(RECORDED MATERIAL IS SHOWN IN ITALICS)
SECTION A – INTRODUCTION
ELDER You’re very young.
YOUNGER You’re very old.
ELDER You make too much noise
YOUNGER You’re very grumpy
ELDER You glow with youth and life
YOUNGER Your face is lined and your eyes tell stories
ELDER You don’t know the half of it
YOUNGER I want to know.
ELDER Do you ? Really ?
YOUNGER Tell the stories.
ELDER And what good are they to you ?
YOUNGER Tell me your life.
ELDER Before the sun goes down ?
YOUNG Before the sun goes down.
A2———————————–TESCOS. LOTS OF PEOPLE WITH SHOPPING TROLLEYS.OLD MAN AND BOY STILL AMIDST THEM.
OLD MAN: Here.
OLD MAN: Yes. This very spot. Where that counter is, there was a crane. And I’d be standing here, with my mate, who’s dead now.
KEZIA We collected stories.
ANNIE: About the war and that.
OLD MAN Stevedores we were.
BOY: I don’t know what that means.
KEZIA: And we asked questions. They were children during the Blitz
OLD MAN: Ships and cranes and crates and boxes from all over the British Empire. It was called Surrey Docks then.
BOY: Why did they change the name?
KEZIA: This is typical.
OLD MAN: I don’t know.
KEZIA: And we collected statistics.
WENDY: London 1938. Population 8.6 million.
ANNIE: About the war and that.
MARINA: 43,000 civilians….
EDWARD: And we found out about this area
HAZEL: Bermondsey had over 200 factories employing over….
KEZIA: And we found out about a street.
EDWARD: Mayflower Street.
PATRIZIA Population 43.
KEZIA A real street,
EDWARD Round the back of Bubble.
KEZIA And we found out who lived there….
SECTION B – MAYFLOWER STREET
B1———————————– MAYFLOWER STREET ASSEMBLES
MARK: Number 7.
JODIE The Clarks.
RYAN I suffer with my nerves.
FAYE Shall I put the kettle on
ROSIE Number 8
ELLA Blue door.
MUHAMMED Ham Livermore.
HAJER I lodge here.
ASYA Number 9
JO: Sorry about the steam.
ASYA: We’ve got carpets.
LUCY: 10 Mayflower Street
EDWARD: Mum and Dad’s picture’s in the hall.
ANNIE And a funny smell.
JASMINE: This is Nan.
BRENDA I could tell you a few stories
IRIS: You can tell number 11 by the pink curtain
ALEX: I mend radios
CHRIS: In his shed.
CHRIS HA: Nice shed, big.
LAUREN The kids…sorry.
ALEX: What !
TABITHA Don’t.. no !
LAUREN Stop it !!
JACOB: Ahhh !
LOUIE Number 12.
ROBERT: Unlucky 13.
TANYA: The house is smoky.
ROSE: I love fresh air.
PATRICIA I love Trebor.
LEA AND LORA FIGHTING, THEY BUMP INTO CHER. MARTHA SITTING IN A CHAIR, SHE CALLS TO HER GRANDCHILD
MARTHA: Oi you! Come here and give us a kiss!
CHER: Mr. Livermore, for the love of all that is holy, you have to get those girls under control.
MARTHA Won’t you give your Gran a kiss?
CHER: You need to get a stick to them.
HAM I’m afraid I don’t hold with that. Violence is not an answer to problems.
CHER Never did my Emily any harm, god rest her soul.
MARTHA TRUSTS OUT A SIXPENCE TO JASMINE
MARTHA Get us a Guinness!
JASMINE GRABS THE COIN AND THEN RUNS
CHER Good bit of stick gets the bad out of them.
MARTHA And don’t go pissing off with my tanner!
CUT TO ELLA AND ROSY LEA FIGHTING AND KNOCKING INTO CHER AGAIN
CHER If you can’t gem ‘em fixed I’m gonna be looking for new lodgings
GIRLS LOOK WORRIED AND STOP FIGHTING
Preparations for war were underway months before its declaration
Gas Masks issued.
Municipal plans drawn up.
The people readied.
One of the great fears was a repeat of the devastation visited on the people of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, when the german Luftwaffe, on behalf of
the Spanish government innovated a new tactic; terror bombing.
RISI Don’t turn it on.
TAM: Come on now, mother.
RISI If you turn it on it’ll happen.
TAM: If we don’t know its happening, doesn’t mean…
RISI: That’s how my life works, Tam. If you let it happen, it happens.
SOPHIE: What’s the matter?
AMIE: There’s gonna be a war.
RISI: I’ve already lost my brother to King and Country in the last one. They ain’t having you lot and all.
SAPHIRE TURNS ON THE RADIO
B4———————————–CHAMBERLAIN IS HEARD
CHAMBERLAIN: “This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note…..
THE RECORDING OF CHAMBERLAIN QUIETLY CARRIES ON UNDER KAM TALKING TO HIS CHILDREN IN NUMBER 7
stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with ….”
KAM CLARK: We’ve something very very serious to ask you,. You are only young but we have to ask you this very difficult question. You will know that many children are going away to live in the country to be safe , our question to you is do you want to go to the country with the other children and be safe or do you want to stay here with your mum and daddy and almost certainly be killed.
JODIE So. Some kids were evacuated.
