by Marjorie Denyer
Reproduced with permission
Sheila Marjorie Cubbins (married name Roberts)
Last year my mother died aged 89 yrs. Looking through her papers a
few days ago I found she had written her life story for the family. I
would like to share Sheila's memories as a child growing up and enduring
the war years. The following are Sheila's words as written by herself.
"I first saw the light of day Monday 23rd May 1927 in Birkenhead General Hospital, Conway Street. I was lucky to be alive as it was a very difficult birth. My mother's name was Gladys Mary Louisa Cubbins (nee Cadwallader) My father's name was John Cubbins. My brother William was 7yrs old when I was born. We lived at 61 Collin Road, Bidston. The house was new when my family moved in. I had a happy childhood there. When I was about 3 or 4yrs my mother & Mrs Taylor a neighbour opposite used to take us to the pictures at the Avenue with her little boy Rodney who was the same age as me. When we were 4 and a half we went to Bidston Ave Infants school. I was happy there.
I felt quite grown up when we went to Junior School. My brother used to take me on the crossbar of his bike. Our next school was Tollemache Rd which sadly now has been demolished.It was a beautiful school with a quadrangle in the centre & the classrooms all round on the balcony. We had a lovely art room at the corner of the building with big windows. We had two cookery classrooms and a flat. We took turns living in, in the daytime, for a week. We had to do our own cooking, cleaning & shopping at Irwins in Upton Rd. We also had a cot with a doll in it, which we had to look after pretending it was real. We were able to ask our mothers up for a meal on the last day.
My friends & I used to play, climbing the nanny goat mountains at the back of us, attached to the Diptheria Hospital. They were great for sliding down on sledges in the snow. Sometimes we went to Bidston Hill to play & took bottles of water & butties. Once a little girl was assaulted there & the family moved away. We played tennis & rounders in the street also skipping & roller skating".
"When I was 12yrs war broke out. I was at my Aunty Emma's in Moreton & I thought the planes were going to come over & soldiers drop by parachute with bayonets. Thank goodness this did not happen.
We were all issued with gas masks. We had practice at school. We had to leave them on for so long while the teacher came round to each pupil with a piece of blotting paper, put it on the front of the mask and if we were breathing properly it would stay on. The teacher gave us letters to take home saying the school was closing & that we all had to be evacuated to the country (Wales) with a list of what we needed to take. My mother & father came to the bus stop with me. I had a haversack on my back & my gas mask in my hand. While we were waiting a bus drew up on the other side of the road and my Aunty & Uncle got off & came running across saying you are not going you are coming with us back to Moreton (where it was considered safe).I stayed there for a while & enjoyed it but things did not work out & I came home to Collin Road.
I remember when we heard the siren we had to go to the air raid shelter in the garden. It was frightening hearing the German planes overhead and the guns firing at them in the search lights. We also had barrage balloons on cables overhead to stop the planes flying too low.
One night during the heavy March blitz we were in the shelter with two kitchen doors, which my father had put across to lie on. Muddy water filled the bottom of the shelter. My father was an Air Raid Warden the same as other men in the street. They saw coming down from the sky what they thought was a German parachutist but when it got further down they saw it was a land mine & had to run to the shelter quickly. There was a mighty explosion, bricks, glass & everything was scattered around. A young man was brought to our shelter with blood all over him. He had pieces of shrapnel embedded in his shoulder. My father had bandaged him up to stem the blood. His mother, father & sister were killed.He lay there until 1pm the next day until the ambulance could get through all the rubble. When we were able to get out what a terrible sight we saw. A blank space opposite where houses used to be, just a big hollow crater & burning rubble.
Part of the front of our house was demolished. We went in the back way. The mat was red hot soot. The budgie was still chirping in his cage. There were factories on fire by the docks. They smelt terrible. People's shoes & belongings had been flying all over the place. John (the boy that was hurt), his mother had gone to make a pot of tea & was killed returning back to their shelter. Others were killed in their shelters. One boy was crying because he had gone blind. Luckily his sight returned next day. It was the blast from the land mine.
We went into the street & neighbours were telling their stories and discussing who had been killed. We were all very shocked. Some people were crying and there were dead bodies tied up in sheets at the side of the road. The ambulance could not come up along the roads because of the debris and even telegraph poles & cables lying in the road. We walked to Perrin Hall in Tollemache Rd. were we were given a bowl of soup & bread. We were glad of it".
"My brother was in the Army & my mother sent him parcels. My cousin Manny was in the Marines & used to send me lovely big cigarette cards with film stars on them".
Mother then goes on to say how they moved to a house in Rock Ferry and had to get out after only a few weeks because there was a time bomb at the telephone exchange nearby. They moved back in after a few weeks & had a Morrison shelter in the kitchen.
North End Memories