- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Mrs E C Harrington
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Ministry of Defence
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 19 January 2004
A story about my mother which someone else told me and may have grown a bit with time and telling concerns the time when she was a driver for the Ministry of Defence , returning to her base from a trip south of the river.
This would , probably be 1940 with German air raids most days , and although people would take shelter somewhere most drivers kept going, particularly those in uniform on the basis of " it can't happen to me " and anyway the military
should not be seen cowering in doorways.
My mother was in a line of traffic crossing London Bridge when there was a lot of noise, bangs , flashes and smoke and holes appeared not only in my mothers car but in others and the traffic all stopped.
There was then a lot more noise , gunfire and smoke and an aircraft passed over the bridge which everybody recognised as German , distinguished , of course by the black crosses on the side and so low she could see the chipped paint and oil stains
Almost at once, although it must have been a few seconds later a second aircraft passed at seeing the oil stains height, this was followed by gunfire and seconds later a loud explosion.
My mother , at that point got out her car and then learnt what had happened
Apparently there were a number of people standing on the bridge or crossing it on foot when they saw an aircraft, very low , flying down the river towards them ,"Its' OK, its one of ours" was the word , but at that point the nose of "one of ours" lit up with flashing lights and bullets were flying everywhere , however the German pilot was concentrating so much on flying at that low level he failed to look in his rearview mirror.
Had he done so he would seen his Nemesis coming down the river behind him in the shape of a Spitfire, which as he lifted to clear the bridge, opened fire and knocked him into the river with a loud and very satisfying bang
The Spitfire then circled back and after a very low pass over the bridge pulled up in a victory roll, waggled his wings and turned south for his base, possibly Biggin Hill or Manston.
My mothers car was not drivable so it was towed back to her base where she was allocated another one for the next trip.
Several days later she was told how luck she was as the German aircraft had been recovered and it was found the cannons were empty and the holes in her car were caused " only by machine bullets which of course were not explosive " her reply, which was recorded on the paperwork
cannot be printed here
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