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Syndic Literary Journal

Syndic No.43 ~ Tony Dawson

7-8 October 1943

Written and Narrated by Tony Dawson


7-8 October 1943

The wail of the siren always filled us with dread

as we huddled inside the Morrison shelter,

lit up by the glow of the living-room fire.

That night, a waxing gibbous moon

helped guide the bombers to their targets.


The warning had put my aunt in a quandary.

Although she lived in the very next street,

it was safer to wait until the all-clear.

Nonetheless, she was scared for her husband

and children crammed inside their Anderson shelter.


The Dorniers droned, the ack-ack boomed,

the bombs whistled on their way down.

I was six and afraid, though my new army boots,

a child’s talisman, were under my pillow.

I tried singing my baby brother to sleep.


Next, a loud bang! An enormous explosion!

shattering windows in the bedroom upstairs,

where I had been sleeping a half-an-hour earlier.

Clouds of soot spewed down the chimney

filling and billowing into the shelter.


My terrified aunt let out a scream

and fell in a faint across my body.

When she came to, she was out of control,

convinced that her family were dead,

the bomb having dropped in the street where she lived.


Fortunately for her, those worries were groundless.

Although the bomb landed in Ellington Road,

it blew up in a garden some way from her house,

demolishing three or four terraced houses,

and leaving a tangle of rafters and bricks.


The next day I was drawn to the crowd

of horrified onlookers, who were secretly glad

that it wasn’t them who’d lived there.

The Pembertons were among the people who’d died,

including the daughters, who went to my school.


Long after the war, my aunt’s daughter, Norah,

who’d spent that night in the Anderson shelter,

got married and wanted to live near her mother.

She and her husband bought the new house

where the Pembertons’ home had once stood.



Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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