Sixty-five essays written by boys in Lyon House about the bombing of Sherborne on 30 September 1940.  These are part of a collection of 160 essays written by boys at Sherborne School (aged 13-18), and one housemaster (A.H. Trelawny-Ross), about their experiences that day.  They appear to have been written in November 1940 and February and March 1941, and were probably set as English ‘hall’ (homework) by A.H. Trelawny-Ross.  It appears that Trelawny-Ross also asked the boys in Lyon House to write down their memories of the day, which accounts for such a large proportion of the essays  having been written by boys from Lyon House and also for some boys writing two essays.

Arranged A-Z by surname:

Anon [Lyon House]

‘The Air Raid’

I had been ill on Monday morning and I was in the Gibbon’s [dormitory] when the siren went.  Matron came up and told me to go downstairs.  I went and fetched a book and waited till the various squads had come up from the school.  When I went downstairs I took a chair from the dining room and was finding a place in the Dayroom Passage when the reading room door began to rattle violently.  Someone mentioned something about guns but as the shaking grew more marked and separate explosions could be distinguished, it became obvious that it was not anti-aircraft fire, but bombs.  Tiles started to crash to the ground and the bombs came nearer and I expected each time that the next one would blow us to smithereens.  Tiles crashed into the yard outside, and from the window at the end it appeared to be a veritable cascade accompanied by the tinkling of glass from a shattered window in the dayroom.  All this did not last as much as five minutes and there was much less noise from the actual bombs than I expected.

After it was all over, I went round the house looking at the craters from various windows and helping to clear up the plaster from the beds, then I went to look at the craters in the road outside, both of which were not more than 25 yards from the house itself.  After which we helped to clear the yard of broken tiles and debris and the footpath of mud and stones.

Anon [?Lyon House]

Mon. Sept 30th. The siren sounded at about four thirty and we immediately went to the cloisters. A little later I was in the passage between the middle bookshelves in the Pound [now the computer room in the library], when there were a few dull explosions and the small windows at the top of the boarded windows blew open violently. Mr Hey [Samuel Hey (1904-1977) assistant master 1926-1973] told us to lie down, but as there was no room I had to remain standing, which could not have made much difference because of the book cases.  Then the noise became louder and the blast greater as it blew through the Pound.  The windows on the cloister-side fell out onto the people who were lying under them.  There were one or two biggish explosions, and the dust was very thick.  Then everything was quiet, leaving that ringing noise in your ears.  Suddenly somebody shouted that there was a bomb in the Courts, so we all rushed out to try and see the crater, but we were checked and kept in while wardens looked for unexploded bombs.  There was excited talk after about the bombs in the cloisters and everyone was discussing what might have happened and “wouldn’t it be funny if the Toey [tuck shop] was hit”, etc.

Anon [Lyon House]

‘My Experiences’
On Monday September 30th, in the middle of my Chemistry period, the air raid siren went. I felt no alarm. I had been in plenty of air raids before and to be more particular in raid warnings.  I went to porch of the Big Schoolroom and started eating and talking with another boy.  Mr Hey [Samuel Hey (1904-1977) assistant master 1926-1973] came and made us move to the proper cloisters.  We situated ourselves in the Book Pound [now the computer room in the library], and just after we had got comfortable we heard the first bang.  I don’t know why but we both went to the floor, and I don’t know what everyone else had done.  The bombs came closer and closer and then the Pound windows broke.  I don’t know if it was glass, but on looking at my leg afterwards it was a bit cut, but I did not notice it at the time.  I felt pretty shaken up, afterwards when I heard a plane again I felt worse still.  My Hey yelled lie down and everybody lay in quick time, but no more bombs were dropped.  Then Rice came down and told Mr Palmer [Clephan Palmer (1881-1971) assistant master 1905-1946, lived at ‘South Hill’, Richmond Road] that his wife was all right.  We all cheered in the Pound, then the Headmaster [Alexander Ross Wallace (1891-1982) Headmaster 1934-1950] came down and we all cheered.  Then Mr H. Davis [Henry Cecil Waring Davis (1903-1989) assistant master 1928-1967] came, covered in dust and a bit cut, then Scott [Stanley Westcott Scott (1908-?), laboratory demonstrator] came along (not the boy), he was covered with dust and a bit cut – we cheered both.  My feelings were mixed when I came up to the house, I had no idea of the amount of bombs dropped, and I felt sorry for the homeless.  The first house that I saw that was hit was the thatched house by the Chimney Sweep [Acreman Street]. It was the 1st house that I had ever seen with a direct hit on it.  I then came back to the house to find bombs all round it.  We then did hall and my fear gradually decreased, although my thoughts made me frightened in a way.  I and the boy I had talked with thank Mr Hey very sincerely for moving us from the porch as we might have been killed.

Anon [?Lyon House]

‘My experience in the Air Raids’
I was doing Greek in No. 10 classroom on the afternoon of the air raid on the 30th of September.  The siren went and as we were on the ground floor we stayed where we were.  Then we heard the German ‘lanes overhead and we began to peer out of the windows.  We were told to get on with our work, then the windows began to rattle and I felt in my bones something unusual was going to happen, for the windows never had rattled in pervious warnings.  Mr Bensly [William James Bensly (1874-1943) assistant master 1905-1913, 1919-1934, 1939-1943] told us to get on with our work and never mind the windows.  Then we heard a thud in Lenthay way and scrambled under our desks and then we heard thud after thud and then large crashes till with one crash, from the bombs outside the Carrington Buildings, our glass was blown in and all the plaster came down on the floor.  Then the crashes went beyond us and I climbed out from under the desk.  All the dust from the fallen plaster filled the air and nearly suffocated.  Then we went out and stood under the stairs.  Then the order came through that we were to go to the cloisters, there was a wild rush into the Courts where everyone collected bomb splinters and then in the cloisters the Headmaster [Alexander Ross Wallace (1891-1982) Headmaster 1934-1950] gave out a notice which I didn’t hear.  As I was going up to my House, Spitfires were zooming round and when I got to my house, I found the place in a pretty good mess.

Anon [Lyon House]

‘The Bombing’
On September 30th, during the first afternoon lesson, the air raid siren went off.  Fire and Salvage Squads went up to the House. About 10 minutes after we had got up there there were some incendiary bomb practices, whiles the fire squads were up there, the House began to shake, someone said it was anti-aircraft gunfire, but when the noise came nearer we did not think the same. I was told to go and shut the outside door, but when I got there I heard the whistle of bombs and saw debris flying into the yard.  I went back pretty quickly, and lay down on the floor with a cushion on my head.  After the noise had died away, we waited for a bit and then went out.  I got two big bits of bomb. I gave one to Long and the other to Mr Ross [Alexander Hamelin Trelawny-Ross (1884-1967) assistant master 1911-1946, housemaster of Lyon House 1914-1946].  Having cleared the House, we did Hall and then had tea.  I was sleeping under the table in the Reading Room, during the night some more bombs went off and we all trooped into the passage for half an hour.  The people who came back from the school exaggerated the damage done there terrifically.

Anon [Lyon House]

‘My experiences in the Air raid’
On Monday in the afternoon during the 1st period the air raid siren was sounded. I came up to the house because I am in a salvage squad.  When I had been up here for about ten minutes the fire squads were sent off for a practice, while the doors started slamming and at first I thought it was some person trying to be funny, then somebody said it was anti-aircraft fire, which occurred to me to be quite possible but which of course was impossible because there were no anti-aircraft guns near enough.  Suddenly there was an extra loud rattle of doors which must have been the one outside the bike sheds and clouds of dust came flying past the window at the end of the passage.  During all this I had crouched down on the floor away from the wall and held my ears.  Afterwards I went off and looked round, clearing up the glass and viewing the damage.

Anon [?Lyon House]

‘Sherborne’s Air Raid’
We had rather an exciting time on September 30th 1940. It was at 4..45 on the 30th that the Air Raid warning went and I was in No.7 classroom.  So we all went down to the room below (No.5).  It was about five to ten minutes after that the fun started. First of all we heard a few dull explosions and they steadily grew louder, until suddenly we heard a high pitched whistling sound and a few moments after there were three successive explosions.  (Later we found that these were in the Courts!)  Almost immediately after we smelt a most unappetising smell; the smell of cordite, and it is a smell I hope never to encounter again.  I was a bit shaken and wondering what was going to happen next. I think it was a good thing I had my head under a desk because a huge stone came hurtling through the window and landed on the spot where my head should have been.  The result of the raid was that three bombs landed in the Courts, seven in the Richmond Road district and one in Acreman Street, about three on the playing fields and a lot more scattered about Sherborne District.

Anon [Lyon House]

‘September 30th 1940 (at Lyon House).’
On receipt of the air raid warning, it is my job to return to the House immediately to help in its defence against attack from incendiary bombs.  On this occasion, first period on a Monday afternoon, I had a study hour and so was already up at the House when the sirens were blown at about 4.45pm.  After a few minutes those in one bomb squad came up to the House and we took up our positions in the usual way; that is in the main passage on the ground floor, where we have two walls all round, sand-bags at the end a reinforced ceiling.

Shortly before 5 o’clock, I went to the end of the passage and looked outside the door.  Everything was quiet for a moment or two, and then began a series of small [?screaming] explosions which I thought were gun-fire.  As the planes were coming from the Yeovil direction I could see nothing, but came inside and said something about gun-fire which was calculated to be reassuring, but I was received with a good deal of mirth when the explosions came nearer.  Before we knew quite what was happening, we found ourselves lying on the floor with a large number of battling rams (for such the sound resembled) crashing against the walls.  A near-by door was seen to bulge in and out and dust rose in clouds from the walls and floor and we could see showers of tiles falling from the roof outside.  Strong currents of air swept through the passage and I doubt if we could have stood up, had we felt disposed to try.  Looking round the faces of those present, one could see definite fear, but there was nothing bordering on hysteria.  My own feelings were nothing to be proud of, but I do not think I entirely lost my head.

When all was quiet again we stood up, heaving sighs of relief and – I for one – feeling profoundly thankful for being spared so miraculously. I am sure we all breathed a small prayer both during our experience and immediately after, but I do not think any of us knew at the time how near to death we had been. It was certainly a great surprise to hear Mr Ross [Alexander Hamelin Trelawny-Ross (1884-1967) assistant master 1911-1946, housemaster of Lyon House 1914-1946] say there was a beautiful crater in the road, a few yards from the wall and about ten from where we had been.  To find eight other craters all round the House within a hundred yards was, indeed, something of a shock.  Some of us quickly organised the clearing up of the [?] which amounted to some fourteen thousand tiles from the roof and a fair number of windows.

A word of praise must to given to K.G.W. Wilson [Kenneth Gordon Wycliffe Wilson (1922-1949), Lyon House 1936-1940] whose leadership was an inspiration and to everyone else concerned, who showed a grand ability to “take it”.

Anon [Lyon House]

‘The story of the prunes that missed’
We came up to the House as usual when the siren went & took our places in the corridor.  Presently we had some incendiary bomb squad exercises but, I being in Headquarters squad in charge of doors & windows cut up an apple & started eating it.