SECTION C – EVACUATION
C1————————————TWO CHILDREN (Ameila and Asya) WITH SUITCASES
REENY: “I was 12 when war was declared and I was evacuated 2 days before war was declared and I was 12 years of age then. And I was taken to Brighton on a train with all the evacuees. And we was billeted out on different people…….It was an elderly couple then and I was with my cousin and we had the front room – we were one of the lucky couples you know.
THE CHILDREN LAY OUT THEIR PYJAMAS ON A BED
They were very nice. But my cousin’s Mum came down after five weeks we’d been there and nothing had happened in London then and she came to see us on the Sunday and she went back to my Mum and said ‘I think we ought to get’em home’
CHILDREN BEGIN TO ITCH
because we’d got lousy in our hair. We didn’t know at 12 years of age what it was and she’d noticed us keep scratching our head so my Mum said ‘ Oh, go and bring ‘em back’. So we was only there for 5 weeks”
C2————————————TWO CHILDREN (Rosy and Alex) ENTER FOLLOWED BY OTHERS CHILDREN
BETTY: We arrived there in Crawley, Sussex, a big hall I think it was something to do with the town hall or something a great big room, must have been about two bus loads of children were there and went into this room
ALL CHILDREN FORM A LINE AND ADULTS INSPECT THEM, CHECKING FOR HYGIENE, FINGER NAILS ETC. BOYS ARE CHECKED FOR MUSCLES, PERHAPS EVEN SMELT.
and saw all the ladies came in, there were a couple of men they were their husbands, to choose who they were going to take and my mother said I wasn’t to be parted from my brother I had to be with him….What happened you were there all lined up and these women would walk past. Some were a bit snooty – look at you, you know you could hear them saying Oh I dont’ like the look of that you know, and one lady came straight up to me, said – being fair, my hair was nearly white with a little fringe like that – and the more she kept looking at me and the more embarassed although I was nearly seven I was on the shy side and she just turned around and said I would like this little girl to come with me and I said but I’m with my brother and she said for a little while I will take the two of you.
THE TWO CHILDREN GO OFF WITH THEIR NEW ‘PARENT’
JODIE And some kids stayed at home.
TANYA Where their brothers, and mothers and sisters and fathers volunteered.
WENDY: One and a half million. Volunteers.
SECTION D – WAITING
D1————————————TREBOR TEDDER and FAYE BOTH IN ARP UNIFORM
FAYE: Its not bad being a watcher, especially in the day.
TREBOR Sitting up here in the sunshine and smoking and watching the sky, and looking down at the people doing their business as usual.
FAYE Don’t really know what I’m watching for,
TREBOR Don’t really know what I’ll do if something does happen. Suppose I’ll just hike down the steps and tell them that a bomb has just fallen ‘em.
D2————————————NO. 11 TAM READS FROM A PAMPHLET
TAM: “Air raids will only mean a great noise to younger children and provided Daddy and Mummy won’t mind they won’t. But its no good pretending to older children that raids are of no importance. Far better to reassure them by admitting the danger, but stressing the very long odds against them being hit.”
RISI: Perhaps you should have read that before now.
SOPHIE: I feel sick.
SOUND OF BOMBER ENGINES
LAUREN: September 7th, 1940. Black Saturday.
TREBOR TEDDER: On the skyline, coming up the Thames,black specks like swarms of flies, weaving their way through puffs of smoke. A perfect view of them, flying across the Thames, past Dagenham and Rainham and Barking. The docks are going to get it.
SECTION E – BLACK SATURDAY
E1————————————AIR RAID SIREN. SHELTERERS SHELTER
SOUND OF THE BOMBS IN DISTANCE
LAUREN & AMANDA: The first bombs fell on the Ford motor works in Dagenham. Next a rain of high explosive and fire bombs on Beckton gasworks. Within two minutes the huge warehouses lining North and south of the river from North Woolwich to Tower Bridge were in flames. Two hundred acres of timber stacks at Surrey Docks blazed through the night, destroying 80% of the largest timber stockpile in the UK. Thousands of gallons of burning rum poured into the Thames at West India Dock. The whole of the docklands area pounded with bomb after bomb after bomb.
VOICES LIST THE DEAD
VOICES: John Addis, Alice Addis. John Fitzgerald Addis, Emily Beatrice Badley, William Henry Benneworth, Terence Alfred Benneworth, Mary Jane Blakey, Emily Kate Bond, Ronald Ernest Bond, Robert Edwin Bond, Pamela Joyce Bond, Charles Walter Bond, Williams James Bowden, Charles Mather Brenland.
LEO ATKINSON DASHES INTO THE SHELTER.
LEO: The docks are alight! The whole bloody world’s on fire!
REOS: Where the hell have you been?
LEO: Its brilliant!
RENA: You’ll get yourself killed.
LEO: Dad said you should always face your fear.
REOS: Yeah, before he buggered off!
RISI GETS THE SHAKES WHICH THE REST OF THE HOUSEHOLD TRY TO CALM HER
DAISY: …the day of the bombing like, my stepmum and I were standing at the door …they started bombing the docks and then later on the people who lived what we called downtown where the docks were all came through to go to Keatons Road School …….. and they were all killed. Most of them were killed of the night in the night bombing. That was the start of the bombing.
