Sunday, 8th September
I’m trying to write this in the Anderson. There isn’t much light
and I’m all scrunched up in a corner so who knows whether I’ll
be able to make sense of it later on. It’s half past six in the evening,
but we’ve been here an hour or so already.
I feel small and scared, and dog-tired. None of us got much sleep last night.
In fact, I think yesterday was the worst day of my life.
Everything was fine until the afternoon. The weather’s been brilliant
the whole of last week — not too hot, but clear and fresh. Dad had been
given a day’s leave so he went off, whistling a happy tune, to play cricket
with his mates at Crofton Park. He doesn’t get much chance these days.
In the morning, Mum had organized some games for the little kids over at the
Hengist Road school, so I went along to give her a hand. Then Tom and me went
down to the market in the afternoon. Even if you don’t buy anything,
it’s fun to listen to the traders. Each one’s got his own patter,
just like the comedians you get at the Hippodrome. One of them tells jokes
about his mother-in-law all day long. The more you listen, the funnier it gets.
Sometime there’s fifty standing around, laughing their heads off. Mind
you, I wouldn’t trust any of the stallholders further then I could throw ‘em.
It took everyone completely by surprise when the siren went. It must have
been just after half past four.
There’ve been so many false alarms, peole were getting fed up with it,
so all you could hear was a sort of annoyed muttering in the crowd and among
the traders. Of course, there’s always some people who panic and rush
for cover straight away, but this time because it was so nice, most people
were reluctant to pack up and go home.
“I’d just said to Tom, “Come on then. We’d better
go . . .” when a couple of people pointed up into the eastern sky over
Glinting in the sun was a V-formation of silver crosses. There must have been
twenty planes flying steadily over London.
“Where’s the blinking RAF when you need them?” shouted someone.
People were running for cover now, and the market tradres began to shove plates
and pans into boxes and suitcases, then ripping the metal poles of the stands
apart and throwing them on to the ground with a clatter.
We ran all the way back to Summerfield Road, and even before we reached number
47, we could faintly hear the distant sound of the first explosions.
From My Story: Blitz. Text copyright © 2009 by Vince Cross. All rights reserved.