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Letter: I Was Rooted to the Spot When the Bombers Flew Low Overhead

Published on: 5 Sep, 2020
Updated on: 5 Sep, 2020

From Dennis R Hall

In response to: The Brooklands Air Raid, September 4, 1940, 80th Anniversary

I well remember that day of September 4, 1940, because I lived in Oatlands Drive, Oatlands Park village and I was on my way to the school in St Mary’s Road. There had been no air-raid warning. There were so many attacks that day there had been no time to sound the sirens.

Everyone had been overcome by the suddenness of the many raids. The first hint when I became aware of the danger and drama was on the corner of Oatlands Drive and St Mary’s Road, just opposite what used to be the Flint Gate public house.

I stood rooted to the spot by the noise of low-flying aircraft over my head. Then my attention was drawn to the arrival of a bus from Weybridge that had stopped further down by the driveway entrance to Oatlands Park Hotel where my Mum was at work.

Off the bus came quite a few children also going to my school and I waited for them as they ran up. I didn’t know any of them, I think they were younger, but I joined them until they were met by a lady who had a small grocery store near by who shepherded them into her little shop and down into her cellar for safety.

I didn’t join them because I knew the family who lived in the house behind the shop had an Andersen air-raid shelter in their garden. I had seen their father build it. So I ran into their driveway towards the garden only to be checked by my friends’ parents at their back door, calling me into the house to shelter beneath the staircase, a favourite place of many in such circumstances.

To my knowledge, Oatlands Park suffered no bombs that day and certainly not in Anderson Road because I lived close by and had friends living there.

The bombs that did fall on the village came on the night of February 22, 1944, Shrove Tuesday, which I also remember vividly because my Mum had shown me how to toss a pancake that evening before the bombs fell in the early hours of Ash Wednesday. We spent most of the night underneath our beds and being gallantly looked after by our neighbours.

Most of the bombs fell in Vale Road, near Anderson Road, and one in St Mary’s Road. After these attacks, many in the village slept in the underground shelter in the recreation park, on the site of the present children’s paddling pool.

In June that year, a “mystery” bomb hit the area in Hangar Hill, near Weybridge station. That type was called then “robot terror bombs”, given that no one knew anything of them. Later, they were known as V1s and called “doodlebugs”. Quite a few hit the area.

Again, there were so many that air-raid wardens had no time to sound the warnings. I was in an upstairs school classroom and saw one approaching without warning. There was an immediate panic among us to reach the shelters outside in the sports field.

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