Joan Burkett

Recollections of being bombed out.

Family life

Joan Burkett was a young girl during the war and lived with her family near the Surrey Docks. Remaining in London for the duration of the war, Joan was looked after by her grandparents as her father, serving in the Merchant Navy, was killed at the beginning of the war and her mother had to begin work at the Woolwich Arsenal in order to support the family.

Bombed out

Joan recalls her schooling being interrupted by the war as schools closed and many were destroyed in air raids. During the war, Joan only attended school for two years. The bombing was heavy in the area around Surrey Docks. It was not long before the family’s house was destroyed by a bomb. Rendered homeless, the family lived in a shelter until they were relocated by the council to a requisitioned house. The bomb had destroyed most of the family’s belongings and Joan recalls the Red Cross supplying them with clothes. Other voluntary services visited the shelter twice daily to feed the homeless families residing in the shelter.

The shelter in which they stayed after being bombed out was ‘well organised’. Joan recalls, ‘They even had a first aid place in the shelter and a little place where the children could go to learn a little bit because as I said no schools was open’.

Housing shortages

Joan recalls the complex situation that arose at the end of the war as a result of housing shortages:

‘It was sad when people that was evacuated come back to London and they realised that their house had been given to people like us. They come back from evacuation and they had nothing. Their house had been requisitioned, people lived in the air raid shelters, and they couldn’t turn us out. So, you know, they’d come back and there was nothing there for them which was really sad.’   

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 08/06/2012.