Mum had twins two days after being bombed out of her South Shields home

Nancy Walkinshaw with her twins, born after she was bombed out.
Nancy Walkinshaw with her twins, born after she was bombed out.

ANNIVERSARIES like the recent VE Day commemorations only convey so much about the terrors that war must have held.

Imagine, for instance, giving birth just two days after you’ve been bombed out of your home? And to twins to boot?

The twins' birth made headlines in the Gazette.

The twins' birth made headlines in the Gazette.

It happened to Nancy Walkinshaw, whose daughter - also called Nancy but now Mrs Scott - was recently thrilled to come across a report from the Gazette of when her twin brothers were born at the height of the air raids on what we were only allowed to call, at the time, “a North East coast town.”

This is her mother here with the twins - Nancy thinks outside their house in Alma Street, which was behind Ocean Road.

The other picture is of the boys - Donald and John - with their father, John Snr, a former waiter, who spent most of the war overseas with the Durham Light Infantry, serving at Tobruk and in Malta, and then was a prisoner-of-war.

Nancy’s mam, who was only 21, had been living with her own mother when the house opposite them took a direct hit from a bomb, which killed two people.

The twins with their dad, John, who had been a prisoner-of-war.

The twins with their dad, John, who had been a prisoner-of-war.

Their own home was badly damaged and they were taken to a nearby rest centre.

Staff at the centre wanted Nancy Snr to go to hospital, but instead she stayed for two-and-a-half days before she went.

One worry was that although the layette she had prepared had survived the bombing undamaged, there was only one - and there were two babies.

Here, the local branch of the Womens Voluntary Service stepped in and another layette, a gift from the American Red Cross, was provided (making Nancy the first beneficiary in the town of what was a US scheme for bombed-out mothers).

The twins, Donald and John, weighed in at 5lbs 11 oz and 4lbs 9oz respectively.

And they’re still with us - John living in South Shields, and Donald in York.

Sadly, dad John died in 1987, and their mother in 1996.

But their daughter - who grew-up in what was eventually a family of five youngsters - is thrilled to have come across the story.

She said: “I knew most of it already but it’s nice to be able to read about your own family like that.”