A war time memory.

"My daughter was born at my sister’s house in November 1944. I returned home with her when she was three weeks old. I had photos taken at a studio soon after we arrived home. These were to be the only photos of my daughter before the accident. I hadn’t collected them from the photographers at the time of the plane crash so they survived.

Mosquito De Havilland

The plane crash was on the morning of Saturday 17th February 1945.

I had put my daughter outside the front door in her pram. I then went into the bedroom to tidy myself and to put my coat on. I was looking in the mirror when I saw this huge plane coming into the garden, it was silent, no engine. I thought that my baby would be all right as the plane was coming toward the back of the bungalow, so remembering what we had been told to do during raids etc. I lay on the floor. The last thing that I remembered was debris falling on me, which must have knocked me out for a few seconds. I came to and my wardrobe was holding up the ceiling where I was lying. I scrambled up, thinking that I must get to my baby, I walked through the bedroom to the lounge, there wasn’t a wall there any more and no glass in the windows. I fell out of the window and my friend was there and she helped me out.

I rushed round to where the pram was shouting “MY BABY!” by that time the bungalow was alight and burning rubble had fallen onto the pram. I was pulled away, still screaming for my baby but I was held back. A man who was visiting his brother’s family across the road ran over, and with his bare hands got my daughter out of the pram. When I saw how badly she was burnt I wished that God had taken her, as her little face was burned also her arm and hand. The man who lived opposite was about to take a bride to her wedding, but no more ado he came and took us to the hospital, ribbons flying.

I don’t think that I have ever spent a more unhappy night, my baby was crying and I couldn’t pick her up as my hands were bandaged, so I continually called the nurse. Eventually the Matron came and said, “ What are you making all the fuss for?”

The next day a Doctor came from East Grinstead hospital and we were taken there and we stayed for three months. Fortunately my baby was still able to breast feed. Which helped to save her life. She had saline bathes everyday and was the youngest patient they had ever had.

My husband was serving in India at the time of the crash and didn’t even know that he had a daughter until she was about four months old. He didn’t know about the accident because his mother had written to him and just said that I couldn’t write as I had hurt my hands. (I used to write several times a week).

The first thing that he knew about it was when one of the fellows that was with him had the Local newspaper sent to him and this news was on the front page. You can imagine the shock. He put in for leave but wasn’t allowed to come home. Our daughter was nearly two years old before he came home and saw her, he walked through the door and she was in her high chair, my husband kissed me and she said, “Oh Mama!”.

We spent years going to and fro to East Grinstead for her to have skin grafts; she had the last one when she was sixteen.

There were five people killed that day including both pilots, we were the only two saved."

The memorial to those that died

(My Grandmother, Jan 1917 - June 1999  wrote this account in about 1995, the baby is my mum)


  1. I really enjoyed reading this, what a touching and beautiful story. Thank you for sharing x

    1. thanks for reading, tiny bits of peoples lives that make up history

  2. gosh! amazing! How strong they both must be!

    1. sadly my grandma died in 1999 (with a glass of martini in her hand when she fell unconcious! what a great exit!) but my mum is still around, minus one finger - burned off in the crash!

  3. KiwiBunnz3/7/12

    Wow. Thank you for sharing. I cannot imagine what it would have been like living in that error. I live in Christchurch, New Zealand. We have suffered a number of large earthquakes, and it is often said that our city looks like a war zone. My sister lost a good friend in one of the quakes and among the 182 who lost their lives in February 2011, were 2 infants. I still often think about their families and the sadness their lives will always hold. But still an act of nature is easier for me to understand than an act of war. I am glad your mother's life was saved and you are here to share your grandmother's story.

  4. What an amazing story. A reminder that extraordinary things happen to oridinary people.

  5. Brought tears to my eyes, thinking how helpless and guilty your grandmother must have felt. So glad they got through it and you're here to tell their story x

  6. Anonymous4/7/12

    Oh such a story. I'm so glad your mother survived, thus to have a daughter who writes so well. Terribly sad, that others died that day. My heart goes out to their families.

  7. Anonymous14/7/12

    I am so glad that I encouraged my Mum to write down this account but I am even more glad that I survived to have my own beautiful daughter who has her own DD. I have a son too who has two daughters. How the course of history could have changed in a moment.

  8. I had a little cry about that memory. How precious it is and what an ordeal. Thank you for sharing


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