As the dusk deepened, the city streets came alive with a steady tramp of feet ... the bustling feet of a family party ... the probing of a blind man's cane ... the sharp slow step of a mother carrying a child ... like an undrilled army on the march. Armed with bundles and bedrolls and flasks of tea, the people thronged, laughing and chattering, towards their chosen shelters. To Mrs. Anne Russell, arranging her black-out at a Hampstead window, the scene had a holiday flavour; she thought of the villagers trooping to a flower show in the countryside of her childhood.

Richard Collier, The City That Wouldn't Die, London, Collins Publ., 1959, p. 56.

PLACE: London

TIME: May 10th - llth, 1941

CIRCUMSTANCE: The bombing of London



For one long minute the cold high voice of the siren wavered and cried over the grey miles of rooftops.

Richard Collier, The City That Wouldn't Die, London, Collins Publ., 1959, p. 60.

PLACE: London

TIME: May 10th - 1lth, 1941

CIRCUMSTANCE: The bombing of London



Down at 'The Lion', Angel Lane, West Ham, publican Bill Barker was a busy man at 11 p.m. on Saturday, 10th May. Normally the big Victorian pub, with its engraved glass and mahogany furniture should have closed half an hour ago but these were not normal times; the police and ambulance corps often used the pub as an emergency centre, and the padded leather benches had seen service as a mortuary. Now Barker was washing and polishing glasses as fast as he could go, the four bars were jammed out and Audrey, his wife, was at the piano leading an ear-splitting sing-song. Already the company had rollicked through Bless'em All and The Quartermaster's Stores. Now, as the clock struck 11 p.m. Audrey swung into a tune with a note of optimism --There'll always be an England.

Though the siren had sounded, Barker was not worrying that Temple Mills Sidings, then Britain's largest marshalling yard, lay only 400 yards from his front door. The East Enders' belief in Kismet was contagious -- and the noise of the piano was drowning out any planes that might be overhead.

At 11:20 p.m., seconds after Aschenbrenner's observers were signalling 'Bombs gone' over their intercoms, the first incendiaries came whistling from the sky, Barker and everyone heard that high-pitched whine; within a second someone shouted, 'Drop!' Glasses went flying and everyone spread-eagled on the floor, burying their faces. Suddenly they were scrambling to their knees laughing shakily - because Audrey Barker, slightly deaf in one ear and with her back to the room, had heard and seen nothing. The defiant notes of There'll always be an England were still thumping out above the din.

Richard Collier, The City That Wouldn't Die, London, Collins Publ., 1959, p. 62.

PLACE: London

TIME: May l0th -11th, 1941

CIRCUMSTANCE: The bombing of London