The Lightning War: London's Longest Night
The Lightning War: London's Longest Night #airraid stories

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4. Flashback to 29th December, 1940. This story describes Lucy's experience with the heaviest air-raid London had ever since since the start of the campaign in September. It was the Battle of Britain, and whilst British pilots fought German planes above to stop invasion, cities all over the UK was being destroyed. This night as known as the 'Second Great Fire of London'.

The Lightning War: London's Longest Night


29th December, 1940

A week after Lucy sent her brother and sister to the countryside, she was caught out in an air raid.

It wasn't the first time this had happened, but it still didn't stop her feeling the cold knife of fear stabbing her gut as she ran for cover.

All of the lights had been turned off for the Blackout, so Lucy ran blindly in the dark, following the flashing of the Warden's torches to the nearest Underground shelter.

"Hurry up!" the Warden barked as the ominous rumbling of German planes filled the skies above. Lucy scrambled down the stairs into the station and found herself in a sea of people.

Crowds of people were huddled on the platform, trying to find comfort in one another as the sound of the first wave of bombs boomed in the not-so-distance.

As Lucy settled herself down in the throng, she was offered a blanket by a middle-aged women who noticed that she only had her coat. Thankful, Lucy took it and rolled her coat into a pillow.

Surprisingly comfortable, she snuggled down into the blanket

However, despite being so exhausted, the sounds above prevented her from falling asleep. Just as Lucy began to doze off, a violent explosion would jolt her awake again.

One particularly large explosion shook the whole station, causing some to cry out in surprise. Dust and debris fell from the ceiling onto the refugees below. Lucy felt her heart in her throat.

What if the ceiling collapsed on them and buried them alive?

She'd read horrific stories of refugees being drowned because of a bomb destroying a waterline or of whole stations caving in because of the blasts and crushing the people below.

Somehow, Lucy finally drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, Lucy woke with a start. All was quiet, except for the sounds of conversation around her. "Would you like some tea, love?" An warden asked, handing her a cup.

"Thank you," Lucy croaked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

All around her, families were getting up to go back to their homes. If they had one left, that is. "Frightful scene up there," the warden said, shaking his head. "The Germans really did us in."

"It's quite bad, then?" Lucy replied, attempting to make conversation. "A lot of these poor folks wouldn't have a home to go to," the warden sighed, his eyes full of sadness and pity.

"I hope I do," She said, trying to smile.

The warden chuckled. "Best be on your way then, love," he said. Thanking him for the tea, Lucy handed back the cup, picked up her coat and started making her way to the surface with the others.

Lucy had to blink as the bright winter sun burned her eyes; it had been rather dark down in the station, save for a few lamps and torches.

As her eyesight slowly adjusted, her breath caught in her throat. All around her was rubble and little else. A fire truck was putting out a fire a few metres away, and ambulances rushed by.

Lucy plodded along the decimated street in a dream-like state, observing the charred, skeletal remains of what were once thriving shops, cafes and homes.

All this happened when she was safe below ground.

She had no idea of the devastation that was going on above her. Perhaps it was just as well. To her right, she saw men pulling out a small body from the debris of a collapsed house.

She caught one of the home-guard's eyes and she stopped in her tracks. He still had the lifeless child in his arms as he looked at Lucy. His face was void of expression, but his eyes were weary.

Suddenly, something woke up within her.

She began half-running, half-walking in the direction of her home, pleading to God that her home hadn't been destroyed, that she still had a roof over her head.

She held her breath as she turned the corner...

...and let it out when she saw her house standing perfectly in tact down the street. She couldn't help but feel relieved and a little guilty. She still had a home, whilst many didn't.

Suddenly, her restless night caught up to her.

Her bones ached and she could barely keep her eyes open as she waddled to the front door. She didn't even make it upstairs, but collapsed on the sofa and quickly dozed off.

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