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Here is a short extract from While the Bombs Fell about:
“The Germans bombed Bungay in 1940.
Reggie said: “The Jerry bomber plane came from the direction of Earsham. It dropped seven bombs, all in a line.
The bangs were so loud, it hurt your ears, and all the windows in Earsham Street blew out.”
Earsham Street was about a mile away from Father’s farm, so the boys didn’t experience painful ears, but Elsie didn’t know that. Being only two years old at the time, Elsie remembered nothing about the bombing of Bungay. Reggie and Joey told her that the White Lion Inn on Earsham Street and H Wightman & Son Ltd furnishers on Trinity Street
had both been damaged by the bombs. Elsie knew both places.
“Flying shrapnel damaged the Grandstand,” Joey said.
This reference was to the Grandstand on the football pitch at the public recreation area, called the Rec, on Earsham Street. Her brothers’ comments and recently overheard bits of conversations between the adults and her siblings about the devastating impact of the Jerry bombing raids on the nearby city of Norwich, stimulated Elsie’s imagination.
One Tuesday morning in late April, the children woke to the news that the Germans had bombed Norwich during the night. Fires burned in the city. The girls sensed the anxiety and shock of the adults during the days after the bombing raids, and it left them quiet and subdued.
That Wednesday night the Jerry bomber planes returned, wreaking even more damage on the city. Smoke still rose from the rubble when the next attack began. The last bombing raid happened on Friday, 1 May of that week.
When Elsie’s grandmother, Granny King, came to visit Mother during that week, she brought news about the bombing of Norwich from old Polly Vesey who lived down the lane.
Granny King lived in one of the tiny cottages collectively referred to as the Alms House in the town. A local charity ran the Alms House which provided accommodation to older adults who could not afford to pay rent.
Polly Vesey, a rather eccentric character, always perched a little straw hat on her head. She wore a long black dress that came down to just above her ankles.
She made a living laying out the dead and, due to her job, often looked detached from people and circumstances. Granny King told Mother Polly Vesey’s news: “Norwich is badly damaged. The bombs hit houses, shops, churches and other buildings, even the mortuary.
“There is no gas, electricity or running water in the city. How are people supposed to manage? The toilets are not working.
“Polly said women have been coming out of the city at night with their children, and whatever they can carry, to spend the night in the countryside away from the bombing.”
The news reported similar attacks on the English cities of Exeter, Bath, York, and Canterbury during this period of the war that the British came to know as the Baedeker Blitz.”
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