Maurice Bennett CBE

Maurice Bennett CBE

Maurice is an entrepreneur in the retail industry and a befriending volunteer for Jewish Care and The Mayor of London. He remembers the start of the War, he says, "After the announcement of Neville Chamberlin declaring war on Germany we had the phoney war where nothing really happened for a year. We were living near Temple Fortune and I was 6 when a huge landmine dropped on Ashbourne Parade and I remember going to school picking my way through the rubble and debris passing smashed up shops and collecting up bits of shrapnel to take to school as part of the war effort so they could reuse them.

"We had no shelters on Chessington Avenue so I was put at the back of the shoe cupboard when there was an air raid and my brother and sister squeezed in behind me. It was no protection and houses that had hits from bombs in our street were destroyed and everyone was killed. An incendiary bomb landed in our garden and was tackled by local air raid wardens. we were having lunch at my grandma’s flat in Hackney when a V. 1 flying bomb landed in Victoria Park and killed many people.

"During the time of rationing, there was nothing in the shops and people became really creative and found ways to make toys out of what they could find. It was clear to my family, when the War was coming to an end and we were all given a holiday for VE Day and had the day off school. I went to the Bohemia Cinema in Finchley Central to watch a film with Marlene Dietrich in it to celebrate. When the war in Europe ended it was difficult to be too lavish because there was still rationing, people were just relieved it was over and it took a while to recover. Those fighting slowly started to return and be repatriated and war really ended finally with victory over the Japanese. I remember the following year that the celebrations were huge on VE Day and we really went to town.”