I was in a reserved occupation and so I was at home in Aintree during the war. As I was young I served as a fire-watcher. That meant that I was on duty in one of the air raid shelters on several nights each week. If there was a raid I had to patrol the streets watching for bombs falling on my area. If an incendiary bomb fell, firewatchers had to grab their stirrup-pumps and run to the scene to try to extinguish it and also to put out any fire it had caused, thus preventing the fire spreading and showing any other bombers their location. If no bombs fell in our section, we had to be ready to assist the neighbouring sections if the need arose.
In one of the sections, to which we were called, there lived a very particular lady and it so happened that an incendiary bomb fell on her roof and went through to her loft. We saw the bomb fall and so we ran to her house and banged on the door. The lady was in her air raid shelter, but hearing all the commotion, she came out. “What on earth do you want?” she said:
“Quick, let us in. An incendiary bomb has just fallen through the roof of your house.” “Alright, here is my key, but take off your shoes before you go inside.”
Needless to say we did not do as she said.
My cousin, who was much older than me, had worked most of his life with the working horses of Liverpool. When the war came along he volunteered to care for any horses or animals that were injured or trapped during the air raids. One night he got an urgent phone call asking him to come at once to the centre of Liverpool: a herd of cows had been brought over from Ireland and had escaped from the transit shed. Once they found they were free, they had charged around central Liverpool as the bombs fell around them. Seeing a large, dark place to escape the danger, they all galloped down the Mersey tunnel. The police and the tunnel guards were at a loss as to what on earth to do, as the animals careered up and down the tunnel.
An urgent message was sent to cousin Harry and he went to help. Somehow, with his knowledge of animals, he was able to calm the animals and herd them safely into a holding base until the raids were over. The cow- men then came and retrieved them safely.
One dramatic rescue was made in Walton. A landmine fell on one street and demolished several houses. The air raid wardens rushed on to the scene to see if there were any people trapped in the wreckage. They found a young couple badly injured in the rubble. They both kept insisting that they wanted their baby, but the baby was nowhere to be seen. The wardens and the rescue teams asked the survivors, who emerged from the shelters after the raid, if there was a baby in the house. When they were told that there was they started picking carefully though the wreckage. Day after day they searched without any success. They were about to give up on the third day when they heard a faint whimper. The baby was under the rubble. Carefully they picked up the bricks until they found the tiny mite. She was taken to hospital and recovered fully after being buried for three days under the ruins of her home.
One night when I was sheltering in our air raid shelter, a policeman came knocking on our front door. I went to see what was the matter. When I opened the door there stood an elderly couple looking very distressed. The policeman said,” Can you take these people in?”
Seemingly, they had been bombed in their own house and had lost everything. Then they had moved into their daughter’s house. A few days later a bomb demolished that house. During the night the policeman had found them standing nearby in a deeply distressed state. They had nowhere to go. We took them into our already crowded house and they stayed with us for about a fortnight until alternative accommodation could be found for them.