Suddenly there was a lot of violent door slamming & window rattling & I thought “Who is the fool slamming that door?”  But the noise continued & increased.  Then I thought it was A.A. fire, & then as others started ducking & I felt pressure on my ears & realised it was bombs.  I ducked onto my knees & putting my hands over my ears put my head under the bench I had been sitting on & waited.  I expected the roof to come in on top of me at any moment & the House was rocking quite a lot.  The noise was not terrific as might be expected, only slamming doors & rattling windows & pressure on the ears. The bombing lasted 86 seconds.  Then we got up & I ran to get my brush to clear up the debris.  The air was thick with dust as lots of ceiling had fallen down & there was the acrid smell of explosives in the air.  After sweeping up around the House I went outside to look at the damage, picked up some bomb splinters & returned to the House to finish clearing up.  The night was unpleasant because we had dozens of Gibbon’s [dormitory] packed into Bennett [dormitory] & lying all over the floor & the heat was terrific. A time bomb went off during the night & we all scuttled downstairs & bit the granite again, but not for long as we soon went up to bed again & peace.  We saw a dead gardener in Mr Palmer’s garden [Arthur James Lintern, aged 62, died in Mr Clephan Palmer’s garden at ‘South Hill’, Richmond Road].  The prunes didn’t improve the look of the House or school buildings & caused considerable disarrangement & discomfiture at the time, but it gradually cleared up & the school went back nearly to normal, but not quite, as every time a car backfired – as Homer might have put it – [Greek].

Anon [Lyon House]

‘An Air Raid on Sherborne’, 2.11.40.
It was on Monday, September 30th that I was being taken by Mr Brown [Herbert Henry Brown (1891-1963) assistant master 1920-1955] for English in the Lower Library. After we had been at work for about ten minutes the siren went and we gathered round the big table, preparatory to diving under them, away from windows.  About ten minutes later I heard a formation of ‘planes go over but naturally thought nothing of it.  Then came the bombs, first of all a whistle mingled with a noise not unlike that of tube train passing from the tunnel into the underground station.  We dived under the tables like a shot and waited…  Then all of a sudden the lights went out and we heard crashed growing louder and louder every few seconds.  Then silence!

After a bit owe ventured out from our refuge and looked out, only to see that the grass outside was covered with stones and bits of road and the windows over in the opposite block were in some places broken. We looked out towards the School House and saw the same debris littering the whole place and we then became conscious of a terrific smell of cordite. A large column of black smoke was slowly rising from behind the School House and rumour went that it was an aeroplane though it was really the bomb in Cheap Street. People were all the time guessing how near they were and someone leaning out of the opposite block said that the Science Buildings had been hit as well as the Fives Courts.  People said that the Courts had received some attention as well though I don’t think I believed that.  Eventually we were told that work would go on for some people but luckily I was one of those who had to go straight back to the House.

On our way back we observed that bombs had hit the Courts and one had landed in the road between the Carrington Buildings and the Big Schoolroom.  In Acreman Street there were two.  We weren’t allowed to go through the Headmaster’s garden owing to a time bomb.  Wires were down all over the place but when we saw what had happened down Richmond Road we knew who had had the worst of it.  Down our stretch of road there were three bombs, one outside either House gate, and one destroying the gate, and a sewer at the end of the road.  Bombs had also landed near us, besides two just outside Mr Palmer’s house [Clephan Palmer (1881-1971) assistant master 1905-1946, lived at ‘South Hill’, Richmond Road], rendering it quite uninhabitable, one outside the Girls’ School Sanatorium and one in the Prep School grounds.

Afterwards unexploded bombs were found all over the place, especially at Lenthay and we were not allowed to use the side of the House facing West Hill because of one and instead we used the dining room, and the upstairs dormitories had to sleep downstairs in the passages etc.  Later on still an unexploded bomb only about 100 yards from the House was discovered and we had to sleep at Hey’s [The Green], the San and other places.  A little later the bomb was rendered useless.  The raid has most certainly made a lot of work, as we are still at it, chiefly digging up the playing fields which were hit in eight places.

Anon [Lyon House]

‘Bombs 1940’
I was comfortably ensconced in a chair in the upper studies passage eating a piece of cake, when the doors began to rattle violently; with one accord we all crouched on the floor and waited. For some extraordinary reason I was convinced that the noise was guns.  I could not understand where they were, for judging by the racket they might have been firing in the yard.  After what seemed like five seconds, it subsequently turned out to be about a minute, we all made a concerted rush downstairs and as we arrived the bombing ceased.  The reason, which may be somewhat obscure, for my being in the upper studies passage, was that I was at the time a Home Guardee (or Guardian) and that was our H.Q.

Anon [?Lyon House]

‘My experiences in the Air-Raid on Sherborne’
Trooping back to the House on the last Monday in September, I was contemplating on how much of the afternoon’s work I would miss.  That was my chief thought at the moment, and I never realised that that thought would be so quickly run out of my head, within half an hour’s time.  At first, the raid seemed ordinary, as we had often come up before and generally waited our time.  We indulged in the usual pastime of playing chess or reading. Some people worked, but I am afraid I had left my books down at the School, and anyhow it was work that had not as yet been explained.

The first inkling that we had of anything out of the ordinary, was a gradually increasing roar, as the planes passed somewhere  overhead.  We, very unwisely, rushed to the window, but luckily for us, something warned us to wait a bit before we poked our rather inquisitive faces outside.  The first tremor came, followed by a second, third and fourth, and gradually becoming more pronounced.  We stopped & said it was A.A. fire, but that theory was blasted out of our minds, as the house began to quiver even more violently.  Then someone had the bright idea of crawling under the table, so we piled in.  We heard the first whistle, and second, thirds and fourths quickly followed. We could hear the whistles very plainly as both the windows were open (which probably explains why they were undamaged).  My thoughts, as the whistles gradually became louder, were first, what my parents would think of me under the table, and secondly, I said to myself “I suppose this is what it feels like to be bombed”, and I could then, in some ways imagine what it was like in an open trench.  Thirdly, I wondered how we would meet each other, if we ever got out alive, and I could actually picture everybody’s laughing faces.  These thoughts flashed very quickly across my mind, and I did not really have much time to mediate over them before the raid was over.  As the whistles gradually decreased, I realised that we were not the only people who were “going through it” and that in some way helped to modify the natural pride, which briefly overwhelmed me, for a moment, as I thought more about these other people.

My feelings directly afterwards were anger, in that I was unable to do anything about it and could not hit back at the swine right at the moment.  I think that it is very annoying to have to roll under a table while the other fellow is letting go all he’s got.  But that was the only alternative.  My second feeling was of joy at seeing a fellow coming down in a parachute, and a plane diving steeply into the mist.  We booed the parachutist, but unfortunately he was an Englishman (and of course, we did not know that at the time).

That raid really made in me an ever greater desire to do something, really (as I thought) worth doing, and for the next two days I was very restless in regard to my work, and really did no work whatsoever.  Then, I realised that my job was to stay here and that in doing so I would be doing more say, than digging trenches.

Anon [Lyon House]

‘Air Raid’
On Monday Sept 30th the warning siren went at 4.30 during a French period.  I went immediately to the house as I was in a fire squad.  On arriving and after collecting my gas mask, we had a practice.  During the practice while on the 1st floor I heard a rumbling resembling a large body of people running about on the top floor. The house was shaking, so I came to the conclusion that bombs were falling. I made for the passage and dived into a mass of people crouching in one end. The shaking and noise was getting more and more violent and the electric light was flickering.  Someone yelled out “Switch out that d_ light”, but on the next explosion it obligingly went out by itself.  I was very scared though not panicky, though at one period I went as far as to consider what it would be like to die.  The explosions came in a rumbling, crashing, whining roar and tiles were cascading off the roof. Gradually the explosions grew less and in volume and I became aware of the choking smell of cordite fumes.  I was then feeling very badly shaken and I think the house was too.  Then someone announced that there were 4 craters in the road.  I went to the yard door and looked out, I could hardly see anything, later on I went and collected several souvenirs.

It was the worst scare I have ever had, but I shall know what to expect next time if there is a next time.  I was glad in a way that it had happened.  I was sorry for the loss of life and the damage done to property, but I was glad because it had destroyed the illusion that Sherborne immune from the horrors of war, it also made a lot of notices about Sherborne being “the safest place in England” look rather out of date and stupid.

Sleeping away from the house was no great hardship, and now I feel that if I had in any emergency to sleep on the floor, I should find no difficulty in so doing, so in some ways the experience gained was worth the scare I had.  Though the actual bombing only lasted 86 seconds they were the longest 86 seconds I have ever experienced and I wish to state I never hope to experience them again.

Anon [?Lyon House]

I was in room 6, probably learning Mathematics when the siren went.  Mr Randolph [John Hervey Randolph (1898-1975) assistant master 1922-1967] pretended to be very annoyed and announced that we would continue the lesson. Soon there was a loud roaring noise and he said “They would hear it!”  Then all the people from the room above came in.  Having told their master that he was going to continue teaching he went back to the board and began to go on with his speech.  Just as he started we heard several bangs in the distance. The he told us to go under our desks and proceeded to walk about the room. Soon he went outside.  After a bit, things began to happen and we heard lots of explosions, one after the other, growing gradually louder and louder.  Each explosion was preceded by a long drawn out shrill whistle.  There were several whistles which did not have an explosion to follow.  The light began to swing and the door to rattle.  Then the noise became almost deafening and in rushed Mr Randolph rather redder than usual. He also began to grovel under the table when with a great crash the window broke and in poured a great quantity of stone, glass and gravel.  Several boys were cut but nobody seemed to realise when they had been cut until later.  The room was filled with an evil-smelling smoke.  Mr Randolph soon ventured outside again and when he came back he said “Four bombs have landed just outside the window.”  We were most amazed because we thought there were at least the other side of the Courts, so everyone looked out of the window (much to his annoyance).  After a few minutes we were allowed to go.

“Every cloud has a silver lining.”  Greek was our next subject.  I had been dreading it for three day s and looking forward to an imposition, but, thanks to the bombs, there was no Greek and no imposition. The only objection was that our butter for tea was covered in small particles of dirt.

David Campbell ANDERSON (1926-2014)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1939-July 1944, Scholar, School Prefect, Head of House, tennis 1943, 1944 (captain).
Age on 30 September 1940: 14.

‘Sherborne Bombed’
On Monday afternoon, the 30th of September 1940, the siren went at about twenty five past four, a favourite time for the methodical Hun to get up to his tricks.  I was having an English lesson at the time in the Lower Library, and, as the veritable hive of historical books is considered safe enough in an air raid, we stayed where we were, and did not go to the cloisters as people in other classrooms do when the warning goes.

About a quarter of an hour later we heard the sound of aeroplane engines rather like the characteristic zoom-zoom of Bosch planes.  Then a minute or two later we heard a distant whistle and “crump”, then some more ominous bangs nearer, so we all crowded under the massive tables in the room and waited in suspense.  Nearer and nearer came the explosions, the lights went out, thud followed thud in a hideous deafening roar, the big library above seemed as if it would fall down on us at any moment, glass split and cracked; then gradually it got further and further away and stopped altogether.  We crawled out from under the tables, rather dazed I assure you!, and looked out of the windows.  The whole air was filled with dust like a thick fog.  Eventually it cleared, and we surveyed what damage we could see.  “Yes, there was a small hole in the roof above the entrance to School House, and smoke was rising from behind School House.  Goodness, some glass broken in the windows over there; Oh well we’ve had our taste of it, anyhow.  Must have been ¼ of a mile away at least, were my thoughts after the raid was over.