VOICES: Joseph George Carter, John James Cassidy, Rosina Cassidy, Emma Louise Cannon.
AMANDA: By now Surrey Docks was a square mile of flame. A thousand fire pumps and many thousands of men fought the inferno through the night.
E2——————————-FIREMEN ON A BOAT
FIREMAN: I was on the boat patrol. I’d been ordered back to London from a refinery fire at Canvey Island. As we came back up the Thames there was nothing but fire ahead, apparently stretching right across the river and burning on both its banks. We seemed to be entering a tunnel of fire – no break in it anywhere. Burning barges drifted past. For many hours no contact with the shore was possible. We did what we could when we could.
E3——————————-DON’T GO DOWN THE MINE
SHELTERS SING; QUIET AND TENSE, COMFORTING THEMSELVES. ROSIE’S VOICE OVER THE TOP.
SHELTERERS: Don’t go down in the mine, Dad,
Dreams very often come true;
Daddy, you know it would break my heart
If anything happened to you;
Just go and tell my dream to’your mates,
And as true as the stars that shine,
Something is going to happen today,
Dear Daddy, don’t go down the mine!
DARKNESS. A TORCH BEAM PASSES OVER THE HUDDLED.
E4———————————- LOUD EXPLOSION.
MARTHA: Bloody Hitler!
WOMAN AND GIRL PRAY WITH THEIR ROSARY BEADS.
YAS: I don’t think mine is working, Mummy.
JO: Of course it is darling. Just trust in Our Lady. No harm will come.
YAS: It isn’t! It isn’t working! I’m scared, Mummy!
PATRICIA: Have mine.
PATRICIA : Mine is working.
GIRL: But then you won’t be safe.
PATRICIA: I can fix yours. Ever since I was a little girl I could fix the beads. You don’t have to worry. Take mine.
GIRL TAKES THE BEADS AND WOMAN COMFORTS HER.
EILEEN: …it was terrifying it was really, it was really terrifying especially when they bombed the docks it was all alight and erm then we had err a what they call it a incendiary bomb come in my mum’s bedroom but we was all out in the garden in the shelter but that when out so that was it.
FIERCE BOMBING. FLOOR SHAKES. MOMENTS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS. THEN TIGHT/STROBE LIGHT ILLUMINATES WOMAN WALKING VERY SLOWLY, BALANCING A SHAKING CUP OF TEA.
BARBARA: When bomb explode at a distance, would shake whole ground, everything would rattle. Things fall off the mantle shelf. If closer the windows would blow out –the blast creates a ripple of air, powerful, smash glass and bring ceilings down. I never had a direct hit.
GLADYS: I can’t explain the feeling; there is nothing you can do. You can’t run anywhere; you don’t run out, you’d just do as you’re told.
TREBOR: That night I walked home, picking up news as I could about the East End, because we knew it so well, we knew people and places and that this place had been bombed and that, and we sat and had a cup of tea and talked about how people must be suffering, then we went to bed,with the bombs falling, wondering if we’d wake up in the morning
ALL CLEAR SOUNDS. LIGHT CHANGES
FAYE: At 5am the ‘All Clear’ sounded.
TREBOR: A sound like a beautiful symphony.
E5———————————–TEENS NARRATE AND SHOW – SUGAR LUMPS ?
NARR: During the 8 hours of that first raid 250 German planes dropped 625 tons of high explosive bombs
and at least 800 incendiary bombs
each containing 795 pounds of explosive.
436 people were killed and 1600 seriously injured.
54 were killed from this area.
KEZIA That was Black Saturday; the first day of the Blitz.
SECTION F – THE LULL
F1————————————CHILDREN PLAY ‘WEAK HORSES’ AND ALFREDS SONG IS SUNG QUIETLY
ALFRED: We are some of the Bermondsey boys
We are some of the boys, we know our manners, we are the tanners
We are respected where ever we go doors and windows open wide
If you see the copper come, hit him on the nose and run!
We are the Bermondsey Boys.
LEN: …we used to play a game called Weak Horses. Now I’ve only seen that mentioned once. We used to call it Jimmy Jimmy Knacker (?) You had a boy standing against the wall, we split into 2 teams, boy stood against the wall, the others put their heads and shoulders made like a horse, the other crew run leap and jump on to you, spam? you , right? Then you all had to hold them and say ‘Jimmy Jimmy Knacker 123’ but if you collapsed before that we used to call out ‘weak horses, weak horses’ and you had to do it again. That was that.
ALEX AND JAKE: We learned some of what people went through. Only some of it though. It was in memory, and sometimes they wanted to protect us from those memories because we were children. Sometimes they wanted to protect themselves from the memories.
ELLA: What was sheltering like?
F2————————————SHELTERERS SINGING UNDERNEATH THE ARCHES
SORT OF FLANNEGAN AND ALLEN EXCEPT THEY ARE SLEEP WALKING ON THEIR WAY TO SHELTERS. MARY’S VOICE HEARD OVER THE TOP
SHELTERERS: Underneath the Arches
I dream my dreams away.
Underneath the arches,
On cobblestones I lay.
Ev’ry night you’ll find me,
Tired out and worn.
Happy when the daylight comes creeping,
Heralding the dawn.
