Puddy, Dennis (b.1923) & Isobel (b.1923)

Dennis Puddy began as an apprentice at Westlands and stayed with the company all his working life. He became an aircraft assembly fitter working on aeroplanes during the war and afterwards on helicopters, for which Westlands became famous. His was a reserved occupation, so he was unable to join the army.


Isobel Puddy worked in the Bristol Post Office telephone exchange from 1940 to 1955, the year she married Dennis. During the bombing of Bristol in 1940, her family sheltered under the stairs rather than in an air raid shelter, because her father was frightened of being buried alive.

WW2 Luftwaffe maps of Somerset aircraft factories. WW2 Luftwaffe maps of Somerset aircraft factories.
Sound File
Listen to Dennis and Isobel Puddy - 1.73MB Duration 3:21 min.

AH: Can you tell me why you didn’t go, weren’t called up to join the forces?


DP: Well, yes I can because I was down there for, I suppose it must have been twelve months, eighteen months and I went up to the recruiting office to join the army as I’d had enough of it down here.  And they took the name and everything, you know, and said they’d let me know, and the next thing I heard I couldn’t go because I was in restricted work, you know.  Not exactly restricted work, you know, but they wouldn’t allow me to go because of my work.


AH: Did you ever have many experiences like that?


DP: I had an experience, I can’t remember whether I was in the Home Guard at all then. But about twelve o’clock one day, I was leaving work, and I skived off a little bit early, about two or three minutes.  It could have killed me.  Anyway, I was going down the road and then this Dornier bomber came straight down through the factory. It dropped the bomb up one end; it went through the hangar, through the roof, out the side, out on the road, hit a stone, bounced over me and blew up an office just in front of me.

Yes, I remember as I sort of looked round and see this one going by, of course you had to get out of the way quick.  Then I turned round towards a window and came out [to face]. Luckily I wasn’t hurt, I had a little bit of glass in my arm.


AH: What size of a bomb?


DP: I think about five hundred pounds, they say.  Of course, there was unfortunately other people that were skiving off, going round that corner, and they were killed.  Someone was on a bike, you know, and the bike was all smashed up.  So...


AH: What did you feel at the time when you saw it coming towards you?


DP: Well, it was all done in a flash.  It came up from behind me.  Of course I knew there was a raid on, because we used to have, funnily enough we used to have a balloon either end of the, you know, with a cable, either end of the factory, but they didn’t seem to worry very much about that.  And I could see the pilot as he went by, he was that low.  So when I looked round the corner and saw what happened, I was gone, like a flash.  When I got home I saw this blood trickling down my arm.  I didn’t know I was hit.


AH: Were there many casualties?


DP: Yes, there were about five killed, yeah.


AH: Do you remember what kind of things she used to make?


IP: Well, there was a very famous recipe called Woolton pie, which, well, which was a kind of a vegetable mix, you know, in gravy with a potato topping, and this Woolton pie was named after Lord Woolton who was one of the ministers in the government.  Well then, the cakes, you know, there were shortages of different things so I mean you had to well, use dried egg, you know.  You used carrots to sweeten them because, course, you didn’t have the sugar and, but we used to get by. And I think we were a lot healthier in fact than we are now.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in January 1994. Photograph ©SCC. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.