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A Childs War

Richard Ballard

Smashwords Edition Published by M-y books Ltd at Smashwords)

Copyright 2009 Richard Ballard

“Did you see it last night, Edna? The plane coming down in Richmond Avenue?”

“George and I certainly heard it. We were on our way to the shelter with Alex when it happened.”

“They say it got two houses. In one the family were in their beds and killed outright, and the others were down the shelter. It was a Jerry bomber and the pilot and crew couldn’t get out.”

“Poor devils. I don’t suppose most of them want all this any more than we do. They can’t all be fanatical Nazis, can they?”

“In the Luftwaffe they can. Apparently old Goering likes them to be.”

This exchange took place in the street outside Edna’s house in Raynes Park, London SW20 on a sunny morning towards the end of September 1940. The houses there had all been built at the beginning of the twentieth century. They had bay windows upstairs and down ornamented with mouldings, and were fronted by little gardens edged with decorative iron railings. The pavements on either side of the road were lined with trees whose leaves were getting tired now. It had been a quiet road until Hitler decided to bomb London instead of the southern English airfields, and remained so during the day. There was not much traffic beyond the horse-drawn milk cart each morning, the butcher’s boy making deliveries on a bicycle with a large basket over its small front wheel soon after the housewives had had their breakfast on a Saturday, the dustcart at mid-day on a Wednesday and the occasional deliveries from department stores such as the ones made in a green and gold motor van to George and Edna Ryland at number 74. Very few of the residents in Chestnut Road had cars of their own, either at that time or before war broke out, so there was virtually no kerbside parking.

Four-year-old Alex Ryland became excited when he heard his mother go to the front gate to greet her best friend. He saw that she had left the front door wide open, and in his eagerness to run outside he caught his foot on the door frame and fell on the corner of the stone step as the two women watched.

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