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15 October 2014
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Bus Stop Blitz

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Carlyle H. Smith
Location of story: 
Broadweir, Bristol
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
30 August 2005

I left school and started work at the age of 16 in the Telephone Managers’ Office in Union Street, Bristol on 24th August 1942, travelling to work from where I then lived at Kingswood, on the old Service 133 bus which terminated in Carey’s Lane, Old Market. From the bus stop, I walked along Ellbroad Street, through Broadweir and Fairfax Street to the Office.

On my 5th day at work, Friday, 28th August 1942, after walking this route, I arrived at the office at the starting time of 8.30 a.m. and settled down at my desk. Immediately there was a loud explosion outside the building.

During my walk through Broadweir, I passed three double-decker buses full of people waiting to depart. These buses were not there normally, but a temporary bus terminus had been created there that morning, because the road was being repaired at the normal terminus around the corner in Lower Castle Street. When I walked past the three buses, I heard the sound of a single-engine aircraft far above in the clear blue sky — it was a lovely summer’s day then. It never crossed my mind that it was an enemy plane; it had been eighteen months since the last major German air-raid on Bristol. Yet the lone raider was from the Luftwaffe; maybe returning from a raid in the North with one bomb left, which he decided to jettison before homing to his base airfield.

The damage caused by this single bomb was immense and catastrophic; very many people in the buses were killed, being unable to escape the fires as the buses burned out. There had been no warning at all — no air-raid sirens, which had always preceded a raid. The blast was so severe that a number of buildings around were destroyed; including a 17th century house occupied by Taylors the printers.

I couldn’t help but thank Providence that I had escaped this carnage, despite having walked right through the target area less than ten minutes before it happened.

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