Kitty Brightwell was a plotter in the bunker at Uxbridge during the war. The bunker housed RAF Fighter Command’s No.11 Group Operations Room throughout the Second World War, the room from which the RAF co-ordinated most of the Battle of Britain. Some of her memories have been incorporated into the museum’s exhibitions (see more at battleofbritainbunker.co.uk)
I had better get over the bridge to an air raid shelter before the nightly visit from the Luftwaffe begins. The wail of the air raid sirens brings my dash across the bridge to a halt. The bombers are early tonight. Dear God when will it all end. The nightly performance is about to begin. How can the people of London cope with this constant bombardment, but they are as defiant as ever. Bloody but unbowed. I stand and watch fascinated.
The first act begins with a fanfare from the air raid sirens. The searchlights are switched on to light up the stage. The cast appear. The bombers heading for central London. The guns are firing but the enemy break through. The guns stop. Here come the spitfires to take over. The bombers drop their cargo of bombs on Central London. Raining down death and mayhem on the already battered and beleaguered people of the capital. How can human beings do these things to each other, and why? Perhaps just for a moment of power.
London is burning as far as the eye can see. The flames are reflected on the silver wings of the Spitfires as their pilots weave and whirl among the bombers. The flames also reflected on the ships on the river. Lines of tracer bullets crisscrossing the sky. All accompanied by the noise of exploding bombs, ambulance sirens, and aeroplane engines. It is like one massive ballet in which there is a certain beauty among the horror.
Will the tyrants of this world never learn? Do we have to watch young men killing each other because of people’s greed for power over others? I pray to God that it will not be so. Sorry Mr Wordsworth. This is how I saw it.