Army Life – Dan’s Trip Abroad (4) – July, 1943 – May, 1945) – Bombings of London – May 13, 1945

Dan’s long letter of his early experiences in London and France continues in this next segment. 

Dan in uniform @ 1945

Apropos of narrow escapes, here is a list of the dangers your little Dan has run (from) during the war:

1 – Bombings of London. When we first came to London we had raids on the average of about once or twice a week, I generally happened to be in a section of London which was far from the bombing, but it is an odd feeling to hear a plane passing directly overhead carrying bombs and the question, “Has the bombardier released his load yet?” There is nothing to do but wait. For that reason I never liked to be at the billets in Kew during a raid. I would rather be in a pub or on a bus or on the underground. At the billets we had to put on our helmets and gas masks, go to the shelters, and wait — just sit and wait — till the all clear sounded. Suddenly, in February 1944, the Luftwaffe lunged out again at London. It was compared to the blitz in ’41 and ’42. That week or so in February was the closest I ever came to fear of death — particularly on a night when a string of bombs fell right in line with Kew billets. In quick order we could hear the explosions coming closer to us – boom, boom, Boom, BOom, BOOm, BOOM. — Then silence — only the din of anti-aircraft and plane motors, but we welcome “silence” at that! The most terrifying noise is the sound of a heavy bomb dropping. It has been described as the roar of a speeding locomotive, but it seems to me that there is a suggestion of vacuum in the roar that renders it all the more horrible — as if cosmic forces were romping through the vaults of hell. The most beautiful site I saw during the bombings was on Friday night of that fateful week in February. I was on fire guard and had to stand out in the open to watch for incendiaries. The night was cloudy. Suddenly a silvery liquid stream appeared falling from a point in the clouds, then another, then several, then hundreds of them, as if molten metal were being poured through a celestial sieve. Fortunately none fell in Kew but the sky was soon lit up by fires in the direction of Barnes and Wimbledon. I think it was a new type of incendiary bomb – probably Phosphorus that burned on contact with the air.

2 – Buzz bombs. Towards the end of June we were alerted one night by the air raid signals, then the “Raiders near” sirens blew, but there was no evidence of planes. We went to the shelters and waited. Nothing happened. No all clear — no sign of a raid. Once in a while we heard sporadic gunfire. We were mystified, angry, a little frightened. The all clear blew shortly after daybreak but the alert sounded again almost immediately. We knew something unusual was happening — perhaps the Normandy bridgehead was being wiped out – perhaps Jerry was using poison gas. Rumors began to trickle in. Robot planes, radio controlled, rockets —. But from that night on, never a moment of the day or night was free from the threat of the V-1.

Tomorrow, the final segment of this letter from Dan, written in 1945 which included a letter he had written in 1943, but was returned by the censor.

Judy Guion




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