Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Saturday 21st October 1939

Pond had a weekend job – in charge of an A.A. squad on the roof of a certain factory that manufactured certain materials. I offered to relieve him tomorrow so that he could get home for the day. Walked up there this afternoon to locate the place and hear what my duties were. A Lewis gun stood ready for action on the roof. “I do hope there’s an air-raid tomorrow,” I said eagerly, “so that I can shoot the sods down. Defence of Chelmsford by gad! Hero, what?”

One of the gunners showed us how to sight, load and fire.(Very elementary of course; this LAG squad is not a signallers job at all. Heaven knows why Pond was detailed for it.) Suddenly, a rapidly increasing roar! About 200 feet above the roof tops raced six Hurricane fighter planes. Whah – h – h – Wumph! They flashed overhead, one by one. I gaped.

“Lay on them, old man” said Pond, “just practice for taking aim at tomorrows’ possible raiders!”
“Um,” I said.
“Well, they have gone now, Steve”
“Yes,” I said soberly, “and I’ve changed my mind about hoping for an air raid tomorrow. On the contrary, I hope it’ll be deathly quiet. Six planes, each with about six machine guns, against one stationary Lewis? No thanks!”

Jennings and Stripe both away. Pond left his LAG post and came to the billets. He and I and Underhill sat talking “shop”, discussing love, smoking, practising morse. I walked some of the way back with Sid afterwards. Light nights again! The moon is half towards the full.

Underhill moved into Tiny’s bed for tonight and talked on various subjects until I very soothingly fell asleep. Whilst we’d talked I’d cleaned my uniform, boots and so forth. So I slept well.

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