Vera Firth

Downham Market    


Aug 2003

Dear Ray,

Received your very interesting letter this morning. Thank you.

The site for Summerhill is giving much pleasure to many people so your hard work in getting it off the ground is much appreciated.

Yes, my father was very much involved when the shelter in the Rec was bombed. I have drawn you a little sketch showing exactly where the shelter was sited.

downhillssheltersketch.jpg (9843 bytes)               

My father was what was known then as a Post Warden. His post was situated at the end of Highams Road in a cul-de-sac. He was responsible for all the roads around the park, and the shelter came into his boundary. He was the first on the scene that night. I seem to remember the dead was over 100.

Now about the Lime. I understood from my Dad that all were eventually got out. I remember him telling my Mum (I was not meant to hear) that the clothes had been blown off of many of the body's and that they looked like statues. This of course we know can be the result of blast, and some of the body's further in the shelter were understandably badly mutilated. The people nearest the entrance took the blast and were statue like horrible !  I never ever heard about the Lime and wonder where the story came from.

I was born in January 1931 so when this event occurred I was only a little girl. I spent all the war in Tottenham, not being evacuated. Nevertheless, it is along time ago but certain things stay in one's mind and I can remember vividly how upset my Dad was when he came home that day having been on duty the night in question. I know he told us it had taken him back to his time in the trenches in World War 1.

I would have thought Janet (Perkins) would have remembered where it was sited. After the war we used to go to the Lido in Lordship Lane and often went via the Rec. The remains of the shelter were there for quite a few years. At least a big mound of earth. As a point of interest a wardens post was sited in St Philips Church grounds and later in the war my Dad was transferred to there as a Post Warden. It was directly opposite Summerhill and very convenient for him.

Listed in your letter you show Florence Shaw of Durham Road. She was a friend of my family roughly the same age as my father, but we knew her as Florrie.

I don't think I can help you anymore about this but I have got the site correct Ray. If you think I can help you anymore let me know. I think a memorial is a lovely idea and extremely justified. Good Luck.

Who was the person at Heacham who was in the shelter?


Vera Firth.


p.s  I had a pleasant surprise. Sylvia (Hoills) phoned me for a chat. She sounds just like her Mum on the phone.

(Note: This letter has been reproduced for the Internet site from the original written by Vera Firth)


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