Chertsey Tales Part Twenty-two.
Before the sight of enemy aircraft and the bombs falling in the fields, the only clue we had that there was a conflict anywhere in the world is in the Picture Palace, our local cinema. They show one short film and a long feature film, in between these is the Pathe Gazette news reel, this would be all about the war in places that I have only read about. The audience would boo loudly when-ever it showed German troops, and cheered even louder when the allies were on the screen.
This evening, I had been taken to the pictures by my sister and her boy-friend—some films were classed as an ‘A’, and children were not allowed in unless with an adult. The film was a bit dull, but the Pathe News was very graphic, it showed people fleeing their towns and villages that were being bombed and burnt to the ground. They were not soldiers but ordinary people and children. Afterwards, as the picture-goers were walking home, hardly a word was spoken, those towns could just as easily have been Chertsey, with the same shops and churches, and with our people running away from the tanks and bombs.
At Bell Corner, we turned to look down Eastworth Road above Stott’s ladies’ outfitters. There was the brightest sky ever, an angry arc of colour, almost like an enormous sun setting on the skyline—once again, London has been bombed.
It’s the third night in a row that the sky has been so red, it won’t stop burning until there is nothing left to burn.
I can’t help thinking of those poor people in London, not knowing where to run. The only bombs that have fallen in our area did no damage. Apart from the Vickers Armstrong factory in Weybridge, where over eighty workers were killed.
Once home, I couldn’t wait to hide under the dresser, this is where I like to sleep in my makeshift bed. We have a Morrison shelter, where the others sleep, but Sylvia, our baby is very noisy, and I only go under the shelter when the siren goes.
I feel safe under the old Army overcoat that I use as a blanket, it’s my favourite souvenir. I don’t know where it came from, but we use anything to keep us warm at night. I snuggle down into it—there is always a faint smell of burning from it, as if it has been too near to the fire. Everything in London must smell like this, I try to think of something else…it’s hard to do.
We are lucky living in a town like Chertsey, there is nothing here of any importance, nothing for the Germans to waste their bombs on.
At least that’s what Mrs Salmon always says.
“The only thing that they would bomb would be Chertsey bridge or the railways, but they are not main targets, it would be somewhere like the Tank Factory over in Chobham that are more important”.
It turns out that Mrs Salmon is right in one way, the Germans would target railways, but they have another trick up their sleeve—hit and run raids on any small town to cause havoc and despair among the civilians— in a town such as Chertsey.