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- * War memories
From the WW2 People’s war website this is Diana Ferguson’s story of life in the Coalbrookdale area during World War II:
Whilst on holiday in Llandudno my father received a telegram asking him to return to Madeley at once; War was declared a few days later, I was 11 years old.
Evacuees from Liverpool came to Madeley, the schoolmaster was billeted with us. Our next door neighbours had little boys billeted with them. After putting the boys to bed they went upstairs to check how they were. The boys were not in bed; they were found fast asleep under the bed – that’s where the boys thought they had to sleep to be safe.
A few days later my father was asked by the Canadian Air Force if he would go to Canada as an Instructor. In WW1 he had been in the Flying Corps and flew a Sopwith Camel Biplane. He was O/C Much Wenlock Borough Air Training Corp.
My father was a schoolmaster at Madeley Senior School (now the Abraham Darby Comprehensive School). My father would have been flown out to Canada but my mother, younger sister Avril and myself would have had to travel by sea. My father decided not to go as we couldn’t all travel together. This decision probably saved our lives as several ships were torpedoed and many people lost their lives.
That September I was a new pupil at Coalbrookdale High School. Getting to school in Coalbrookdale could be quite difficult as I had to catch a bus – it was several miles away. On fine days it was easy but on wet days all the pupils from Madeley caught the bus on their way to the Senior School. The bus was full before it reached our bus stop so my school friends and I couldn’t get on, we had to run home and get our bicycles. The ride to School was easy; but coming home we had to push our bikes up Madeley Bank; a very, very steep hill.
I can remember the time when after playing netball at Coalbrookdale High School on a Saturday morning, I reached home as a Nazi bomber flew over our house at Madeley (had we still been playing netball down at Coalbrookdale we could have been machine-gunned); it was being chased by an unarmed trainer plane from RAF Cosford. My mother made her fastest ever descent of the stairs still carrying her mop!
The Bomber then flew over Coalbrookdale High School, our caretaker’s daughter was making lunch at her home in Coalbrookdale when the crockery started to rattle on the shelves. The Bomber dropped his bomb on the other side of the River Severn opposite “The Talbot” public house (now the Malthouse) in Ironbridge.
The Power Station was a Nazi target, they would use the River Severn as a route finder, but fortunately they never managed to hit it. Netting was fixed under the Albert Edward Bridge to stop the bomber pilots being able to fly under it during their attempts to bomb the Power Station.
WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. This story has been submitted to the People’s War site by Muriel Palmer (volunteer) of Age Concern Shropshire Telford & Wrekin on behalf of Diana FERGUSON (author) and has been added to the BBC site with her permission. © Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author – Diana Ferguson, WW2 People’s War