Ethel Leverett

The Blitz

Ethel Leverett talks about the first day of the Blitz

Being bombed

Ethel Leverett tells of the night her family's house was hit by a doodlebug

Recollections of heavy air raids and being bombed out.


Living with her family in Peckham at the outbreak of war, Ethel Leverett was initially evacuated with a friend to Watford to stay with Mrs Kats. Ethel was unhappy at her billet and she returned home after just two weeks: ‘When my father came down I said, ‘I don’t like it here. I don’t like it at all’. My father said, ‘Well, it’s no good you staying here being unhappy, come back and if we go, we all go together’. That was very much the feeling, we all go together and that was the only evacuation I ever saw. I stayed in London then the whole – all of the war’.

The Blitz

On Ethel’s seventh birthday the Blitz began. Living in Peckham the air raids were heavy and frequent. In an attempt to escape the bombing, the family moved to Dulwich. However, ‘[In Dulwich] we were in more bombing there than if we’d stayed in Peckham [laughs]. It was known as bomb alley because we lived near the railway bridge that was the line taking the troops down to the coast and the German bombers used to make a beeline to try to hit the bridge to hold up the trains going through.’

Bombed out

When Ethel was eight her father died and her mother and she were left to look after themselves. Ethel’s mother worked as a cook at the London Meal Service in Brixton. During a heavy air raid the restaurant was bombed and the local Synagogue offered to temporarily host the restaurant. As the incident happened during the school holidays, Ethel assisted her mother until late to move all the restaurant equipment. The same night the family house was bombed:

‘I’d got up to go to the toilet...and I heard this doodlebug ever so loud and I heard it stop and I ran as fast as I could...and I threw me-self in to the Morrison and then there was just this almighty explosion and I think it knocked us [out]...I can remember this terrible smell of gas...and you could hear flames crackling and you just kept shouting, ‘We’re here! We’re here! Help! Help! Help!’...[It] seemed forever, we heard this tapping and then you could hear voices and you just shouted again and mum shouted out, ‘We’re here. Do come through the front door, we’re in the front room’. The force of it had taken us right through the foundations of the house’.

As Ethel’s mother required hospital care, Ethel was taken in by Mrs Smith, who owned the local sweet shop. But the air raids in the area were frequent and Mrs Smith’s home was bombed only a few days later.  


Interview with Ethel Leverett
Interview with Ethel Leverett (125k)
To read the full transcript of the interview with Ethel Leverett please press the above link.

The Blitz
The Blitz (56k)
To read the transcript of the audio clip please press the above link.

Being bombed
Being bombed (67k)
To read the transcript of the audio clip please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 18/04/2012.