A Tale of Remembrance

My earliest memory is that of the bomb.  Not the bang, I don’t remember that, but of being thrown by my mother into our Anderson shelter and landing on top of my sister who my mother had thrown down the steps a split second before.  My older sister was screaming and my mother was telling us to sing and I couldn’t make out what the problem was, why was my sister crying? Why was my mother telling us to sing?


What I don’t remember was that earlier in the day my mother had taken us into town shopping and on the way there we met the lady from next door but one with her little girl.  The little girl was highly excited and showed us her new pair of bright red shoes and told us that when she got home she was going to put them on and dance and dance and dance.


Then came the afternoon, we were in the garden and my mother was taking the washing from the line when ‘Tugboat Annie’ sounded.  ‘Tugboat Annie’ was the imminent warning that sounded just like a ship’s hooter and followed the usual air raid siren, but that day there’d been no time for sirens to tell us something bad was on the way.  Dad ran next door to make sure that the old lady who lived there was safe just as a dive bomber started his attack.  Mum picked my sister and me up and threw us into the Anderson as the bomb went off.


My dad was really lucky, as he was going into next door the bomb exploded and the only injury he had was a bump on the head when his head smacked into the door, my mum said later that she didn’t expect to see him alive again.  The old lady was uninjured but only next door to them, the little girl along with her mother and seven other people died.  


I often think of that little girl and she is always the first person that comes to mind on Remembrance Day. She’d have probably been a grandmother by now but I like to imagine her in her own little patch of heaven wearing those bright red shoes and dancing, dancing, dancing.


Roger Stapenhill

The First Person