Living in London was no picnic in 1945. Throughout the war, my mother had steadfastly refused to allow her daughters to be evacuated. “If I go, we all go,” she announced to anyone who questioned the wisdom of keeping us in a city under siege. So we endured the Blitz, and the incendiary bombs that set houses and buildings ablaze. We did our best to avoid the unexploded bombs that waited in sinister silence for us to stumble across them.
We sat in bomb shelters listening for the ominous drone of the buzz bombs – those infamous unmanned aircraft designed to cut their engines when over London. It took ten seconds for the rocket to fall soundlessly to earth, followed by the deafening explosion that took the lives of so many innocent people. I shall never forget the awful sound of that buzzing overhead, then the sudden quiet when the engine cut out. My sister and I would sit in that terrifying silence and count to ten. Each time we heard the explosion, we knew we’d escaped another brush with death.
By 1945, however, the V2 rockets started falling in London. These bombs were far more devastating than anything that had come before, taking out blocks of houses instead of just two or three, leaving craters big enough to hold a double-decker bus. Even my mother was shaken by the carnage left by these vicious weapons. She shipped us off to the coast of Norfolk, together with three of our cousins, to stay with our grandmother.
Having endured the hardships of the last six years, we were excited about leaving London and the horrors of air raids behind. Nothing prepared us for what turned out to be the biggest adventure of our lives.
Until the next time,