The “all clear” went soon after and we were told to go up to our houses.  Imagine my astonishment when on entering the Courts, we behold a huge crater in the middle of the gravel, caused, I afterwards learnt, by four bombs.  Thirty yards away and I thought they were 400!  My hat!, here’s another in the road outside the Science Buildings [Carrington Buildings], just by the Armoury.  Good deal of damage done what with window frames and doors blown in and walls pitted with splinter holes, not to mention glass and tiles.  And poor Big Schoolroom! And as we troop up to the House we see every now and then a crater.  We are not allowed to go through Chief’s garden as there is a time bomb there.  All the electric and telephone wires are down.  And as we enter Richmond Road – there’s a crater in the road just in front of the house, and another further on, and yet another!

I find it hard to describe my own feelings during the raid.  To me it felt like lasting 10 minutes, but in reality it was 6 seconds.  To say I wasn’t frightened is absurd.  But even though I was scared to death, it gave me an odd feeling of pride that I had been through a raid and a bad one at that, though it is a common enough experience nowadays.

John Edward de Faye BLAMPIED (1924-2007)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1938-December 1942, Exhibitioner.
Age on 30 September 1940: 15.

‘Experience of an air raid’
At 4.30 on Monday, September 30th, the siren went off, so we of the fire-squads proceeded to the house [Lyon House], not particularly hurriedly, since all the previous warnings had been very unproductive of excitement.  We had had incendiary bomb practise on the top floor and were descending the stairs when the doors and windows began to rattle alarmingly.  I was nearly at the bottom of the stairs when I could have sworn that I saw the whole wall by the reading room shaking; at first I thought that the people upstairs were jumping heavily in the passage: and then I heard the bombs.  Everyone careered down behind me and we all fell on top of some unfortunate who had tripped over a chair in the middle of the passage.  As we were sorting ourselves out, we were thrown back on the floor by, I suppose, the bomb which made the crater that was to be Lyon House Bathing Pool.

There was an indescribable heaviness in the air and everything shook alarmingly, especially the concrete floor.  When the row and rattling had stopped we got up, shaken, and most of us rather surprised at the magnitude of the modern bomb’s results.  I cannot say that I was terrified during this little affair; that is to say, I did not feel that my last moment had come, although I was not exactly roaring with laughter all the time.  Outside, the general outlook was rather out of the ordinary: the yard was full of slates and earth and stones, the road was in a similar mess with the addition of large craters, and all the telephone wires down; the roof looked rather mashed up, although there were really less tiles off than it first seemed [17,000 in fact]. The five horses in the field opposite were trotting round nervously in a bunch; there was a bomb right in the centre of Mr Bevan’s “middle”! But I can’t go on like this.  Altogether it was rather a good enlightener as to modern methods of warfare, though a very great nuisance as regards comfort, although the cellophane on the windows did its job rather well.

Alan Henry BLANFORD (1927-2004)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1940-March 1945, Head of House, XI 1944, XV 1943.
Age on 30 September 1940: 13.

‘The air raid’
In the afternoon of the 30th of September 1940 A.D. we were having a History lesson with Mr Whittle [Charles James Richardson Whittle (1921-2001) temporary assistant master 1940].  This was the first period of the afternoon.  The period started at 4.15 and at about 4.20 the air raid siren went.  We were quite glad as History is never very exciting and especially as that afternoon we had to write an essay on “The results of the 30 Years War” which none of us knew very well.  So we were all relieved when the siren went and we went downstairs from room 16 to the classroom beneath.

We took quite a little time to get settled as there was another class in there already.  There to our disgust we had to continue our essay, although I didn’t do anymore and I don’t think anyone else did either.  At about 4.30 we heard a large droning sound of the Germans and in the distance the thud of bombs. None of us took much notice at first, but when they gradually dropped nearer and nearer we got a bit alarmed and we all got under our desks.  Suddenly we heard a whistling sound of a bomb coming down.  All I thought was, “I wonder where this one is going to fall, I wonder if it will hit us here.”  Then it exploded just outside but a bit up the street.  With a huge crash all the glass fell in except from the two windows which were open.  The transparent paper which had been stuck on the windows worked miracles and great sheets of splintered glass curved round the stone.  The dust outside in the road was appalling and just like a solid wall, also the room got filled with dust.  Then there was another huge explosion following more whistling and the door flew open and banged shut with a crash.  After that the bombs “moved on” and soon stopped.  The whole room was covered with dust so we snatched up our books and rushed into the cloisters.  There we found that some bombs had fallen into the courts.  We had a discussion as to how many bombs had fallen altogether, some said about a dozen others about half a dozen, I said about 20-30 but most people flatly disagreed with me.  We stayed there until six and then we went back to our houses.  The “All Clear” never sounded because it was put out of action.  I never realized the danger that we had been in which was probably the better for us.

Andrew Brian BUCHANAN (1922-2002)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1936-December 1940, Scholar.
Age on 30 September 1940: 17.

‘An Air Raid’
It was about 4.45 on the afternoon of Monday September the 30th 1940, I had just arrived in the Upper Studies passage where the Home Guard were formerly stationed on receipt of a warning, and had sat down on a chair with Harcourt, Ward & Jackson.  I remember that Jackson had just handed round some cake & I was half way through it when the house suddenly began to shake.  At first I thought it was the incendiary bomb squads going back to the ground floor from the Gibbons as there had just been a practice.  However it went on, and Harcourt suddenly said “Gunfire”.  For some reason I accepted the explanation at the time, not realising its absurdity till afterwards.  It was not until there was a furious crash outside followed by a loud whizz as a splinter richoched off the roof that I realised it was bombs.  At the same time there was a cascade of glass and plaster down the Gibbons stairs and a loud rushing and banging of falling tiles, and I honestly thought the house had been bit and would collapse on top of us.  I hurled myself on my face and the others followed suit when Harcourt said “Gunfire” and with every lull we dashed further up the passage intending to reach the bathroom wall which had no doors in it, and eventually to take refuge in the lower passage.  For not only the walls and ceiling but also the floor was shaking violently as we were upstairs.  I remember throwing Jackson’s cake away under the Upper Studies Toey’s for some reason, for it was excellent.  After the cascade of glass we all hurtled downstairs & I can’t think why we didn’t break our necks, but it turned out that that was the last bomb of all.

Patrick Thomas Henry CARSON (1927-1949)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1940-July 1944, Lance Corporal in JTC.
Age on 30 September 1940: 13.

‘The Raid’, 12 March 1941.
On September 30th 1940, in the afternoon some German planes came over and jettisoned their bombs from above the clouds.  Unfortunately Sherborne happened to be underneath and the bombs took effect quite drastically…  At the time we were in lessons.  It was the first afternoon period, when the siren went.  I was in room seven with the rest of my form, and we went down to room 5 on the ground floor.  We had not been there very long when in the distance I heard a “boomsh”.  Then it came nearer and we could now hear the bombs very clearly, until all at once three small bombs fell unpleasantly close to us in the courts.  I remember looking round and I saw one boy sucking his finger, where it had been cut by flying glass, an unconcernedly as if bombing was an every-day occurrence.  I felt sorry for those people who were younger than myself and I wondered, as I sat under the desk, how many casualties there were, had the school buildings been hit, had any of the boys or staff been killed.  A thousand thoughts ran through my head.  I thought of the House [Lyon House].  Had it been hit?  I hope it hadn’t!

It has hardly started than it had finished and I remember getting up and going towards the door with the others, expecting to see the big schoolroom or the chapel in ruins, but I found that by some miraculous thing both had escaped serious damage, though the big schoolroom had its windows blown clear out and hardly any tiles on the roof, and the chapel had a few of the windows broken.

When I came back to the house [Lyon House] there it was, still standing and apart from a few windows and tiles off where three bombs had landed in the road, there was nothing.  We had to do without water for a little while and we slept in another house for about a week and then it was all over.  I think in the whole of Sherborne there were only seventeen casualties and the number of bombs varied from 180-300.

Thomas Anthony Piers CLARKE (1924-2014)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1938-March 1943.
Age on 30 September 1940: 15.

‘The air-raid on Sherborne’
At approximately twenty minutes to five the “banshee wailing” turned us out of class, and I, as usual thought nothing of this. When we had been in the shelter for about five or ten minutes, I heard a rumble, like a crowd of people running over a wooden floor, I could not think what this was, but I was astonished to see everyone lie down, but soon realised what this was when the rumble increased to loud crashes and the glass of the window I happened to be looking at suddenly shot out. I knew the bombs were pretty near, but I was very surprised when I looked out, and saw several huge craters about twenty-five yards away. I was frightened at the time, but directly it was over, I did not feel frightened, but excited.  My first thoughts were if there were any casualties, and if our house had been hit.  We had to go a round about way back to the house [Lyon House], owing to an unexploded bomb.  I was very relieved to see the house unhit, but there had been bombs very close, and many windows were smashed and many tiles off the roof.  Considering that there were so many bombs so close to our house, I think that it is one of the luckiest houses in Great Britain.

That evening was spent in clearing up tiles and cleaning the house as much as possible.  We all slept either on the bottom or middle floor, that night I got very little sleep, but when I did get to sleep I was awoken by two loud crashes, which were delayed action bombs exploding, we all got up, but went to bed soon as we realised what they were.  Nothing very stirring happened after that.  It was an experience I should hate to have again, but now that is over, apart from the casualties (in the town) and the damage, I am glad that I have been in a raid, as I now know what war really means, & have been through a bit of it.  We, all of us of Sherborne have a great deal to be thankful for.

Anthony Joseph CORDY (1924-2015)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1938-December 1942, Exhibitioner.
Age on 30 September 1940: 16.

‘Impressions of an Air Raid.  September 30th 1940’
At about 4.30 p.m. on that fateful Monday, the siren started its mournful wail for the umpteenth time in the ten days or so we had been back.  I was rather annoyed because I thought that we should miss an interesting English Period, and be back in time for a not-so-interesting French Period.  Those of us whose duty called (!) us to the House [Lyon House], myself included, strolled literally up, for we had become accustomed to these uneventful half-hour alerts.  We settled in the lower passage with gas masks, books, and cushions, and waited for the All-clear.

It was decided (I shall mention no names throughout this account) at about ten to five to have an incendiary bomb practice, and the squad in question dashed to its station.  We who were left in the passage heard loud bangs from (as we thought) above and thought them to be the squad in action.  However, it took but a second or two to realise that they were caused by something more than this, for the doors began to rattle violently.  Someone shouted that it was anti-aircraft fire, and I think most of us tried to believe this, although we knew that if any guns were so near as to make such a noise, we should have seen them.

The Dayroom door had not been shut, such was the laxity engendered by many fruitless warnings, and everyone shouted ‘shut that door’, and a hero, who shall be nameless, did so.  By this time we were all huddled in a heap on the floor, and I was on top of two or three other fellows, my head almost between my knees, my arms around the back of my neck. The noise was indescribable, the whole building shook to repeated concussions, and I knew that, for myself, I was, as it were, too frightened to be afraid.  I firmly believed that I should be dead within the next few moments, and I just waited for both walls to collapse in on me.  The noise died away.

We picked ourselves up from the floor and looked at each other as if to make sure we were still there.  Then someone let out a strained laugh.  The tension cleared a bit.  The air was filled with acrid smelling dust.  Two or three people went outside to see what had happened.  Then we all went out, although I know I hung back a bit for I quite thought the bombers would come back on a second run over the ‘target’.  In the yard, a most amazing sight confronted us: the whole surface was covered for a depth of four or five inches with broken tile and clods of earth.  The tiles came from off our own roof, the earth from a crater in the road just outside, and from two more in the gardens over the wall.  We wandered, with some difficulty, a bit further down the road: where the front gate had been was a twenty-foot wide crater.  The House had, in fact, been neatly straddled!

