"Once they fired the [anti-aircraft] guns up and if we didn’t hit an aircraft or it would explode and come down in pieces and they’d [the pieces] be very hot. And they’d land on our roof and in the summer when we close to the Thames [River, England] and bounce through the window and come into your room."
Once they fired the [anti-aircraft] guns up and if we didn’t hit an aircraft or it would explode and come down in pieces and they’d [the pieces] be very hot. And they’d land on our roof and in the summer when we close to the Thames [River, England] and bounce through the window and come into your room. And that was a bit annoying. And, of course, the sirens are screaming. But life was going on just the same. The people were driving their cars and mostly the working people rode bicycles until after the war.
Then came the buzz bombs [the German V-1 flying bombs], which were quite different. They had nobody flying them, they were automatically directed. And you could hear them coming for miles. And then when they stopped, you ducked for cover because they’re going to come straight down and explode when they hit the ground.
One of the things that I used to do, when I moved from down near the Thames up to North London, we didn’t get as much bombing until the buzz bombs came. But we had the very large London Zoo, [which] was quite close. If I wasn’t [on] duty on Sunday, I’d walk down, you know, feed the animals and spend a couple hours there. And I remember on a Sunday, I was there and heard there were only two buzz bombs sent out that day. And one of them came fairly close and you heard the engine stop and then it went into a dive and it didn’t land in the zoo, but close by, and exploded. And it knocked down houses and buildings and things. But it didn’t dig down deep in the earth, because it was just a small, like a small airplane and it was all engine and explosive.
But one of the things I remembered was the next Sunday, I was also down there and there were more buzz bombs were coming off by that time. And the animals were smarter than the people that I observed. One of the buzz bombs, the engine stopped and, instantly, there wasn’t an animal in sight. Even the elephants went down in their big tombs that they had for protection from the other bombing. And the people all stood around, looking up, wondering where they [the buzz bombs] were, instead of looking for some cover.
But that was a tough part. And one other part that I really remember was a Sunday towards the end of the war and there were 1,000 British bombers returning from a mass raid on Germany and between 900 and 1,000 American four engine airplanes and they, they were all over London at the same time on Sunday morning about 11:00. The Canadians were coming home; the Americans were going over. And the next day on the Monday in Parliament, it was reported that they used to put on quite a bit of the stuff that went on, mainly with Churchill [the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill], and some Member of Parliament got up and said he was very annoyed to be disturbed on Sunday morning and he sincerely hoped it would never happen again. And Churchill, as I recall, his statement was, [mimicking Churchill’s speaking voice] “perhaps the member should appreciate the situation, that they were ours and not theirs.” Which is pretty typical of Churchill in some of his statements.
So those were some of the things that one will never forget, even though I’m now in my 97th year.