24 July 2014

24th July 1944: Fred and Ciss bombed

"Our mouths were filled with dirt which turned to mud."

24 Mon.  Warning at 12.15 a.m. I heard two distant bombs go off then went sound asleep. At 3.45 a.m. Ciss & I in the Anderson shelter were suddenly awakened by a terrific explosion and we knew a flying bomb had fallen very near; actually about 28 yds. Our mouths were filled with dirt which turned to mud. It was with difficulty we were able to convince ourselves we were safe and uninjured, but we were, thank God. There was no screaming or alarm and all those in Anderson shelters were uninjured. An old lady, a father, mother and six children were safe in a shelter next door. Mr and Mrs Dimes (?) were in an indoor Morrison shelter and were buried under a heap of debris once their house. They were extricated after about two hours: Mrs Dimes died on the way to hospital but Mr Dimes, since recovered, had only minor injuries. The bomb fell on a gap formerly occupied by four houses destroyed in a raid on Nov. 16. 1940.

Our house is seriously damaged and the furniture including the piano and organ very badly knocked about. During the day Jean and Arthur Child and Geoffrey Trory (Thorpe?) cleaned up the worst of the mess and packed the remains of our household effects. Our house has one door left, no roof and is declared untenable, but we are living in the dining room and scullery. Mrs Child kindly gave us breakfast, dinner and tea.

Note. Our blog reader 'Greyfox' has noticed Fred's frequent mention of the 'scullery' (what this writer would call the kitchen) and offers this comment of changing uses.

Fred says that Ciss and he “are living in the dining room and scullery” following the bombing. I remember you added a note to an earlier post commenting that Fred mentioned the scullery quite frequently but his only mention of the kitchen was to a kitchen cupboard. Given the original floor-plan of this type of house, I think Fred’s kitchen & scullery were one and the same. (A single room containing a sink, copper, pully-airer, gas stove & kitchen cupboard.)

The word 'kitchen' has changed its meaning over the years.

In the early 1900s the “kitchen” was where the family really lived. (The front room or parlour was kept for best!) By the 1940s people started calling this room the “living room” or, in Fred’s terms in this entry, the “dining room”. I see that, in December, he refers to this as the “living room” & the front room as the “sitting room”.

The scullery was where the food preparation, cooking and washing took place. There was normally a built-in cupboard in which was kept the everyday crockery and all the food except the perishables. (These were kept in the safe just outside the scullery door.) I suspect that was “the kitchen cupboard” where Dinky caught his mouse. By the 1940s people started calling this room the “kitchen”.

There is more material about life in a late Victorian/Edwardian working-class house (very much like Chestnut Road), including a floorplan, here  

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