I think that one of the most noteworthy features of the raid was that everyone thought at the time that only his little area of the town had been hit.  It was with some amazement that I learnt from those who had been down at the School that bombs had fallen in the Courts, and the amazement was increased when my brother came from home to say that they were all right there: it has not occurred to them that there were bombs in the west of the town, just as I had not thought that they might have been in danger.

‘September 30th 1940’
We are chatting, joking or reading as we lean against the wall of the passage in Lyon House which, with reinforcement, serves as a shelter.  For the umpteenth time in the ten days that we have been back the banshee wail of the siren has sent us to the shelters, where all we do is to stave off the boredom until the drone of high-flying planes has ceased and a heartening blast announces that the danger, which in any case seems non-existent is past.

Suddenly, a loud rumbled in the distance, increases in volume, the house shakes.  My heart beats uneasily, faster.  “Nothing to worry about, only A-A guns!” shouts an unsteady voice.  “Shut that door, for God’s sake!” A-A guns.  Thank God, if that’s all it is.  Phew! What a racket.  It can’t be.  We’d have seen ‘em if they came close enough to make such a racket.  Racket, racket, racket!  Oh, will it stop! On the floor – crouch down – hands over neck – only chance.  O good God, how the wall shakes.  Will the ceiling fall first or will the walls fall in and bury us.  Shall I, any of us, our broken bodies, be recognisable? Will Mum and Dad ever see me again, miss me? What’s Heaven like – or Hell.  How long has this been going on?  Into eternity, or will it stop? Stop – stop did you say.  It has stopped – or has it? Am I dead? Heaven – is this Heaven? Open your eyes, m’lad and see.  It isn’t! Look, same old passage – and everyone else is getting up! We’re – are we? – safe? – safe, yes we are! It’s true, we’re safe! O God, thank God, thank, thank, thank God!

Frederick Benjamin ELLIS (1926-2017)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1940-March 1944, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 14.

‘Air Raid’
On the 30th of September at 4.15 the Air-Raid sirens went and half an hour later there was a rumbling in the distance and I thought as it was a few miles away, “thank goodness I wasn’t there”, but I wasn’t so lucky in a way. I was in the cloisters when I heard a whistle (one, two, three) of Bombs drop 15 to 20 yards from me they were not too] funny at the time but now I was glad to have had the experience.  There was absolutely no panic in fact everybody was as joyful as ever afterwards.  After the all clear which was not sounded by siren I saw Spitfires circling over head they looked grand then. There were about a 120 bombs dropped.  Lyon House had a bomb 5 yards from the front of it and broke a lot of tiles on the roof and a lot of windows. There was also a time bomb in Thorne’s house, but luckily for Thorne it did not explode and in time was taken away.

John William ELLIS (1923-1989)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1937-December 1941, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 17.

‘My Experiences in the Raid’.
On arriving back at the house after the air raid siren had sounded I took my place in the air raid shelter. After a few minutes the incendiary bomb squads went upstairs to have a practice. Soon after we had come downstairs again the fun started.

The first indications I saw of anything out of the ordinary was that all the doors near me were rattling continuously. My first thought was that some people were jumping about on the first floor, but I soon abandoned that theory in favour of A.A. gunfire. I soon realised that the crashes were too heavy and were getting nearer.  Then I remember seeing the remainder of the incendiary bomb squads racing down the stairs as fast as they could go, and I crouched down on the floor with someone on top of me not knowing what to expect next. There were some colossal crashes as bombs landed just outside the house and I could feel the pressure of the displaced air on my ear drums. I saw tiles falling off the roof and earth and stones whizzing about outside a window.  The whole house was filled with a fine dust, mostly from fallen plaster.

Outside the house the yard was full of earth, stones and broken tiles. The road was in much the same condition with the addition of three large bomb craters. I searched in the bottom of one of these craters and found bomb splinters embedded in the earth, some of which were almost too hot to handle.  I returned indoors to help clear up the mess, thankful to be alive.

Untitled essay.
Soon after taking our usual places in the shelter we were ordered to have incendiary bomb practices. After these had been completed with their usual smooth efficiency we returned to the shelter. Standing at the dining-room end of the lower passage the first sign I had of Goering’s frightfulness was the reading room door rattling violently which I at first attributed to one of our incomparable observers jumping about outside the Halliday [dormitory].  I soon abandoned this theory and agreed with the general opinion that it was anti-aircraft guns firing. As the crashes got louder I realised that it must be bombs, and there were loud explosions following one another in quick succession which were obviously bombs pretty close.  By this time I was crouching along with most of the fire squads in the passage outside the day room door.  I could feel my ear drums being pushed in by the pressure of the air, but had the presence of mind to keep my mouth open.  I caught a glimpse of tiles falling off the roof through the window at the end of the passage, and I thought at first that there had been a direct hit on the other end of the house, but I realised this could not be so as we should have felt more of a shock.  The House was immediately filled with a fine white dust which penetrated everywhere.

On going outside I was surprised to find how well the house had stood up to it, considering the nearness of the bombs.  A souvenir hunt was immediately started and I secured a piece of bomb from the crater outside the front gate, which was still hot.  After having walked around and seen the damage to property and Mr Palmer’s dead gardener [Arthur James Lintern, aged 62, died in Mr Clephan Palmer’s garden at ‘South Hill’, Richmond Road] a feeling of wonderment swept over me as to how we had escaped death.  We immediately set to and cleared out the yard, and went round the dormitories cleaning up broken glass and sweeping up fallen plaster.

Looking back on the raid now the main things that stick in my mind are the amazingly small number of casualties in Sherborne considering the number of bombs dropped, and also the fact that no boy in the school was injured, the length of the raid, which seemed never ending, and lastly that wars cannot be won by slaughter from the air for it left me with a firmer resolution that we must continue with the war until Germany is decisively defeated.

David Tresloggett EVANS (1924-2017).
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1938-July 1942, 6th form, XI 1942.
Age on 30 September 1940: 15.

No title.
The siren went off at 4.30 on Monday afternoon the 31st of September. So we all rushed up to the house expecting it to be another half hour spent reading P.G. Wodehouse in the passage. But not so, it had been decided that the squads should have an Air Raid practice.  This was carried out and just after we had returned to our positions in the passage, I heard an ominous rattling of doors, this increased until it seemed as if the whole house was shivered.  As the bombs dropped nearer, I could hear them whistling as they came which was followed a relay after relay of explosions of ever-increasing magnitude. When we were in the midst of it and the fireworks had reached their zenith, the combination of noises was most interesting, there was the explosion of bombs, the falling of tons of tiles and debris, the shaking of doors and windows caused by the blast.  The total being a most ghastly cacophony of sounds.  This, I think, was what disturbed me most, the noise. Of course, the whole display only lasted about three minutes, but during that time Hitler had produced a pretty considerable treat for the inmates of Sherborne.  As it died away across the town and in the end, fizzled out, I and the rest of the chaps who had been lying prostrate in the passage arose, surprised to find after so much excitement that we were still whole.  My impression at the time were, that I was thankful it had finished and I was still complete, along with everyone else, surprise that such a thing should happen to Sherborne and indignation, I was also glad to have had the experience.

David St. Clair HARCOURT (1922-2004)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1936-July 1941, 6th form, School Prefect, Head of House.
Age on 30 September 1940: 17.

‘Sept 30th 1940’.
Being a member of the School contingent of the Home Guard, I returned to my house when the air raid warning sounded on the thirtieth of September, the day of the raid.  I had just installed myself comfortably in a chair in the passage allotted for use by the Home Guard section in my house, when the six doors, which occupy most of the walls of the passage, began to shake violently backwards & forwards.  At first I put this down to some abnormal wind, & then hearing the explosions above the crashing of the doors, I realised that it must be due to blast.

The noise continued in a rising crescendo, culminating in one terrific roar as a bomb fell about twenty yards away in the road, from then onwards, however, the explosions died away, & the crash of tiles, plaster & glass told us that some damage had been done. In the middle of all the fracas the Home Guard section, who had been crouching down between the doors, suddenly decided, as one man, to make a bolt for the reinforced passage on the ground floor, by the time they reached it, however, the noise had subsided so we all began to inspect the damage.  The yard was filled with large chunks of clay, hurled up by the bombs in the road & many windows in all parts of the house were smashed.  A thick cloud of dust hung over the town and the smell of cordite was most noticeable.  Curiously it never occurred to me to be anxious about the other boys down at the school.  So many bombs seemed to have fallen, that I did not think there were any in other parts of the town.

John Nazeby HARRINGTON (b.1926)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) May 1940-July 1944.
Age on 30 September 1940: 13.

‘My experiences in the air raid of Sept 30th’, 2 November [1940].
On Sept 30th, 1940, the siren went at about 4.30 pm.  We immediately packed up, very joyfully, and went downstairs to No.14.  We were doing History with Mr Whittle [Charles James Richardson Whittle (1921-2001) temporary assistant master 1940] in No.16.  We went on with our work for 10 mins, then we heard in the distance crash, bang, thud!  We got under the desks then, as the noise was coming nearer.  Then phewwwws!  Came a bomb then a whole cluster of them came whistling down. I certainly thought my last day had come. Crash! In came the glass of the window, and we all ducked instinctively, although that wouldn’t have helped much.  Clouds of smoke was rising from all over the place, and I began to think there couldn’t be much left of Sherborne.  It turned out there were bombs in the Courts, although they didn’t sound so loud as the ones on the other side of the classroom we were in.  Then there was what we thought a lull in the proceedings, but what turned out to be the end, so we dashed for the Cloisters to find many boys there already sitting on the broken glass.

The raid seemed to last about 6 or 7 minutes but in reality it only lasted about 2½!  Nearly 300 bombs were dropped on Sherborne.  I think nearly everyone was a nervous wreck when the Huns had finished their handiwork.  There was bomb round Lyon House.  2½ minutes of agony!

‘My experiences of the Sherborne “blitz”’, 17 February [1941].
On the 30th of September 1940 at about 4.30 pm, the siren went. Everyone moaned and groaned or cheered as the case may be, but no one thought anything about it, as we were having several round about then.  I was in classroom 16 at the time with my form and we all went down to the classroom below as the custom was.  We had been working there for about ten minutes when suddenly we heard a loud roar of aeroplane engines, and then dull thuds.  We all dived under the desks, and although some of us had never heard bombs before, everyone at once knew what was happening.  Thud! Thud! Boom! There they were, dropping incessantly for what seemed ages, but was only in fact about 90 seconds.  Smash! In came the glass and we all ducked instinctively.  The two masters who were in charge of us looked very funny crouching under the desks, and even in that awe inspiring moment I couldn’t help laughing.  The boy next to me was muttering incoherently about something to do with his tie, but I didn’t quite catch what he said.  At last!  The raid is over, and the raiders are dashing for the coast.  We learnt later that some of them were shot down.  I rise, cursing the Germans vehemently, and also feeling very frightened and not a little shaken.  My first thought was to see what had happened to the town. When I looked out of the window (without glass), I saw great clouds of smoke drifting over the town, and I say to myself “The town is completely smashed.  I wonder how many have escaped”.  This may seem ridiculous, but it was my first thoughts.

