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Portrait with uniform and flag





Place of Birth

West Norwood




School Boy

Place living now

West Norwood


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Good stuff : collecting shrapnel from fallen bombs, playing, getting sent home from the evacuation by Christmas.

Bad stuff : Being sent to West Worthing with a label round his neck in the evacuation, knowing no one & having no brothers and sisters to go with.

Documents ; Bernie playing in his tin helmet in the rockery, photo of bomb damage in Norwood, relative on motor bike

Bernie was a boy in Lambeth during the Second World War. Once he had come home from the evacuation early in the war he seems to have quite an adventurous time riding on fire trucks, playing soldiers in the rockery and collecting mementos from the bombing. He also had sad moments when he found out at school that children he knew had died in the nightly blitz bombing that took place over London.

Teachers notes

The Second World War was an extremely stressful time for Londoners. There was a long time of waiting after war had been declared when everyone was living in fear of attack from the Nazis and most mothers were sending their children away to the country for safety.

Then there was the 'Blitz', the German aerial bombardment of London, when thousands of homes were destroyed and hundreds of people were killed.

For children there was sweet rationing, evacuation, away from home and with an unknown family who might be nice or nasty, bomb scares and nights of " going down the shelter " either to the bottom of the garden or to one of the large communal shelters such as the London Underground stations. Bernie's family were lucky. His dad was a carpenter and made a special reinforced table shelter with a bed for mum and dad and a bunk for the lad that helped them survive a direct hit from a bomb.

But the war brought changes Some London children who stayed in the city or returned after the first evacuation found their schools closed which left them more free time with their friends if they hadn't themselves been evacuated.

Some amazing children ran errands as messengers for the emergency services on bikes or on foot. Sadly some of these children were killed in the Blitz. Bernie, the boy in our story, remembers coming to school in the mornings after a bad bombing raid to find one or more children in his class were missing with some of these known to have died. Bernie seems to have revelled a little in the adventure of it all. Looking very serious in uniform raising the union jack flag in his garden or playing on the bonnet of the fire truck in West Norwood it looks like he enjoyed the adventure and excitement and possibly the greater freedom that came to his life during the war years.

www.Lambethlandmark.com search words World War , Bernie,

Global link : Lambeth West Norwood

'What to do when the air raid siren sounds, life in Lambeth during World war Two', Jon Newman and Nilu York, Lambeth Archives, 2006