Jean Smith

Bombing and Evacuation

Jean Smith talks about her experience of bombing and evacuation.

Photo:Jean's brother served in the Wireless Section of the Army in the Far East and sent a recorded message to his family back in England in 1946.

Jean's brother served in the Wireless Section of the Army in the Far East and sent a recorded message to his family back in England in 1946.

Jean Smith

Photo:Voices of the Forces. Postal record sent by Jean's brother.

Voices of the Forces. Postal record sent by Jean's brother.

Jean Smith

Photo:Letter sent by Jean's brother along with the record.

Letter sent by Jean's brother along with the record.

Jean Smith

Photo:Back of letter sent by Jean's brother.

Back of letter sent by Jean's brother.

Jean Smith

Childhood memories of evacuation to Devon and Halifax.

Bombing and evacuation

Being a young girl of almost nine years old in September 1939, Jean can remember her initial reaction to the declaration of war: ‘I went to look out the window when I was told because I was expecting to see German soldiers marching down the road. But obviously that didn’t happen, thank goodness.’ Once the Blitz started, the family’s south London home was destroyed in the bombing. Luckily the whole family was in the Anderson shelter in the garden at the time and escaped injury. Along with her mother and baby sister, Jean left London to live with her aunt in Plymouth:

‘We went to Plymouth and soon after that, of course, they blitzed Plymouth as well so we had to leave there as well. We went to a little town...in Devon called Totnes...We lived in 3 or 4 different places, we were moved around and ended up in a little cottage there which was lovely.’

From Devon to Halifax

When the aerial bombardment of London eased at the end of the Blitz, Jean and her family returned to London. But this was not to be for long as when the bombing once again commenced Jean was evacuated back to Totnes while her mother and baby sister went up to Halifax, Yorkshire. As Jean suffered homesickness whilst away from her family, she was soon reunited with her mother in Halifax. However, Jean was not pleased with the choice of location:

‘I hated Halifax. Everything looked grey because Devon is very green with hedges and Halifax, Yorkshire, is all stone walls and I didn’t like that because I couldn’t understand the Yorkshire accent either.’   

Return to London

In the latter part of the war, the family returned to London and her mother was given a requisitioned flat in Clapham. The family remained in London even when the bombing recommenced in 1944. The damage caused by bombing was clear to see: ‘At the bottom of the road they dropped a landmine and they were big houses and I came home from school one day and they’d been absolutely flattened. There had been an air raid during the day.’ Jean recalls how the landscape of London had changed:

‘Bombings had changed such a lot of it and cos it was pre-fabs everywhere. They used to, you know, put pre-fabs where the bombsites had been. I mean, they were marvellous little buildings...[But] it definitely was a difference because of the bombing. It made quite a big difference.’

Downloads

Interview with Jean Smith
Interview with Jean Smith (180k)
To read the full transcript of Jean's interview please press the above link.

Bombing and Evacuation
Bombing and Evacuation (96k)
Transcript of audio clip with Jean Smith.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 23/02/2012.

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