Lucky 13


Stephen Bourne shares the story of the London Blitz through the eyes of the women in his family, including their indomitable matriarch grandmother

Family matriarch Hannah Johnson, stands on the step of 13 Dieppe Street. Given the still-present railings, this is likely a pre-war photograph

I am often asked why I became fascinated by the London Blitz. The reason is simple: I was influenced by the older women in my family.

As a teenager, I spent a lot of time listening to my working-class grandmother and other family members, and was especially intrigued by their memories of wartime life in London. They described in vivid detail what life was like during the Blitz, and their stories of coping with the trauma of a living with the threat of falling bombs were tales I was moved by. I was struck by their descriptions of the shelters, of trying to keep themselves and their children safe. They were undeniably strong, feisty women.

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