‘Mum was just minutes away from death’

From left, David Yates with his son David (160906-5269)
From left, David Yates with his son David (160906-5269)
A packed Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, last Remembrance Sunday

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A SON has told how his mother narrowly avoided being killed in the Blitz – on three separate occasions.

Doreen Yates was born in 1938 and was a child when the Germans pummelled the Portsmouth with high explosive bombs.

Her son David, 53, and husband Dave, 75, told of late Doreen’s story while paying tribute to one of her childhood friends now featured on the city’s new civilian Second World War memorial.

Her wartime ordeal began in 1940 when her family’s London home was levelled by German bombs.

She then moved to Garnier Street, Landport, when on January 10, 1941, her home was hit by an incendiary bomb during one of the most devastating raids on Portsmouth.

On this occasion an air raid warden alerted Doreen and her family to the danger and they were able to evacuate safely.

But tragedy was to strike just two years later, on August 16, 1943.

Doreen, then aged five, was playing at the home of her school friend, Patsy Marks, when the city’s air raid sirens sounded.

‘Patsy’s mum told her to stay with them until it was safe but mum had always been told to run home,’ said Dave.

‘It was incredibly lucky she didn’t stay; Patsy’s home was hit by a bomb and her family was killed.

‘Mum only found out the next morning at school when Patsy’s name was called on the register and nobody answered.

‘It was something that affected her deeply for the rest of her life.’

Patsy, her four-month-old sister Violet and their mother Alma now all feature on the new memorial.

Doreen died on Christmas Day last year and was unable to see the memorial.

But husband David said she would have been ‘thrilled’ to have seen the tribute to her friend after so many years.