This is a short story by Barbara Gothard (nee. Lightowler) about what life was like for a school child during WW2 and how attitudes towards safety have changed since.
I was born in Ossett in 1931 and lived with my parents and sister from the age of 1 in ‘Happy Land’, Station Road (now the site of Dunstan Close). I attended South Ossett Church School through Primary, Junior and Senior departments.
During the early part of the Second World War an Air Raid Shelter was constructed on the land at the rear of the school to accommodate pupils and staff in the event of enemy air raids. It was considered that at least 10 minutes would elapse from the warning siren to the actual attack. At my school, parents were given the choice of having their children use the school air raid shelter or, providing the child could reach home in the stipulated 10 minutes, being allowed to go home to shelter with the family. In order to ensure that this was possible time tests were carried out. I took part in this and when told to start my route took me via Vicar Lane to Manor Road, crossing Manor Road, running across a cornfield (now playing field) behind the Co-Operative shops and jumping over the wall dividing the field from Happy Land and King Street to home. I managed to make it in time!
Fortunately, there were never any air raids during school hours so those perilous runs to safety never happened. I cannot imagine now that such a dangerous procedure could have even been thought acceptable – although at the time I thought it was great fun! Luckily there was very little traffic compared with today as few families had cars and petrol was rationed limiting movement.
Bombs were dropped on one occasion in Ossett and I remember looking at an unexploded bomb which landed in Mr Richmond’s orchard at the top of Park Square/ Station Road just across from Happy Land. Manor Road, I think, suffered
most damage, but thankfully no serious casualties.