We immediately rushed to the Cloisters, and find a mass of boys all sitting on the floor, in the midst of heaps of broken glass.  I fling myself down shivering, and wishing that I was in a shelter about 200 feet below the ground.  For everyone thought that they (the Germans) would return, but they didn’t.  We waited some minutes, and then we went out into the Courts to look at the craters.  There were 4 or 5 and they were not small.  A rumour went round that the tuck shop had been smashed, and that sweets were lying about all over the road, but since there were not very many sweets in the shop, no lone much cared or believed this rumour.

Then we all went to our houses, but we were not allowed through the Headmaster’s Garden as there was a time bomb there. So the people in my house went right down past Mr Thompson’s House [Westcott House] and up Richmond Road, and there we came to a scene of more devastation.  Telephone wires lying all over the road, 5 bomb craters all around the house, an ambulance driving away with a dead man inside it [Arthur James Lintern, aged 62, died in Mr Clephan Palmer’s garden at ‘South Hill’, Richmond Road], this was all enough to give one the feeling that he had had enough for one day.  That was all that night. Many people expected that there would be another raid on Sherborne for there were quite a few fires.

There were in all some 350 bombs dropped in Sherborne district, but a very small percentage of that number managed to hit anything.  About 12 houses were completely smashed, and about 200 had some slight damage.  18 people lost their life in this, while not a immensely heavy raid, yet a very big one for a town of Sherborne’s size.  Lenthay district was plastered with bombs, and it was very lucky that not more people were killed.  Newlands road had several houses smashed.  Thus ended a very unpleasant experience for everyone, and one that I hope I will never go through again.

Ralph Alan Woodhams HICKS (b.1926)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1940-July 1944, Upper 6th.
Age on 30 September 1940: 14.

On the afternoon of Monday, period 5, I was having Greek in Room 10 with Mr Bensly [William James Bensly (1874-1943) assistant master 1905-1913, 1919-1934], when the air raid siren went. Mr Bensly said, “Get on with your work”, which we did.  The boys in the room were Jones, Aitken, Prowse, Fairhead, Sykes, Wood, Davis, & myself.  At 10 minutes to five, we heard the rattle of machine gun fire, & the doors & windows vibrated with the noise.  The thud of bombs was audible, & suddenly the 4 bombs fell in the Courts, & 1 outside the Carrington Buildings.  Every single bit of glass was blown in & the air was full of flying glass & falling bits of ceiling & dust.  Dust that got into your eyes, your ears, your nose, your mouth, & into your lungs. I choked & bumped my head against the bottom of the desk, for Mr Bensly had told us to get under our desks.  I heard Fairhead calling for me, & we found each other. At last after about half a minute, we extricated ourselves from the debris & went underneath the stairs until the raid was over.  Then I went up to Mr Hey’s house [The Green] turned left down Greenhill, went on past the Girls’ School, first left, & so through the fields back to the House.  The only thing that I felt was being a bit shaken for about half an hour after the bombs had fallen.

Charles Joseph Winchester HORWOOD (1923-2000)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1937-December 1941.
Age on 30 September 1940: 17.

‘My experience of Sherborne’s Air Raid’.
Never will I forget Sept 30th 1940 when Sherborne had its first proper air raid. I had come up from School as I was in one of the fire squads.  I had just put my books away and had got my gas mask, when I was told there was an imaginary fire up in the Becher dormitory.  After being five minutes up there, I was told that there was another fire down in the Bennett [dormitory].  I was just helping another chap unroll the hose down there, when I heard a thump.  I thought it was some silly ass who had dropped a fire bucket.  But I was soon mistaken as the thumps came louder and the house began to shake. I guessed that these thumps were bombs so I yelled ‘get down on your faces chaps they are bombs’.  I knew that we weren’t very safe, as glass would come down upon us from the Benett dormitory windows and also from the passage windows.

Suddenly the bombs stopped for a few seconds, so I said ‘Let’s go down to the shelter, as it will be safer down there’.  There was just enough time for us to get down the stairs, which I have never been down so fast in all my life here, when there was a colossal row. It seemed as if the Jerry’s were choosing the house as their target.  But to make matters worse, some other chaps were already lying on the ground, so I flung myself on some poor unfortunate individual.  When the bombs which fell in Mr Palmer’s garden and in Mr Wormwell’s garden had landed the day room door went in and out.  I could actually see it, as there was no mattress up against it during this particular incident.  Then I looked up at the other end to see tiles and earth falling off the roof.  After the bombing had ceased, I thought that one part of the house had been hit, but I was glad to hear no one was hurt.  The whole bombardment seemed to me to have lasted for three and a half minutes, but I know that I am wrong in that estimate.  I don’t think I would like to go through it again, as it was too close for my liking.  But one thing I was glad of, and that was that I wasn’t on the top floor when the bombing began. If it was not for the fire in the Benett I would have been up there.

Anthony Ilbert INCHBALD (1923-1943)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) May 1937-July 1941, 6th form, Barnes Elocution prize 1940, 1941, House Prefect, Lance-Corporal in JTC, PT Instructor, member of the Duffers.
Age on 30 September 1940: 17.

I was in the Lower library at the time, as I was told to remain there when the siren went. I am glad that I did as perhaps in the circumstances I could not have chosen a safer place.  It was an English period and I distinctly remember discussing the bitterness of Dr Johnson’s relations with Lord Chesterfield.  Before long my mind began to wander – I am convinced that I was in a state of expectancy, a dread anticipation.  It is hard to believe this but many is the time that I have foretold a crisis and this one of the biggest crises of my life.  There was an air of tension and with ears pricked, I nervously awaited one of the most unpleasant nightmares that I hope I shall ever experience.

At the first roar of distant planes my heart leaped.  The still more distant thuds that soon followed seemed almost automatic.  The whole room awoke and for a moment I caught the horror written on every face.  Someone shouted “Get under the table”.  I lost no time and together we crowded against the floor.  Crash upon crash and nearer and nearer it came. The floor shuddered and those great stone walls that look so very strong swayed like paper.  The nose was terrific but still it grew louder.

Many thoughts flashed across my mind.  For one thing I was quite certain that the next crash would be the end of all things.  Louder and louder it came, like some Olympian thunderstorm, but still the ceiling held.  Shivering with terror, I turned towards God and prayed, never as I have prayed before, imploring and beseeching that my life might be spared.  Bodies closed in on all sides but the sound of their voices was lost in the tumult.  I strained every muscle in my body – I was determined to live.  Before long, my prayer was answered and the noise died away.  There was silence.  “That’s the end”, someone cried and filled with relief and thanksgiving, I emerged from under the table, still trembling from the shock, but oh, so infinitely happy.

Patrick Gerald Basil JACKSON (1923-2002)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) May 1937-December 1941, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 17.

When the air raid warning went I got my coast and started to go leisurely up to the house hoping that I would see an aeroplane on the way up, but I was disappointed.  When I arrived at the house I went upstairs to the upper study passages and got a book and a chair out of my study, and put the chair in between two study doors.  Most of the rest of the Home Guard members were there also.  A fire practice was going on at the time, and while I was reading a book the house began to shake and I saw that the people who had been practising were running down from the top floor & put that down to be the cause of the vibrating.  But the noise soon got louder, but we did not fully realise what was happening and one member of the community optimistically said “Oh! It is only shrapnel from the anti-aircraft guns.”  By this time there was a fearful noise going on & we crawled to the tuck boxes, which were further away from the window, and lay as flat as we could.  Now the floor boards seemed to be jumping about & dust arose in clouds.  I saw through the window that a quantity of tiles and mud were falling off the roof and also some plaster or something came down the stairs.  When the noise had subsided we ran downstairs to the lower study passage where it was safer.  But as nothing more happened we went outside.  The yard was full of mud and tiles thrown out from bombs near at hand and a cloud of dust seemed to envelop the town, very like a ground mist.  I picked up some corrupted iron fencing which I was told was bits of German aeroplane, but which were found out to be the parts of Mr Palmer’s fencing. Nobody seemed worried just excited, but they did not wish it to happen again.

Gwynne Douglas JAMES (1924-2003)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) May 1938-July 1942, 6th form, School Prefect, XI 1942.
AGE ON 30 SEPTEMBER 1940: 16.

‘Account of Raid on Sherborne’.
I was down at school when the siren went during English. We sighed – with relief or disappointment & wandered I am afraid to say rather slowly up to the House.  There was not the sound of an aeroplane to be heard, in fact it was just the same as many other raids we had been having & we were rather bored with them.  When we got to the house, instead of wasting time we had an ARP practices.  I was in MO squad & we had quite a successful practice; we got downstairs & were standing around in the passage waiting for the “All Clear”.  Suddenly I noticed the Reading Room door begin to shake, at first I thought it must be the other squad coming downstairs in a hurry, but I soon realised that I was wrong. Somebody yelled that it was Ack-Ack fire, but I thought otherwise as it got louder & began to shake the house. We tumbled into the passage & crouched down with our heads to the centre almost on to pf each other, the dayroom door was open, but somebody managed to shut it.  I remember being told the day before by Mr Andrews [Arnold James Parkes Andrews (1895-1973) assistant master 1920-1960]that the best way to relieve pressure on the eardrums was to wallow: luckily I remembered this & told the people around me to do likewise.  Between the swallows I jammed a book into my mouth.  I remember looking towards the end of the passage amid the din & seeing a cascade of rubbish falling off the roofs.  I thought the house must be falling down & looked up to watch the roof cave in. It ended as quickly as it began & we sorted ourselves out. The air was thick with dust. Somebody tried the light but of course it was off.  We then went upstairs to clear up. I was amazed to see a bomb crater in the road, because I had thought that the house could never have stood it, but there it was still standing with 7 bomb craters within 80 yards of it.  Next I went outside & saw 6 Gloster Gladiators flying round & one parachute floating down.  Later some Spitfires dived over.  After that I started to clear up the mess.

The main impression on me was of the tremendous pressure, & surprisingly little noise. Anyhow, in a way I was glad of the experience.

Robert Anthony KEABLE-ELLIOTT (b.1924)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) May 1938-July 1942, 6th form.
AGE ON 30 SEPTEMBER 1940: 15.

‘Our Air Raid’. 2/11/40. 
I was in the dining room with the First Aid Squad when I heard the roar of many planes overhead. A few minutes later I heard what sounded like machine gun fire, and which was actually many bombs in the distance.  A few seconds later the blackout screens started shaking, and with the word ‘bombs’ on our lips, we were under the table as one man. As I was under the table, with the bombs falling closer and closer, and the blackout screens crashing backwards and forwards, my feelings were mixed.  Firstly I thought here goes, this is the end.  And reset that I was convinced I did not want to die, and it was a pity to die so soon. By now the bombs were on us, and one landed so close that we all thought it was a direct hit, we all had exactly the same reactions. All of us said at the same time, “Keep calm.” This may sound rather like the calm [?] in a Saffen book, but it is the truth.  For myself I had one thought at that moment, I must on no account get panic. By then there was an appalling noise of bursting bombs and falling rubble, and I don’t mind saying I was badly rattled.  However I said a prayer and hoped and by some miracle came out unhurt.  When it had passed we heard a shout of “Hooray we have been bombed!” from the kitchen, and we crept out from beneath the table, only shaken. As there were no casualties we cleared up debris.

Peter Stewart LANE (later Lord Lane of Horsell) (1925-2009)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1938-July 1941, Exhibitioner, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 15.

