Life in Hainault during the Blitz
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In the first of a serialised column, Hainault resident Derek Hall shares his experiences living through the blitz as a young boy in east London.
I was born on May 31, 1935, in Mile End Hospital in London, within the sound of the famous Bow bells, which makes me a London cockney.
I left the East End during the blitz and moved to Dagenham with my family in 1940.
I would watch the dogfights of the German planes and English Hurricanes, you would see their vaour trails high up in the sky and on one occassion a German plane was hit and caught fire.
I saw the pilot parachute out of the plane, and as he did so his boot caught the cockpit and came off, as he was parachuting down his boot came spiralling down after him.
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The big boys went climbing over the railway tracks near Hainault to try and grab his boot. The plane ended up coming down near the station and the pilot landed safely.
On another occasion my brother and I - he was 7 and I was five - were playing on our three-wheeler bike and a German aircraft came flying down the road, machine-gunning everything in sight.
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We were saved from being killed by the air raid wardens who grabbed us and threw us into a garden undergroundshelter.
My brother and I were then evacuated along with about 1million other children, away from the bombs in the London area, you’ve probably seen footage of this in documentaries on television on platforms with our gas masks.
We were all sent away to the country and our parents didn’t know where we were going. Fo us it was very hard to say goodbye to them.
My brother and I were very lucky, after travelling all day we arrived in a sleepy little village 40 miles north of Exeter, called Silverton.
The children were split one to a cottage, but because my brother wouldn’t let us be seperated we were taken up this wonderful manor house – we even had a nanny.
When the bombing eased after a couple of months we came back to Dagenham.