- Contributed by
- Brian Western
- People in story:
- Brian J. Western.
- Location of story:
- 13,Ashness Gardens,GREENFORD,Middx.
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 09 August 2004
It's 1943 and I'm 8yrs. old,not very old but old enough to stand at night in our garden, nervously holding my fathers hand, who had just returned from his spell of night duty with the local branch of the A.R.P.(Air Raid Patrol).
Our garden, in Sudbury,backed onto the Sudbury Golf Course, down to the Grand Union Canal and with a view across to the horizon, which was towards Ealing, Acton and Central London.
We were standing under some large elm trees, listening to the drone of German bombers and the A.A. gun barrage directed against these aircraft and also the sound of pieces of small shrapnel, as they dropped through the trees branches, to be collected later the next morning and placed in the scrap metal containers in the road, usually next to the pig-food bins.
Of course, if the shelling and bombing got a bit too severe, Dad and I quickly joined Mum in the Anderson shelter and probably received a good telling-off!
On other nights we listened to the noisy, rasping growl of incoming V1's and only ran for shelter when we heard the engine stop and saw the exhaust flames die, signalling that the "flying bomb" was then gliding down to explode on a completely random target,usually not too far away!
The most scary aerial weapon,at any rate for me,was the supersonic V2 rocket;we used to see a column of dust and smoke suddenly burst upwards from the Ealing horizon, to be followed a few seconds later by a loud roaring, rattly' noise, as both the sound wave and the explosion hit upon our ears.
After one particularl night of almost non-stop bombing, my Dad returned home,after leaving for work to catch the Piccadilly train from Sudbury Town station to Euston, as usual;he shakily told Mum and I that his parents house, in District Road, Sudbury had virtually disappeared, except for a very badly damaged first floor which was now at street level.Evidently, the weapon which had exploded near their home had been a landmine; these particular bombs were dropped by parachute and exploded above ground level, thanks to a detonator that trailed beneath the casing of the weapon, causing the main blast to be directed sideways,three or four feet above street level ; this was the reason why the ground floor of their house was totally destroyed, leaving the upper portion to drop down onto the rubble.
These two elderly people,for some reason, maybe obstinacy, fear or defiance, just would not leave their beds to go to the public shelters or even use the cupboard under the stairs, that would have afforded them some protection from the bombs.
My Dad had begged them both, time after time, to at least take refuge downstairs, actually under the stairs or a sturdy table and this was the only night when they eventually thought that it would be sensible to do what he had been imploring them to do, with catastrophic results, because they both lost their lives on that dreadful night.
These are just some of the worst of my memories of the blitz during WW2.
Brian J. Western.
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