NINE PENNYWORTH OF EXCITEMENT
It was a heavy, sultry afternoon and a friend and I had cadged 9d from our mothers to pay for seats in the North Watford Odeon.
We set off with our mothers' strict instructions to leave the cinema if there was an air raid - there was and we did.
We emerged, shirt-sleeved, into a torrential rainstorm - the cloud had lowered, it was very nearly dark, and to add spice to the situation we could hear the distinctive throb of a German aircraft overhead.
Our homes were about a mile-and-a-half away and we set off for them at a fast trot - the Luftwaffe lending wings to our feet.
Bedraggled and breathless we sheltered under a tree beside the A41 whilst we planned our next move - home was still a mile away but since we couldn't get any wetter we decided to carry on running.
As we emerged from the shelter of the tree the German (who was no doubt lost and feeling rather scared) began firing his machine gun - at this we dived under another tree, he stopped shooting and we calmed down (a little).
We set off again, but so did the Hun and to the accompaniment of more firing we hastily found another tree.
There was a third tree and a third burst of firing after which we decided on no more trees - just serious, fear-inspired running.
Coincidentally the German also seemed to have changed his immediate plans - he stayed in the vicinity, but stopped shooting.
In retrospect we knew that the cloud was too dense for the gunner to have been shooting at us, but we were intrigued to know just where the bullets had landed.
It was to be fifty years later that answering a request in the "Watford Observer" for information about a young girl (a classmate) who had been killed in an air raid on North Watford, that the circle was closed.
It transpired that the lady seeking the information had lived about a quarter of a mile from "our" trees and she had retrieved some of the spent bullets, still hot, from her garden.