'I was absolutely terrified' - 96-year-old Plymouth Blitz survivor recalls the moment her house was bombed by the Nazis

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Suzanne Sparrow was 16 years old during the 1941 Plymouth Blitz. Credit: ITV News

A 96-year-old Blitz survivor has spoken of the moment she discovered her family home in Plymouth had been destroyed by a Nazi bomb.

As the city prepares to mark the 80th anniversary of the worst bombing raids of the Second World War in 1941, Suzanne Sparrow has told ITV News her "heart sank" as she realised the house she shared with her parents had been destroyed.

Suzanne says her 'heart sank' when she discovered her family home destroyed. Credit: ITV News

"My recollection is mostly of being absolutely terrified," she said.

"When you heard the sirens go and then the sound of the aeroplanes, my family used to go down into the cellar and I've never forgotten, one used to just shake all the time. One was literally petrified."

In March 1941 Suzanne was 16 years old, in her final year of school, taking a bus through Plymouth the night after a night of heavy bombing.

"When I came to my bus stop, there was my home shattered," she added. "There was my sister's house shattered. There was debris all over the place, there wasn't a sign of life anywhere.

"I think you can imagine standing in the middle of that, my heart just sank. I stood for a few moments and then my family appeared. My father said 'Sue, we are all alright.'"

Plymouth suffered horrific damage in spring 1941. Credit: British Pathe

Plymouth was badly hit as the German Air Force targeted cities which played a central role in naval operations, shipbuilding and cargo transport. The city suffered terrible damage which would take decades to repair.

Dr Harry Bennett from the University of Plymouth said: "If you look at the photos you can see the scale of the devastation. We had the heart literally ripped out of the city centre. Many familiar landmarks are simply gone, reduced to piles of rubble, and suddenly overnight in March and April 1941 the city was erased."

This weekend Plymouth will mark the anniversary with a range of virtual events. Online remembrance services will pay tribute to those who died, while St Andrew's Church will hold a special live streamed service to mark 80 years since the original 12th Century building was left in ruins.

The Plymouth 'bomb book' is on display at The Box. Credit: The Box

Plymouth's newest museum, The Box, will share pages from the 'Bomb Book', a document which records every location where a device was dropped in the city.

Claire Skinner, from The Box, said: "This is a living archive that can help people research the history of their property, the history of the city, and obviously if they had family who died it can help to explain how and why that happened."

Suzanne says she sees a lot of similarities between the war years and the Covid pandemic. Credit: ITV News

Suzanne sees many parallels between the war years and the period we are all living through at the moment in the grip of the Covid pandemic.

"There was a very good rapport between neighbours at that time, neighbours helped each other out enormously," she said.

"This has brought people together again, to realise you've got to work together and it's time that we got up and did some more positive thinking."

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