Sheelagh Marsh, survived at 11 Abbey End

I spoke to Sheelagh in January 2012; she has since moved from Kenilworth. The following is based upon notes I made so are not direct quotes.

Sheelagh was 16 at the time. Her family became refugees in Kenilworth after the Coventry Blitz the week before; their house had been slightly damaged, an incendiary lodged in their porch but didn’t ignite.

On the family’s first night away from Coventry they slept in their car in a field and watched the glow over the city. But then they found accommodation at the Doctor’s house at 11 Abbey End, ‘Bendower’.

They just slept there, arriving late-ish from Coventry, straight up to their allotted space, and straight out again first thing in the morning, with “Not so much as a cup of tea” did they share with the family. There were others in the house too, but she couldn’t remember the details.

Perhaps her clearest memory was the nightly journey to Kenilworth; the queue of cars to get into Kenilworth one night particularly because they joined the queue just before the railway bridge on the Coventry Road. They were at a standstill and a car went past trying to cut in and her dad got out and argued with the driver! (She remarked that her father was of Irish descent so would argue with anyone!). She also remembered others on bikes and people pushing prams out of the city at night too, all adding up to a very large number of people heading for the safety of Kenilworth.

She slept with her parents in the attic space of the Doctor’s house. The landmine blew out one end wall and one side of the roof and she could remember looking up at the sky where the roof had been. On several nights she had slept where the wall was now missing.

The stairs were intact and the family made their way out, Sheelagh could still remember most vividly the dust in her eyes, mouth and nose and the family finding their way across the rubble. They were taken in by people who lived across the road (in the row of white houses that are still there) but went back to Coventry in the morning and never returned. She never saw the house in daylight so couldn’t really remember it.

 

Bendower 400

The Doctor's house, 'Bendower', Number 11 Abbey End; see 'Photograph 1'

(Photograph from 'Remember Kenilworth', John H Drew, 1984)