My wife Mary who lived at 3 Alverstone Road, New Malden, aged 13, at the time of the raid on New Malden tells the story of her and her family sitting in their garden shelter with the light swinging owing to the raid. They were so scared and all kissed each other goodbye. Fortunately they escaped any damage but it makes one think of the traumas that people went through at the height of the Blitz.
I myself was evacuated with my school to Devon so missed all these terrible raids in and around London. There was a joke going the rounds at the time about during one raid the grandma left the shelter. She was asked what was she doing and not to be so stupid. She replied "I've forgotten my false teeth". She was promptly told to stay put with the riposte: "They're dropping bombs not mince pies"
Sylvia White (nee Young)
I distinctly remember the so called blitz on New Malden. it was a Friday tea time - Croydon had been hit on the Thursday evening. my mother and I, aged just 13 at the time were standing outside Mr Hope the locksmith's shop, waiting for my father who was in the barbers shop opposite when the siren sounded. My dad came rushing out with only one side of hair cut and we all raced home to Orchard Avenue. Dad got out his bicycle and pedalled off to his ARP Warden's Port in Elm Road.
Mum and I were in our kitchen looking out of the window. 'Look, we'll be alright now' said Mum as we watched aeroplanes appear over Malden Golf Course. Suddenly we saw bombs start to fall - before they landed we were both in he cupboard under the stairs. It was a long time before Dad came home that night and he told us of the chaos in Westbury Road and the surrounding area. I remember the chaos at the station, a fire burnt on the furniture shop adjacent to the Malden Tavern and another bomb on 40 Alric Avenue.
Reading the article in Village Voice I was reminded of an incident during one of the first daylight raids on Malden. My mother was an ambulance driver at Burlington Road First Aid Post. I was at home from boarding school and, after the raid, my mother took me and the car to try to help the wounded. The germans had decided to shoot up the children coming our of school in Lime Grove and we tried to help the terrified families. I distinctly remember my mother suddenly saying to me "don't look" as she picked up a foot! I don't remember what happened after all that except that we took several people to be looked after at Burlington Road. I think it was the second raid but it is a long time ago and I was just 15. My name then was Pamela Clatworthy and my mother was Cecile Clatworthy. Maybe one or two people around who remember us and my father who ran the local Army Cadets. I hope to make it to the church in September.
Anthony L Williams
“My Experiences at the start of the war when I was just six years old
I missed having my occasional banana along with sweets which were rationed to 2oz a week and which amounted to about 8 sweets.
I recall seeing many barrage balloons in the sky.
When my mother took me to church we sat in the gallery and I remember seeing lots of soldiers in the congregation.
I was also issued with a Micky Mouse gas mask coloured red in a small cardboard box and ARP wardens telling us to “put those lights out”. My mother had made blackout curtains for the whole house but sometimes if the curtains were not pulled together some light would show through them. All street lights were put out and, if it was necessary to go out at night, it was very dark. Some people took small battery torches with them so as not to fall or trip over objects they were unable to see.
The school I attended at that time decided to evacuate to a safer part of the country to avoid the expected air raids. My mother decided that she wanted me to stay at home and I recall watching many air planes in the sky some flying quite low. A little later on my parents decided that I should also now go away from London and I was therefore taken by my mother in August 1940 to Newport in Shropshire where I stayed with my Auntie and Uncle at a place called Pickstock. It was a picturesque country place and I very much enjoyed my time there and have lasting and very pleasant memories from those days.
Air Raid Shelters
After returning home from my Auntie and Uncle in Newport in October 1941, my parents had moved out of Wandsworth by that time and I went to live with them in a Wates Tudor house in Hollington Crescent off Motspur Park. My daughter and her family now live in the same house in Hollington Crescent and have done so for the past 18 years. At the end of the garden there was an “Anderson” Shelter, partly in the ground, inside there were four bunk beds but it was very damp and sometimes there were puddles in the bottom. I cannot recall any of my family sleeping there at night.
When the V1s starting attacking we obtained and erected a “Morrison” shelter in our front room.
Back home to my “new” home
When I arrived home from Shropshire in October 1941 there were occasional air raids by German aircraft. At that time Anti-Aircraft Guns were positioned in the now Fulham Training Ground and the (old) BBC Sports Ground opposite. The Anti-Aircraft Guns were called Bofos and they made a terrible noise but also helped the morale of the local people as these guns were able to fire between 80 and 100 shells a minute. The BBC Sports Ground was also used as a meeting place for the local Home Guard.
