The Day Before…..

The day before.

Rushing home from school, up Barker road, across the fields then under the arch bridging the little brook.

Ten, twenty or even more, girls and boys, all wanting to be the first in the hunt for shrapnel.

A rumour had spread around the school that another bomb had fallen in Lyne fields, next to the railway

If this was so, it would be third bomb in this quite small meadow, in the last few weeks.

Collecting these pieces of jagged steel, was more popular than collecting cardboard milk-tops, or even fag-cards.

The first place to look, we had found, was in the trees nearby, a pen-knife, if you were lucky enough to have one, soon found the smaller bits just beneath the bark.

The older boys had ‘sheath knives’, standard issue if you were a Boy Scout. It was they who could dig out the larger lumps, some as big as your hand.

The excited shout of a find would cause a surge of kids to the spot, but the clever ones kept quite—it was just like the gold rush.

As children, we were yet to realise that these ‘trophies’ were raining down on people or even going right through them.

We had seen the red glow in the sky toward London during the ‘Blitz’. To us it was just another show. The war was exciting.

Double summer-time meant long evenings, darkness fell around eleven o’clock, these two hours extra was to allow farmers to work later in the fields

Around ten o’clock, I would climb into my bed under the dresser and listen to the news and war reports from the front. The announcer, usually Allvar Lidell, would lower his voice when coming to bad news. “Five of our aircraft are missing.” We would all go quiet. Mrs. O’Keefe would make a sign of the cross.

I lay there thinking of Bernard in the army, will he come home safely. My eyes looking at the wood-work joints under the dresser, joins my father made years ago.

In the next 24 hours, that excitement would change to panic, no more running to be the first for trophies. It would now be the race to the shelters. The now familiar drone of the German airplane engines—so different from the Rolls Royce Merlin of our fighter planes, soon grabbed our attention.


Author: madeinchertsey

Born in 1932, this is a collection of stories of my childhood growing up in Chertsey, and some stories of my later life.

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