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Whitley Bay Air-Raids

One of the worst air-raids in Whitley Bay was when the air-craft carrier HMS Victorious came down the river after being built at the naval yard in Wallsend. The Germans dropped land mines and hit houses in Charles Avenue, Ocean View and Oxford Street. Many deaths occurred. The next morning bystanders picked up pale green tassels from the land mines … some people might still have these as souvenirs today.

I remember the siren blowing one Wednesday lunch time . I rushed to the communal air-raid shelter at the top of Victoria Terrace near Whitley Bay Railway Station. It was crowded and one could hear the drones of aeroplanes overhead. This seemed to go on for ages. When the all clear blew a policeman came and told us that the planes had been on their way to carry out the daylight raid on Glasgow.

At one raid near our house in Queens Road, the son daughter of a local family were firewatching in Newcastle. They came home later to find their house flattened and all their family killed. This was in Swinburne Gardens.

I had to fire watch on the Wallsend Slipway where I was employed for 10 years. This meant having to be away from home for 2 days. Awful beds to sleep in … we never did sleep. The other girls and I talked all night long. Often there was an alert, but I was never afraid. I was always more frightened when the raid was at Monkseaton or Whitley Bay.

My worst memory of the war was when my parents got a communication from the War Office saying that my young brother had been wounded … I think in the Battle of the Gothic Line. One of his leg’s had to be amputated and he had a number of other wounds. The following week another communication informed us that his other leg had to be amputated and that one of his eyes had to be removed. He had volunteered despite the fact that he was in a reserved occupation and need not have been in the Army. He was kept in hospital in Italy as they stated it was better for his health. He could lay outside.

We got a letter some time later telling us he was in a hospital in the UK at Orskirk so the first Saturday we went to see him: a horrifying experience. He was still not 21 years of age. The every next day he was transferred to a hospital at Dunstan Hill near Gateshead. He eventually got artificial limbs and an eye. He never went back to his old position but went to college in Middlesbrough, qualified and found work at Long Benton. He got a car, learnt to drive met a nice girl and married.

Olive Adams

c/o Age UK North Tyneside

© Copyright Olive Adams

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