you very much for your letter and once more I must say I am
sorry for not having written for such a long time. Our day
now is more or less just an existence. We hardly have time
to get up and off go the sirens. If you are lucky enough to
still be here when the “all clear” goes you endeavour
to proceed to work. You get there or sometimes nearly get
there, and off go the sirens again. So down to the cellars
you go to spend an hour or however long it is, knitting or
reading and in general getting a sore seat. When you emerge
and get to the office, there is no post in, and either Mr
J. or Mr S. have not arrived, so there is nothing to do until
they come. On Monday Mr S. had the key to the safe and as
he did not come in there was nothing we could do. After that
to be on the safe side Mr J. took it. Then they messed up
his line to London and he didn't arrive until midday. We usually
have a lunch time raid, in fact if it doesn't come we think
something is up. Then we usually get an afternoon one about
3 or 4 o'clock. That makes it hard to get home. The other
day we had one at twenty to four and this went on until about
ten to five. We got back to the office and did the post and
were just going down in the lift when the siren went again.
After that we managed to get home. When one gets home there
is time to have something to eat, have a wash and as soon
as darkness begins to fall, off we go again for the whole
of the night, that is until 5.30, 5.45 or 6 o'clock. From
the foregoing you will gather why I haven't written.
today we have been lucky, it is eleven and up to now we have
heard no sirens. I think we will hear it soon as planes are
buzzing about now. I have just been out to see if I can see
any but it is too cloudy and as the sun is rather bright they
are probably making use of that.
when they dropped the bomb in Galloson Road they dropped them
in Mineral Street too, and what an ear splitting row they
made. Fortunately, Dad was in the garden watching and he saw
the bombs released and he came in and told us to get under
the table or somewhere. As we have a bed downstairs Hilda
and I got under that. Then we just had to lay and listen to
it whistling through the air until it landed and the house
shook and the noise hurt our ears. Ever so many houses had
their windows blown out and slates blown off too, but so far
all we have is a pane of glass cracked in our French Windows.
Since then the gunfire has been so heavy that it has shaken
a lot of the ceilings down. Not in our house, but in some
of the houses along the road.
am now writing this in Mrs Earle's shelter, she has got hers
up indoors. As you will gather by me taking shelter, the sirens
have gone and although planes are thundering around overhead
nothing has happened yet. I have been caught down at Hilda's
twice during an all night raid. Those shelters are O.K. for
an hour of two but eight or nine hours is too much. Well the
guns are going it now, but so far we haven't heard any bombs
some excitement the Saturday before last. A Messerschmitt
109 (hope that spelt right) was brought down in Ann Street.
A Spitfire was after it and a dog fight went on overhead ?
then down it came making a horrible row. One wing came off
and sailed just over our house. Dad thought it would land
in the road but it just cleared the houses on the other side
of the road and landed in a garden in Hector Street. The rest
of the plane crashed in the gardens of two houses. It caught
fire so that it was not much to look at. The cockpit buried
itself about 3ft in the ground so we were told by a fireman
when we went to see it. We could only see the ends of the
propeller as it was buried. There was a yellow dragon with
red claws painted on the little bit of the cockpit that we
could see. The rest of the plane was such a mess you couldn't
tell what was what. The people started a Spitfire Fund and
let people in to see it ? they collected about £96.
There was a fund started to see the wing too, but that was
only left there for a day, so they didn't get so much.
was bombed on the line behind Reidhaven Road and messed up
the railway so that trains only ran from Charlton. Then next
day (Tuesday) trains ran down to Plumstead at night. On Wednesday
trains only ran from Charlton. After sundry and several raids
throughout the day trains ceased to run anywhere and all services
were suspended from London Bridge. So at 5.30 on Wednesday
(incidentally our time is now whatever time we get there in
the morning until 4 in the afternoon ? air raids permitting).
On Wednesday air raids did not permit and I was stuck outside
London Bridge with a notice saying “All services suspended,
passengers must make their own way” staring me in the
face. After a few minutes I bumped into Fisher and we decided
to try and get home some way or the other together. We tried
Tooley Street way but there were no trams running. So many
roads are roped off because of time bombs that even trams,
buses and cars can't go properly along their usual route.
We then decided to try buses to Elephant & Castle but
the queues for these were so long we would have stood there
all night. The buses that were coming were too full to stop
for more so we had to walk to the Elephant & Castle. Then
there were no buses that we could get on, they weren't stopping
and there were no trams either. Then we met Eileen R. and
she came with us. We decided to walk at least part of the
way, but when we had walked a little way we saw a C.W.S.*
cattle van and as lots of other vans were giving people a
lift, and as this van already had two men on it, Fisher asked
the driver where he was going. Luckily he was going to Woolwich,
so we jumped in. It was very clean inside with just straw
on the floor and railings all round the top. Anyway we got
to Woolwich and then we turned out covered in straw and trailed
up the road to the trams and eventually we got home.
have to go in on Thursday as we are going to have a day off
a week so that we can get some sleep.
