- Contributed by
- Derrick Grady
- People in story:
- Derrick Grady
- Location of story:
- Bush House, Aldwych, London.
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 13 November 2003
I was 14½ when I left school in 1944. I went to work for the British Broadcasting Corporation as a Post Room boy. We took post to all the various buildings in different parts of London used by the B.B.C. (The Corporation".) At first I was stationed at B.H. (Broadcasting House.) I was there when the D Day landings took place. Later I was tranferred to Bush House which lies between Fleet Street/Strand and Aldwych facing directly up Kingsway. At that time this building housed the European section of the Corporation. It was a very exciting place to be. Just across Aldwych. on the top floor of the Waldorf Hotel, there was a mysterious American operation which we knew as "P.I.D." All around that part of London, in the most unusual locations, there were other clandestine offices. In the Post Room we knew where they all were but, not their purpose.
During our lunch hour, weather permitting, most of the younger boys used to go down to the Embankment and "hang about" Cleopatra's Needle. This was at the time when London and the South East were being regularly attacked by the German V1 Buzzbombs. These were crude missiles but they packed a fairly heavy punch. They could be heard approaching, the exhaust sounded like a badly tuned motor cycle, suddenly the engine cut out and everyone waited for the explosion. Sometimes it came almost immediately, other times the V1 would glide on for quite a long time. Not very pleasant. One day we were returning from our breath of fresh air and as we entered the East court of Bush House we could hear the alarm bells ringing inside the building which meant 'enemy action imminent'. (The public air raid warning siren had sounded while we on the Embankment.)
Just as we arrived at the side entrance to the building we heard the V1 and its engine cut out. One of my friends shouted "There it is!" and we saw this buzzbomb clearly just above the North East wing of Bush House before it disappeared behind the buildings. We turned and flung ourelves to the ground. I was in mid-air when the blast hit me. I still have no idea why I wasn't hurt. When we got to our feet, there were injured people all around us. All my colleagues were unhurt so we started to get people into the building where help was rapidly forthcoming. The Fire Brigade and large numbers of Ambulances seemed to appear in no time. Also, at that time there were other emergency workers who formed Rescue units.
After some time, I was able to climb the steps which led from the courtyard at Strand level up to Aldwych. This was very near to the point of impact which was just outside the doors leading to a Post Office on the ground floor of the North East wing of Bush House. At that time of day, the Post Office was crowded. When I got to the top of the steps the whole area across the junction of Kingsway and Aldwych was covered by occupied stretchers. I asked a Rescue man if he wanted help loading these stretchers on to Ambulances and he said to me " Not any of these, lad, they won't be going anywhere!"
I went and found my jacket which earlier I had put under someone's head. It was covered in blood. I went back to work.
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