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Wartime memories, a touching tale and reminiscences from the war when Winston Churchill visited Battersea.


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Continuing on the theme of passing down information
to future generations, I am delighted to have been given permission to reproduce some
memories collected together on a U.K. site
now called
Past Times Project.

We have chosen a memory of when Sir Winston Churchill
visited bombed out Battersea, which I am sure you will find interesting.

Churchill visits bombed-out Battersea

edited by Rob Blann

During the Second World War there were so many horrific raids on
London by the Luftwaffe, but one particularly heavy bombing at Battersea still remains
imprinted on the mind of a lovely 80-year-old lady.

It was a Sunday night, 10th September 1940, just two weeks before her planned wedding,
when the young 20 year-old was at her fiancé’s parents’ house at 73 Mundella
Street, preparing two rooms to be their first marital home.

Twice married Mrs Joan Bryant (formerly Woodland and nee Holman) takes up the story

The raid started about 7 o’clock in the evening and it turned out to be a very bad
night. As always we were in the Anderson shelter in the garden, but used to leave
everything in the kitchen on a tray, ready to make tea. It looked as though we were going
to spend the night in the shelter, my mother-in-law, my future husband and myself.

Suddenly, at about 11.40 pm, the action closed in.

There was a very funny noise outside, as though someone was shaking sheets, then a
terrific explosion which went on for quite a long time, like a rumble, which we heard
later was a mine attached to a parachute.

We couldn’t get out, as the rubble was against the doorway of the shelter.

People were shouting, “Get us out”. The wardens were speaking through
megaphones to stay where we were and keep quiet. Eventually we were brought out. It was
pitch black and we couldn’t see a thing. Gas pipes had been fractured. Water mains
had gone. Ambulances were trying to get through the debris.

When daylight came and we could see each other, we were so black with soot from the
chimneys and all the dust. Mr Churchill and Herbert Morrison came around to see the
devastation: there were so many streets flattened to the ground. Not long after, the
Salvation Army came in vans supplying tea and sandwiches; everyone was so helpful.

(It soon became clear that six streets had been destroyed, including
Thesally Square, Patmore Street, Stockdale Road, Mundella Road and Wadhurst Road where the
local school was. With their houses gone, the survivors had to find fresh accommodation.
Joan and her fiancée, Bert Woodland, whose marriage ceremony was fixed for two weeks
time, lost not only their home and all their belongings, which was bad enough, but they
lost all their expensive wedding clothes too.)

I had a friend who lived in Paradise Road in Clapham, so we decided to go round to her
place; she was so shocked, but took the three of us in. We had baths, and borrowed

As luck would have it as we came away from her house, we saw a flat to let. We applied
for it and the next day we paid a week’s rent on it. It was partly furnished, so it
was paradise to us.

(At the same time, Joan was instructed to leave her job at a department store and
engage in war work in a Munitions factory.)

I had to go up to Peter Robinson’s in Oxford Circus the next day and give in my

(There was just a fortnight to go before Joan and Bert’s wedding, which had been
booked at the local St Andrew’s C of E Church. But, alas, that too had been bombed.
With their wedding clothes ruined and the church just a mound of rubble what were they to

They decided to carry on and get married. Hitler was not going to stop these two young
people in love enjoying their special day.)

Read the rest of this
compelling tale, together with photographs, at

Past Times Project





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