Blitz - A Young Soldier's Experience - Frank Johnston
After what seemed like just a few minutes the
incendiary bombs came pouring down. There wasn't nearly enough equipment
or personnel to deal with the resulting fires. The already
grave situation became much worse when the dockside timber-yards
caught alight and were soon blazing out of control.
Then came the big 1,000 pound bombs, also then called "land mines".
These were responsible for enormous damage to the
city. One such bomb made a direct hit
on one of our Nissen huts and gouged a fifty-foot crater in the ground, leaving
no sign that there had ever been a hut. The vacuum sucked all the surrounding
huts towards the crater and many uniforms and personal items were simply
never seen again.
couple of comrades and myself were in a sandbag emplacement,
we had only one weapon against the entire overhead enemy, a single (WW1)
Lewis machine-gun. Of course we kept firing it
until our ammunition ran out but we
knew that it was a fairly useless exercise. I also remember hearing the
big guns on the docked Ark Royal being fired, although
we saw no visible success.
humorous incident lightens my memory of that solemn
night. In the middle of all the mayhem a young, very
drunk sailor came staggering along the dockside
with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle in the other, singing "I Belong to
Glasgow". He was quite oblivious to what was going on and was miraculously unscathed.
morning came the full reality of the destruction.
The timber yards that had burnt so fiercely lay
We could see too that there were
fire hoses lying around nearby and we were told how they hadn't fitted the hydrants
and so had proved useless. Although we couldn't see it, it was easy
to guess what the rest of the city might look like.
As a serving soldier I'd had experience of other
air raids in the north of England but I could compare
none of them to the ferocity of the Belfast Blitz
and I do
still feel that I was very lucky to be alive when it was all over.
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