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Mass air raid

by Chelmsford Library

Contributed by 
Chelmsford Library
People in story: 
P.W.(Ted) Gurton
Location of story: 
Rivenhall
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4774241
Contributed on: 
04 August 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Dianne Burtrand of Chelmsford Library on behalf of P.W.Gurton and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

On my first leave from the RAF (I joined in April 1940) in mid-August 1940 I was asked to help at the village school annual sports. At about 2.30 pm just as things were starting, the sirens sounded and shortly after we heard a weird noise over in the Colchester direction. We then spotted vapour trails and tiny black specks in the sky while the noise became louder and louder.
I remember shouting “get the children down in that ditch” and we watched as a squadron of fighters (Hurricanes) came up and dived into the bombers. We saw several planes shot down -unfortunately two were Hurricanes - but the main force passed just to the south of us and was being attacked by a squadron of Spitfires. We found out later that there had been up to 150 German bombers escorted by a similar number of ME109s and 110s. Luckily we suffered no damage and the attack was broken up and scattered, though some did get through to Hornchurch and North Weald.
It had been a most amazing sight and only later did it dawn on me how terrible it would have been had the planes come overhead and jettisoned their bombs.
I was stationed in the London area until February 1942 so I saw many more air raids after that but this was the most memorable.

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