“all clear” has gone now and we are going to have
some dinner. Since writing the last sentence I have had my
dinner and another air raid. The last one was from 11.45 to
1.00 and the sirens went again at 2.15. There must have been
hundreds up there, right overhead. The loudest we have heard
with Spitfires chasing all over the place and the noise was
deafening and machine guns letting them have it. Anyway we
have just heard that one was brought down in the Arsenal.
Dad has just come from work and he says one of the men on
the roof saw it crash in there. At 3.15 it was all over.
you have heard on the wireless about the new service they
are running between Woolwich Ferry and Westminster as all
trains have ceased to run. Why I don't know ? I wish I did
but I expect it is a time bomb or something like that outside
London Bridge somewhere. On Friday I went up with Hilda on
the boat. We didn't catch it until 9.30 as we had a warning
at 7.30. Anyway we had just started out in the wind and rain
when the sirens went off again. Guns were firing all up the
river and the journey took two hours. When I got to Tower
Pier I walked towards the office and as I almost got there
guns started firing and the wardens hauled me in. I stayed
in for about an hour and a half and then when it was quiet
I crept out and got into our own shelter with Miss Drury.
I then had time to talk and eat my lunch and after four hours
the “all clear” went. That was the longest day
raid we have had. I got into the office, had a wash, did one
letter and at ten to three Mr. S. went to catch his bus home.
At ten past three Mr. J. was still not in so Fisher and I
left and went to Westminster to catch the boat. I had said
I would not go home by boat on my own but Fisher said I could
go with him. We got there at 3.30, the boat was due at 3.50,
the last leaving at 4.30. The boat hadn't come at 4 o'clock
and aeroplanes began buzzing overhead again and guns started
firing. This went on for about 5 mins and then once more the
sirens went. We got the full benefit of the one on New Scotland
Yard. After about 20 mins the “all clear” went
but no boat came. At 4.30 it was seen coming under Waterloo
Bridge and about 4.45 we were ready to set out. I was feeling
extremely sick, as I expect you can remember what the Thames
ozone is like. It took 2 hours to get to Woolwich again during
which time it poured with rain and the wind blew a gale. The
river was like a tempest and I was freezing cold by the time
I arrived home, so I don't think I shall use that method of
travel anymore if I can get a bus over on the Common. I don't
like being in the middle of the Thames when there is an air
raid on? and they are not going to stop. I would cycle if
the traffic was not diverted so much. You can only get to
the bottom of Albion Hill now and then there is a diversion
you could go to Charlton at the beginning of the week.
this week a lone raider got through and very calmly came down
and dropped a bomb on the hospital and another on Buckleys
Yard. After this had happened the sirens were sounded. Grandad
was in the garden watching the plane when it suddenly released
the bombs. Anyway the one on Buckleys caused the traffic to
be diverted but it was removed after a time ? it was a time
bomb. The one on the hospital went into the dining room where
all the old men were. The Matron was killed and quite a few
of the old men.
afternoon they nearly got the Links Stores, but instead the
bombs fell in Ennis Road and Tuam Road and also Wernbrook
Street. They took the corner right off the Brown School where
the A.F.S.* are stationed. They hit Plum
Lane School? A.F.S. there too. Slade School ? Barrage
Balloon there. Timbercroft Lane ? houses down. During the
night Durham Road ? houses down and 5 killed. Basildon Road
? houses down and a great crater in the road. Gas and water
mains hit. 8 bombs dropped on that old barn at the bottom
of Rochdale Road ? just made craters and blew glass out of
a passing tram.
they hit the British
Hospital for Mothers and Babies in Wood Street.
Thank goodness no one was hurt. One building of Siemens is
gutted out and one or two others I believe and their wharf
is smashed up. When they set a fire going on last Saturday
afternoon in the Arsenal, they also dropped a bomb on the
sewer bank of all places and what a smell there was down that
way. I won't bother to describe what it was like in the Arsenal
as we have heard too many awful stories about it. Still they
hit the Cap and Detonator shop in the danger building one
night during the week and it was like firework night.
Margarine factory over the water was hit a week ago and is
still burning. Tates sugar factory has been hit twice but
still exists. The C.W.S. dairy was hit and we got no milk
for two or three days. The office in the Commonwealth Building
where you used to work is no more. They managed to save the
Grocery Warehouse. Silvertown is nearly down to the ground
so most of them have been brought over this way to Conway
Road School and other schools. Conway Road School hasn't
got a window in it so it must be a bit draughty. Becton Gas
Works has been hit so people are evacuated from there.
buildings are all burnt out in the City and there is a great
crater in the road at either end of London Bridge. Our office
has survived so far ? the nearest hit was Fenchurch Street
Station. Most of the buildings along Fenchurch Street have
no windows but fortunately we still have.
think of any more to tell you now as it would take a book
to write about all that has happened just round here.
you are feeling better now after your collision with a 20
ton lorry and I trust all the family are alright.
we are going to try and have some tea now as we have just
heard some more planes go over. Cheerio now as I am closing
my letter. Hope you don't get eye strain wading through it.