Memory Lane Makeshift bed was in drawer

APPARENTLY I was the first boy to be born in the new houses of the re-built Old Town in 1937-38, so my grannie Ellison used to tell me.

I lived with my grandmother, her husband George and her brother Tommy Noble until I was 12 years old as my mother, Emily Taylor, was working full time at Lithgow’s Pram Shop in Musgrave Street.

My father was hospitalised for many years due to wounds and injuries received in Italy during the Second World War.

Grandma used to say that Hitler, upon hearing of my birth, then made plans to invade England!

Strangely, although I was too young to remember this incident, a German aeroplane decided to strafe along Mainsforth Terrace and my mother, grandmother and myself had to seek cover behind the wall at the level crossing entrance to Old Town.

Maybe the pilot had been given instructions by Hitler himself!

That same aircraft continued its run and continued firing into the Prop Fields, and a young man named Billy Kindon was shot and injured.

I later married his niece, Jeanne Kindon.

I do remember being in a pushchair, with my mother shopping in Woolies in Lynn Street, and being handed a large red toy train which was to be my birthday present.

The air raid sirens sounded and Woolies was quickly vacated to shelters in the Market Yard.

When the raid was over I was still clutching my, unpaid for, train.

Afterwards, so I was reliably told, we went back into the shop and it was paid for. Honest!

Then there were the night bombing raids.

Sirens would start their wailing and everyone evacuated into the Anderson shelters in their backyards.

Our next door neighbour Teddy Anderson, which seemed apt, would join us in our shelter as his was regularly ankle deep in water.

Teddy worked in the shipyards and was very small in stature, measuring no more than 5ft in height and was a veteran of a Bantams regiment during the First World War.

Debris could be heard falling on to the roof of our shelter above the drone of the German aircraft, and the ack ack gun in lower Church Street as the dockyards were bombed.

Later in the war people became more complacent about the bombing raids and began to use the cupboard space under the staircase to take refuge.

As did my grandmother.

A bed, consisting of a drawer from the tallboy with a folded blanket as a mattress, would be made ready each night in case of air raids. This was to be my makeshift bed.

My grandmother would kneel beside my cot with her body partially covering me.

I didn’t understand why she should do this at the time, but I do now.

Needless to say, my red toy train and I survived the war. Hitler missed us both.

Bob Taylor,


New South Wales,