One night in the blitz.
He wasn’t a very brave man, very kindly, loved to laugh and joke. And it certainly wasn’t his time. There could be another air raid at any given moment, especially in the night and fear stalked him. All week they, the bombers, seemed to be focussing on Nottingham, for no good reason as far as anyone could tell. Much of the Lace Market area had gone up in flames and showers of shrapnel and cascading masonry. It was cold outside in the night, much better to stay indoors – at least there’d be chance of getting to a shelter. Kitchen table already strengthened just in case.
But there was a job to be done. Dorothy had to be escorted back to the Nurses’ home adjacent to the hospital. It was dark early so the general curfew had not begun and she had to be back to start her night duty. She had been to see Les and his wife, Ada. They had recently met when Dorothy began her nursing training. Les thought, ‘She’s so cool, calm and collected. It’s because of her new found faith and hope. And because she was the oldest of a family of nine.’ Since the untimely death of her father she’s had to help her Mum with all the rest, getting meals, doing the washing etc. Wish I could get this faith thing. Ada’s got it too.”
‘Yeh! Yeh! It’s all right for her! Nice bit of stuff, though!’
Out loud he said, “Come on then or I shan’t be back till after curfew if we don’t get going!”
Coats on they set out walking at a brisk pace, hoping to catch the bus, with its slitty head lamps and dimmed lights, which went past the end of the street. They were just crossing the main road for the bus when out of the night came the roar of the aero engines. There had been no warning! They dashed for cover in a street-side shelter. Les stood there shaking, holding tightly on to Dorothy’s hand – not to help her but to bring some steadiness into his own body which was trembling head to toe. They arrived in the shelter at the same time as the air raid warning officer. Les was about to shout, ‘What happened to the warning siren, then?’ when the first bomb burst with a deafening crash.
For some time it seemed as though bombs were dropping all around; it began to feel personal. They faced the back of the shelter with hands firmly over their ears. Across the street was an end of a row of terrace houses, it looked intact. There was a respite and they dared to look out. Then there was that sudden roar again, a whistling through the air, a thud and then the maelstrom. The little group turned away with eyes tight shut. As the clatter of flying bricks and shattered glass faded away they looked back, there was a low rumble and the end wall of the
terraces began to crumble, then the whole row disintegrated in rumble and dust of collapsing brick walls.
Fortunately the row was clear – it had been bombed the previous evening. Eventually all was quiet. The occupants of the shelter dusted themselves down and amazingly the bus slowly trundled from under the local railway viaduct where it had sheltered during the raid.
Dorothy said, “I’ll be OK now. You go home to Ada and reassure her everything is all right”
A quick, good bye and Les was gone! Whilst she hurried as fast as the bus would take her, back to the hospital, straight on duty – there would be casualties. As she sat jogging along and looking out of the window there was just a moment or two for a prayer of thanks for safe deliverance. The Lord had been with her, once again, through a difficult time.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
He will cover you with his pinions
And under his wings you will find refuge
His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day
Nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness
Nor the destruction that wastes at noon day.”
(From Psalm 91: 1-6)