Image of Friar Lane after Blitz attack
First hand Account of Nottingham Blitz
The Nottingham “Blitz” occurred on the night of May 8th/9th 1941. I was eight years old at the time but still remember it vividly.
My brother and I were woken up in the middle of the night by our mother, who urged us to get dressed and hurry downstairs into the cellar. A heavy air raid had started and she felt we would be safer in the cellar.
After we had been in the cellar for some time we heard the throbbing sound of German bombers getting nearer and nearer, followed by the whistling noise as bombs were dropped. Then we heard a sudden noise coming from the scullery. We found out afterwards that an incendiary bomb had crashed through the scullery roof, bounced off the sink, and then landed in a washing basket of clothes waiting to be ironed. Within seconds the scullery was ablaze.
As the fire began to spread my mother decided that the house was no longer safe for us to stay in. She knew that the next door neighbour had a proper air raid shelter dug into the railway embankment, and she urged us to run round to this, where she felt we would be safe. “Run for your lives” she told us. My brother and I dashed out of the house and ran to the shelter. Shrapnel was falling all around us and the sky seemed to be full of droning planes.
We reached the shelter safely and spent the rest of the night there. Our next door neighbour was in tears, thinking that our house was in danger of being gutted. In fact the fire did not spread beyond the scullery, and was eventually put out by ARP men ( Air Raid Precautions) with stirrup pumps.
The following day we simply went back to school as normal we were not offered counselling in those days! ). The gutters were filled with incendiary bomb fins, where they had been swept by householders. All the children had souvenirs, either bomb fins or small pieces of shrapnel. We found out later that during one air raid 140 people had been killed and 4,500 houses had been destroyed. Large areas of Nottingham and West Bridgford had been flattened. On Musters Road, West Bridgford , there was a strange spectacle of seeing a house sliced in half as if by a knife- one half intact, and the other half completely destroyed.
My father was an ARP warden and was out all night on rescue duties. He did not know his family was safe until he returned home the following morning. It certainly was a night to remember.