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  • Claire Jordan

If anything happens...

For VE Day today, the story of the Fitz family of Plymouth.

By 29th April 1941, the port had endured months of worsening bombing, the Luftwaffe trying to cripple the dockyards which, though the city was reduced to rubble around them, resolutely kept working.

Winnie and Len Fitz knew only too well that in the last few weeks, the bombing raids had intensified. They had an Anderson shelter in their garden at 58 Foliot Road, but its protection was limited against a direct hit.

As the sirens went yet again that night, they crowded their family into their little shelter: they had their newly-married eldest Eileen with them, with her nine-month old baby son, then their own children Ken (17), Betty (8), Brian (6) and little Valerie, aged just 4.

The next thing Ken remembered was his Dad frantically calling for him; coming to with cuts and bruises under the panel of corrugated iron which had saved his life, Ken found his Dad in the chaos and dragged him out of the rubble to what remained of their front room until help arrived.

But 42-year-old Len Fitz’s injuries were too severe and he died in hospital the next day.

Ken was now the sole survivor of his family: his Mum and Dad, his big sister and little nephew, and his smaller sisters and brother, all gone.

The last thing Ken remember his Mum Winnie saying in the shelter as the blasts got closer and louder was:

“If anything happens, I hope we all go together.”

It is VE Day again today, but let’s never forget what it cost to get there.

Above: Winnie Fitz, daughter of Amelia and Robert Reeves

Above: Betty, Valerie & Brian Fitz

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