This is the thirty-second part of a fiction serial, in 795 words.
The next month, some big raids started again. The Germans got through this time, and the sausage factory where Viv worked was hit. Luckily, it was during the night, so she wasn’t at work. But some of the workers on night shift were hurt when they didn’t get into the shelter in time. The bombing was all over the place again, not just in the centre, or the docks. Some areas in the suburbs got bombed for the first time ever, and nobody felt safe. Albert got a cut on the face from a falling roof tile, but he wouldn’t go anywhere to get it looked at, as he said so many were worse off than him. Elsie cleaned it up for him, and tore up an old pillowcase to make a bandage. Vera hated being back in the Anderson shelter, but by then she knew it had been a good idea when her dad built it.
After that, there were no raids. By early summer, Vera was happily sleeping in her own bed again, though she was increasingly concerned about the fact that she hadn’t heard anything from Les in reply to her letters. Albert knew she was worried, and tried to explain things to her. “Listen love, he’s in Germany, ain’t he? Well the Russians are getting close, and the Germans are losing all over. On top of that, the Yanks and the RAF are bombing the hell out of Germany every single day and night. So you can’t expect those Red Cross people to manage to get through to collect or deliver letters now, can you?” She knew her dad was right. News of the bombing of Germany was always in the papers and on the newsreels. They had certainly had a pasting.
But that only made her worry in case the POW camp got bombed by our own side.
There was news of something very big. After keeping it secret for a very long time, the army and the Americans had landed in France. According to the radio, it was a big surprise for the Germans, as they didn’t land near Calais, and had gone to Normandy instead. Vera was shocked at the news, but it lifted her spirits to imagine that Les might be free before the end of the year. Albert was having his say as usual, not even waiting for the announcer to finish. “That showed ’em. And those collaborating Frenchies too. Went in through the back door, down near Caen. Those bloomin’ Jerries weren’t expecting that, were they?”
Elsie was less impressed. “Well there’s still a lot of Germans in France, Bert, and in Germany too. Then there’s the Japs to deal with. Don’t you go counting your chickens too soon, Albert Dodds”. As more news was released, the scale of the invasion was hard for Vera to comprehend. So many soldiers, so many ships, and paratroops too. It seemed to her that the army might be in Paris by the end of the month. It was very hard not to get her hopes up about Les, but that was tinged with concern for Teddy, in case his ship was involved. Then her mum was all doom and gloom. “What about Viv’s Roy? You can bet yer life his Commandos would have been in on that landing. Probably in the first couple of boats. Oh gawd, I do hope nothing happens to him. Poor Viv and the boys”.
The next day, there was the sound of an air raid siren, followed not long after by one almighty explosion on the other side of the Thames. Everyone in the jam factory was heading down to the shelters when they heard it. But before they got there, the all-clear sounded, and they went back up to the machines. Ten minutes later, another warning had them back in the shelter, where they heard half a dozen more big bangs, and the sound of low-flying aircraft firing machine guns. It was a tiring day, back and forth, and nobody understood why they couldn’t hear the bombers.
When Albert got home, he had the answer, as he had left work to help out as a Warden. “It’s a new thing those Jerries have got. Like a small plane, but with no pilot. It’s like a big rocket, and just drops out of the sky anywhere. More or less a flying bomb, as it isn’t designed to go back to where it came from. They reckon a few people got killed in Canning Town earlier, and some of our boys were out in fighters tryng to shoot the things down over the river”. Elsie was getting dinner ready, and turned from the sink.
“Flying bombs indeed. Whatever will they think of next?”