I find all your stories of the war so very interesting, and brought back so many wartime memories, but I would however like so much to ‘Add’ to some of your stories with first hand personal experiences!

I have read about the first bomb to fall in North London on the ‘Alcazar’ Cinema in Edmonton and remember walking there from Clyde Road to see the damage done. I also remember the second bomb which fell I think was on the corner of Mansfield Avenue in Philip Lane. There were crowds of us walking along Philip Lane to see the damage. It was apparently just a very small bomb and really did little damage compared with the dreadful times we had to follow later.

Another story of the Land-Mines that fell either side of Tottenham High Road. I’m sure no one could have had more knowledge or experience of that than me. I recall very vividly the actual night that happened. I was sixteen years old at the time and I worked in a very well known Ironmongers, Tools and Hardware shop, which was on the left hand side of the main road between St Loys Road and Bruce Grove corner, immediately opposite the well know ‘Endeans’ leather shop (You have a photo of ‘Endeans’ in the Museum). The night the Land-Mines fell was on a Wednesday and the next day was of course a Thursday, which was early closing day for all shops in Tottenham, and of course my ‘Half-Day off’, but instead I walked to work on the Thursday morning from my home in Clyde Road, after a dreadful noisy night, and what a sight I saw when getting as far as the Tottenham Police Station and the Tottenham Palace Cinema. The whole of Tottenham High Road was just a mass of broken glass everywhere.

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Extract from 1936 map that shows Clyde Road and Carlton Road (Highlighted) and the route Stan Wood had taken down Tottenham High Road towards the Palace Cinema and the Police station

All the shop windows were blown out and you had to walk over all the glass. All the goods from all the shop windows were strewn all across the pavements and road.

I got to my shop of work and all our tools, and the entire hardware stock from both windows, were all over the road and furniture too from the next-door shop. It was an unbelievable sight – utter chaos! All the shop fronts near Stoney South too were blown out and, just as I arrived for work that morning, our driver of our delivery van also arrived. He was in a dreadful state and carrying a small attaché case with his sole belongings. His home off the Stoney South had been completely demolished. Of course, instead of our ‘Half-Day’ holiday, we all worked until about Ten at night clearing up all the mess, and then had to board up all the windows and prepare to open up for business again on the Friday morning. And every shop was actually opened for ‘Business as usual’ on the Friday morning. What an experience! Then on the Saturday afternoon we watched the Ariel dog-fights above the Tottenham High Road, with the sky full of dots and fighter planes everywhere!

I would like to mention too about Clyde Road and Philip Lane. I’ve seen no mention anywhere yet about the very bad experience we had when a stick of bombs fell, each one getting nearer and nearer (As they say you never hear the last one !) The last one fell on the corner of Carlton Road and Philip Lane, and the whole corner was demolished. Our lovely Bakers on one corner and the Paper-Shop on the other corner, and also over half of Carlton Road was completely destroyed. Our house in Clyde Road was immediately opposite the other end of Carlton Road. It was only a very short road and the blast destroyed all our windows and every house around us.
We were all in our ‘Anderson-Shelter’ in no 25 Clyde Road. There were seven of us in our shelter, all sitting on our old wooden chairs, which we used to carry out from the kitchen every night. There were no Bunks of any kind at that time. It was along time before Bunks were finally issued. So long in fact that I was already in the Army before they arrived.

andersonshelter.jpg (14045 bytes) The only light we had in the shelter was two candles. Sometimes a small hurricane lamp if we could get the paraffin. We were in the shelter as soon as getting home from work until about 7 O’clock each morning. Then after a quick wash and change it was back to work again. We had no real sleep at all, we used to just lean up against each other to try and sleep for just short periods. And of course the continuous loud noise of all the guns. There were so many guns quite nearby including on the railway lines.

Although I was only sixteen, my brother and I joined the local Fire-Patrol. We were issued with a steel helmet and a whistle and we had to do two four-hour shifts a week from 10 pm until 2 am or from 2 am to 6 am. We also had to go to the Grammar School, opposite the Tottenham Girls School, for one evening a week for training to deal with the incendiary fire-bombs with stirrup pumps.

We had to patrol our half of Clyde Road up to Clyde Circus and also half of Beaconsfield Road. In the event of incendiary fires we had to blow our whistles to warn people and to call for help. We had buckets of sand and water spaced out along the roads. I can never forget standing on the railway bridge near the Tottenham Central Stores yard, a few yards from our house, and looked at the bright red glow of the London Docks burning all night and still being bombed – What a night! My brother was called-up shortly after and I had to have another partner to patrol with

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Dongola Road Fire Patrol - Not far from Clyde Road

Unfortunately of course people of my age had no youth at all. I left school at 14 and exactly 12 months after the war started. After doing Fire-Patrol at 16 then at 18 I was called up. I was sent to Northern Ireland for intensive training then returned for further training in Kent. Then when I was 19 I got embarkation leave of 14 days. A few days after returning we prepared for moving, and travelling at midnight, we arrived early morning at Greenock in Scotland and immediately boarded a troop ship for an unknown destination. Three weeks after, with a large escorted convey, we arrived in Algeria in Northern Africa. We were just a small group of just over 50 men in total of Royal Signals; completely independent at the time and, after a few days under canvas in the desert we started a long journey. With five ‘Three-Ton Bedford’ lorries, a 15 cwt truck, one jeep and one motor-bike we travelled along the African coast stopping in the desert each night with nothing above us but the sky.

We eventually arrived at the port of Bizerta and we later boarded landing craft and sailed to the Italian mainland, and then my travels and experiences throughout Italy began. I was still only 19 and had never been away from home, not even for one night all my life until I was called-up. It was a great shock and I was really lost. I have many stories to tell and all are still so very clear in my mind as though it was yesterday.

I forgot to mention this: - I remember two friends of my family a father and grown up daughter were both killed on the night the bomb fell on the corner of Carlton Road, and many were injured too. The father and daughter were friends of my parents. I think their name was hardy or similar. They were completely un-injured but found sitting in chairs under the staircase and killed by the blast.

We also had another bomb shortly before which fell immediately opposite our house number 25, which destroyed the backs of two houses. We also had an unexploded bomb, just a few yards from our home that fell in the middle of the railway bridge.

I do hope that you can read all of this Ray. I can’t concentrate on my writing while I am deep in thought too! Do hope to see you again soon and would like to write to you again with anything you might suggest.

You really do a wonderful job Ray. I wish I was a few years younger!

Every Good wish

Sincerely Stan and my wife Joan.

(Wartime memories extracted from a letter written by Stan Wood in August 2005)


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