Youngsters learn how city burned during the Blitz

FALLING bombs, buildings ablaze and schoolchildren huddled in shelters.

Tuesday, 12th January 2016, 6:06 am
Children from Portsmouth schools learnt about the Blitz for the 75th anniversary of the bombing of the city on Monday the Portsmouth Guildhall. Pictured is: (l-r) Liam Maddox (9), Maya Flint (10), Matthew Pilbeam (10) and Jack Chamberlain (9) from Fernhurst Junior School looking at artefacts. Picture: Sarah Standing (160090-7846)

It’s difficult to imagine just how hard life was for Portsmouth residents caught up in the Blitz 75 years ago.

But 300 Year 3 to 6 school pupils have been given an insight into those terrible times during the Second World War at a presentation at Portsmouth Guildhall.

Nick Coles, 48, is head of technical services at the Portsmouth Cultural Trust, which organised the event.

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Mr Coles said it was important for children to learn about the Blitz, which hit Portsmouth badly on the night of January 10-11, 1941.

He said: ‘Portsmouth was bombed as early as July 1940, so we actually suffered the Blitz before London suffered it.

‘Over 1,000 people lost their lives because of bombings in Portsmouth throughout the war and almost 20 per cent of the city had to be rebuilt. The whole infrastructure of the city changed completely.’

The pupils at the Guildhall came from Corpus Christi, Cottage Grove, Ark Dickens, Fernhurst and Flying Bull schools. They watched actors dressed as an air raid warden, a captain, a young girl and a mother play out eye-witness accounts of the bombing. Photographs of the Guildhall in the Blitz and interviews from survivors were also shown.

The pupils then had the chance to look at artefacts from the Blitz including gas masks, an air raid alarm, uniforms and helmets.

Fernhurst pupil Matthew Pilbeam, 10, said it must have been a scary time.

He said: ‘I would have been really frightened. Every moment you just would have heard the bombs sizzling down on you. There would have been fire all around.’

Fellow pupil Maya Flint, 10, said. ‘You never would have known where the bombs were going to land. It would have been quite sad because people you know would have passed away. It wouldn’t have been a very nice time at all.’

Another Fernhurst pupil, Jack Chamberlain, agreed. He said: ‘Every time the power went off you would have got a torch to find your way. I wouldn’t have liked to live in those conditions.’

Director Benjamin Clabon was thrilled with the response to the dramatisation.

He said: ‘To have so many kids come along and learn about the bombing and really engage is just fantastic.’