The Bomb by Lynn Jennings

(July 7th Lister Street – Falmouth, Cornwall)

I have no memory of that Sunday,
of my family doing the usual Sunday things,
my brother playing next door with our cousins,
usually he stayed for tea,
today he didn’t,
he came home,

  “They’ve got people coming Mum.” he said.

Perhaps I heard the far-off drone of engines
or the plaintive wailing of the siren,
I don’t remember.
Perhaps I was deafened by the blast,
the sharp cracking,
the rushing,
crunching
melting walls
avalanching down
caving in onto themselves and us.

I don’t remember.

I don’t remember
the eerie silence that followed,
I don’t remember the dust
that filled my nose and
ears and eyes and
almost choked me half to death.

I have no recollection of
the clanking, frantic scraping of spades,
digging and shovelling at the rubble,
hands scrabbling and heaving at bricks,
masonry and fallen beams
that once were our house,
now splintered and tossed around
without shape or pattern
bits sticking up like the broken bones
that lay beneath.

There must have been a pause
in the frenzied, desperate digging
when cries were heard and
at last –
a man – a woman,
a fourteen – year old girl,
a thirteen – year old boy
and a fourteen – month old baby
were dug, dragged,
pulled and finally lifted
from the ruins of our house,

My father, my mother,
my sister, my brother
and me, bleeding, bruised,
terrified and dazed but –
miraculously alive!

(Our cousins and their guests were killed as they ate Sunday tea.)

I cannot remember any of this –
I only know what I was told –

                    but

my psyche
      has recorded every detail
          and keeps me out of
                 crowded places, tunnels
                     lifts and airless rooms…

I have no conscious memory of that day at all…

 Note: Falmouth Docks were an obvious target for German planes, as they were important for both Naval and Merchant shipping. They were not easy to hit, being tucked in under the Castle promontory, so some bombs, probably intended for the docks, fell on the town, as happened two days later on 7th July……….Ten bombs dropped harmlessly in the water but five fell on the town, killing one entire family and causing extensive damage………

Some people had lucky escapes, being found alive under the debris of shattered buildings. 

(Adapted from: Operation Cornwall 1940 – 1944 (1944) by Viv Acton and Derek Carter)