How true this story is I am not sure but it went around that one of the German planes was brought down either by Anti-Aircraft Guns or more than likely by the RAF. A lone pilot from this plane parachuted out of his cockpit and landed on the top of the gasometer (I believe there was only one in those days – there are three today) which bordered on to the BBC Sports Ground and probably got his parachute entangled in the top framework of the gas holder. Trying to free himself he sadly fell to his death. Another theory also told was that on seeing the Home Guard surround the gasometer he took fright and jumped to his death.
V1 Doodlebug near miss
I remember the siren going telling us that another raid was on the way, more than likely it would be a V1 Doodlebug. My mother, sister and myself were in the “Morrison” shelter in the front room when we heard the flying bomb’s engine suddenly cutting out and starting the now familiar noise when descending to earth. It seemed a very long time before it exploded – usually they dive and explode within about fifteen seconds. This time, however, instead of diving it glided down Hollington Crescent, knocking off a brick from one of our neighbour’s chimney stack. I well recall a shadow as it passed our house at bedroom height. It continued to glide across Chilmark Gardens and crashed in the garden of one of the other houses in the other part of Hollington Crescent demolishing two houses and damaging two in Motspur Park
After the Doodlebug exploded we all went outside to view the damage. There was dust everywhere and most of our front windows were broken and many of the tiles on the roof needed replacing. All the houses in the road suffered much the same and the house opposite to us had a side window hanging out. Not long after that, a lorry arrived delivering rolls of roofing felt to each house and that evening all the men in the road managed to make every house watertight, although it took them well after midnight to complete the work.
My mother had a beautiful cut glass vase on the table in the dining room and the blast from the explosion had moved it to the other end of the table and it was very finely balanced on the edge. Happily we were able to save it before it dropped on to the floor and smashed to smithereens.”
Mrs Patricia Schama WW2 People's War
One sunny afternoon in late summer 1940 when I came home from school, my mother decided to take us to the shops just over a mile from home. I was 10 and my little sister Jean was 4.
Unlike most London children we had not been evacuated at the start of the war because New Malden, where we lived, was not considered to be in a danger zone. It was a suburban area, south-west of London, but at that time it was still part of the County of Surrey.
We had almost reached the High Street when the air-raid siren sounded. My mother told me to take Jean on my little bike and get home as quickly as possible. Jean sat on the saddle, I stood on the pedals and went as fast as my legs would go. Our mother ran and walked behind. We had just reached home and fallen into the shelter in the garden when the bombs fell. I can still remember how frightened I was, and can recall the screaming sound and the explosions as the bombs came down. Jean and I were alone at first and we were relieved when Mother joined us. After the bombs there was an eerie silence and then I heard the birds singing.
These were the first bombs in the London area and they marked the beginning of the "blitz". We heard afterwards that the people around us when the siren sounded had run to a brick-built shelter near the railway station and that it had been hit, killing many. As a train pulled into the station a German plane had dived and machine-gunned passengers as they got off. A young man, who lived a few doors away from us, was pne of these passengers, he escaped unhurt but gave us a first-hand account of the scene. A newspaper-seller at the entrance to the station was killed. Thanks to my mother's homing instinct we were safe".
Mrs J Legg WW2 People's War
The time arrived that I had to get a job and was accepted as a junior at the bank at Clapham Junction. As up to now there was no action, this period was known as the phoney war. Two weeks later the Battle of Britain started. New Malden had one of the first attacks, as it was direct rail line to London. Remember it well. The Warning sounded when I was at the railway station and I heard the humming of enemy planes approaching. I fled out of the station, finding an old lady by the bus stop. She was frozen to the spot. I grabbed her and pulled with me to a shelter which was, by then, being machine gunned as well as the train that I had just left. The shelter was full of terrified people and crying children, just waiting for the next bomb. No we were not hit. The sight was dreadful when the all clear sounded. There were wounded; the flower seller at the station had his head blown off; the buildings were scarred with machine gun bullets; broken glass scattered everywhere. I stood outside the shelter, numb with terror and out of nowhere my father appeared. We fell into each others arms, so relieved to know we were both alive. From then on the bombers came night and day, but we carried on with our jobs and travelled to work with bombs pn the line".
WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar
I work in Social Care and as part of my duties I had cause to visit a lady who told me about an attack that happened along Kingston Road. She told me how people from the homes that used to be situated where the Cambridge Estate now is, had just collected their children from the local schools. This lady described to me how on the way home they were dived bomb by a large number of German planes. She said that their attack was indescriminate and that they must have seen that there were large amounts of children present. I am sorry I can't really remember much more of what she told me but, it sounded horrific. I know that this end of Kingston Road is towards Kingston but, it seemed from her description that the planes came from the New Malden end. I don't know if this will help but, maybe it might at least prompt someone else's memory. When we moved in to our house in Chestnut Grove we discovered a couple of shells and I have always been fascinated by the gun fire marks you can still see in the War Memorial in front of Waitrose. I think it is great that you are pulling together the collective memories of residents. All the best. Debbie
Firstly, I would like to write how grateful I am that the people who suffered in the raid are to be remembered with a special commemorative service.
