Even at 90 years of age, The Wattmeister’s father has plenty of spare watts of verbal energy. Today he had a dental appointment which clashed with the two minutes silence. So he stood up quietly in the waiting room for the duration to pay his respects.
In my parents’ kitchen he talked about the war. The family lived in the East End in Planet Street, Shadwell. You won’t find it in the A-Z. What the Germans couldn’t destroy with bombs, the town planners managed with a pen. He was 16 years old when the Blitz hit London. His six elder brothers were in the services, and my grandfather had seen action in the First World War.
In between bombing raids, people left their makeshift bomb shelters to see what was left, if anything, of their homes. My dad spoke of witnessing the London docks ablaze, and dodging wayward shrapnel…of seeing the brave Catholic priest Father Groser doing his rounds, making sure that nobody was without cocoa or tea. At this point my mum nodded in agreement …” a very brave man”.
On returning home to Planet Street, my dad found all the windows shattered by the bomb blasts, and thankfully no one at home. The lights were on in the Star Pub. Ben Magnus, (grandad to me), Georgie Hicks, ‘the ninth son’, Uncle Nickle, Johnny Hayes and Billy Palmer, a renowned prize fighter were all blind drunk in defiance of the enemy.
My dad maintains that for the duration of the war, none of them ever spent a night in a shelter.