Thursday, 14 October 2010

To Mary Platt from Tom Critchley 12.10.1940

37, Lonsdale Drive,


My dear Mary & Co,
If that daughter of yours (Molly) craves air raid excitements send her along to us, we can put her in Tom's occasional bed... a mattress under the dining room table. All that we can guarantee is an air raid & most probably lots & lots of noise plenty of shell bursts & flashes & the far from exciting drone of Jerry overhead. If she had been here on Thursday night I guess she would have been cured. They came at 7.15 pm and for four hours never gave us a minutes peace; at least half a dozen at a time somewhere not too far off. At 8 o'clock we heard the swish of bombs & made a most undignified rush under the table. Three or four fell in fields close by & did an enormous amount of damage, most severely killing one cow. Shortly after that we decided to patronise the shelter. About 10 I heard the quick firing guns blazing away & as it was a lovely clear night guessed it must be flares they are shooting at so went out to look. I had a cap on and poised my tin hat on top of it. Unfortunately the hat caught the edge of the shelter & came down with a terrific clatter onto some bricks and then rolled onto the concrete path. Next door folks rushed out and seeing me in the garden called out in very agitated tones "What was that!" Pointing towards Palmers Green I said "They dropped two flares". It didn't calm their fears, but I didn't tell them what it was. We laughed about it and laughed still more when the missus next door told Annie their house shook. Now I simply daren't tell them.
We have now found another amusement other than popping under tables. Last night things were not quite to bad, so we went to bed about 10 pm. At about half past I was three parts asleep, when a bomb and its subsequent vibrations roused me, then immediately after came the angry-sounding swish. Annie was asleep, I yelled to her & she rolled between the two beds, & did it so gracefully too, just as the next bump came.
Is that the sort of excitement Molly wants?!
I certainly didn't think it exciting yesterday morning in a very thick fog I was held up at Brimsdown level crossing with the guns banging at planes overhead.
Johnson Matthey at Hatton Garden got a direct hit on Thursday night, I believe it has made a nasty mess & upset part of their work. We are still trying to get straight after our do at the works last week. Judging by the way three ton stuff has been thrown about it must have been a heavy bomb.
I like your suggestion about transferring to Scotland, but if we all did that we would lose our position in the league and might drop into the second division. One of my men has already acted on your suggestion, he is the only one to do a bunk and as he is Scottish by birth, perhaps one can understand it. He has gone to relatives somewhere in Ayrshire.
The character of the daylight raids have changed very considerably since we knocked the stuffing out of the big bombers. These still come in odd ones if the weather is bad, but if it is fine, then they send chiefly fighters with probably one-bomb each, most difficult for our blokes to intercept as we have seen for ourselves, there is so little difference in the relative speeds. We had such a raid at Brimsdown this morning. The warning had gone out for about half an hour when suddenly whistles sounded. By the time one had grabbed a tin hat, guns were blazing & before we could get into shelters, planes were overhead & by the time we had reached shelters it was all over. That was a raid that was. No bombs dropped near us. So back we trooped to our jobs.
Liverpool and St Helens are getting it pretty bad aren't they? What you folks have done to dodge it I don't know, still, their air force can't be as great as all that or they would be doing far more than they are doing. I certainly expected to see them keeping it up for days on end, but don't think I am disappointed, far from it.
Tom (Tom and Annie's youngest son) is still all right and not having quite such a tough time as formerly, they have improved the Central London gun barrage, so the suburbs get a few more instead.
That's all about the war news for this time from your special correspondent at Enfield.
We had two letters from Ronald (Tom and Annie's oldest son) this week, he is as usual having a nice enjoyable time & in one he speaks of purchasing a cocktail shaker!!
Cheerio and love to you three,

Annie and Tom

P S the bombs last night must have dropped near the tube (it runs in the open here) as there are no trains from Enfield West to Cockfosters, the terminus.
Annie adds a post script: 'Talk about going under beds. I was fast asleep when T. said "Get under the bed quick;" I simply rolled out of mine & under his. He stayed in, there I was under and he in!! All I felt was the floor bump. Then says he politely "You can get back now, it's all over."'
Nothing to report except they put a bomb in Trafalgar Squar last night in front of Nelson, but didn't injure him.

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