A break in the Blitz on Epsom Downs

Heinkel bomber crashed on English town

The remains of a Heinkel III bomber brought down by Anti Aircraft fire.
It smashed into houses in a town 'somewhere' in southern England.

Few people in Britain were unaffected by the Blitz, even though it was concentrated on London at this time. Small towns and villages a good distance from London were not immune from bombing.

R.T.A. Northrop’s diary describes how the war reached Tattenham Corner, Epsom Downs:

4.11.40 Monday

Last night was the first time for 57 nights when no air raid warning sounded. It seemed unreal. Bad weather seems to have caused this happy happening. Going to Epsom Downs station everything seemed peaceful and beautiful except for the bomb craters and heaps of chalk.

I still arrive in London about 11.00 a.m. and leave about 3.30 p.m. The service is much better now and I arrive home about 5.30 p.m. in time to put up the black out and have tea before the air raid warning sounded. The weather was still bad but plenty of planes seemed to go towards London. One dropped 6 bombs nearby. We heard them whistle down.

5.11.40 Tuesday

May (my mother) said a bomb exploded nearby at 3.30 a.m. but didn’t waken anyone else (my cousin was with us). The walk to Epsom Downs in the sun was delightful and the sky clear except for 9 Hurricanes looking for the enemy. Today USA votes for a new president – Roosevelt wins. After tea the warning sounded. A bomb dropped somewhere – perhaps on the Downs. It did not explode being delayed action.

I was on fire patrol tonight. I have just discovered that the six bombs last night fell about 100 yards away from us: one house was damaged – no casualties – and five craters in the fields (diary doesn’t say where!)

Now at 10.30 p.m. planes coming over in large numbers and guns putting up a loud barrage. I see two fires started – one Epsom way and the other Sutton way – both are soon extinguished. At 12.00 the next patrolmen come on. Planes still coming over continuously. Got to bed at 12.30 and the guns are booming away. Large numbers of shells go up at a time.

During the night we are awoken several times by either exploding bombs or shells, we are too sleepy to distinguish. At 4.30 a.m. a loud explosion rocks the very foundations of our house but afterwards discover that it was an AA (anti-aircraft I believe) shell which struck the road and exploded less than 100 yards away.

The damage was inconsiderable. A dent of about 4 to 5 inches in the road and few holes in windows, walls and roofs. Yet the 6 bombs which exploded 100 yards away last night caused almost no sound. In fact we thought they were delayed action and had not exploded.

For more of R. T. A. Northrop’s diary see BBC People War.

bomb damaged London street

A Union Flag sits proudly amongst the rubble in a bomb damaged London street, following an air raid. Ministry of Information Photographer

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

michelle price November 3, 2011 at 8:36 pm

i love this information and its really helpful for my homework and its the best i have heard and i have looked on loads
from michelle price

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