I was working in a factory named Venner Time Switches Limited which was situated on the A3 near Shannon Corner
On 16th August 1940 at sometime in the late afternoon the sirens sounded and all the staff in the building went to there prearranged shelters.
A huge loss of production took place by people being in their shelters for hours on end sometimes when perhaps no aircraft were anywhere near and so the authorities arranged for the Spotter System to be introduced so that people only left there place of work when enemy aircraft were in the vicinity and a frightening loud and intimidating klaxon was sounded at every few seconds which made a person think that the end was nigh.
I sat in my shelter on the opposite side of the road to the Duke Of Cambrideg public house and about a couple of hundred metres away. and there were about 12 or more shelters along the edge of building alongside a service road next to the A3 and also along the side of the building.
I sat with perhaps 30 or so men and women and when a bomb dropped just outside the public house the dust was sucked from our shelter but one young man had the sense to shout out "It's alright, it is only our guns opening up", of course this was not true as there were no guns nearby but it did bring an air of relief to people in the shelter.
I tried very hard to look outwardly unconcerned but inside I was shaking like a jelly, I did not want to be thought of as a coward by the young ladies nearby.
When the all clear sounded it was time to go home, I believe that we finished work at 5.45pm and although some overtime was being worked the real increase in production started latter with a night shift being introduced.
My friend and I stopped to look at the crater caused by the bomb, it was obviously not a very big bomb by the size of the crater and the public hosue was not too badly damaged but my friend pointed out a bicycle which had flesh hanging from the chain wheel and the cycle was badly damaged.
It was a day that I never forgot and I had no idea that other parts of New Malden had been hit as well. but the following Wednesday when I read the Surrey Comet I realised how big the raid had been
May be the bombers were trying to damage the crossroads , no flyover in those days just traffic lights at the cross roads or perhaps one of the many factories in the area, Reid and Sigrist, Decca, Youngs Batteries, and even the Shannon Building, probably Venners was the biggest employer of them all.
I consider myself very very lucky to have survived those terrible days but regret that so many wonderful people lost their lives or were badly injured.
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I came to live in New Malden at the age of 3 in 1928 when my father bought an ironmonger's shop at 129 Kingston Road opposite the Baptist Church and we lived over the shop.
I went to school at Lime Grove, Elm Road and Beverley. Beverley was a new school in 1932 and had a good reputation in those days Mr W.Heal was headmaster.The only building was the two story brick building housing 12 classrooms and school hall. I was very sorry recently when the name was changed to Coombe
I left school age 14 as was the normal practice then and went to work at Venner Time Switches on the by-pass at Shannon Corner
This is where I was on 16th August 1940. Just before 5 pm when it was time to finish work the sirens sounded and we were sent to the air raid shelters until the all-clear sounded.
We had heard the bangs but thought it was the ack ack guns in Bushey Rd gun site,but when we got out we saw that bombs had dropped near The Duke of Cambridge pub.
Rushing home on my bike to tell my parents about the bombs at Shannon Corner, I was met by a school friend at The Fountain cross roads (no roundabout then) who asked me where I was going. I said home and he said "you have no home or family left to go to"
Stunned I carried on as far as Park Road where the Kingston Road was closed and was not allowed through. I saw that a bomb had fallen at the end of Albany Road bringing down the trolley-bus feeder wires which had set fire to the gas main.
By going down Park Road to Westbury Road I was stopped again from getting to Kingston Rd so back to Graham Crescent and Graham Road I managed to get into Elm Road and into the back entrance of our shop.
I was very relieved to find that my parents and sister who were at home were all safe All the damage was from blast at the front of the shops and no fires luckily as we stocked over 600 gallons of paraffin oil at the shop.
I remember that my mother was so upset that our butter ration had to be thrown away due to it being covered in broken glass .We were not allowed to stay home over night and were all put up with my sisters friend at 151 Kingston Road until we rented a house in Albany Road.
Soldiers from The East Surreys did guard duty for awhile at the shops to prevent looting until they were made secure.
My father lost his business and had to go and work in a factory after being his own boss all his life. It must have been very hard for him but we survived and lived in Westbury oad where after retirement he carried on tool sharpening and key cutting as he did at the shop.