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More Memories - WWII Bombs
Several memories – copied into this one file! Came to us in 2023.

Links to articles :

W. Upton 1994 - Memories of The War & 'Can Do' Boys

W. Upton 2000 - Memories of the Bombs and damage.
Extract from Paul Roberts' memories
Order of transcripts below :
Extract from Paul Roberts' memories
Letter from Terry King

Robert Street - Memories of Mr & Mrs E J Sayer

Letter from Geoff Rich
Letter from Peter Tilley
Letter from Terry (Taj) Wilson
Letter from Peter Andrews
Letter from Arnold F Maddams
Letter from Doug Mantle

Extract from Paul Roberts' memories

The entrance to the little factory [built by TTClarke - but used by Jaques and Clarke at this time] was immediately below the top floor front windows. To go to the toilet one had to go into the street and round the back of the building. For a joke we would fill a milk bottle with water from the tank on the landing. By careful timing one could tip the water from the landing window over a person leaving the outside door below. The joke had to stop when they accidentally caught and drenched with water the owner of the premises who had a Bottom Stock ancillary business on the lower floors.

It was from the windows of the top floor that we saw the flash of the German aircraft as it flew along the town and heard the roar of its engines. Looking out of the windows we witnessed the bombs exploding on Alfred Street Schools and Marlow's factory. After seeing the bombs explode Roland Ball from Doddington declared "Duck, they are bombing us" and we all dived under the benches. We all stopped work and went home. Going along Duck Street I looked up College Street and saw the side of the Alfred Street School a heap of rubble with people climbing over to get inside. Crowds from Marlow’s factory stood in the street. Ladders were being placed against the front of the factory and men were climbing them. [Cave's?]


Letter from Terry King of Mallery Close. September 2000.

Re telephone conversation 20/9/00, Bombing of Alfred Street School 3/10/40. This is my recollection of the event, as plain in my mind as if it was yesterday.

Thursday October 3rd 1940 - The day started the same as any other day, got up about 7am, washed, had breakfast and prepared for school. Then things began to change from normal. About 8.15, my friend Arthur Jones came over and said Mrs Scrivener asked if we would take her son Donald to school for her, for what reason I still do not know. So Arthur and I left earlier than usual because Don wore calipers on each leg and could not walk fast, so off we went to collect him.

It was a typical October morning, grey and drizzling, about halfway along Tennyson Road, Don said "Terry, we will be able to play in the shelters (Air Raid Shelters.) today because it is raining, you will look after me, wont you?". (The lads in the top class kept the roll for each shelter, Don was in mine, that is why he asked me to look after him, there were two senior boys to each shelter.)

We arrived at school in good time, saw Don to his class and handed him over to Miss. Wright, then carried on as usual.

Things went on as any other day until about 10.15 when the whole school seemed to jump into the air. It took some seconds before anyone realized what had happened, as no air raid warning sounded. (Thank God as it turned out.)

The next thing I recollect, is June Eastern crying and shaking from head to foot, I put my arm round her shoulder and told her it's all over now, don't worry. (Daft thing to say as I didn't know if it was or not.)

Miss Bennett, whose class we were in, shouted "Shelters", the whole class then left the classroom, but did not get far because children were milling about like lost sheep in hell. Myself and a lad from another class got to the door leading to the playground and saw a bomb hole and flattened shelters, reported this to Mr. Morris and the children were kept in school, except for those who had bolted home.


Robert Street - Memories of Mr & Mrs E J Sayer on 19th

November 1940

During that day men from the 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars 9th Armoured Division moved into the Robinson factory on the corner of Roberts Grove Road. The street had seen a lot of activity that day.

Margaret Stanley lived at number 8 Robert Street with her mum and dad and was preparing for her wedding on 21st November. They were in the garden when they heard a tremendous 'woosh' and an explosion. Hurrying to their front room they found all the wedding gifts, Margaret's wedding dress and cake all broken and jumbled on the floor. They were devastated but despite this she arrived at St. Mary's Church at 11 a.m. and the couple were duly married. The bride had to wear her going away outfit to get married in owing to the damage to the dress.

There was a small reception at Jack's home at 2 Station Road and they had planned to go away for a long weekend. Instead they stayed in Rushden and went to the Ritz Cinema for the afternoon where they saw the film 'The Grapes of Wrath' starring Henry Fonda and found it stirring, dramatic and gripping.

N.B. Jack's brother, George Sayer the well known bandsman, was best man. Mr & Mrs Stanley had to live in one room for a long time at 8 Roberts Street until repairs could be carried out.


14, Brambleside

29th September 2000

When the daylight bombing raid was carried out on Rushden sixty years ago I was working as an apprentice at Jim Knight's hairdressing shop.

At that particular time I was going through the living room to the stock-room to collect some tobacco when the explosion started and the building shook and the sash windows rattled. I looked out and saw the debris flying into the air from the bomb, which dropped on the Alfred Street School.

I rushed back into the shop and was told to make for the air raid shelter, which was adjacent on some waste ground close to Mumford's closing room, all of which is now part of Peter Crisp's store.

Quite a few people were in there and what I remember most was a number of Londoners who had moved to Rushden for "safety reasons" and commenting that at least they had warnings of air raids which we didn't on that occasion!,

The "All Clear" eventually sounded and then we returned to our duties.

Geoff Rich.


Letter from Peter Tilley. September 2000

Bedale Road,

Dear Sir, Ref.Oct 3rd 1940.

