World War Two

Ronald Leedham: Shelter

Ronald Leedham was born in 1929 in India. His family moved back to England in 1931after Ronald contracted Polio. Ronald spent some years in Hospital as a young child after contracting Diptheria. When he was six he returned home to Catford for a short while to live with his father, eventually ending up living in ‘homes for crippled children’ run by the Shaftesbury Society, until he was sixteen.

Here Ron talks about the whole school sheltering in a small cellar.

Transcript

During the Blitz itself, we had to use the cellar, which was our shelter and that was horrible, that was awful. Terrible down there. How on earth… If the place had been hit, we’d have all died, no doubt about that. You know, all the staff were down there. We had bunks made up, but, there must have been 70 people in a space about the size of the ground floor of this part of the flat, this room. Crammed in. Staff, grownups, boys. The matron used to read to us and there’d be this racket going on outside. You could hear the bombers going over. Sometimes they’d be very low and I can remember the matron sort of reading to us and sometimes she burst into tears. It was terrible, no ventilation down there. Awful place.