daughter ofIssachar Willets
as told to Norma Pearson
Issachar WilIets lived in New Street Quarry Bank. He worked in the office at Earnest Stevens, Cradley Heath, was the secretary of the Liberal Club in Quarry Bank High Street, and during the war was an ambulance driver in the A.R.P. for one or two nights a week. His headquarters were at Mount Pleasant, opposite the Mount Pleasant Church. For being secretary of the club Dad was paid £1 a week. This money was saved up to pay for our family holiday at the seaside, either 2 weeks in Rhyl, Weston, or Barry Island.
On this particular night, Dad was sitting downstairs in the Liberal Club with some of the members having a drink. There was a terrible noise coming from upstairs and all the lights went out in the building. Dad and Harold Hardy felt their way up the stairs and there was a massive object sticking through the ceiling and resting on dad's desk tipping it up at 45%. Harold felt round it and thought it was the boiler that had fallen through the ceiling.
The men downstairs were alerted, who first drank up their beer, and then left the club.
When the air raid siren sounded, Mom, my brother Ron and me went to the shelter under the Primitive. Methodist Church opposite our house in New Street. Everyone was told to evacuate immediately - not to go home -just go. We couldn't leave our dog Gyp so Ron pushed me through the kitchen window to get the dog. The three of us, and Gyp, walked to Auntie's house in Holly Bush Road in Cradley Heath. Dad came to find us two days later - he didn't actually know where we had gone at the time and he hadn't slept for two nights.
He tells the tale later that if he had not had such 'obedient children', said with tongue in cheek, he would have been at that very same desk doing his paper work. Earlier in the day, dad asked Ron, who was about 15 years old at the time, to go to the post office in the High Street to fetch some stamps, but Ron had other things to do. Dad asked me to go instead, 'Well if Ron won't go, I won't go either' I said. So we probably saved our dad's life that day.
There were actually two land mines dropped on the High Street that night, the other one came down behind Thompsons the cobblers opposite to the Liberal Club. The German bombers were either after Round Oak or, as some people believed, there was something wrong with the plane because one landmine would have been enough to do a great deal of damage.
I can remember seeing the pale blue parachute on the club roof from our landing window. Mr. Frank Webb, from Sun Street, helped to dismantle the mine, and they gave him the silk parachute, and my dad had the clock face and the piece of brass that held the parachute as a reminder of that terrible night.
© M.P.L.H.G. 2014