‘The Raid’.
‘English’ seems to be an unlucky period, for several times this term the warning has sounded during that period and we have had to go back to the House. On this particular Monday the siren went at 4.17 so I leisurely packed up my books and went up to the House, collecting my ‘mac’ from the pegs by the Art School stairs.  I arrived up at the House at about twenty past four, collected my gas-mask and suitcase and sat down in the little passage outside Mr Ross’s study [Alexander Hamelin Trelawny-Ross (1884-1967) assistant master 1911-1946, housemaster of Lyon House 1914-1946].

Bush and I were sitting reading there, some of the Fire Squads were having a practise, but we were not wanted, when all of a sudden the Reading Room door began to rattle violently – we stood and looked at it, hypnotised by its rattling, and for about three seconds nobody said a word, then somebody said “Lie down on the floor”, and although my recollections of the next few minutes are extremely hazy, I seem to remember lying on the floor with my head under the bench looking up at the window to see if it was going to break.  I was no conscious of any noise of distant explosions, nor did I hear any whistling from the bombs – I suppose that the noise was so continuous, and events moved so quickly that all noises were blended into one.  However there seemed to be one ‘crash’ louder than the others, and the two skylights in the Reading Room came down with a tinkle of broken glass.  The all was quiet, I rushed to the Dayroom, picked up a brush and then Lang and I began to clear up the Reading Room.  We looked out of the window. What a mess everything looked!! But I did not really think that any bombs had been very near.  After sweeping up various bits of plaster, glass and other foreign bodies, and not seeing anyone else around, I went outside to investigate.  I was amazed that the bombs were so near, and yet had not hit us.  It was indeed a miracle.  I was also just in time to see a parachute slowly drifting down in Thornford direction. We cheered thinking it was a German, but later we found it was a British pilot.  It never occurred to me that there might be bombs elsewhere than round us and I was amazed when I saw the havoc down at the school and in the town. It certainly was a miracle that so few were killed.

‘The Raid’.
“What is the point of all these warnings. Nothing ever happens”. We were sitting in the passage up at the House, the siren had sounded about ten minutes previously, and we were comfortably settled with our books. There were noises aloft, and the doors began to rattle.  “What’s happening now?” One voice out of the dim spoke, “lie down”, it said.  Then came six distinct explosions, a tinkling of broken glass, a cloud of dust, and silence.  Nobody moved. But how near were the bombs; what was the damage?  It was a surprise for me to see how really close they had been, for lying in the passage the possibility of any bombs falling near us never entered my head.  Everyone seemed to be in a kind of daze.  Where a quarter of an hour ago there had been a road there were now craters and lumps of stone.  It seemed almost incredible. But the sight of a parachute slowly descending over Lillington did much to restore our shaken morale.  Little things suddenly seemed to assume a great importance.  What an amazing thing that that lamp post is still standing!  But what of the buildings down at the School?  I am afraid that the idea of their being damaged simply never entered my head, and I regarded the bombs as rather belonging to our own little “Blitzkrieg”, completely detached from any other part of Sherborne.

Rodolph Anthony Maule LANG (1923-2002)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1937-December 1941.
Age on 30 September 1940: 16.

‘Sherborne’s memorable day’.
It was on the 30th September that some of Hitler’s crates came to Sherborne and wrought such havoc.  At half past four, in the middle of a History period, the siren blew its wailing note.  At once I was on the move and tearing for the house like a rabbit to its hole. On arriving at the House I was told that Evans had ordered a practice to see how smoothly the Incendiary and Fire Squads worked.  I, who have to sweep up broken glass, went to the cupboard by the kitchen and procured my brush. This done I went upstairs only to discover that the practise was almost over and that there was absolutely nothing for us to do. However, as I know and you do to, this did not last long.

On the way down the kitchen stairs to return the brush, which I had just borrowed, I met Matron. She was frantically trying to open a window but with no avail. Seeing this I asked if I could open it for her, to which I got a reply, “If you would”.  No sooner had I opened the window than, away in the distance, I heard the steady fall of bombs.  The moment I heard it I left the window and simply tore downstairs and made my way to the passage outside Mr Ross’s door [Alexander Hamelin Trelawny-Ross (1884-1967) assistant master 1911-1946, housemaster of Lyon House 1914-1946]. When I arrived there I listened and the noise of the bombs grew louder and louder until I thought that we would be the devil’s next victim.  Glass falling was down here and there; tiles were coming down in the thousands.  The passage was full of dust and the smell of cordite from the bombs was not too pleasant; all this, plus the noise of bombs was, I must say, a bit terrifying at the time, but are we any the worse for it now, I don’t think so.  I know that I am not, in fact I think myself honoured to be in the front line and fighting for your country.

When the bombs were actually falling I was not lying down at all, but was bending down, which, looking back on it now, seems rather a foolish thing to have done.  I have learnt my lesson. After the blue-pencil Germans, who have caused so much inconvenience to so many people and families since, had passed the House I at once set to to tidy up the debris, which Hitler had so kindly left.  I, with my broom, started to sweep all the glass into a pile in the reading room. When I had done this I went to the front part of the House to see if our study was intact.  Luckily for us absolutely nothing whatsoever had happened to it. On looking out of the door I saw a parachutist coming down, but unfortunately it was one of our own pilots.

After having done some clearing up, although we weren’t meant to, ‘Curiosity killed the Cat’, and I went outside to see what had happened.  To my amazement I discovered that there were three bomb craters in the road, one on the left of the house and two on the right.  I firmly believed that a number of bombs like that would have brought a wall down, but I was not right.  My wanderings weren’t for long, for I was called back to clear up the yard and get rid of the mess, at least a great deal of it, before darkness fell.  We made a pretty good effort at it. As there was no light we went to bed early.

Richard George Ashley LEMAN (1927-2018)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1940-December 1944, 6th form, XV 1944.
Age on 30 September 1940: 13.

‘Sept 30th 1940’.
In the afternoon of Sept. 30th I was doing chemistry when the siren went.  Soon after we had to move to the cloisters and I took the opportunity to go to the Pound [now the computer room in the library].  After a short time bombs started to drop and someone yelled out to everyone to lie down.  Then, apparently, more bombs fell, which must have been those in the courts and the blackout from the windows came down and some of the glass was blown in a little.  The Pound was filled with thick dust which was very unpleasant but we still had to keep lying down.  Everyone seemed to be talking as hard as they could when the noise stopped.  After remaining like this for some minutes we were told to go back to our houses and I started to retrieve my books which were covered in dust on the floor.  This was not very easy as the lights had gone out when the bombs fell.  Then I went back to Lyon House, which had also been damaged slightly.  Immediately we had to do Hall after having cleared the glass off our desks.  After hall we started clearing up the glass in the rest of the house and generally tidying up the place.  The bombing did not do any serious damage to the house so we able to sleep in it that night but later we had to turn out because of a supposed unexploded bomb in Richmond Road.

Theodore Lionel Fabian MANDER (1926-1990)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1940-March 1942.
AGE ON 30 SEPTEMBER 1940: 14.

‘T. Mander’s experiences in the Air-Raid of 30th Sept 1940’.
I was being taken in English by Mr Bell [Lionel Borradaile Bell (1890-) assistant master 1934-1945] in classroom 5 when the Air Raid warning went at 4.45 and we went down to classroom 4, and there we carried on with our work until 5.10 when we heard rumbling in the distance coming rapidly nearer.  They got louder & louder & then there were 3 whistles in quick succession.  It was when the door started shaking as if it was being rattled off its hinges that we were told to get under our desks.  We all got down in a hurry and as soon as we were all down there was the most almighty bang and the room filled with smoke and carbon dioxide.  While the room was full of smoke a large pile of dictionaries & English books fell on my head and a lump of earth fell on my neighbour’s (Miller).  After the filth had settled on the floor we found only one window broken, the glass had landed out of harm’s way in the middle & the earth had probably done the breaking.  There was only one boy out of the whole lot frightened, for it was his first raid & he did not show it at all. None of us were hurt or shaken & we must heartily thank God that we were not all killed.

Donald Richard MILLER (b.1926)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) May 1940-July 1944.
Age on 30 September 1940: 14.

‘My experiences in the air raid’.
It was in the afternoon on Monday the thirtieth of September when the bombs fell. I was in number seven classroom when we were doing clauses when the air raid siren started.  We went downstairs into number four classroom. When the master who as taking the sixth form at German heard some planes he told us to get under the desk. I got under a desk but there was not much room so I got away from the place and stupidly sat under a window but put a book on my head.  The door started rattling so I knew there were bombs falling already so I drew my head away from the wall and opened my mouth.  The whole room began to move and when I looked up next I saw three big craters in the Courts.

Donald MOFFAT-WILSON (1923-1944)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) 1937-1941, 6th form, School Prefect, 1st Class Athletics, XXX Blazer, PT Instructor with Badge, Sergeant in JTC, member of Duffers.
Age on 30 September 1940: 17.

‘Bomb Experiences’.
It was not the first Monday afternoon siren in the term and I was pretty “fed-up” missing a favourite lesson for the second time.  My form had descended to the classroom below where another form was enjoying a maths lesson.  After about a quarter of an hour the drone was heard, & the master murmured something about the hum of Heinkels, and then went on with the maths – but not for long. In the distance we heard a series of “crumps” which made each boy dive under his desk.  Then thirty seconds of concentrated hell, and it was over.

After about five minutes the Headmaster [Alexander Ross Wallace (1891-1982) Headmaster 1934-1950], clad in a dressing gown, looked in to see if anybody was hurt – no one was, though the room had been sprayed with glass.  When the bomb landed in the road outside the Carrington Buildings I didn’t feel too happy; but when I heard the next one whistling down I thought the end really had come. It missed me by about fifteen yards, at which I was very much relieved.  It was only during the few seconds in which this bomb was falling that I was really frightened; before it, I was definitely thrilled, and after it I seemed to think it funny, which is rather strange.  I suppose my nerves had had a bit of a wrench, and I may have been feeling very slightly hysterical. Anyway it has taught me to fear nothing but a direct hit.

‘Impressions of September 30th 1940’.
I suppose I will never forget this day as long as I live; every detail is printed indelibly in my memory, probably because it was the first time that I had been “under fire”.  I have had similar experiences since, and they have left me quite undisturbed, and my nerves perfectly sound.  I feel I will never have any more fear, actual fear, of German bombs; it has been all knocked out of me by the thoughts of those bombs which rained unmercifully on “Little Old Sherborne” on that sultry September afternoon.

On looking back, I was not nearly so surprised as I should have been when I saw so many familiar sights shattered and blasted unmercifully.  I seem to have taken the whole procedure rather as a matter of course, owing, I expect, to the fact that my nerves were too much jangled to allow me to concentrate on any one subject for any length of time.  I remember making my way up to Lyon House, carefully avoiding trailing telegraph wires, and do not seem to have been very surprised at finding three craters in the road past the House, and one side of the Girls’ School Sanatorium missing.  But as darkness fell I was aware of a feeling of terrible depression, brought on, I expect, by the prospect of no bed, no water, and candlelight – and perhaps more than anything, by the disorder on all sides.  That night was, for me, the most miserable I have ever spent, till 4.14am, when the two time bombs exploded, and I fell into a sound sleep till morning.

The strain of the next few days was greatly increased by the task of trying to concentrate on school work and routine.  The masters seemed infatiguable, as if they did not know what had happened, though it must have been worse for them with all the responsibilities on their shoulders, especially the housemasters.  For the next ten days I had to take the occupants of my dormitory (twenty ”Babies”) across the fields and along the road to The Green, hoping against hope that the siren would not utters its piercing wail before we reached our sleeping quarters. Luckily it never did.

