Wartime memories by Hilda Carter

    It was November 1944 towards the end of the war, and we thought we were lucky having lived in Grafton Avenue all through the bombing, with the blackout shutters on the windows and an indoor shelter. I had just put Janice age two and a half to bed upstairs, I used to pin her into a blanket to keep her warm. About two hours later about eight o'clock this dreadful whining noise started and we knew when the noise stopped it would explode, we had just reached the bedroom window and we could see it getting nearer and nearer and suddenly it took our roof right off and landed on the house on the opposite side of the road.

    I don't remember much after that, but when we regained our senses we were sitting amongst the rafters of the dining room and the bedroom floor, the cot had disappeared. Crawling along the rafters my husband lowered his arm down through the gaping hole where the cot had been and managed to get hold of the blanket, he pulled it up and Janice was still pinned in it unharmed.

    Another doodlebug came over while we were waiting to be rescued, I think it landed near Borstal. Being rescued took hours it seemed, but at last a ladder was put against the back wall and we managed to get down, and as I was seven months pregnant it was not easy. Eight people were killed that night and we lost everything. The shelter had we been in it was upside down deep in rubble. After about eighteen months we were given the the show house prefab in Warren Wood Estate where we lived for ten years.

    Two unusual happenings were a complete set of Janice's clothes i.e. hat, coat and leggings still on the coat hanger hanging on the apple tree in the garden, and a glass cabinet complete with a tea service undamaged.
I was given an American layette for the unborn baby, and Janice wore boy's clothes for a few days given to me by a lady who lived next door to my mother in law until we collected enough clothes coupons for new utility clothes.


* Some of the text of this aural history from Hilda Carter was used in an illustrated article in the 5 April 2013 edition of the Medway Messenger.