DOWNHILLS SHELTER RECOLLECTIONS - RON NANCARROW

 

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I was in this shelter on this fateful night dreadful night with the members of the Ball family. Joan Ball and I were laying down on the floor of the shelter with blankets under us, as supplied by the Ball family, and we were woken by first a loud bang and the ground shook then with another yet louder bang. 

The ground and the walls of the shelter just shook like jelly. We did not know what had happened but it transpired that the third bomb had hit the shelter direct.

When I regained consciousness there was understandably a lot of confusion. People had been badly injured and were crying and calling out for their family members. There were several people on top of Joan and I, some not moving, and I then realised that something was digging into my head. It was a piece of reinforcement wire from the wall of the shelter from which I had to try and free myself. I then searched for my torch and luckily I found it and proceeded to move the people off of the top of Joan and I. I then shone the torch around the shelter and people were beginning to come around. We then started singing popular songs of the time to help raise people’s spirits.

I then shone my torch in the direction of Mrs Hilda Ball and she was badly injured with a gash right across her forehead, her husband, Sid Ball, said “Oh Girl” and I think they were the last words that he spoke.

When the rescue team got to us they helped us to our feet and cleaned us as best they could by clearing off the dust and loose bits of concrete etc. Then we were taken into a nearby house in Higham Road to recover and were given a cup of tea. I was given a swab of lint and cotton wool for my head and I think it was around midday before I eventually arrived home.

Later on that day I went to the Prince of Wales Hospital to have six stitches in my head wound. That scar is definitely still there today!

I do not know whether you are aware of the fact that during 1938, whilst I was still at Belmont School, a team of men were digging out the trenches for the fateful shelter. Two men were killed by a collapse of the wall into the trench. I can remember the whole team frantically digging to try to rescue them.

Is this recorded do you know?

 

Supplementary Notes:

  •     Sidney Charles Ball of 42 Clonmel Road was killed in the shelter.

  •     Hetty Hilda Ball was injured in the shelter and taken to hospital.

  •     Doris Hilda Ball, eldest daughter, was not in the shelter. (Doris was aged around 26-28)

  •     Joan Marguerite Ball was in the shelter but uninjured.(age around 22)

  •     Jane Ball, youngest daughter, was not in the shelter. ( age about 7-8)

  •     I also believe that there was a son who was killed whilst working for the Railway in or around 1936. That is if my memory serves me right.

  •     Joan Ball was injured when working for an engineering company losing the lower part of an arm.

  •     Still at 42 Clonmel Road, Tottenham:

  •    Hetty Hilda Ball recovered from her injuries and lived until the early 1950’s. We knew her as Hilda.

  •        Joan Ball married and moved away from the area around 1948-9.

  •        Doris Ball and Jane Ball stayed. Jane married and had two children and they all left around 1970 for a new home in Kent I believe.

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Commonwealth War Graves Commission Certificate

in honour of Sidney Ball

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Formal entry in the Register of Deaths for Sidney Ball

Cause of Death - 'Due to War Operations'

 

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Feature Story - North London Today - December 2008

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