I WAS very interested in the Retro West item of November 20, (My party amid the rubble), because my own memories of the early 1940s run parallel to those of Christine Cuss.
I was just six months younger than the lady. My own house suffered damage from a land mine in 1940, we had many near misses, and on June 23, 1944 (the same date), my home in Fletcher Road, Acton Green, was destroyed by a flying bomb. In my case, however, there was not enough left standing to have a party amid the ruins.
On that Friday evening my father, who was working on airfield construction in East Anglia, had decided to come home for the weekend. My mother was about to put the kettle on, but he vetoed her and decided we would visit my grandparents in Park Road North and have something there.
We made the short journey to granny's place and, when we got there, we met Aunt Hilda, who was outside. My mother went inside and Hilda, my father and I stood outside.
Suddenly there was the unmistakable sound and sight of a Vergeltungswaffle 1 (V1 flying bomb). As we watched, we saw the flame at the back of the missile go out and continued watching as the bomb began gliding down. At the last moment we threw ourselves to the ground as the doodlebug exploded. I felt as if I was gently lifted off the ground by the shockwave.
As we picked ourselves up, my mother was out of the house, ran past us, and was racing back to Fletcher Road to see if she had a home to go back to. Hilda set off in hot pursuit. My father just shrugged his shoulders and I thought 'Oh no, not again'. Only four months before, 20 neighbours had been killed when a heavy calibre high-explosive bomb had hit Fletcher Road.
When my mother and Hilda arrived in Fletcher Road, they found a scene of utter devastation. Among those killed were the people who lived upstairs and those who lived next door. My father later used to say that our lives were saved by a cup of tea that was never made.
Although it was reported that we were all safe, the message did not get through to the rescue workers - including Uncle Ted who, as an ARP warden, was among them. He spent the night working with the fear that he was going to find us dead in the rubble. When we met him next morning, walking along Bollo Bridge Road, he was physically shaking with strain and then the added shock of seeing us alive.
When Grandad Darbon was told that we did not have a home any more, he sucked on his clay pipe and then said, 'well at least you have each other'.
JAMES DARBON Greenford