The Fire

In the early 1940s, Gwen Copeland was living on the upper floor of a house in Haldon Road, with her 12-week-old daughter; and one night she woke up to find the house was on fire.

She grabbed her daughter and wrapped her in blankets, and yelled to the neighbours gathered outside in the dark - there were no lights, for fear of attracting German bombers. "Stand by the privet hedge!"

"The neighbours were talking and shouting," Gwen recalls, "and I threw her out of the window and they caught her."

Gwen escaped by leaping out of her window to a neighbouring home, with the help of a drainpipe. When she reached the ground she was reunited with her daughter: the neighbours had caught her. "Anyway she inhaled quite a lot of smoke and her little motions, her poos, were all black. We had quite a bad time."

Read more stories about disasters.

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Picture by Matthew Robins
Story source: interview with Gwen Copeland