would crawl into a huge steel box called a Morrison shelter (named after Herbert Morrison) which was placed under the dining table. Realising that a direct hit would cause two floors above to collapse on us, I used to get up and walk the streets with a tin hat on.

Downloads

An account of Myrtle's experience
An account of Myrtle's experience (36k)
Letter written by Myrtle Payne describing her experience of the London Blitz

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 22/11/2011.

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