Joseph Alfred Male, bank clerk
Frank Linton Male
Mrs D Linton Male
1985: Cambridge Weekly News 26/9/1985
Mr John Ryder’s letter has kindled a spark in my memory already lit by the recollections of Mrs Amy Francis about the “Fenner’s Bomb.”
I would like to add what may be the finishing touch to the saga and also clear up a few loose ends.
I was a schoolboy messenger in the ARP service at the time. My father was the air raid warden for Lyndewode Road, where we lived at number 10 (mentioned in your visit there some two years ago when you referred to my grandparents who built it.)
Complete with tin helmet an armband and my bicycle I was ready to face the foe – I thought ….
We had built our own air raid shelter (apart from some professional brick-laying assistant for one day, during which the walls mounted unbelievably quickly); we dug the hole, cemented the floor, and laid on two electric light bulbs (not forgetting an alcove for the toilet, suitably curtained) plus eight hefty wooden rafters across the roof, surmounted by corrugated iron, earth and our “Dig for Victory” vegetable garden.
The shelter finally measured about 14ft long by 5ft wide and 6ft deep (5ft 6 inches below ground).
That night provided us with three air raid alerts. The last was just before dawn and my mother woke me with “come on, down to the shelter” – I resisted, she insisted – I went!
We joined friends and neighbours in the “maxi-shelter”, then BANG!! A rafter cracked, dust and dirt rained down but the roof held.
Then silence – apart from the two lodgers from our downstairs flat who joined us, having traversed the glass strewn lawn in their bare feet without getting cut.
My father arrived from the warden’s post as the “all clear” went – “no casualties just a lone jerry (obviously an old Oxonian!) who had unloaded his remaining bombs after a Midlands raid in order to get up speed for a quick dash home!”
Well, there had been a ‘stick’ of three bombs, one at the present swimming pool corner of Fenner’s, the second on the tennis courts as the Gresham Road end (doubtless the “Blantyre” one) and the last one 50n yards from our shelter.
At dawn we discovered a whacking great crater at the end of the garden and the first thing I did was to remove the notice I had printed, with schoolboy bravado on the shelter door – “Hit this if you can, Adolf!” – after he’d come too darn close at a first attempt for my liking!
I then had a look at my bedroom in the attic – broken glass everywhere and the window frame lying on my bed!
I didn’t argue with my mother about going to the shelter after that.
So, the “Fenner’s bomb” was actually in the plural and I think Mr Ryder’s disturbed, involuntary relaxation in the railway station’s waiting room was caused by this same bob, only a few hundred yards away, rather than its two predecessors, the “Fenner’s bombs”. It certainly disturbed us that morning.
Ian Male, Queen Edith’s Way
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