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Smell of shelter will stay with me for ever; CARDIFF REMEMBERED with.


In the introduction to my book Cathays, Maindy, Gabalfa and Mynachdy: The Second Selection (The History Press, PS9.99), I wrote that my earliest childhood memories were of the war and the Anderson air-raid shelter at the bottom of our garden.

I told of the chimney sweep in our street - Thesiger Street - who used to dump all the soot he collected in the air-raid shelter as his family, quite a large one, never used it.

That was until one particular night, April 29, 1941, when during a heavy bombing raid they had no alternative but to jump down into the shelter for cover. When the all-clear siren was sounded they emerged unscathed but covered in soot!

However, the Palmer family in Wyeverne Road, which was the street behind us, were not so lucky.

Mr and Mrs Palmer and their eight children were all killed by a parachute mine dropped by German bombers.

Forty-one people were killed, most of them from Wyeverne Road and nearby Llanbleddian Gardens. While all that was left of the Palmers' air-raid shelter was found on the roof of a house in Rhymney Street.

Around 54 houses were demolished and 348 were so seriously damaged as to be rendered uninhabitable.

The dank smell of that Anderson air-raid shelter in which my mother, sister Valerie and myself spent so many nights will live with me all my life.

Meanwhile, Alun Williams writes: "Reading your enjoyable column (December 22, 2012), I was drawn to the photograph of the Roath Ladies' Baseball team."

He goes on to say: "I do not know any of the ladies in the picture, but I was delighted to see an old friend of mine standing in the back row on the left. His name was Jim Davies and he would have been the umpire.

"Jim was quite a man. During the Second World War, he was a special constable and as a sportsman he was an excellent table-tennis player. He would play a complete game bat in hand and a fag permanently stuck in the corner of his mouth till the ash would eventually drop off. He was one of Cardiff City's helpers and manned one of the turnstiles.

"It was in this capacity that he was involved in a life-threatening incident. After a match had started it was his job to cash up and take the bag of money to the offices under the grandstand.

"On this occasion a thug coshed him over the head, climbed over the turnstile and ran into the crowd at the Bob Bank. Jim recovered from his injury and went back to his turnstile job and died some years later. What memories a photo of a ladies baseball team brought back."

While Mr Arthur Barrow wrote: "The team coach on the right-hand side of the picture is Ted Gray and the lady standing next but one to him on his right is his daughter Maureen, who sadly only died last week."

With regard to the picture of Heol Hir School, taken at Maindy Stadium in 1965, Pauline Hennessey (nee Regan) wrote: "Just seen a picture of my past and the girl to the left, middle second row with the headband is Susan Bowdgen. I would love to get in touch with her again."

You can send your pictures and stories of old Cardiff to Brian Lee, Cardiff Remembered, South Wales Echo, Six Park Street, Cardiff, CF10 1XR or e-mail him at LOOKING BACK WITH DAN O'NEILL - EVERY TUESDAY


Left, a young Brian Lee stands outside (soldier). Right, a group of children look the air-raid shelter in the garden of his Thesiger Street home, with his uncles Jackie Donovan (sailor) and Billy Donovan at the remains of an Anderson shelter following a German raid
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 18, 2013
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