Sunday, October 30, 2011

Coventry - 14th November 1940 - Poem by Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams
Ken Williams
This is a recent poem written by Sarah Williams - daughter of Deputy head Ken Williams. Sarah says -

" Its a true story. Dad was born in Coventry and they lived in Paxton Road. My Gran used to tell us about the blitz. Granny, in the poem, was actually my Great-grandmother who died not many months later."

Wyre Farm Camp School, as the school was originally known, was an evacuation camp for Coventry boys during the war. More on the school during the war years here -

Coventry - 14th November 1940

Paxton Road, Coventry
What happened in Paxton Road?
A bomb fell, 
terrifying the families 
in the shelter
at the end of the long garden.

They didn’t want to be there,
on account of
Alf Green’s feet,
which smelt,
long warm wafts of old cheese.

Caught between the two evils,
the Luftwaffe
and Alf’s socks,
they suffered 
all through that long night.

And next morning the mess,
a kerbstone
on the bed,
a hole in the roof.
Granny did not speak for a long time after.

Perhaps she feared more nights,
sitting, listening
to the planes
and longing for some fresh air.

Sarah Williams

Sarah says " I always felt that Gran's story reflected something about the way those awful nights must have felt - an unimaginably powerful force trying to annihilate you and yet the immediate preoccupation might be the smell, or hunger or something you forgot to do before you left the house

 Dad and an incredibly long line of his family came form Coventry/Warwick/Leamington. We lived in Bulkington for a while and Coventry was the place for shops, swimming and Quaker Meetings."

Sarah says "Perhaps other ex-pupils from the school might have some stories about the experience of their families during the blitz" These can be put on the facebook page or sent by e mail to this site 

Extracts from the Coventry Evening Telegraph article Forty Years On Supplement November 1980

Operation 'Moonlight Sonata' was the code name for the destruction of the City of Coventry.

"Anthony Cave Brown alleged in his book "Bodyguard of Lies", that Churchill knew 48 hours before the raid, that Coventry was about to be blitzed but no official warning was sent to the city. To have done so, said Mr cave, would have been to have revealed one of the biggest secrets of the war, that British Scientists had succeeded in cracking the top secret German Code, Enigma! The author claims that Coventry was sacrificed in order to preserve that secret. In the video below, Pete Waterman looks at the evidence for this claim....

" At about 1am on November 14th, Coventry housewife, Bobby Bright, was in a bus halted in a traffic jam at the city's Spencer Road, Warwick Road junction. From her lower deck seat she saw the reason for the jam - a column of slow-moving anti-aircraft guns making their way into Coventry. A sixth sense told her that 'something was up'! Two days earlier a divisional air raid warden in Coventry told his men he had received Home Office notification that 'Jerry is going to ring the city of Coventry with fire and blitz the centre with High explosives." No official warning was sent to the city." Coventry Evening Telegraph.

"It was a clear, frosty, moonlit night. the British press were unaware of the German's sophisticated guidance system and made much of the so called 'Hunter's Moon' 7.06 the bombers reached the first of three VHF beams directed from stations near Calais - part of an intersecting beam system." "Just after 7pm, the air raid sirens were sounded in Coventry, at 7.17 the bombers crossed the second intersecting radio beam. By 7.24 the third beam was crossed - 30 enemy aircraft were over Broadgate - a thousand incendiaries whistled down on Coventry."

" The streets of Coventry were as close as anyone could ever get to having a first hand view of hell!"

"Mr Pfleger realised to his horror that the hospital was right in the centre of a square marked with flares and spent an anxious night on a corridor floor."

"However callous it may seem, children in general had a great time during the blitz - shrapnel collecting, exaggerating the family death toll and watching for Germans behind every bush. We played great hide and seek games in bombed out buildings, cat walking the rafters and fanning the embers to keep the flames going."

"Just at the moment the German's dropped a land mine, my father, who was a fire watcher, held me up above the shelter to see the land mine floating down on a parachute. then we both got down below the ground for this was going to be a big bang!"

"The early hours brought some respite with an easing off in the intensity of the bombing. finally the drone of the bombers ceased, to be replaced with the sequence of dive bombing planes."

"Each plane carried two bombs, which on release, made a screaming noise on the way down. This continued until 7 am, and for breath-holding suspense, was the worse part of the 12 hour blitz."

"The awful feeling of helplessness, the sickening sound of the Jerries diving down to drop more, the sound of slates and glass shattering."

"And next morning - how terribly tired and stiff. We were and how black with soot and rubbish. Doors off, windows gone and all the food spoiled."

"Pretty well all the big shops in town were burned fact the town is not there anymore. A lot of people are still buried in the shelters underneath."

"It is so pitiful - people are going from one place to another like lost sheep."

"The sortie was a prelude to 41 raids over the next two years, the last of which was a harmless incendiary attack which took
place on Aug 3rd 1942"

"By dawn 56 tons of incendiaries; 342 tons of high explosives and 127 mines had been dropped."

" Gly Edwards had just left the Gaumont Theatre - it proved to be a terrifying spot to be. All hell let loose within seconds; the continuous deafening sound of exploding bombs; the bursting of water and gas mains, buildings collapsing and fires raging in every direction. There was the horrible sickly feeling of holding tight your guts as bomb blasts tried to suck out your inners, the tearing and bleeding of hands as helpers scraped away at fallen debris in an effort to free the unfortunate house owners."

This contribution is from Keith Ison - It hung in his family home from the war years. Thanks' Keith

No comments:

Post a Comment