Sunday, February 26, 2006
The night our house was sliced in half (as told by Nita)
Photo shows: Nita in 1939 as an evacuee
The time was 7.45 pm on the 9th of October 1940 and Hitler had evidently decided it was important to his war aims that our lovely Victorian house in Dunsmure Road should be destroyed that night.
Dunsmure Road was a quiet residential turning in North London and we had lived there for the past ten years.
My family consisted of my mother Kate, my brother Gerry and myself, Nita Schneiderman, as I was then known.
The evening had started just like many of the other nights we had experienced since the Blitz started on September the 7th.
We had just finished our evening meal and had not yet gone out to the safety of our Anderson Shelter that was situated in the garden. I can’t actually remember hearing the sound of the bomb that was to completely alter our lives.
My first recollection was finding myself in complete darkness, covered in dust and debris and that the window of the morning room in which we were sitting had been completely blown into the room and was actually resting on the table at which we had been sitting.
This window had been put in by my late father when we first moved into the house in order to create extra light and it is ironic that because of its presence we were eventually able to make our escape from the ruined house.
When I first recovered my wits, I saw my brother moving around and then the three of us managed to clamber out of the window into the garden. From there we went down the few steps into the cellar and then eventually through another door that gave us access to the front of the house.
By this time the Air Raid Wardens had arrived on the scene and helped us to climb over the debris that was in front of the house.
I particularly remember that one of them took my hand and asked me if I was OK and when I said that I was, he squeezed my hand in reassurance. Sixty five years after the event I cannot think of this moment without a lump coming into my throat. Analysing my emotions I suppose that it was at this actual point in our rescue that I realised we had managed to survive this dreadful experience.
The rescue squad took us to an Air Raid Shelter at the nearby flats of Cambridge Court where there was a First Aid Post.
Here we received treatment for our various cuts, caused mainly by the flying glass. I remember that my arms in particular were badly cut as I had automatically put my arms over my head to protect myself from further injury.
The following day we went back to our house to see what, if anything, remained.
We discovered that the house appeared to have received the first impact of the bomb which had sliced it diagonally and destroyed the upper floors. It had then moved on to our neighbours house which was also badly damaged and finally moved on to a third house which it completely flattened.
This last house was home to a family who had always been very nervous about remaining in their house after the air raid warning had sounded.
They had all been in their Anderson Shelter when the bomb hit and all had survived.
By sheer good luck there were no fatalities or serious injuries caused by ‘our’ bomb.
A few days later, the demolition squad called and were able to salvage some of our belongings and I can still remember the sight of our few precious posessions standing in a heap by the roadside, in the rain, where they were to remain for the next few days whilst arrangements were made to put them into store.
It is heartening to remember today that despite those terrible times, none of our belongings were stolen or vandalised.