Wednesday, 8 September 2010
Blitz on Britain
On the 70th Anniversary of the start of the Blitz on London, my thoughts turn to my late Father who was a bus driver for London Transport during those awful years. He regaled me with stories of incendiary bombs bursting around him and his double-decker bus as he weaved his way around the Capital. On one occasion he told me that London Bridge was on fire, or at least the wooden sleepers that lined the carriageway in those days. He was caught halfway across and so just `put his foot down` to hammer through the flames. He chanced a glance behind him to see all the passengers doing their best to hide under the seats. He told me that it sounded like a rushing express train as he hit the wall of flames, which opened up and then slapped shut as his bus passed through the inferno. There were many more stories of `dodging around bomb craters and partially collapsed buildings and one occasion where a Heinkel 111 bomber, crippled by the RAF or Anti Aircraft gunners, flew smoking and low along the river, it's crew machine gunning one of his mates who died in the ensuing inferno. When his body was recovered they found a solid lump of coins that had melted in his pockets as he died in the blazing cab. Many more of his colleagues were killed during the Blitz. But London and the rest of the Country kept on going or, `buggering on` as Winston would have said. Dad joined the Home Guard. I think all that must have affected him because post war, and post the arrival of Hogday jnr., he always seemed to drive me around in the family car like he was still dodging craters and German bombs! Or perhaps all bus drivers were trained to drive that way?
So why is it that today, one road traffic accident on the M6 motorway on a Friday afternoon, stops the entire country from moving at more than 3 mph?