Author Topic: Battle of Britain  (Read 2109 times)

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Offline James Briggs

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Battle of Britain
« on: 23 July, 2008, 05:41:43 PM »
My own story happened in 1940 when I was about six years old.

In East Ham the summer of 1940 saw the Battle of Britain take place over our heads. The weather was wonderful, with many days of clear blue skies.
The vapour trails of the fighters and bombers could be easily seen and their engines heard.
My father was too old to fight; in any case his skills as a plumber were needed in the London docks. However, he had to do his bit as an Air Raid Warden, for which he was given a uniform, tin hat and binoculars.
We lived about two miles from the docks, and there was every likelihood of getting some misplaced bombs falling on us. As a result, at the outbreak of war, my father had half-buried our Anderson air raid shelter in our small back garden.
Over it he piled earth; on the top he had a small vegetable patch and a wonderful viewpoint from which to stand, use his binoculars, and watch the overhead aircraft.
One particular bright and sunny afternoon he was on top of the shelter in his tin hat, watching the battles above.
The surrounding gardens were full of our neighbours enjoying the sunshine.
You could hear the chatter of the machine guns and the aircraft engines, and see their vapour trails and the occasional parachute falling.
My father suddenly lowered his binoculars and shouted: "Machine gun bullets falling!" (To this day I don't know how he saw them.) This cry emptied the gardens of our neighbours -  they all scurried inside their houses or down their shelters.
My father viewed the desolation around him and, from under the protection of his tin hat, shouted at them: "Cowards!"
Lived at 11 Chesley Gdns, E6 for most of the first 25 years of my life.