My impressions of the bombing are, then, cold fear as the bombs whistled to earth; immediate reaction of excitement and laughter, cheerfulness till night-fall, which brought exhaustion and nervousness with it; and for the next few days cheerfulness, but finding it very difficult to concentrate.

Hugh Raymond MUMFORD (1924-)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1938-July 1942, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 15.

‘The Air Raid’.
We were in number one classroom, at the foot of the tower, and, a few minutes before the bombs, someone was making a noise with a book, which, he claimed with contempt, was frightening Mr Dare [Albert George Dare (1883-1964) temporary assistant master 1940-1946] considerably.  After laughter which accompanied this sally had died down, there was a short silence. Then the door began rattling violently, which made me think someone wished to come in.  Actually, Mr Dare came in after a few seconds, though he was not, I afterwards learnt, responsible for the noise.

He announced that bombs were dropping, and that we had better take cover under the desks.  I thought this was most amusing at first, not having been in a very violent raid before.  Soon, however, things began to get more lively, and after a few faint thuds, which were followed by others gradually louder and louder, there was a faint hiss, followed by a loud report, which seemed very near, and which now I think must have been the bomb in Randolph’s garden [Abbeylands].  I was amused no longer.  I remember wondering whether anything could possibly come nearer, and still miss us.  Within half a second my thought was answered by a distinct hiss, followed by  a very loud report, which had the effect of compressing the ear drums in a most uncomfortable way.  After noticing that apart from a few panes of glass, there were also some small stones, which had been blown through the window, I remember wondering whether it was all over.  No more reports could be heard, and we crawled out from under the desks. Then Colonel Davson [Harold John Hunter Davson (1880-1961) temporary assistant master 1940-1944] came in, saying that there were craters in the Courts, and that we had had a remarkably lucky escape.

‘The Air Raid’.
I was in the top of the tower when the siren went, and we all came down and sat in number one classroom.  After we had been there for some time Mr Dare [Albert George Dare (1883-1964) temporary assistant master 1940-1946] left the room. Then the doors began to shake and rattle, and soon Mr Dare came in and told us all to get underneath the desks.  I was not, then, at all frightened, for I had not guessed the full significance of his order. After lying for one or two seconds, I heard some distant thuds and then some more, gradually becoming louder as they drew nearer.  Then I heard several almost simultaneous hisses, terminating in a very loud crash.  This was at once followed by another immense crash, which seemed not so much a noise as a sensation of compression in the ears.  One or two pieces of glass fell near me, and a stone dropped in through the window, striking the ground about two feel from me. After the one deafening report they became gradually fainter and fainter, and then stopped.  I can remember having my eye fixed on the mullion of the window, and wondering if and when it would collapse.  I was very frightened.

Soon after the noise had cased, Collier put his head out of the window, and said “Good heavens, there’s four craters in the courts!”  We were all astonished. Then Colonel Davson [Harold John Hunter Davson (1880-1961) temporary assistant master 1940-1944] came in and told us what a bit of luck we had had in not being hit.  After sitting in the classroom for one or two minutes more, the door opened, and the Headmaster came in and told us that as there was an unexploded bomb behind the gym we had to move to the cloisters, and from there we went up to the House to do Hall.

On arriving at the House we found to our astonishment that it was surrounded with bomb craters, and that they had left their mark on the House in the shape of fourteen thousand – this figure was ascertained afterwards = and a good many smashed windows.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this very remarkable incident was the way in which it was taken. So far was it from frightening most people, that they considered it a blessed relief from tiresomely monotonous routine. After my first fright, and that was very thorough, I thought of it in terms of my chances of getting home.  That night, however, which I spent under the House Reading Room table, I felt rather shaky again, and I felt that I should not welcome a repetition of such an experience, especially at night.

Frank Ian NICHOLLS (1923-2011)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1937-July 1941, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 17.

One afternoon, whilst contemplating the fickleness of the English language with our Housemaster [Alexander Hamelin Trelawny-Ross (1884-1967) assistant master 1911-1946, housemaster of Lyon House 1914-1946], we heard the rising moan of the air raid siren.  We rose from our places and commenced the usual trek up to the house.  After running about half way, we grew weary and finished at a walk.  We all sat down in the passage fussing and fidgeting like a lot of old hens till we were comfortable. In about five minutes someone suggested an incendiary bomb squad practices, so we went and played with stirrup pumps in the loft till we grew bored.  The squad had just carried all the impedimenta downstairs again and I was standing outside the Morcom [dormitory] talking to Sproule, the observer, and looking round for anything left behind, when I heard a series of distant explosions.  I was cogitating upon whether they were bombs or guns when I heard a closer batch of explosions. It was decided they were bombs.  Next second I heard a whistle and a roar, then another, then another, closer and closer, the house shaking more and more, then a screech and a terrific crash of breaking glass, bursting bomb, and debris.  Superimposed on it was a sound like something hurtling down a tube, the very little bang, it was mainly the screech and roar of air, the splintering of wood and the breaking of glass.  A bomb had landed twenty yards away in the road.  The floor leaped up about three inches to me, beds and all left the floor then hit it again with a thump, and there was such a colossal thundering noise from the roof that I thought it was collapsing.  Plaster showered down, but then the rumbling subsided, and I was still unburied, the floor was level and the dormitory whole.  I heard the scream of two bombs coming almost the whole way down, but no explosion.  It flashed across my mind, “Thank God! Two have missed anyway”, and a wave of relief swept over me, but the whistling and the thundering continued as bombs burst in the Courts, in Cheap Street, and up Newlands.

As suddenly as it started the racket stopped, there was perfect silence, and I was still alive.  I crawled out from under my bed, it was the one just inside the door on the left, and staggered out into the passage.  Sproule was picking himself up, and I have never seen anyone look so surprised.  I was halfway down the top flight of stairs, stopped, and looked out where a window had been, straight down into a huge, or apparently huge, bomb crater.  I was utterly amazed that the bombs were so close; I thought they were in the prep field or further away even than that.  I rushed down stairs, told Mr Ross that as far as I could see the roof was all right, then barged my way passed the people in the passage who were still feeling themselves all over, and went out to see if I could be of any assistance to the neighbours. I was greeted in the yard by Mrs Palmer with her maid, shouting that there was a dead man in the garden.  I handed her over to Mr Ross and ran down through the garden to Thorn’s house to see if he was hurt.  I climbed over a heap of wreckage, caused, I discovered later, by a time bomb, and found both he and his wife uninjured, though busy having hysterics.  I promised to come down and help him soon, and ran up the road, negotiated a bomb crater in the road, a dead gardener [Arthur James Lintern, aged 62, died in Mr Clephan Palmer’s garden at ‘South Hill’, Richmond Road], messy but not sickening, telegraph and power wires, and went down to the school with Rice to fetch Mr Palmer [Clephan Palmer (1881-1971) assistant master 1905-1946, lived at ‘South Hill’, Richmond Road].  I staggered into the wrecked science buildings [Carrington Buildings], but he was not there, so we went into the Courts, now full of holes, and found him.

Later, we began to clear up the house and the yard, which was about two inches deep in earth and Mr Palmer’s corrugated iron fence, or rather the remains of it.  We continued thus till dark, which came on us early as the air, especially immediately after the raid, was full of dust and smoke.  The stench of explosives was everywhere, aircraft did a Victory Roll over the School, and a man, one of ours, I saw coming down by parachute.    The mess was complete; the town was a shambles for a couple of days, but was not panicky.  At last we slept, crowded all on the first floor, as the siren was out of action.

What were my thoughts?  As I dived under the bed, I thought, at last it has come, I am going to be bombed. Then as they grew nearer I got a bit frightened; the one on the front gate scared me stiff, and I thought how little protection was above me; the one in the road made me think no house can stand up to this, and I knew if the next one hit I did not stand a chance.  The rest you know.  It was an excitement; a day I shall never forget, but we can take it, and take it again and again if necessary, to beat that swine.

Derek William John O’BRIEN (1924-2013)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1938-July 1942, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 16.

‘The bombing of Sherborne’.
On September 30th 1940 afternoon school started as usual, for me at any rate, and the History period started as on previous Mondays.  But at about 4.45 pm the siren sounded and, being in No.3 fire squad, I had to go up to the House with the rest of No.1, 2 and 3.  After we had settled down in the strengthened passage, a practice for the first squads was suggested, and in due course an imaginary incendiary was reported on the top floor.  So I took my squad, the official leader being ill, up to our position by the hose etc. next to the upper wash basins in case we were needed if the fire spread.  It did not apparently, but another “fire” broke out on the first floor, which No.3 squad had to attend to. As the hose was unrolling, noises began which I thought were the other squads coming down from the top floor at the double; but they became rather too loud for that, and we decided amongst ourselves that they were “eggs” being “laid” by the Germans. We all flattened ourselves against the wall, at the same time almost lying down, in case any glass should come out, for we were near the “Bennett” dormitory windows which open onto the passage.  Then the bombs started to come unpleasantly close so I dashed down to the passage and flung myself on to the already bending figures.  Then came about six almighty explosions and glass, tiles, mud and plaster hurtled all over the place.  When I saw how near the bombs had been I was surprised for I imagined them to be at the far side of the Prep field, or at the bottom of the garden.

Alan Wallace PATERSON (1926-2005)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1939-July 1944, Scholar, Upper 6th, School Prefect.
Age on 30 September 1940: 14.

‘An air-raid’.
There was a sound of many people running along a wooden corridor. I thought it was a fire squad having a practice action stations.  In actual fact it was the bombs Lenthay way.  The fun began when I got downstairs.  There was a bang not very far away and about five people ran downstairs.  Then the ones of the close vicinity landed. I could have sworn I saw at least two doors curve inwards almost double.  The bangs seemed all about the same distance away.  There was no terrific noise, as we had been led to believe.  There would be a bang not much louder than a very heavy door being shut [smartly?]; then a tinkling of glass and a rattling of tiles followed by another bang.  A strange quietness reigned when the last bang had sounded.  There was too a strange smell outside of wet half charred wood mingled with gas. I was surprised at the damage done.  Judging by an event in the holidays, I thought it was either by the railway or up on the Yeovil road. If that is all the Germans can do then, it is funny, but that is hardly to be hoped for.

Richard Neville Franklyn PEARSE (1926-1993)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1939-July 1943.
Age on 30 September 1940: 14.

