Air Raids in London and Whitstable

Contributed by Canterbury Libraries
People in story: Mrs Peg Clayson
Location of story: Peckham, London/Whitstable
Background to story:  Civilian
Article ID: A8594625
Contributed on: 17 January 2006

Born in Peckham, South London my first memories start in 1940. I was almost six months pregnant with my first child and my husband had been called up for the army. I was living at 66 Argyle Road with a friend whose husband was also in the army. She too was seven months pregnant. One morning, I think in August I was in the garden talking to a next door neighbour, admiring a flight of bombers coming off a raid when we spotted the swastikas underneath and raced in doors. I dived under the table, how I know this because there was a bowl of sand and a bowl of water ready for incendiaries under it, and it was only about 18” wide, three feet in length. My friend 7 months pregnant dived under the bed in front. We escaped unscathed but bombs fell in Warwick Road.

The next incident was sheltering in a shelter in Warwick Road in Stanley Reeves yard; bombs were dropped in Acton Road that day. Once again I was unscathed. Another incident when a land mine landed in Victoria Street on a fish and chip shop. Once again I had been in the shop about an hour before.

In 1943 I moved to Island wall, Coastward cottages. The first incident there was a British Bomber circling around a searchlight on the golf course until they persuaded him it was not RAF Manston. Some youngsters were climbing up clothes posts with torches to distract them. We were issued with a steel table shelter in which I got with my child and a family from East Ham billeted with me. We spent many nights watching the doodle bugs going over and being chased by Spitfires or Hurricanes. One German plane was shot down into the sea off our house and was very scary.

Another time I was walking along Bexley Street when there was a loud bang with glass flying every where. A land mine had landed in London’s Field, which is now covered with houses, where Seymour Avenue now stands. My mother, who lived in Albert Street, had a huge hole in her roof, which my husband patched up with some old lino, when home on leave.

WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at This contribution is published here under the ‘Fair dealing policy’. Copyright remains with the contributor.