An evacuee in our school, went back to London when nothing seems to be happening, He came back to Chertsey during the blitz. He told our class at school what he had seen with his own eyes. He said hundreds of bombers came over during day. The sky was full of German planes as far into the distance as can be seen. One night, the sky was brighter than ever, several warehouses along the Thames near where he lived were burning completely out of control, one contained sacks of sugar which burns very easily and turns into a sticky liquid, so much so, that the firemen had trouble moving their fire pumps and even themselves through what was a sort of treacle toffee. Not only that, but the burning liquid sugar could float on the river setting other places alight, it was like the Thames was in flames. In another warehouse there were barrels of rum which exploded, and this also spread the fire to where sacks of pepper were stored and the firemen had to have urgent treatment for their eyes.
He said his family hid in the cellar but luckily, they were not bombed out. The nearest thing to them was a German bomber crashing in a nearby park. After a couple weeks of this there was a lull in the bombing when only a few bombers would come over during the day and then the Germans started night bombing. That’s when his family managed to get back to Chertsey.
He told us that the Luftwaffe had lost so many bombers with our fighter planes being ready to meet them over the south of England in the daytime. That they switched to night bombing when our fighters were grounded.
Don and I saw on the newsreel what this boy had seen a few weeks earlier. There was always a long queue right round to the brick-built air raid shelter in the car park waiting to get in. Sometimes Iris had to pay for the seats at the back ot the cinema which cost two and ninepence each! This is where most people smoked, you could hardly see what was going on sometimes and it made your eyes sting.
The newsreels were the most exciting bits of the pictures,. One newsreel showed brave firemen with their big hoses trying to put out the burning buildings. A high wall started to sway and then came crashing down on top of them, how anyone could have survived I don’t know. Then we saw them running out just in time, a very loud cheer and stamping of feet went up in the Picture Palace, drowning the commentary, but I wonder how many brave firemen were not so lucky. Like one of our own Chertsey Firemen who was killed by the heavy brass nozzle of a firehose that started snaking about in the air out of control, I think the poor man’s family lived in Barker Road.
Firemen were some of the very bravest of people, they would go into a burning house that was about to fall, to see if anyone could be saved. We would look out of the window whenever we heard the fire engine whizz past, with men and even sometimes a woman just clinging on to the side not knowing what awaits them, the bell ringing furiously.