Betty Quinn, née Popkiss
Throughout the Second World War, the skills taught by St John
Ambulance were crucial, to enable people to give first aid
to those injured by the frequent bombings.
On leaving school in 1940, Betty Popkiss joined St John
Ambulance as a volunteer. Soon after, Betty’s home city of
Coventry suffered a devastating air attack. ‘As I
walked home the main shelling suddenly started. It was dark, the
sirens were wailing and our anti-aircraft guns were blazing as the
bombers dropped their high explosives.
Suddenly a little girl who lived on my road ran up to me and
said “mummy, daddy...please...” Something was obviously wrong and I
told her to get help. I looked ahead and realised a bomb
had made an almost a direct hit on an Anderson shelter.
Our neighbours, the Worthington family, were all trapped inside. I
started digging into the rubble with my bare hands and I remember
hearing moans from inside. Other people helped and we all worked
together, fumbling around in the dark with only light from the
shells exploding overhead. Together we got the family free
and I helped to give them first aid. I remember just
pulling off my brand new black coat and laid it over them.’
Source: Museum of the Order of St John