Memories as an Evacuee- Tony Palmer

You asked me about my memories as an evacuee and Yes, with regard to the War, I remember the outbreak vividly.   I was playing with dominoes, on the sidewalk with one of my friends, across the road from 94 Roseberry Avenue, when the sirens went off for the first time. Rose Palmer came rushing out and grabbed me to haul me back home.    When I objected that we had left the dominoes behind, she said not to worry, just get on home and it seems to me that on that very day, which was quite sunny, Tom Palmer strapped a mattress on the top of his Morris 8 and drove me down to Rose's sister Anne's place at Peacehaven in Sussex.  I have often wondered about the rationale of that action.   Anyway, I lived there for several months.  We saw some action with sea mines exploding on the shoreline, bringing pieces of the cliffs down.    I used to walk to school, along the cliffs to Newhaven with my cousins and one day while sitting in the classroom which overlooked the harbour, we saw a Luftwaffe plane fly in over the town, at our eye level and just as the plane turned to fly back out over the Channel, the air raid siren sounded.  So much for being alert. I did not stay in Peacehaven for very long and returned to Tottenham, the following summer, just in time for the blitz.
Tom Palmer was a carpenter by trade and he had obtained some massive timbers with which he shored up our downstairs front room and, after bricking in the windows, that is where we all slept for the entire war.   The Ever Ready Factory, at the end of Roseberry Avenue where it turns into Shelbourne Road, where Rose and probably Violet Swain worked, was demolished one night.  I had slept right through the raid and didn't know anything about it, until I asked Rose why she was not going to work that day. 

I had a number of narrow escapes, one of which I believe I have described to you and that was when one of Wernher von Braun's V2 Rockets landed very close to the Tottenham Grammar School at lunch time, killing one or two boys.The first ones out after the first sitting and injuring several others.  I was inside, just about to sit down to the second sitting. 

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Tottenham Grammar School

Memorial   Plaque

At that age, it seems that I was always injuring myself, either with chisels or razor blades, when trying to make models or by falling off my bike while watching a donnybrook between a man and his wife as I rode by.   I hit the curb and badly smashed up my arm.    On another occasion, while at Coleraine Park School, just around the corner from Tilson Road, I put out my hand to stop a glass panelled door from slamming.  My effort was totally ineffective, with the consequence that I nearly severed my right hand.   All this as a preamble to the event.    Rose and I were on our way back from the hospital, when the sirens went off.   Now Rose would never go into an Air Raid Shelter and there were plenty in the parks; she just kept marching on.  We had just turned the corner from Siddons Road onto Poynton Road, where Rose's mother lived and were approaching the intersection with Spencer Road, when I saw a fighter plane coming along Poynton from the west, at low level just above the rooftops.   Just at that moment a policeman appeared, coming out of Spencer.  He heard the plane, looked at it and then turned and saw us.   He ran at us and threw us against the wall covering us with his body as the bullets ricocheted all around us.  Fortunately, the plane flew on and did that copper give Rose a piece of his mind.  Wow! Not fit for my young ears.  The only other experience that I had was while walking along Roseberry Road, a barrage balloon ran amok and its cable swept off a goodly proportion of the chimneys in my vicinity.   Fortunately, I was spared. 

Some day, I keep promising my children that I will write my autobiography. I think that I have had an eventful life and when I recount some of it to them, they urged me to write about it.


Tony Palmer

(Inisfil, Ontario Canada )


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