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The bombers are coming again

They leave England morning and night, Americans in the daylight, the British any time after dark. No matter where they will eventually drop the bombs they too often fly over the German city of Bremen. The alarms shriek and people have but minutes to get to the shelters, usually several blocks away. One does not know if the bombers are headed elsewhere or will drop their load on a Bremen plane factory, the ports, railroad yards, many of them too close to residential areas. So said the girl I married who lived on a main thoroughfare named Kattenturmer Heerstrasse.

She said, &uot;I was only sixteen when the war started for us and millions of families like ours, and millions of families in England. For years the skies were often filled with high-flying bombers from both countries, going both directions. This went on until the war ended in May of 1945. If an alarm sounded we took no chances and quickly gathered our &uot;valuables,&uot; put them in the baby buggy with my sister’s baby daughter and ran. The Focke Wulf airplane factory was just a few miles away and was bombed often. We were too close to it.&uot;

&uot;One night seventeen neighbors were killed when several houses were destroyed just across the street from our home. And there were times when sirens were too late and people were caught on the streets. The shelters were brick and stone and relatively safe but not a place to be with a hundred or more crammed into it. Children never got used to being awakened at two in the morning and they were not happy, not aware of why they had to be there instead of their beds. Quite often the alarms would sound two or three times in one night and everyone was on edge. But when the bombs fell nearby there were no complaints of having to be there though many just hid in their basements.&uot;

&uot;When the all clear sounded it may be just until the next wave of bombers came over, going into Germany, some coming out. And when the American and British pilots for some reason were unable to bomb their target they’d drop them on Bremen rather than attempt to land in England with bombs aboard. And apparently bombsights were not that accurate because far too many missed the airfield nearby. At the end of the war our home was much in need of repairs.&uot;

I heard the same stories when I was in England before the invasion. Fortunately my unit was stationed in a small town named Totnes, on the Dart River in South Devon. The important port city of Portsmouth was far enough away, as was Dartmouth Harbor, and the Germans found no reason to waste bombs on Totnes. The famed Exeter Cathedral was a few miles to our north but was spared any attempts to level it. London, however, was a different story. You’ve heard of those V1 Buzz bombs…they would come flying in within easy sight and you hoped it would continue flying way beyond. I never saw one run out of fuel and drop but I saw the evidence of it many times.

I was in France when the V2 rockets were dropping on London and I learned later from English friends they made quite a hole and were feared because there was no warning. It didn’t take the American and British armies long to end that nuisance by eliminating them at the source. The area from where they were launched covered too much territory for our bombers to be effective.

When troops are bombed it’s a much different story. There are usually few places in which to hide. Foxholes are never deep enough even if you had dug one. But more often flat on your belly, hands on your neck and prayers had to be it. Better than being in a Humvee in Iraq.

Contact Pocklington at pocklington@suffolknewsherald.com