Bombed out during the blitz, but determined to survive...

A gaping hole in Highbury Buildings, Cosham, where a bomb wrecked shops and flats.

A gaping hole in Highbury Buildings, Cosham, where a bomb wrecked shops and flats.

A marvellous photo of the Camber bridge,  Old Portsmouth.

Pregnant before the wedding ... so they ran away to Milton

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I know I write regularly about the Second World War and, of course, there are many readers of these pages who survived it all. What never ceases to amaze me is how people got through it.

One such case came to me in a letter from Ann Tilley, now of Selangor Avenue, Emsworth.

The Carlton cinema, Cosham, damaged in a heavy German raid on Portsmouth on December 5, 1940, which killed 44 and left 140 in hospital. The lady mayoress, who had been in the cinema, left shortly before the bomb dropped. The Carlton was repaired and reopened while the war was still at its height.

The Carlton cinema, Cosham, damaged in a heavy German raid on Portsmouth on December 5, 1940, which killed 44 and left 140 in hospital. The lady mayoress, who had been in the cinema, left shortly before the bomb dropped. The Carlton was repaired and reopened while the war was still at its height.

In January 1941, Ann’s mother, father (who was home on leave from the navy), a brother and two sisters were at home at 13, Colwell Road, Cosham.

The house was full as an aunt, a nurse at St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester, and a couple from Liverpool, a Mr and Mrs Lloyd plus their baby daughter Felicity, were also staying. Mr Lloyd was going to sea and the couple wanted to spend time together before he sailed.

That evening, the date which Ann cannot remember, a bomb exploded at the front of the house and Mr Lloyd was killed. Mrs Lloyd was in the kitchen at the back of the house and escaped injury.

Ann and her siblings were passed out through a window from the landing. Ann’s mother crawled through a hole in the wreckage to get to the Lloyds’ baby who was in a cot and rescued her.

Mulberry Avenue, Cosham, November 1940. The cot remains intact and happily the baby was unscathed.

Mulberry Avenue, Cosham, November 1940. The cot remains intact and happily the baby was unscathed.

The children were taken to a shelter all in shock but unhurt. Ann’s mother did not want the family separated so they were all evacuated and given a house at Paulsgrove. She later attended Hillside School which consisted of huts on stilts.

Believe it or not, being bombed had some compensations as it enabled the children to attend ‘bombed out parties’ at South Parade Pier, Southsea.

Boxes of sweets were handed out to the children by the American Red Cross and were a big treat.

Ann has often wondered what happened to Mrs Lloyd and her daughter Felicity who would be about 75 today.

I looked up the date and the only person from Liverpool killed in Portsmouth in 1941 was a William James Lloyd, 23, based in HMS Victory who lived at Litherland, Liverpool.

This was yet another case of a single bomb destroying the lives of one family by having their home wrecked and having to be evacuated.

As for the Lloyds, that’s another story. Mrs Lloyd most probably came to Portsmouth to visit her husband. Ann’s father, perhaps a shipmate, gave up the family front room so they could be together for a couple of nights. To be killed in the service of your country is one thing but to be killed by a bomb when safely in bed is another.

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