A WW2 Bombing Survivor

The edited words of Dorothy Montgomery, born October 1925.

“I remember living in Arnold Road but was born in Harrison Road, Portswood.

Due to family circumstances, I was put in the care of Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie Dorothy. I can’t remember how old I was but do remember how lovely they were.

I went to the local elementary school (Portswood) and at the age of 11 went to St Anne’s Convent School. At the outbreak of war the school was evacuated to Bournemouth, but my grandparents wanted me near them (they were very protective of me). So, I went to Greggs Commercial College (off Cumberland Place).

At the age of 15 we were living at 11, Richmond Gardens.

We slept downstairs because Gran wasn’t very well. The Anderson Shelter wasn’t used – if it had been I wouldn’t be here. I have since learnt that this was an Armour Piercing Bomb (probably meant for the Docks) and it fell in our back garden knocking down a number of houses including Donnington Grove.

I slept in the room next to Gran, Gramps and Auntie. I heard this horrendous deafening noise and felt the house being lifted up by its roots. I leapt out of bed to get to the others but it was too late. I had my hand on the handle of the door and this very heavy door came down on me and saved me from falling masonry etc. It had 2 long glass panels and my head shot through one of them.

It took a while to dig me out (or it seemed like it). They made a tunnel and Dr Bighy (marvellous man – did sterling work during the war) gave me an injection of morphine, and I will never forget what he said – “I am putting the letter M on your forehead which of course means monkey!”

I was taken to the General Hospital. All I had wrong were some glass fragments in my hair!!

My father was working in Slough at the time. The message he received must have been dreadful – to be told your parents and sister have been killed and your daughter was in hospital. I shall never forget his face when he spotted me in the ward – tears just ran down his face.

Incidentally he had been working in Guernsey for Esso and some of my school holidays were spent there. Gramps put me in the charge of the stewardess (no planes then) at midnight and Dad would pick me up at St. Peter Port at 6am. I slept quite happily on the voyage.

No. 11 Richmond Garden was rebuilt by the Ministry of Works and we returned there in 1949. My father had retired by then.”

Transcribed extract from a letter written November 2010.