No 48 Duck Street
Shop at 48 Duck Street
On the day in question we owned a sweet shop in Duck Street at the bottom of Fitzwilliam Hill.
My father was "taken short" on that morning and retired to the lavatory in the back yard. No indoor toilets then!.

When the bomb exploded on Cave's at the rear of our shop my father was shaken off the seat, knocked his head on the low roof and was deposited, somewhat disheveled on to the privy floor!

I was employed at PX Transport and helped put out incendiaries which fell between the Depot and Marriots builders yard.

My sister Shirley, aged 5, was in the school but was, fortunately uninjured.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Tilley. By the way, fathers name was Sydney.


The Bombing of John Cave's Factory

I began work in the Clicking Room after Xmas 1939, just 14 years old (birthday 28th December). 36 men were employed in the department when I started.

On the morning of October 3rd around 10-15, I heard two or three thumps and someone shouted, "get down."  I was getting under the bench as the bomb came through the roof, although at the time I did not realise it was a bomb. Next, I remember looking up at the roof and the broken sprinkler system was pouring water. Bonny Burt worked next to me; he was injured by some of the sprinkler falling on him. I crawled under the benches to the entrance in the yard, I was    going back to get my jacket but was stopped by a first aid man from another department. I then walked home with some other people (can't recall who) but I do remember still holding my clicking knife as we walked up Fitzwilliam Hill. Getting home I found I could not run a comb through my hair, so I had to wash it. One of my workmates, Vic Coker, called to check on me. They thought I might have copped it, as they could not find me. This was because I spent a lot of time fetching blades out on the grindstone for some of the men. The grindstone was placed where the centre of the crater was.

My sister worked in the Closing Room where another bomb fell. This did not kill any of the girls although It dropped amongst them, it was said later that It went through a bench and detonated In the brook, saving them from the blast.

Those of us who were able followed the coffins to the cemetery for the funerals of our four workmates, Frank Prickett, Arthur Sanders, John Hall and Stan Clark.

When we started work again most of the men worked in the canteen( over the bowling green), a couple in the Leather room, two in the Shoe Room and two worked from home until we were able to return to our original room. Being the youngest I spent most of my time taking tickets and leather to them on a sack barrow.

Terry (Taj) Wilson, Woodland Road, Rushden.


In 1940 I was evacuated from Peckham in South East London, to Rushden with my younger sister and brother.

My brother went to a children’s home, my sister to Mr & Mrs Smithe in Hall Avenue, and I went to Mr & Mrs Baker in St Mary’s Avenue.

My sister and I were moved because of sickness in the family where I was billeted. We went to Mr & Mrs Nicholson but cannot remember the address.

Again we were both moved because of illness in the family, and were billeted with Mr & Mrs Woods in Roberts Street.

One day in November 1940 we were occupied watching the army move into an empty shoe factory which was next door but one to us. The same evening the air raid siren sounded and later a bomb exploded in the garden of the house opposite. We were moved the next day and billeted with Mr & Mrs Green in the Hayway where we stayed until we return to London in 1941.

We did appreciate the kindness shown by our foster parents but we were very homesick. Our school was a wooden hut adjacent to the Central School in the Hayway. I remember teaching other children to knit!

Yours sincerely,
Peter Andrews


Living in Harborough Road and therefore attending Newton Road school, I was not directly involved in the bombing of Alfred Street. The day however remains clearly in my mind.

It was a normal school day with classes proceeding as usual until the sudden succession of explosions. Half the class dived on the floor as no siren had sounded. We were soon all ushered into the shelters by the teachers who got us singing “Ten green bottles” and such like. No one knew what had happened so we were kept there until a parent or friend who could vouch for you came to escort you home. Mr Loakes, the father of a friend of mine (Derick) came along and said I will take Arnold as lives opposite.

The news later was sad indeed but being inquisitive boys we went down the town the next day to view the damage.

The Robert Street bomb was rather closer to Harborough Road and is still vivid to me. The whistle was startlingly loud and brother Denis and I were under the bed in double quick time. I well remember Dad’s decisive action as he ordered Denis to get dressed and accompany him, whilst I was to stay with Mum. Dad would go to Grandma’s in Robinson Road and Denis would go to Uncle Horace in Newton Road who lived about 6/7 houses further up from the bomb. In fact the bomb had fallen just over the fence of Mr & Mrs Cook’s (of Cooks Ice Cream fame) who were Uncle & Aunt of my late wife Joan. The back of their house was badly damaged and all windows were blown out. Uncle Charlie who was barefoot at the time dashed upstairs to get to the children Jacqueline and Gordon and an evacuee who was with them, but despite the stairs being completely covered with broken glass did not suffer a cut at all.

I remember too the bomb that fell in Willmott’s field. Another huge whistler after many flares had been dropped. Our house in Harborough Road shook tremendously and those on the field side of the road must have been worse.

In the morning all the boys were up early and off to the field to see the crater and what a size it was, although various officials were there shooing us away.

I still managed to get a sizeable piece of shrapnel which I kept for years. It somehow disappeared in later life.

Arnold F Maddams


I was home on leave when the first bombs fell on Rushden, I was crossing West Street at the time I pulled a lady into a shop and told them all to lie down. I went into the High Street and outside the Gas Show Rooms a lady wan lying in the road. A Doctor who was passing at the time was looking at a wound in her thigh, he asked me for my field dressing which he used and when I returned to my Unit at Aldershot I was put on a charge for not having my field dressings. My C.O. said I should have had a letter from the Doctor explaining the loss.

Dong Mantle

Note: Doug Mantle later played football for Rushden Town, a skillful palyer.

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