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- Dennis Neal
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- 31 May 2004
Leicester was lucky in many ways as we did not suffer bombing in the same way as many other cities. However, we were in the direct flight path for the german bombers targeting Coventry and the Black Country. The result was that we woke most nights to the wail of the sirens and heard the aircraft flying overhead with the AAA guns making plenty of noise. If an aircraft was hit, it would possibly shed it's bombs on us and occasionally an aircraft was brought down.
The night of 19/20 November 1940 was to prove different. There was the usual air raid warning and constant explosions for several hours. I was 11 at the time and sheltered under the stairs with my mother. My dad was on ARP duty in the street and kept popping in to see if we were OK.
We were suitably terrified when the whole house shook and we were smothered in dust and debris. Thinking it was us or our next door neighbour who had been hit, we started to emerge from the pantry when my dad came running in to check on us. He had watched a bomb on a parchute descend towards the house and shift with the wind to fall in the next Road.
When the all cleasr sounded, I climbed the dividing wall to gain access to the next street and saw a mass of destruction. 16 houses reduced to rubble and a huge crater in the road filled with water from a broken main. My dad was helping with the rescue and saw me and sent me packing.
Looking at the pattern of the bombing some time later, it would appear that the possible target was the railway lines and three major bridges. If they had been hit, it would have been a major blow to the war effort.
That was the only truly bad raid Leicester had but there were many instances of casual bombing and machine gunning.
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