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The Day Before Yesterday: 55 – A Bombing Raid

Gladys Schofield recalls the night the bombs dropped.

To read earlier chapters of Gladys’s story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_day_before_yesterday/

It was nine pm one April night. Alan was fast asleep in his cot upstairs. The air raid warning had just gone. They were once again bombing the big cities. It was Manchester's turn tonight. We could see the glow on the horizon. We heard the heavy low drone of the German bomber passing overhead as we stood beside the dustbin at the door of our house.

Just then two search lights crossed their beam of light and there he was for all to see. He had to drop his load to get higher, as the fighters would now be on his tail. As we watched all this Cliff said, "We are all right, look, he is right above us," but his voice was drowned by the whining sound of a bomb. He pushed me down and lay on top of me and with a clang, the dustbin lid landed on top of us both. As the bomb landed, the smell of earth and acrid fumes, were everywhere from the explosion.

We picked ourselves up amazed that we were still in one piece and were upstairs in no time to retrieve our baby. He was still asleep, one little thumb firmly wedged in his mouth, fingers hooked over his nose.

We spent the rest of the night in a neighbour’s cellar. They had it equipped with benches and a gas ring and tins of baking all ready for such a time as this. We stayed with our neighbours until about three am, when the all clear sounded and as soon as it was light enough we went to see where the bomb had fallen. Pieces of jagged shrapnel were all over our land. We found the crater just over our back fence, in the grounds of a bakery (it was closed for the night). Even our old house was sturdier than I had thought. The string of six bombs had dropped at intervals across the countryside, the last one killed a few hens in a poultry farm. That was as near as we would wish to be and no more dropped that close.

Quite a few Polish people managed to escape from Poland and joined the Air Force. They had nothing to lose and were very daring. We were also getting some, volunteering from America and Canada and of course Australia and New Zealand were with us from the start, just as in the First World War but as yet America had not declared war on Germany. We seemed to get tougher still as the convoys were attacked and so many lives were being lost. Everyone lost someone close or had grown up with them. We were determined to stick it out no matter what the sacrifice, how they managed in the cities and docks I will never know and though I have been away from that country for over thirty years, I will always be proud of the people in their hour of need.


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