MARY: …we used to have one shelter in the buildings or we used to have it indoors, but then they built these two Arches. Stainer Street Arch, they used to just have to sit on the side of the seats or on that side they used to have beds, but we used to have one called 61 Arch, which was a lovely one, after they done built it. They had bunk beds and people, soldiers, American soldiers used to come in, you know, see because we used to put it our bedding up every night but in the end, we used to just left it in the corner for night time….that’s were bingo came out of, 61 Arch. And it was all elderly people, and the children, see, they just wanted to play, but the grown up used to just play bingo, although it was called Azzie Azzie, back then. You know, and American Soldiers, they used to come in and fetch in things like chocolate, sweets and that, stocking for the woman, so we didn’t let them get us down.
THE SHELTER IS MORE ODERED NOW – A CHILD (jodie) DANCING WATCHED BY A VERY TIRED AUDIENCE
BRENDA: We sheltered mostly in the railway arches, which are still there, on the other side of the road. The one we used to use was the metal working factory, sheet metal, cutting metal for industry and we went there at night for company and this was heaven to me because I always wanted to entertain; singing and dancing and being on the stage was my aim in life. So I pretended that I was in the theatre. I had no costume of course but it was all in the mind. I used to go a lot behind all the machinery, pretend that I was in my dressing room, and then I would come out and sing and dance to the people who were sheltering and it cheered them up; and it took their minds off the raid. They would join in; so you see you couldn’t shut me up.
SHELTERERS: Gracious Lord, oh bomb the Germans,
Spare their woman for Thy Sake,
And if that is not too easy
We will pardon Thy Mistake.
But, gracious Lord, whate’er shall be,
Don’t let anyone bomb me.
F3————————————TREBOR TEDDER SLEEPS IN A CHAIR. STILL IN HIS ARP UNIFORM
GRETA GRIGG: Wake your dad up, its tea time.
THE CHILDREN DON’T MOVE
GRETA GRIGG: Wake him up. What’s wrong with you?
ANA BYRNES: But he shouts.
GRETA GRIGG: ‘Course he shouts. He was up all night. Seeing God knows what. Now do it.
REOS: (HOLDING OUT HER HAND TO NUDGE HIM BUT DOES NOT DARE) Dad. Dad. Dad? (SHE TOUCHES HIM)
TREBOR: Jesus Christ! No!!!!!
THE CHILDREN SCARPER. TREBOR RECOVERS FROM HIS NIGHTMARES.
TREBOR: Is it tea ?
KEZIA: How to protect people; that was what exercised civil servants and the government.
TANYA: The country was divided into 111 warning districts,
JODIE Messages about approaching enemy aircraft from RAF fighter command were cascaded to the control centres via direct telephone lines.
BOYS FLY IN WITH A CASCADE OF PHONES AND A TANGLE OF PHONE LINES
TABITHA The control centres would then pass the information onto those on a prioritised warning list;
ASYA government offices first
TANYA then Civil Defence HQ’s,
JASMINE fire brigades
SAPHIRE and large factories.
F5————————————WOMEN AND GIRLS IN TURBANS FORM A PRODUCTION LINE AND NARRATE
VICKY: Each stage of the alert was given a colour code name:
FOREMAN: (Shouts) Yellow !!
HAJER: Yellow was ‘Preliminary Caution’,
AMANDA: Meaning that planes were 22 minutes away
FOREMAN: Red !
IRIS: Red was ‘Action Warning’.
LAUREN: Planes 12 minutes away.
JOHANNA: Air raid sirens activated.
ROSE. Green is ‘All clear’.
MARINA: Raiders passed.
AMANDA Anyone heard the green ?
FAYE: In July 1940 the government shifted from safety first to production first, as air raids were disrupting wartime production, and a ‘purple’ colour code was introduced;
LUCY: Purple meant the factor was in the flight path, but not expected to be a target.
HAM IS STRUGGLING WITH THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR HOW TO BUILD AN ANDERSON SHELTER. HAMMERS, WOOD AND NAILS STREWN ABOUT
LEA: Dad? Lora keeps sticking nails into bunny
BUNNY (TOY) IS NOT LOOKING THAT WELL. LIKE A BUNNY FROM HELLRAISER.
LORA: That’s a lie. I was only going to cut her hair and Lea called me a pig.
LEA: You are a pig.
HAM: Please children, I just need a few moments peace. I’m trying to build us an Anderson shelter, but the instructions don’t make any sense.
LORA: Well, you’re a big fat smelly poo from a pigs bum.
HAM: Please children. A little peace.
HAM: OH FOR GOD’S SAKE WILL YOU SHUT UP!!! IF I DON’T GET THIS BUILT WE’LL BE DEAD. IS THAT CLEAR?
HAM: (RESTRAINING HIMSELF) What is it now?
LEA: You’ve got the instructions upside down.
F8————————————-MEN COMPLETE ANDERSON SHELTER
SHEILA: There was a sand bag shelter in the square where I lived, and a brick shelter and they made shelters under the flats. We slept down there and I had a top bunk. My head was there and there was a boy there. I used to say to my mum, “Oh, Jimmy Fisher’s feet smell!” and she turned me round. Oh Jimmy Fisher! I was about 8.
ROBERT: Eventually, two and a half million Anderson shelters were issued to households in large towns,
CHRIS 1: Reckoned to shelter 10 million of the potentially vulnerable population
CHRIS 2: …of 27 million.
