London 13th June 1944, the Bombing of London (the Blitz) was over (at a cost of over 40 million homes destroyed and 40,000 civilian deaths) and London was feeling some respite knowing that the invasion of Europe (D-Day) had already taken place and Hitters Nazi Germany was on the back foot but not to be known by them, a new horror lurked just around the corner. This is the story of just one survivor my Mum.
A false sense of safety.
The morning of the 13th June 1944 dawned bright and sunny, Londoner’s as usual carried on there daily routines amongst the ruins of London and generally felt relieved thinking for them that the War was nearly over. Unknown to them though a new devastating horror was just about to hit them, a new horror that would be so frightening no one would have thought possible, the “V-1 flying bomb” a bomb that just fell from the sky, with no warning except that is for the sound of silence. This is the story of just one of the survivors, my Mother Pat as she liked to be called.
Brief background information of Pat and the V-1 Bomb.
Pat is now the grand young age of 92, partially blind and unable to walk without aid but back in 1944 she was a young vibrant young lady who had already survived the horrific bombings of the London Blitz and had already lost her first husband (of two weeks), during the invasion of Italy. She had for the past 5 years stayed in London working for the WRVS (formerly the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service) set up in 1938 as a voluntary organization to help anyone in England, Scotland and Wales in need of help. She was based at a “WRVS”station quite close to the vicinity of Grove Road, Mile End in London, where the first V-1 Bomb was to descend on the 13th June, 1944 killing, eight civilians and destroying a whole block of houses. She herself had helped in digging out survivors and removing the dead to a local church comforting the deceased persons relatives.
The V-1 Bomb.
The V-1 Bomb also known as the “Buzz Bomb” or “Doodlebug”was an early pulse-jet-powered predecessor of the cruise missile used today. Developed by the German Luftwaffe it was seen by Hitler as his secret weapon to regain the upper-hand after the invasion of Europe, on the 6th June 1944 (D-Day).The first to be launched against the British mainland was on the 13th June 1944. At its peak there were more than 100 hundred launches everyday, for a total of 9.521 this only decreasing when the allies overran there launch sites in Europe. All in all they killed over 22,900 civilians. Military advisors have said that if Hitler had had these missiles earlier in the War, the outcome of the war would have been much different to what we know today.
Breakfast the morning of near death.
As described by my Mother
Five am as normal the first to be up were my Mother (Pat) and her Mother (Teresa). Teresa as usual was cooking breakfast for the whole family and after six years of war and strict rationing she had become adapt at stringing out one egg and a little flour mixed with sawdust to make it go further. Mum was also busy ironing and starching her dads detachable collar to make him look smart when he went to work (the starch by the way was made up of water and a little pinch of sugar from her own sugar ration her Dad never new this). With the arrival of her Father they all sat down to breakfast and listened to the large brown Marconi radio-set perched on the windowsill. The only other sound in the room was the ticking of a large grandfather clock standing in the corner, where it had been, for the last 30 years.
After spending half the night in the air raid shelter at the bottom of there garden the news was not great. The large explosion they had felt in the night, one that had rattled the tin roof of there shelter, had in-fact, according to the news been a direct hit by a V1 Bomb on a house just one street away, one of nearly a hundred bombs that had fallen during the night. London was once again gripped with Blitz fever but life would still continued as normal. It was time for Mum to go to work, standing on the table was a metal tray filled with five steaming cups of tea these were for the group of five soldiers manning the anti aircraft gun, just outside of the house. Begging her Father goodbye was always hard as he was already mourning the death of one of his sons and a godson who had been killed while serving in Italy earlier on in the year. This morning however was harder than normal for he new something that my Mother did not and with tearful eyes he wished my Mother a speedy and safe return, she did not think that this was going to be the last time she would speak to him that day completely changing things for ever.
Good by to the soldiers.
Mum then picked up the tray of steaming tea and with Grand-mum the two of them made there way to the front gate and the waiting soldiers. After laughing and speaking with them for a few minutes she tuned and started on her journey to work. This would be the last time she would ever speak to any of these four brave men again, she would though, see them in action later that day.
Tomorrow the journey to work and goodbye to a very good friend.
Credits. Many Phone calls to my Mother over the space of 6 months. Wikipedia for some of the dates and photographs.Google images and there contributors for whom I am really thank full.