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Exeter folk and friends in their own words - 1890's to the 1990's │ << Previous story │ Next story >> │


We survived a bomb in a Morrison Shelter

Brother and sister Alan Lock and Blanche Overend survived a bomb hitting their house in May 1942. Their story has been well documented in books about the blitz, but this is their account of what happened that night.

Alan Lock

At 85 years old the memory of the night of the 3rd/4th May, 1942 when Exeter was blitzed is still with me. Living at 180 Monks Road, on previous raids, aged 8, I would be bundled into the Morrison Table Shelter by my mother, along with my sister.

We lay petrified while the bombs fell around us. In the morning the fear had flown as we searched for shrapnel. However the night of the 3rd/4th May was different, when no sooner had we got into the shelter, when a direct hit blew the Morrison Shelter onto the roof of a house on the opposite side of the road. Both my mother and myself were seriously injured and spent four months in hospital. My sister escaped uninjured. Five people next door were killed, plus a person who was lodging with us.

It is the sort of experience that is never forgotten. One other thing that remains with me is when we finally left the hospital and were being driven to the station to go the my grandmother’s to live, was seeing the centre of Exeter flattened!

Blanche Overend

I understand my brother Alan Lock recently made contact with you explaining his memories of the 4th May 1942. I am Blanche Overend nee Lock now 89 years of age and would to like to add my memories of that night.

As my brother explained we were in a Morrison shelter that is, my mother, Alan and myself, and also a man who was lodging with us. I was always under the impression that he worked for the BBC at Bristol so not sure why he would have been with us again, not sure if perhaps I am confused. Reading your list of those killed at 178 /180 Monks Road I see Co Qtr Master Sgt Sidney Henry Burgess, do you think or know if this is the person who was with us on that fateful night?

After the bomb hit the house (See centre page of the Daily Mirror dated 26th May 1942) I was blown 46 feet through the air over a street shelter and landed on the roof of the house of the next row of terraced houses. I do not know if my mother and brother were also found there or even where they were found. I being only 12 years old remember coming from being buried and unconscious and needing the loo and wet myself I remember calling can someone come and get me.( I have no memory of being rescued.) I again lost consciousness and the next I briefly remember was being in the street shelter and then I remember being in a neighbours house.

My next memory was being in an ambulance which took me to a hospital in Plymouth, while the raid was still on and could smell all the dust etc from the damaged buildings. My father found me the following Tuesda; he was in the RAF stationed in Scarborough. How lucky was I to have only a small cut in my head and my mother and brother being so critically injured, I will just add in spite of "Mr Hitler" my mother lived to be 90 years old.

My father H.C.Lock known as Bert Lock played county cricket for Surrey before the war, in 1932 the family that is myself and of course my mother and father my brother was yet to be born, uprooted and went to Exeter to play for and be groundsman for Devon County Cricket Club where he stayed until 1941 when he volunteered for the RAF. When war ended he was contacted by Surrey County Cricket Club to go back to the Oval to be Head Groundsman. I must add I am very proud of my fathers achievements. He was demobilised on if my memory serves me correctly on October 4th and started work on the 5th.

The Oval during the war was a prisoner of war camp, it had again as far as I can recollect only 1 prisoner, there were barbed wire entanglements long grass and a goat I seem to remember !!

I cannot be accurate here as I cannot remember but he and his staff laid 35,000/37,000 turfs and cricket was played the following April, some feat do you not think? I have of a lot of photographs of the Oval when it was a camp should you require copies

Getting back to Exeter we first lived in Shaftsbury Road St Thomas's and moved to Monks Road ? 1935/6 I went to Ladysmiths Road school and cannot remember if my brother also did.

We were a very lucky family to have a car not many did in those days, and when my father was not away playing cricket we would go off to lots of lovely places Dartmoor, Torquay, bluebell woods picking the flower, Haldon racecourse and walk all around but recently passing there it seems no longer in existence and many more. Our favourite place was Dawlish Warren where we had friends who had a hut, again it has altered over the years.

Living in Monks Road we had the London Brick Co not far away and as kids we were often chased by the watchman as we would obviously be trespassing but we would be looking for newts in the puddles. Also behind our house which there are now houses we had Collards monumental masons and we would, when the staff had gone home, climb over the wall and play hide and seek (naughty) Oh the memories.

Another memory I have was seeing a German plane fly only just above our heads I guess it was checking out the railway sidings which were not far away.
I can remember too the milkman coming with his horse and cart delivering the milk and ladling it out and what about Walls ice cream on his pedal bike Stop me and Buy one.

What about following the horse and cart and if the horse had left his mark we were sent out with a shovel to collect the manure for the garden. I also remember my father had an allotment, down by Polsloe Halt, I think it was called J.O.C.?

I remember on a Saturdays after having a weekly bath we would go down Fore Street to the covered market and we would then go over the road ? BHS
where we would spend our 1d or 2d on sweets which we had to put on the piano when we got home for the next day !! It all sounds very silly now.
Getting back to school days, we would come home and have our dinner midday and go back to school afterwards.

Morrison ShelterMorrison Shelters were supplied to households that had no garden for an Anderson Shelter.

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