Monday, 1 November 2010

Tom Critchley to his sister Mary Platt 1.11.1940

37 Lonsdale Drive,

My dear Mary & Harry,
So Jerry is paying Scotland a few visits too, we aren't envious. I reckon the bombing of London is a bigger mistake than any we have made, in fact I think it's almost a deciding factor. To think what would have happened if all those bombs had fallen on industrial plant instead of houses etc... why he could have well nigh crippled our munitions output. I guess he thought he could treat London as he did Rotterdam, but overestimated his own air force & forgot how big is London. There is no doubt a lot of his pilots will not face the barrage, so a goodly proportion of his bombs are sheer waste. In Trent Park alone he has dropped over 50 HE's (heavy explosives) & goodness knows how many incendiaries and, except to trees and cattle, has done nowt. (I'd forgotten he sure put the wind up our district now and then).
Perhaps now he is beginning to realise what a vindictive ass he is since the raids have decreased in intensity.
If your raids were as frequent & as long as ours I doubt if you would patronise your shelter. With us it is one of two things, either you sleep every night in the shelter, or you take a chance & sleep in bed. Most of the men at work have not slept in a bed for 2 months. They arrive home at night after the warning has sounded & oftener than not, leave again while it is still on. How they stick it I don't know, but they do and don't grouse about it either; it has become part and parcel of their normal life. I think one can get a shelter complex. After all, how much safer is a shelter than a house? Simply the relative area. A direct hit will do in either.
We have had very few incidents this week; a weird noise woke us up last night , also our neighbours, but we haven't found out yet what it could be... perhaps a nose cap.
On Monday evening, shortly after the sirens sounded, an old gent from next door but one called to see me. He hadn't been in more than a few inutes, when the guns got really busy, so thought he had better go home as his wife was alone. I went to the door with him and the whole place was lit up nearly like day. Jerry had dropped the usual basket of incendiaries at the end of the road, but most were in the Trent Park fields. A plane was flying around very low & the guns giving it to him, hot and strong. Our poor old visitor made several attemps to get away, but each time he got on the door stop the sky opposite lit up with gun flashes & crashes overhead drove him back.
Eventually he ran for it & it just seemed as if the gun flashes and crashes had been waiting, the way they sped him on his way. There's one thing to remember about gun fire, shrapnel doesn't fall until an interval of, may be, two minutes after the shell burst. Anyhow, it doesn't fall as quickly as one might expect & I am sure there is less danger while the shells are bursting than for some time after they stop. Another thing, if Jerry is overhead there is no danger. If he drops a bomb, he arrives over the place where it drops as it hits the ground, or near enough, a consoling thought.
Sunday
Last night was our best night for two months... all clear at 11.20 & nothing until 6.00 am. We were surprised he came at all as it was blowing a gale & raining cats and dogs & I am mighty sure he couldn't see anything. I suppose they make the poor blighters come just to show there is a war on.
anyhow things would seem odd without visitors these days.
I've got to go to Sutton, Surrey tomorrow & am not looking forward to the journey, if it's fine I guess I'll go by car as transport across London is pretty foul. Tom used to take half an hour to get home, but yesterday he took one and a half hours & had to change from bus to tube to bus several times to avoid the sections that had been bombed. I have to go & see some folks about citric acid supplies, the firm who used to supply us has been wiped out, one of the miliary obejctives Jerry did hit with a vengeance .
Don't get the shelter complex, stay in bed and keep sane.
Love to all from us,
Tom

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