York Blitz: Geoff's story

Posted on 08 August 2012 | Narrative

“Being born a year before the war started, and living in the centre of York, left me during my formative years with the impression that the way of life during that time was normal.

The constant sound of air raid sirens and the subsequent all clear are as vivid today as then. Living in Bishophill meant on the sound of the siren, everyone left their home, and immediately went to the underground shelters especially dug out of the moat adjacent to the city walls.

Our entrance to the shelter was at the end of Fairfax Street, and I can recall as a little lad stumbling down those steps along with lots of other people all desperate for a safe refuge, never sure where Mum was until everyone sorted themselves out.

On the night of the April 1942 blitz, the all-clear took much longer than on previous occassions, in fact the whole night,most of which I am told I slept through.

The biggest excitement of all was in fact the following morning when along with all the other kids in our street we looked at this hole in the ground, at the end of Fairfax Street and the top of Buckingham Street. At the bottom of this pretty large hole in the ground was a strange object not seen by any of us before.

After throwing stones at it and poking it with a long stick, we were told to clear off by this man with a round helmet on. He turned out to be the local air raid warden and the unknown object turned out to be an unexploded bomb.

I feel sure the children of today may be “slightly constrained” by parents from not only playing in the street, never mind fiddling about with unexploded bombs.”

- Geoff Wragg