Mum’s family moved about quite a bit after returning to England from India in the early 1930’s. During World War Two the family was based in Liverpool for a while.
The Liverpool docks were important to the war effort and this meant that Liverpool was the most frequently bombed city after London.
Mum was in her nineteenth year when war broke out and she was living at home with her parents and three sisters. When we were young mum often used to tell stories about her youth and about what it was like living in Britain during the war. Sadly, although we always meant to, we didn’t write the stories down which means that now mum has been gone twenty years I have forgotten many of the details. I can’t tell you exactly where or when this event took place. I will try to tell the story to the best of my recollection.
I do know that Liverpool was bombed heavily between August 1940 and the early part of 1942 so this occurred somewhere in that time period. I also have a vague memory that mum said that family had lived in Bootle but I would not swear to this.
Anyway, the important thing to know was that there were frequent air raids and that when the alarm sounded everyone was supposed to go to the nearest air raid shelter.
As well as the family there were also three Norwegian Merchant Navy sailors staying in the house. Mum did not particularly trust one of them so when she went up to her bedroom on the top floor of the house she used to take the doorknob off the door and push a chest in front of it.
On this particular night, mum had gone to bed and was reading by lamplight before going to sleep. Her dog was on the bed with her. She became aware of a figure standing over her bed. Thinking her father had come in to tell her to turn the lamp off she said “In a minute dad.” or something of that nature. Then she remembered that the door was blocked off. She noticed that the dog was reacting strangely, his hair standing up on his back. She told me that she wasn’t afraid but puzzled.
Suddenly one of her sisters started banging on the bedroom door and calling out to her. “Air raid! We’ve got to go to the shelter.” Of course, she had to move the chest and put the doorknob back in but she made it out of the house safely.
Mum said there was no way anyone could have got into the room without at least making a lot of noise and she was always convinced that she saw a ghost that night and that he’d been sent to warn her of danger. She told this story on many occasions and the details never varied so I am sure she was not making it up.