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Charity Bick and my brother kicked incendiary bombs off West Bromwich roof

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: August 06, 2014

  • The front of my messenger's card

  • The other side of my messenger's card

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I WAS interested in the letter from B.S. Fenton, in The Bugle (June 19 edition) which he wrote about Charity Bick being chief warden.

This is wrong. She was a messenger despatch rider, too young to be a warden. They were older men and women. There is a photograph of her in Terry Price's book West Bromwich Yesterdays showing her in uniform.

My late brother John Ashcroft was also a messenger, born the same year as Charity (1925). One night before West Bromwich was bombed, (it may have been the night before), German planes dropped incendiary bombs on West Bromwich. Charity and my brother climbed up the drainpipes of houses in Lyttleton Street and kicked the bombs off the roofs to save them catching fire. Messengers on the ground put them out with sand, then they went to fields behind Manifoldia Printing works to help farmer Mr Whitehouse get his animals under cover as they were so frightened.

I also remember the smoke screens B.S. Fenton mentioned. One lorry driver told me they were put there to protect the chemical works in Oldbury. Lord Haw Haw used to broadcast on radio every night from Germany and he used to frighten us saying they were coming to blow it up and we would all be killed and West Bromwich and Oldbury would be gone.

I also remember a barrage balloon breaking loose but it was based on a field behind Metal Closures factory. The airmen told us to go in the shelters or stay inside. The wires attached to a balloon fell across the roofs of houses in Clifford Road, so it may not be the same one as B.S. Fenton mentioned. I also joined the messengers towards the end of the war as I was too young before. I was eleven at the outbreak of war, and 16 in 1944 (born 1928).

I look forward to reading The Bugle every Thursday which I've done for many years. I've written to the paper many times, but I'm now 86 and don't enjoy good health like I used to.

I am enclosing my messenger's card which we had to carry with us at all times to show to anyone in authority who asked for it.

Mrs V. Sadler (née Ashcroft),

155 Ladbury Road, Yew Tree Estate, Walsall.

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