Events from the past should sometimes stay in the past, other times lessons can be learnt and used in the present. Read the true story below from the second world war and use it to reflect on your own experiences. I challenge you today to look into your past, what lessons can you learn?
OUR VERY OWN DOODLEBUG: 21ST JULY 1944
There were 2,419 V1s (Doodlebugs) sent to London and in the early morning of 21st July, 1944 our very own V1 flying bomb carrying 850 Kg of high explosive was making its way to our neighbourhood of Penge in South East London. Penge received more V1s than any other part of London and was dubbed “Doodlebug Alley” as a result. We lived in number 10 Arpley Road and were asleep at home, in a Morrison Shelter, a steel cage-like table inside our living room our neighbours at the back, the Carters, in the next road, at 7 Blenheim Road, were also asleep, but inside an Anderson Shelter, in their garden. The Anderson Shelter was made from curved, corrugated steel sheets and half-buried in the garden. There was a brick wall between us and the Carter’s house.
My two younger brothers were being evacuated from the city that day, and all their clothes were upstairs in two neat piles with their ration books on top; my two younger sisters had already been evacuated to Rutland. On that fateful morning, my mother, decided that we could all spend a bit longer in bed. A decision that would affect all of our futures.
At about 6.50 am we heard the familiar pop, pop, pop of a V1 approaching. Then its engine stopped and it started its dive to earth: at this point one started to count to 10 and if you were lucky enough to reach 10, it meant you were alive! On that morning, we did not hear the usual explosion. We were either too close or maybe we were stunned. The doodlebug had landed on the Carters’ property. The wall dividing our property from the Carters’ provided some protection from the blast, but our roof was blown off, all the windows broken and suddenly, there was dust everywhere. We were lucky, as the Carters, in their Anderson Shelter, were all killed instantly.
It was wartime in London, and events such as being bombed were part of normal everyday life. In peace time the damage and deaths would have been a great personal tragedy but back then you just got on with it. My father, who was in the National Fire Service (NFS) throughout the Blitz, found a large tarpaulin and rigged it over our house as a temporary roof and the windows were replaced with a thin white canvas type sheet and we moved back in.
The current pandemic reminds me of the war as it has affected everyone, whoever they are and we are all living under a new normal, which would have been unthinkable previously. Once again, we are “All in this together” and we should draw strength from the fact we are not alone in the problems we face. Also, you might imagine that this experience made me hate the Germans, but I was lucky enough to travel to Berlin regularly with my work, and I developed a great affection for them and have spent many happy hours learning their language. So in more ways than one, I have moved from the adversity of my wartime experiences to hope in the future.
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