HAM Whilst not bomb proof against a direct hit, they were pretty effective against bomb fragments, debris and blast.
F9————————————MARTHA IS BEING HANDLED INTO THE SHELTER BY THE REST OF THE HOUSEHOLD.
AN AIR RAID SIREN SOUNDS
MARTHA: I’m not going in that stinking hole.
CLU: Mind her leg.
MARTHA: I’d rather be blown to pieces.
CLU: Nearly there now.
DREW: She won’t fit. Where are we going to go?
NINA JENKINS: She’s doing it deliberately.
DREW: Couldn’t we leave her outside?
MARTHA: Show some respect you little bleeder.
THEY SQUEEZE HER INTO THE SHELTER
MARTHA: God, its worse than bleedin steerage.
CLU: Then you should be used to it then.
MARTHA: And where’s me Guinness? I can’t be stuck ‘ere without intoxication.
CLU: Just bloody button it, Mother!
MARTHA: Charmed I’m sure.
SILENCE. SOUND OF DISTANT BOMBING. THE CHILDREN ARE SCARED. MARTHA SEES THIS.
MARTHA: We’ll be alright kiddies. We’ll be alright…
DAISY: …you lived for the day….
RENA: Lee ? Have you seen Leo ?
DAISY: ….You lived one day at a time.
RENA: He should be back by now. Leo ! Leo ! I’m gonna swing for ‘im I swear.
SECTION G – BLOWN UP
G1————————–WHAT’S IT LIKE ?
LOUIE: What’s it like to be blown up?
THE SHELTERERS TELL
SHELTERERS: Syrupy and slow
Time twisted tight around our breath.
Where once a teacup now there’s dust
Where once a limb; a lack, a space.
The roof has fallen under me.
The floor is shattered on the stairs.
Perhaps a glimpse, a panicked look,
Our glances meet, a thwarted gasp
Then broken up and naked by the blast
Your sister takes the moment as her last
And all the rules are gone. The rules are gone.
The hearth and home are up the spout
And picture postcards from Southend
Are sent into the sky.
GAS MASKED FIGURES CLIMB THROUGH THE CARNAGE
BETTY: . ..we were all sitting down, my dad was still in the garden actually cause he used to although he had a tin hat he never wore it – used to get told off for that – but he’d come home that day I know it was sort of early in and he’d just shout. To this day I can hear him say it this is for us and but as luck happened it wasn’t for us it was for the house opposite. It hit the house opposite direct but we caught the full blast of the house it just sort of… everything sort of falls in the windows, everything sort of in a muddle… where there was a table about this high my mother says dive under the table she’s dived under the table and I can remember she was knitting me a dress… and all I can remember is seeing her backside stuck under there. Although she was thin she was trying to get under the table knitting and all I could remember the wool has run you know.
THE GAS MASKED FIGURES SHROUD THE BODIES
BARBARA: Would hear the whistle, as bombs came down. When bomb exploded, at a distance, would shake whole ground, everything would rattle. Things fall off the mantle shelf. If closer the windows would blow out –the blast creates a ripple of air, powerful, smash glass and bring ceilings down.
REENY: .And about 6 o’clock one morning all the doors came in on us and the little houses that was along the side of it all got blown up and they had to come and get us out of the ground floor flat, you know. I can remember my uncle running round, calling out for my Mum. He got us out – all the doors – I don’t know but probably the old chap who let us sleep there didn’t ever have his chimney swept and when we come out, we didn’t know but my uncle and that was putting their handkerchiefs in our mouths – getting the soot out of my mouth and my Mum’s mouth and that, you know.
A CHILD’S DEAD BODY IS CLEANED.
A MAN CALLS FOR HIS WIFE.
A WOMAN HOLDS A TOY AND SMOKES A CIGARETTE.
ARP MAN UNSHROUDS SOME BODIES AND THEY GASP INTO LIFE.
SECTION H – HOMELESS
JAKE: What happened afterwards?
BRENDA: …We were out. We had no home. The government had what they called Rest Centres. Ours was Credon Road School,… It was the school hall. We were just taken there with what we stood up in, my mother and I. And we slept on the floor, just on bare boards, for about a week or so. And then the government found us a home, in a home. It was run by the American Air Force, it was funded by them I should say, it was funded by the American Air Force, and it was in Woking in Surrey…. It was so awful, and the elders, I discovered afterwards, were half-starved.
The money was being privately funded for the Americans to give lots of food, and they weren’t getting it. It was being diverted, maybe the black market … And it was just an awful time so my mother quickly got us out of there… And she found us a lodging house, and that was equally terrible. We were only there a matter of weeks, pretty awful family, and that was also somewhere in the environs of Woking.
SUITCASES ARE QUICKLY PACKED, MOVED AND UNPACKED
And by this time my grandparents, who had been upstairs and bombed out with us, because of their age, they weren’t expected to be sent round to these other lodgings. They were found a flat, a council flat, in Bermondsey in a street called Decima Street, which is just off Tower Bridge Road.
SUITCASES ARE QUICKLY PACKED, MOVED AND UNPACKED
So they were deposited there, and what we did, we came back and we lived with Grandma for a while; so that’s three different places already. But at the end of that period, we couldn’t stay there long, there wasn’t any room for us, we were like refugees really, we were refugees.
