London, 15th October 1940
The last of the suns rays glistened on the swirling Thames. Twilight was approaching, chasing away the cares of the day. But with the darkness came fear and trepidation for what might happen tonight. What had happened for many nights before. What was almost certain to happen for many nights to come.
“Come away from that window, Tom.”
“Turn that light out now dear. It’s almost night. Time to drawn the blackout blinds.”
A normality for Londoners now, as lights flicker out all over the city. Shadows reign, as London and the rest of Britain waits with bated breath, at the mercy of the German aircraft. Not unprotected though. Barrage balloons floated, menacing shadows in the sky above Big Ben; Buckingham Palace; the Houses of Parliament; all the landmarks that make London unique, protecting all the people who make London special. For a while, everything was quiet, the sky an obsidian web of darkness.
Then, a phone rings in the War Cabinets.
“Nazi bombers sighted over the English Channel. E.T.A 10 minutes.”
A scrabble for suits and masks as No. 85 Squadron RAF scrambles for their planes. In formation, they fly, on a life or death mission, towards almost certain destruction. In the face of annihilation they stay brave and true. Not just a mission to destroy the Nazi scum that believe they are superior. Not even one to take revenge for the thousands of lives already thrown away – for…for what exactly? A power play between the Allies and the enemy, with the inhabitants of all countries stuck in the middle. No, these few men were on the selfless mission of protection. Protection of the British public from the bombs of the Luftwaffe.
Right on cue, the wailing of the air raid siren pierced the silence of the night. A rehearsed set of movements succeed this warning. White lit up the black: searching, searching for any sign of the enemy. Searchlights blind the eyes of invisible angels in the night sky.
Not one person lies asleep. They know all too well what the noise means. Families pile into cold Anderson shelters. The unlucky ones crowd into tiny Morrison contraptions. A harassed women - mother of four, all under the age of 10 - holds a crying girl back from the door; a cat lost in shadows the subject of her sadness. A child cannot begin to comprehend the horrendous nature of war, or the vastness of the destruction caused on both sides.
The caterwauling continues, not a moment too soon. The buzz of aircraft sounds high overhead, as fire blazes a sudden trail down to earth. The searchlights pick out several Swastikas in the air, but the anti-aircraft guns fail to meet their target. Bombs drop over a suddenly defenceless London. The peace and quiet is shattered, replaced by flames and destruction. Those unfortunate enough to get caught in the open lie injured, or dead under rubble; amidst fire and ash, dancing like angels thrown from heaven.
This hell continues - death stalking the streets of London while the sky is still dark. But with the first light of dawn over Tower Bridge comes retreat. Always with the morning the fleet of German aircraft limp home, missing a few more pilots every day. Our boys follow them as far as the coast, chasing them away like the sun drives away the moon in all her supreme darkness. Daylight illuminates the devastation – a direct result of war. More lives destroyed as more homes lie in ruins.
In the middle of the flames still not dampened, the wreckage and debris, lies a child’s rag-doll, singed and grubby. Bombs do not discriminate between women, children, families, and their actual enemy. Their real target is British morale, but by St George it will not be given up without a fight.