After the end of the Second World War, thousands of East End families streamed eastward to make a better life for themselves in Southend and Basildon. They shared a common community background in the London streets, but they also shared an experience. They had lived through the Blitz.

Londoners talked about the Blitz readily enough, but since it was an experience lived through by millions, nobody thought that there was anything remarkable.

Everyone had their Blitz story.

The years have passed, and as the Blitz generation has dwindled, so the sheer remarkableness of their experience has come into sharper relief.

To a 21st-century generation, born into peace, the terror of the Blitz, the carnage and destruction that arrived out of the night-time sky, seems almost unimaginable.

So, even more so, does the courage, stoicism, and community spirit shown by ordinary Londoners, Down the years, the Echo’s Memories page has recorded the stories of many people who lived through (and saw others die in) the German bombing raids of 1940, and the second sequence of attacks, by flying bombs and V2 rockets, in 1944-45.

These pages have covered the story of a Southend woman, asleep in her bed, who was blown out of her bedroom by a landmine, and woke to find herself, still in her bed, on the pavement.

A Wickford man recalled seeing his father stick his head out of the entrance of the family’s Anderson shelter, only to have it promptly blown off.

A Basildon lady recalled seeing her friends crushed to death a few feet from her in the Bethnal Green tube disaster – the result of panic caused by a new type of antiaircraft gun – 144 people died in the crush. Jammed alive in a pile of upright bodies, all the lady could do for relief was close her eyes until rescue came.

Yet while tragedies like these continued, people carried on with their lives in the rubble and flames. One Southend lady recalled walking home from a party during the Blitz. “There were buildings on fire all round us, but we just made our way back between the fire engines, and stepped over the fire hoses, laughing and chatting all the time.

We were young. We weren’t going to let the Blitz stop us having fun when we could.”

Now the survivors have shrunk to a small number, which grows fewer every day. The Echo is here recording the experiences of Ronald Pound, 90, making his memories public for the first time in these pages. He may well be the last Essex person to do so.

Ronald, a retired carpenter and joiner from Eastwood, was a teenager during the Blitz. He was bombed out of not just one, but two homes. On the second occasion, he returned home to find his father had been killed by a flying bomb.

Ernest Tickle, Ron’s dad, joined the Army in 1909 as a professional soldier. He fought all the way through the First World War, and somehow survived the carnage of the trenches. Between the wars, he worked as a policeman, and then as a doorman at the Victoria and Albert Museum. By scrimping and saving, the familymanaged to buy their own house in Eric Road, Forest Gate, and it was here, in his parents’ bedroom, that Ron was born.

Paying to keep a roof over the family’s heads was the paramount concern, and there was not much money left for anything else. Ron remembers that holes in shoes had to be repaired with pieces of cardboard. “Nothing ever went to waste, everything you had was recycled, and the funny thing was, even when you did eventually throw something out, someone else would find a use for it.”With the security of their own home, however, the Tickle family were better off than so many others.

That home, so carefully saved for down the years, was destroyed in a flash during a heavy bombing raid in 1940. Ron was outside with his friends when the bomb hit. Ron has written down his own vivid memories of that moment. “We could hear the sound of bombs falling all around, but as it came hurtling through the sky towards us, we knew this one was going to be very close.

“My friends and I threw ourselves down as it exploded.

Bricks and dust were flying around everywhere. The smell has stayed inmymind forever.”

Ron’s family home was blown apart, yet when he ran into the remains of the hallway, he found his mother and sister, still standing at the foot of the stairs.

It was one of those almost surrealist spectacles which the Blitz threwup again and again.

Another such sight greeted Ron the following morning. After spending the night in a local school, the family returned to where their home had been. Eric Road had taken manymore hits during the night.

“Half the road had been razed to the ground,” says Ron. “The dead were laid on the side of the road.”

The devastation was surveyed by the face of a neighbour, Mr Collinson, the father of one of Ron’s friends. He was buried in rubble, with just his face showing through the smashed brickwork.

British priorities being what they are, the rescue workers were feeding him tea through a tube.

This surreal scene masked an awful tragedy – he was standing on the bodies of his wife and two sons.

The Tickle family relocated to a house in nearby Odessa Road. “It was a very nice house, and after a year or so we thought we would be settled there forever,” says Ron.

Sadly, four years later, history repeated itself. The second sustained blitz on London began in June 1944, consisting of attacks by V1 pilotless aircraft, or doodlebugs.

Ron was by now 19, and serving in the Merchant Navy. On a Saturday afternoon, he went with a girlfriend to the Odeon cinema in Forest Gate.

Ron then invited his girl round to meet his parents for tea. As they approached Odessa Road, theymet a stream of people coming the other way. “One said to us, ‘your house has copped it’. And so it was, nothing of the house left. And dad was dead.”

A doodlebug had scored an almost direct hit. Ron’s mother had been able to dive into the shelter in time. Ernie took refuge in the outside toilet. “But it didn’t provide enough protection against the blast and shrapnel,” says Ron.

After the war, Ron married and settled down to a happy but uneventful family life. “I loved my wife,” he says, “and I loved my work.” He changed his name to Pound, “because my wife didn’t want to be known as Mrs Tickle.”

Now, living alone with his memories after the death of his wife, he finds that the Blitz once again looms strongly in his mind.

It is not fear that dominates his thoughts, but admiration for the courage and stoicism of Londoners.

This was enshrined in Ron’s mum, Florence. She had lost one husband, killed in the First World War. Nowwar had once again claimed her nearest and dearest.

“But she carried on and never complained,” says Ron. “She suffered in silence.” There was just one outward sign of the trauma she had endured. A few days after the air raid, her hair turned white.

Florence Tickle enshrined a generation. “Londoners could be rough, and they suffered a lot, but they had hearts of gold,” says Ron.

A very famous cartoon from those years, by the Evening Standard cartoonist Sir David Low, shows just how tough that heart of gold could be. Paying tribute to the people of the East End, the image shows German bombs bouncing off a giant heart, a heart set in the middle of ordinary East End streets.

The London Blitz caused untold human loss and devastation. Yet as a campaign, it was a failure.

Against the stout heart of people like the Tickle family, Hitler’s bombs could achieve nothing.