The German bomb that almost cost me my eyesight in my right eye
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
Hainault resident Derek Hall continues his account of what life was like as a young boy in east London during the Blitz.
At different times when our family would leave the cinema in Ilford of a nighttime we would see burning rooftops, which would mean that the buses had stopped running.
We had to walk the two miles to Gants Hill, or sometimes even three miles to Barkingside, before we could get on a bus back towards the New North Road and then the one mile home.
In 1943 we were walking home frmo the cinema and got to Hainault station when ana ir raid came on.
We had been hoping to get to our own shelter at home in Penrith Road, but the air raid got very heavy, so we ran into a public shelter that was used by the wardens by the allotments.
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We were not allowed to go underground but could stand on the concrete slope that had a concrete roof.
The noise of the raid was quite horrendous, and as a little boy I wanted to see the flashes of the guns that were put in every street to protect Fairlop Airdrome.
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I suddenly yelled “Dad!” and I had been hit in the right eye by a housebrick.
A doctor was called and by about 1am an ambulance was called to take me to Moorfield Eye Hospital in the city.
On the way up to London there was a constant bumping as the ambulance rode over the fire hoses that stretched across the roads to treat the raging fires from the bombing that I could see with one eye through the window.
I was taken in and had an operation to remove splinters of metal sharpnel from my right eye and had to go back to the hospital every week for a long time.
But they saved my eyesight, albeit that everything is a little blurry. It used to give me splitting headaches but these went away after a few years.
For some time I had to wear an eyepatch - it got me the nickname Long John Silver at school.
After a year doctors suggested I wore a pair of sunglasses to protect my eye, the only problem was that you couldn’t buy sunglasses during the war.
My mother had a pair that she had bought in the 1930s that were very big and had white frames, so I became Micky Mouse at school.
A bit hurtful at the time, as I was only seven years old.