SUITCASES ARE QUICKLY PACKED, MOVED AND UNPACKED
My father wrote to his uncle in Diss in Norfolk…. Back we came again, we’d had enough of being separated, and by this time my mother had managed to lodge us with my aunt who lived in Bellingham, that’s down near Bromley. She was living down there, so we lodged in with her. And after that we moved, not long before the war ended, my father found us this condemned house in Delaford Road.
SUITCASES ARE MORE SLOWLY PACKED, MOVED AND UNPACKED
…And we lived in this awful house, well I say awful because it was very wet, everything was rusty
SUITCASES OPENED, CONTENTS SPILL OUT AND ARE DRAGGED ACROSS THE FLOOR THEN ABANDONED AND PEOPLE WANDER ABOUT, NOT CARING WHERE THEY ARE GOING.
…But you know, we lived through it, there we are, we lived through it, we’re still here. …..When we were bombed out, you see, we were separated completely… So there were these long years of separation, so really I never felt as though I had a brother really; you know, quite sad really.
SECTION I – COPING
KEZIA: Number 11 Mayflower Street.
STAGE CLEAR APART FROM RISI, WHO IS SWEEPING UP THE GLASS FROM THE FLOOR.
RISI: I’ve put my life into this home. Thirty years of polishing, patching and scrubbing. Near breaking point with the debts of it. Red raw with the work of it. The rows, the tears…I was beautiful as a girl. Its all in my house. I wish they’d bloody blown me up with it.
SHELTERERS: Do I worry cause you’re stepping out
Do I worry cause you got me in doubt
Though your kisses aren’t right, do I give a bag of beans
Do I stay home every night and read my magazine
LEE (OVER SONG): Bombed out families were taken to rest centres, very often with nothing left but the clothes they stood up in, filthy with dust and dirt and matted blood. Such was the under funding of these rest centres that very often there would only be a few bowls for washing, with no flannels, towels or soap. One East London social worker recalled…
SHELTERERS Am I frantic, cause we lost that spark
Is there panic when it starts turning dark
And when evening shadows creep, do I loose any sleep over you
Do I worry, you can bet your life I do
SOCIAL WORKER (LUCY): “‘dim figures in dejected heaps on unwashed floors in total darkness: harassed, bustling but determinedly cheerful helpers distributing eternal corned beef sandwiches and tea – the London County Council panacea for hunger, shock, misery and illness… a clergyman appeared and wandered about aimlessly, and someone played the piano.”
AN OUT OF TUNE PIANO JOINS THE SONG ANOTHER RAID TAKES PLACE, THE PEOPLE GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS OF SHELTERING – EXHAUSTED, DUST COVERED,
Do I worry when the iceman calls
Do I worry if Niagra Falls
Though you treat me just like dirt
You think I give a snap
Are my feelings really hurt
When you’re sitting in somebody else’s lap
Am I curious when the gossip flies
Am I furious bout your little white lies
And when all our evenings end
Cause you got a sick friend that needs you
Do I worry, honey, you know dog gone well I do
Am I frantic, cause we’ve lost that spark
there panic when it starts turning dark
And when evening shadows creep
Do I lose any sleep over you
Do I worry, you can bet your life, I do
I2————————————-LEAFLETS ARE HANDED OUT TEA AND SOUP IS SERVED.
CHRIS 1: Communal feeding centre were set up. By Christmas 1940 104 of these ‘Citizens kitchens’ were in operation, serving 10,000 meals a day of thick vegetable soup with a cup of tea for adults and milk for children.
ALEX: But central government insisted that the money be found from local rates..
RYAN; Such was the state of affairs that if a family abandoned their bombed home and moved a few streets away to the next borough they were no longer classed as ratepayers, but evacuees and the buck for them passed back to central government.
HAM: (READING) “Remember fellow Londoners, your courage, yourcheerfulness, your resolution WILL BRING US VICTORY.”
KAM CLARK: What a load of bloody piffle. All very well them saying keep cheerful in their fancy Whitehall palaces. It’s not those Eton toffs that are taking the brunt. They are laughing along with the bankers. War is the best thing that ever ‘appened to them. This is the peoples war. This is war is taking place in the kitchen and the porch.
RISI: Didn’t the King get bombed?
WOMAN: Bloody communist.
KAM CLARK: What if I am. The people of this country are waking up to what this war is about.
WOMAN: You should be ashamed. Bloody traitor
KAM CLARK: Why you?
WOMAN: Hit a woman would you?
HAM STEPS IN THE WAY.
HAM: This is not the way.
KAM: What are you? Some sort of bloody conscy?
HAM: Yes I am. That’s exactly what I am.
KAM HITS HAM INSTEAD.
MINISTER 1: The government was determined to monitor the nations morale. Regional Information officers were required to report daily to Home Intelligence…
MINISTER 2: From conversations in pubs, in the streets, reports were compiled and circulated to the Ministry of Information and other government ministries
MINISTER 1: Morale was defined as
MINISTER 2: (READING) “The determination to carry on with the utmost energy, a determination based on the realisation of the facts of life and with a readiness for many minor and some major sacrifices, including if necessary, the sacrfice of life itself.”
MINISTER 1: Very important… morale.
CROSS FADES WITH…
THE READER: Harry Richard Marshall, Robert Frederick Marshall, Richard James Martin, Elsie Maud Maynard, Robert Arthur John Maynard, age 5 months, Charles Victor John Miller….
