Doreen Fidler was just 11-years-old when her school in Catford was bombed by the Germans in the Second World War.

The 1943 bombing of Sandhurst School killed 38 children and six teachers.

This weekend marked the 75th anniversary of one of the darkest days south east London has ever endured.

“It was a normal day and off we went to school as usual,” Doreen, now 85, told News Shopper.

“We hadn’t had night raids for ages. We were beginning to feel like the war was coming to an end.”

But just a few hours later, six of Doreen’s classmates were killed in the Luftwaffe blast.

She went to school that day with Alma Bird from their homes in Glenfarg Road.

Doreen used to travel back with her friend after school before staying with her until Alma’s mother returned from work.

Lunchtime arrived on January 20, 1943 which meant Doreen had to go home for dinner.

Doreen pleaded with her mum to let her stay in school during lunch that year but she was told she had to wait until secondary school.

“She won the argument,” as Doreen put it.

Alma stayed behind.

The friends said goodbye as Alma went downstairs. It was the last time they would ever see each other.

Doreen was in the dining room when she heard a plane flying down close to her home.

“I got under the dining room table on my hands and knees. My mum was out in the kitchen.

“She opened the back door, looked up, and saw this wing with a black cross just above the house flying down our road.”

Doreen said she was in a state of panic when they hurried towards the bomb shelter.

Eventually they left the shelter where a neighbour was holding a screaming teenage girl who was covered in dust.

“You couldn’t see the colour of her hair or clothes,” Doreen recalled.

Her uncle George saw Doreen with her mother before he told them that the school had been bombed.

“What about Alma?” Doreen asked her mum.

They headed towards the school before encountering an infant who was propped up in a cabin. She had blond curly hair and her gashed head was bent forward with blood dripping onto her jumper.

In a sense of shock, Doreen couldn't go any further and went to a neighbour’s house as her mum continued towards the school.

That evening Doreen remembers her relatives visiting to check whether she was still alive.

The next morning she read the casualty list in the newspaper.

She said: “Alma had been standing by the fireplace. When the bomb exploded the blast lifted her up and deposited her in the fire.

“She was apparently burned around the head and eyes.”

Alma eventually left Lewisham Hospital and her mum took her back to Bournemouth.

“I never saw Alma again. My mum didn’t let me visit her.

“I often wonder. I tried getting in touch with her via the local paper down there. But it became something we just didn’t talk about.”

She was also prohibited from attending the funerals of her six classmates.

Doreen remembered: “My mum felt awkward that I had been saved and unhurt when my friends were either killed or injured.”

After the bombing she was transferred to Brownhill Road School.

“I got to the new school on the Thursday and I was told off for not going back on the Monday. The attitude was that you wouldn’t let Hitler get you down.

“You would carry on as normal otherwise Hitler had beaten you.”

Despite losing her friends and never seeing Alma again – Doreen said she never felt contempt towards Germany.

She explained: “We didn’t really hate the German people. My father had been through the First World War and he realised they were just ordinary people.

“It was governments who sent armies into battle, not ordinary people.”

Doreen still visits the graves of her old friends at Hither Green Cemetery although not as much as she used to because of her arthritis.

“The joys of old age,” she laughed.

She added that the infamous bombing of her school is indelible to her memory.

A commemorative ceremony will be held in St. Andrew's Church in Catford on January 26.