A Night to Remember
by Northern Life
Patrick was born on the 11th June 1938 to Fred and Margaret Garaghty in the St. Mary’s Hospital Battersea London, a street away from the Battersea dogs home Clapham. They had moved from Colne a small Lancashire mill town where Fred was born, leaving his parents and family. Margaret also had lived there but had been brought up by the nuns; she never knew who her family was. She was always in contact with Sister Malachi from the Queen Street Convent.
They had moved to London where Fred was fully employed by the council as an ornamental plasterer. The war had begun, Hitler was still bombing London, there was lots of damage; he helped renovate most of the important buildings including St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Margaret, a busy young housewife, continued to cope with running the family home and bringing up Patrick, now a lively baby. One morning Fred had gone to work, so she decided to take Patrick to the shops in his big Silver Cross pram and meet up with friends at church. She set off down the road when suddenly there was the sound of the Air Raid siren, she could hear the sounds of the planes overhead and ran as fast as she could, pushing the pram toward the Air Raid shelter not far away, scores of people squashing themselves down the slope, like rats in a drain pipe, into the dimly lit underground station. She picked up Patrick, who was sound asleep and held him tight, praying that Fred was alright. She could see the frightened faces of the people, babies started to cry, someone started to pray; everyone joined in, then someone in the depths of the shelter began to sing to drown out the noise of the bombing; Patrick slept through!
It seemed ages before the ‘all clear’ was sounded, smoke now filtering down into the shelter, putting Patrick back into his pram still asleep, making her way out to witness the devastation around her, smoke filling her lungs, she covered him up. Buildings on fire, ambulances, police, fire engines, people screaming, wardens directing people, she just had to make her way back home. People pushing, houses falling, now she was frightened, where was Fred? As she passed the corner of the street which led to her home, there was nothing but a huge pile of rubble, she stood and looked in despair, all they had – gone, strewn about, the thoughts of: ‘what if I had stayed in!’
Standing in disbelief and crying, out of this horrendous sight came a familiar voice: ‘Margaret, thank God you and Patrick are safe’, they clung together. ‘I’m sending you home, back to my parents Joe and Hannah, back in Colne Lancashire, where you will both be safe, God willing, but for now let’s find you shelter for tonight’. Later that evening, he took them to the station and put them on the train heading for Lancashire.