CHILD : But what did children do ?
SECTION J – PLAYING
JI————————————SHELTERERS TURN INTO CHILDREN AND PLAY WAR GAMES
DAVID: Well, in those days, people were oblivious to what their children were doing and its totally amazing you know, comparing now them then, the transformation, nowadays parents won’t let children out of their sight almost, also, these days they’re almost got to the stage where the children are walking around with mobile phones reporting back what they’re doing all the time, but in my time, one would disappear and as long as you’re back by 10.00pm that was all your parents expected
SHELTERS DANCE TO “MOONLIGHT SERENADE” BY GLENN MILLER THERE IS CANOODLING IN THE SHADOWS. CIGARETTE POSERS. PERHAPS A CHILD PICKPOCKETING AND GETTING CAUGHT AND GIVEN A CLIP ROUND THE EAR.
EILEEN: …when it was a bit quiet we went out dancing and there was a Southwark park club, I don’t know it you know it, but all, all the soldiers used to get in there because they were billeted in the park and we used to go over there and you know enjoy yourselves and err quiet nice…
HAM WITH HIS CHILDREN ASLEEP AGAINST HIM, WEARING
A PARTY HAT.
HAM: It was the best xmas I’d ever known. The bombing stopped. Whatever we had was more than enough. I saved as much paper as I could to make paper chains. One of the kids brought back a Christmas pudding, although I’m worried where they got it from. I don’t why the Germans stopped for Christmas. Or why we stopped. The papers said there had been no agreement. The children fell asleep and I listened to the silent sky.
MARTHA:(SINGING) Show me the way to go home,
I’m tired and I wanna go to bed
I had a little drink about an hour ago…
CLU: Why don’t you sit down Mum? You’re embarassing yourself.
MARTHA: You can’t tell me what to do. I’m a pillar of the community.
NINA: Bucket of gin more like.
MARTHA: You youngsters don’t know you’re born.
NINA: ‘Ere we go.
MARTHA: You think this war stuff is something. Let me tell you it ain’t anything.
CLU: Come on, mum. Have a lie down.
MARTHA: You ain’t suffering like I have suffered. Influenza; that was suffering. The great war; that was suffering. Broke my heart and killed my Frank. He knew how to show a girl a good time. The Boer War…
CLU: You weren’t even born then, mother.
MARTHA: You don’t know how how old I am. Look at my eyes. Look at my eyes.
CLU: Not a lot going on really.
MARTHA: Its all in there, daughter. History. My history. No one cares how I’ve suffered. Just bombs. That’s all there is. Bombs and fancy men and carryings on. Don’t think I don’t see.
CLU: Have a nap, Mum.
MARTHA LAYS HER HEAD ON HER DAUGHTERS SHOULDER
MARTHA: When I go it all goes. You mark my words. All gone.
MARTHA PASSES OUT
NINA: Is that it?
NINA: Thank god for that.
NARR 43: It was a kind of delirium. The Christmas silence ended abruptly and carnage commenced again. It all became normal. You got on with it. Business as usual. Only more so.
CHILD: But what was normal ?
“THE TEDDY BEARS PICNIC” BY HENRY HALL AND HIS ORCHESTRA CREEPS IN. WHILE THE
THE NEXT 3 SECTIONS PLAY AT THE SAME TIME AND THE
TESTIMONY IS INTERCUT
1.GIRLS PAINT NYLON LINES ON THEIR LEGS TO IMITATE STOCKINGS. BOYS BRILL CREME THEIR HAIR AND DRAW RONALD COLEMAN MOUSTACHES ON THEMSELVES. GIRLS WATCH BOYS WATCH BOYS WATCH GIRLS ETC
ALFRED: …before the war I saw her at 15, then after the war I met up with her again. And err then the next time I saw her was two years later, then the three of us were going to Wapping, we was all going down for the weekend, and they said “oh by the way we have a couple of girls coming”, and I said “no I’m not taking any girls”, and I said no we ant got room for any girls, yes we have they can sit on our laps, and who was one of the girls? It was her. I hadn’t seen her for two years, I recognised her straight away.
THE COUPLES MATCH UP WITH VARYING DEGREES OF SUCCESS. MEANWHILE…
SHEILA: My mum used to make great big suet puddings, you filled up on that and there was the black market as well in the war time. If anyone knew anyone who was selling something meatwise cos the men worked in the docks, oh the meat and Jim along the landing got an oxtail which would make a dinner and he had it down his trousers God knows how he walked, I wouldn’t know
DAVID: when we used to go wandering around the parks there was myself and my brother and 3 or 4 other boys, so we didn’t regard ourselves as a gang, we almost shambled around somehow had a sort of unspoken communication, we’d say shall we go here or shall we go there, …and of course the parents didn’t know where you were.
J4———————————–CHILDREN PLAY FIGHTER PLANES – SOUNDLESSLY
A GIRL ON A BIKE
BARBARA: I’ve told this story so many times I don’t know if it really happened or not. I was returning to school after my baked potato on my bike which didn’t have any gears ( I loved my bike, I used to watch the dogfight, the spitfires fighting over Biggin Hill) I was on my way to school…air raid siren went I kept on pedalling to get to school and go in the shelter before I could get there however a plane swooped down
THE CHILDREN TURN THEIR FIRE ON THE GIRL
and I actually thought I was being machine gunned, threw myself into
the gutter, lay in the gutter an believed I had been machined gunned – I told everyone I had been machined gunned, everyone thought it was very exciting.
