As children we loved to hear our mum tell her childhood story of the night she was almost killed and our gran's bravery in saving her.
Mum’s granddad, Jack (right), used to smoke a pipe and the story goes that he used to go into the yard to light up. This caused great consternation amongst the women in the household who were convinced that his violation of the black-out would attract the attention of German bombers.
Whether from Jack’s carelessness or whether (more likely) in a complete coincidence, on one evening – the date is uncertain but could have been in 1940 around the time of the Coventry blitz, when Mum was about 5 – two German bombers discharged their last incendiary devices as they headed back home. They landed on two houses in the area. My great-grandparents's home was one of them.
Mum was in bed at the time but the adults were still up. The incendiary landed on the roof above Mum’s bedroom, rapidly burning through and dropping into her room at the bottom of her bed.
Wyn, my gran, ran upstairs, pulled Mum out of bed and dragged the feather mattress on to the flames to smother them. She then carried Mum downstairs, through the living room (the room below Mum’s bedroom) and out into the kitchen at the back.
Mum said she remembered being plonked on a chair and wrapped in a mackintosh which she said felt cold and uncomfortable over her nightdress.
The fire was quickly put out by the fire wardens, but not before it burned a hole right through the two floors. Mum said you could stand in the sitting room the next day and look right up to the sky. The piano, it seems, took a direct hit and the top was burned beyond repair.
When we visited as children, we could look up at the circular mark on the ceiling where repairs had been made. I doubt whether the current occupiers of 7 Prestwood Road have any idea of what happened to their house in the 1940s!