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15 October 2014
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A Banner of Bombs

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Peggy Priestman (nee Staples)
Location of story: 
Joyce Green Hospital, Dartford, Kent
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4051108
Contributed on: 
11 May 2005

I was a twenty-year old nurse at Joyce Green Hospital in Dartford in Kent in the latter half of 1940. One of my most vivid memories is when another nurse and I were on our way from the nurse’s home to start our shift. It was early afternoon, and as we were walking along a plane passed overhead, trailing what looked like string. My first thought was that it was trailing some sort of advertising banner, and I thought, ‘What a time to be advertising. Don’t they know there’s a war on?’

But the string seemed to be getting longer, and all at once my friend and I realised the truth: it was a German bomber, and the lengthening string was no such thing. “Help, it’s bombs!” I cried, and we dived behind some sandbags at the entrance to the hospital. We noticed a Spitfire in pursuit just before we got our heads down. The ground shook as the bombs exploded but, thankfully, they had landed in the nearby marshes, only a few hundred metres away.

We’d had a lucky escape, and we weren’t the only ones — the Spitfire had been shot down. Happily, the pilot managed to bail out, and some of our doctors drove out to collect him. They brought him back for a check-up, causing great excitement amongst the nurses. To us he was a hero, and we all gathered round to meet him — it was like meeting royalty! He was relatively unscathed, if a little shaken. Though whether he was in shock from his narrow escape, or from the admiring attention of so many nurses is perhaps debatable!

This story was submitted to the People's War site by volunteer Steve Gothard on behalf of Peggy Priestman, and has been addes to the site with her permission. Mrs Priestman fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Kent Category
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