NARR: A sense of community blossomed. There was a rise in the rate of pregnancy. The bombs fell, day after day, week after week, month after month. But men were in uniform and the dance went on..
CAST SING “CRUISING DOWN THE RIVER” ACCOMPANIED BY AIR RAID.
ALL Cruising down the river
On a Sunday afternoon
With one love, the sun above,
Waiting for the moon.
The old accordion playing
A sentimental tune
Cruising down the river,
On a Sunday afternoon.
CHORUS The birds above all sing of love
A gentle sweet refrain
The winds around all make a sound
Like softly falling rain
Just the two of us together
We’ll plan our honeymoon
Cruising down the river,
On a Sunday afternoon.
J6————————————-NUMBER 11 MAYFLOWER STREET
AMIE: What you looking at Mum?
RISI: The blackbirds. Up there. Building the nest on that chimney.
AIMIE: But that house is bombed out.
RISI: Council gonna knock it down tomorrow. But them blackbirds don’t know about tomorrow do they? They don’t even know they are born. They just look after their family. There’s peace with them. No wars or bombs or all the rest of it.
AIMIE: We should scare them off. Its not safe.
RISI: No…let them have today. There’s a lot more war to come.
MARY: Let’s hope you never have to go through what I went through because you can have nice things and do what you want, do things that you want to do.
J7————————————AIR RAID SIREN. SHELTERERS SHELTER. IT IS HABIT. THEY HAVE THEIR RITUALS. CHILDREN PLAY.
LEN: They used to play Tin Can Copper. You had a tin can in the middle, 2 sticks, once again 2 sides split up. One side had to bounce the ball to hit the tin can, rush the team would go away and hide and hide, not particularly hide, and then the team who was opposing would have the ball and chase you and throw the ball at you so that was when they caught you, start again, quite painful sometimes – the ball a bit hard.
THE FOLLOWING INTER INTERCUT WITH THE ABOVE
ADULTS: The young had talked to the old.
They had asked their questions
And the old had passed on what they could,
But there were other questions.
The questions children didn’t know how to ask
How was all this organised?
How did you locate your loved ones?
How did you find a job when you factory went up in flames?
How did you feed your family when your house was rubble?
How did people cope with the psychological trauma?
Was there counselling?
How was information censored?
Were the politicians trusted?
What criminal activity was there?
How did the black market work?
How were conscientious objectors dealt with?
Were the churches full?
How were resources managed?
Were things fairly shared?
How were houses rebuilt?
Who paid for those houses?
How did the hospitals cope?
How did nurses cope?
How did doctors cope?
How did the dying cope?
How did the mortuaries cope?
How did the burial grounds cope?
Who was brave?
Who was a coward?
Who was both?
What happened to your dreams?
SECTION L – THE ENDS
NARR 46: The ending of the Blitz came on May 10th 1941. The bombing simply ceased. The war continued, but the heavy bombing ceased, until the
Doodlebugs and V2 rockets a few years later.
BETTY: I say I’d live it all through again you know I would do it especially if I’d been older, oh I would have joined up and I would have had the time of my life.
ALFIE: it was a better way of living than it is today, better way of living but there are some good people out there now, we would help anybody decorate anything knock on the door and there I was. That was the things we use to do, help each other.
VOICES: Charles George Whitworth, Charles George Whitworth, Stanley Lionel Williams, May Elizabeth Willoughby and Ronald Wilson. A list of the dead in this area in the first 24 hours of the Blitz.
NARR 46: 43,000 people had been killed, half of them in London.
ROSIE: Well, what I would like to say is that you children of today are so very lucky, so very, very lucky. We didn’t have anything, had our old toys and things, and our sliced up Mars bars but we were happy. … It was a hard life, it was a hard child’s life but a happy one. I had a mum and dad that loved me and lots of brothers and sisters. That was life.
CHURCHILL: Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.
ALL CLEAR SOUNDS.
K2———————————–MAYFLOWER STREET ENDS
NARR: So how did Mayflower Street fare during the Blitz ?
On the 5th September – the second night of bombing – a bomb landed on Number 7.
But did not explode.
Two weeks later, on the 20th September, an incendiary bomb landed in the canteen of Gillman and Spencers Wharf – at the end of the street.
And was extinguished.
On the same night of the 20th September a high explosive bomb landed on Number 11.
The bomb detonated.
The same evening a bomb landed on number 13, and detonated.
These two bombs led to numbers 11, 12 and 13 being demolished.
Three weeks later, on the 18th of October at the same Wharf, a parachute supporting a landmine, attached itself to the roof and hung there…. for days. It did not explode.
On the 29th November an incendiary bomb hit number 7. And five years later number 7 was hit again, on the 29th January 1944.
OLD MAN: Where did all go, eh? All a bloody supermarket.
BOY: Come on, Grandad?
OLD MAN: What?
BOY: Mum wants us to get some Cillit bang.
OLD MAN: What’s that?
BOY: Its purple.
OLD MAN: Ships and cranes and the whole world in boxes.
BOY: Come on, Grandad. Tell me that stuff later.