‘A Bombing Raid on Sherborne.’
On Monday afternoon the 30th of September, the usual air raid warning went at about half past four. It was at the beginning of the chemistry lesson, the warning went and as usual the Fire Squads went to their respectives, I being in number 3 fire squad went up to the house taking my books, hat and coat from the Science Buildings and walked up to the house, half way up I thought it would be funny if they started dropping bombs.  At 4.45, we started to have fire practice. Number 3 squad was ordered to go up to the top floor, this consisted of O’Brien (acting captain), Horwood, Duxbury, David and myself. After we had fooled round there for a little time we were ordered to put a fire out in the Bennett [dormitory].  Just as we reached the hose, we heard the first bombs. Everyone stopped where they were, then O’Brien ordered us to keep low and make for the downstairs passage.  We reached the end of the passage by the Bennett dormitory.  Then Horwood ran across the landing and down the stairs. I followed a few minutes after.  I never went downstairs so fast in all my life.  At the bottom everyone was crowded at the end nearest the dining room and as everyone was kneeling down or lying down it formed a kind of scrummage.  After I got there people began to pour in from all sides of the house, some flung themselves on top of others, lying down flat as soon as they arrived.  I had by this time gathered my wits and listened to the explosions, but I only heard one whistling of a bomb.  Then when it had all ceased we managed to sort ourselves out, we stood in our respective fire squads.  David handed round some chocolate to each member of the squad.  Some people had managed to nip out into the yard and came back saying the yard was full of debris.  I was surprised, wondering where all of it had come from, because I hadn’t thought the bombs had been so near.  Then we were allowed outside, but I never saw the bomb craters till afterwards when I was busy clearing out the Gibbons dormitory.  It was a marvellous sight to see the bomb craters straddled all round the house. Then when I managed to get out and see the bomb craters it was great fun finding bomb splinters, the biggest one in my collection was found by the bike sheds.  Then I viewed the damaged done the next day and I then saw how lucky we had been to escape.

John Robert PIM (1924-1997)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1938-1942.
Age on 30 September 1940: 16.

‘The Raid (Mon 30th Sept 1940).’
The sirens were sounding again. We took no notice, rather a lark really, another form tumbled down from upstairs, the master went on teaching – drawing circles and tangents on the board.  “Get under the desks if anything falls” he told us, as if Sherborne would be bombed anyway! “Here they come” someone said, the distant thuds came closer and we got under the desks, grinning because we still did not believe we were in any danger.  Then the crashes came closer and the windows crashed in, yellow dust and fumes everywhere.  Then when they cleared away we saw that it was a fine afternoon still. But the explosions gradually died away and we took cover in the cloisters in case we were going to receive a second dose.  Then came the rumours – “Carrington Buildings gone!” they said, and, when the ‘all clear’ had been given and I was walking back to the House I was told “The back of Lyon House is in ruins!” but as I walked up the hill, past the time bombs that cause us so much trouble when we knew about it, I saw that our house seemed its robust self, minus its tiles perhaps, but nevertheless intact.  Our anger has not yet been expressed, what the School feels about this bit of “Foul Play” by the enemy can never be truly expressed.  We are much too English, here, to let ourselves go about it! Perhaps it is just as well.

Herbert Richard READ (1926-1972)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) May 1940-March 1944.
Age on 30 September 1940: 14.

‘My experience in The Sherborne Raid’.
On Monday afternoon the 30th of September the air raid warning went. At the time I was doing History in room 16.  Our form went to the classroom below where the lesson was continued. After we had been there for about three or four minutes, the windows and door began to rattle violently; then I distinguished amid the rattling of the windows the drone of German aeroplanes overhead.  By this time we were all lying on the floor under our desks.  Then the bombs began to rain down on all sides, blowing the glass from the windows in on top of us.  This lasted about a minute, but seemed to me like five.  When the bombing had stopped the air was packed with dust, inside the room and out, this was because it had not rained for many days and consequently the ground was very dry.  When we thought the planes had passed over we made our way to the cloisters where the rest of the school had congregated.  On arriving there I found everyone in high spirits and very excited because three bombs had dropped in the Courts.

Maurice Alan RICKETTS (1925-1999)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1939-March 1943, Exhibitioner, Upper 6th form, XI 1942, Hockey 1943.
Age on 30 September 1940: 15.

‘My experiences in the air-raid on Sherborne 30th Sept. 1940’, 2/11/40.
I was first period on Monday afternoon, and I was in the lower library.  At about 4.25 the siren went, but no one took much notice.  A few people came in to do some work with us & we continued quite merrily. When we heard the first of the raid, I think we must have got a “Place” in the “Under the Table Stakes”.

It’s hard to analyse my feelings exactly, but I know I rather wanted it to stop and I know I also thought the room was falling in, but two things especially stick out. When, in the middle of a particularly long whistle, the lights all suddenly went out, I had the most awful fright; I thought the sudden blackness was a sort of foreboding of what was to come. Another thing that sticks out in my mind is that, in the confusion of it all, I suddenly thought of my parents, what they were doing, and hoping that they would not go through it.  Another thought that flashed across my mind was that at any rate the Huns in Berlin and Hamburg and so on were going through it as we were, but that it came regularly to them, once a night.  A remark I made to a friend directly after the bombing sounds queer now, “Gosh, those must have been a mile away.”  You can imagine my astonishment when I saw the truth, for on looking out of the window, I saw rubble and rocks lying everywhere, and a thick haze of dust covered everything.

Keith Frederic Athole ROSS (1923-2005)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) January 1937-July 1941, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 17.

‘An air raid on Sherborne.  Sept 30th 1940’.
The warning sounded at about ¼ to 5 in the afternoon during an English period in classroom 14.  The fire squads returned immediately to the house, as instructed but, at that time, nobody knew for certain whether the L.D.V. were meant to do likewise or not.  At any rate, nobody seemed to mind, and so I decided to stay down at the school as I’d already gone up to the house once that day during a warning that morning.  And so I and a few others went down to Mr O’Hanlon’s [Geoffrey O’Hanlon MC (1885-1975) assistant master 1908-1945] classrooms immediately below.  Here General Moberly [Archibald Henry Moberly (1879-1960) assistant master 1939-1945] was teaching Maths to a certificate form.  He made everybody get out of line of the windows, and after reminding us that should any bombs drop the best place was under the desk, he went on with the lesson.  I settled comfortably near a corner on the street side of the room and went on with my book – The “House of Mankind” [The Story of Mankind] by van Loon.  I was glad of the warning because it would mean being able to go on with this book all through most of the French period.

General Moberly had finished the Geometry and was just about to go on with Algebra when distant vibrations announced the arrival of the 1st bomb.  They were unquestionably bombs and so we slid under our desks.  Within 15 seconds they were falling actually in the town.  Actually I didn’t feel very frightened.  It was too sudden, I suppose.  About six months previously, long before Dunkirk, a certain friend had said that he wished, before the end of the war, to experience one air raid for the sake of experience.  I had replied then that I thought that we’d be bound to experience quite a number before we could win, and that he needn’t worry about that!  I remember this then and thought that if we came through this ok it would certainly be a profitable experience; one of those things that would be pleasant afterwards.  On looking around, some looked pretty scared and others not so scared.  The noise was not really so great as I expected it to be, but he vibration was terrific.  A bursting bomb is quite unlike anything else.  It is not a long drawn out affair like a burst of thunder, but a sudden shock like a heavy wave hitting a harbour wall ten times magnified, and then complete quiet.  Occasionally it is followed by a faint noise of a collapsing house.  Falling bombs nearby certainly whistle, but the sound is of such high pitch that it cannot be convincingly mimicked.  Somebody remarked that the town were getting a bad time of it, and someone else said “Have we been bombed?”  Then several landed pretty close – probably those in the Courts.  I remember trying to read my book again which I had with me open under the desk, but that was a bit too much of a good thing and I failed to make any sense out of it.  Needless to say I thought of death, and decided that I wasn’t entirely unprepared to die if necessary, but that I’d distinctly prefer that it shouldn’t be necessary. Actually I was pretty hopeful about coming through and my principal thought was that the sooner that beastly thing was over the better was the chance of survival.  Then there was a particularly loud whistle, almost a shriek, but not quite, which was followed by the biggest explosion of all resulting in most of our windows coming in with a tinkle.  The whole thing bore a remarkable similarity to the air raid scene in Goodbye, Mr Chips (except that nobody was quite such a fool as to stand up reading out Caesar).  That bomb was practically the last one of all and the rooms got densely filled with smoke-like dust and a strong smell of cordite; so much so that somebody said “gas”. I am ashamed to confess that at the moment I half believed what he said and began rapidly to regret that masks are left up at the houses, and began considering that if it really was gas there might be some hope if one breathed as little as possible and made as fast as could to ones house!  By this time we had all become convinced that our classrooms were pretty frail sort of affairs and wished the rather more solid protection of the cloisters, when they returned to bomb again (a thing which they never did, but a good many expected them to).  We were all moving towards the door when a school prefect appeared from nowhere and told us all to get under the desks again.  This dispelled the gas theory and I cussed myself for ½ believing it, although one was prepared to believe anything.  Soon we all moved to the cloisters.

Richard Christopher Martyn SYKES (1926-2014)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1940-1944, Upper 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 14.

‘My feelings in the raid of September’.
When the warning was given I felt rather more excited as I usually did, for it was something out of the ordinary, then my spirits returned to normal and after some time I forgot the alert.  Whenever a British plane went over we peered out of the window, but when we heard the smooth vibration of the German bombers, I, at least, realised that we had not heard that noise before and the noise came from German engines and even trying as hard as I could, I could not concentrate on my work.  From the windows began rattling and I wondered why on earth they were and I said to myself “It cannot be the vibration of bombs for I cannot hear any and it might be the wind, but there was not a strong enough wind to rattle the windows, as much as they are now, before I came in, and also it seems to me to be a very strange coincidence that the wind and the bombers should both come at the same time.  I thought it might possibly be the droning of the German planes overhead but then as soon as I thought of it, I rejected that idea as being impossible.  Even as I was thinking the answer to what I had been thinking of came to me: I heard the “thud” of a distant bomb but at the time I thought it was Anti-Aircraft fire.  Mr Bensly  [William James Bensly (1874-1943) assistant master 1905-1913, 1919-1934, 1939-1943] told us to get under the desks and I still did not believe it was a bomb.  Soon however I discovered the truth and as bomb after bomb was rained down on us I crouched under the desk, too dazed to think.  I can however remember trying to hold back an involuntary cry as a bomb fell in the road outside, not many yards away from us.  Whether I succeeded or not I do not know.  I think I did.

As soon as the bombs finished dropping I felt very excited and was very surprised to hear bombs had landed in the Courts and as the order came to go to the cloisters I rushed out and hunted for bomb splinters.  I could not hear what the Headmaster said and I followed the rest up to the House where I was very surprised to see the mess the raiders had made there.

Alexander Hamelin TRELAWNY-ROSS (1884-1967)
Assistant master at Sherborne School, 1911-1946.
Housemaster of Lyon House 1914-1946.
Age on 30 September 1940: 56.

‘The Bombing of Sherborne, September 1940’, 2 November 1940.
On Monday, September 30th, 1940, at about 5 pm, the town of Sherborne, Dorset, sustained a considerable amount of damage, resultant from an air raid on the town by bombing aircraft from Germany.  It should be recalled by the reader who may find this account some hundreds of years hence, that at this present time England is at war with Germany and Italy, and we have been fighting since September 3rd, 1939.  To preserve the brevity of this, however, I make no mention of the events of the war, save only to say that the present phase is the bombing of England by Germany and vice-versa, prior to an intended invasion or large-scale land operations by one country or the other.  By the time this come to your notice, you will probably be able to judge between the methods of our two counties and so there will be no need, I hope, to give our feelings about what we believe to be the indiscriminate terrorism now being practised by the enemy.

A warning had been sounded by means of the usual siren – a noise made electrically and having a continuous ‘wailing’ sound of a varying pitch.  We had repaired to our ‘shelter’ in the ground floor passage of Lyon House – one of the boarding houses of Sherborne School – where we have a strengthened ceiling and one surrounded by two walls.  After half an hour of ‘alert’ I wandered to the door leading to the courtyard. This is a practice which is strictly forbidden, it must be confessed, but I did not remain there long as I heard a series of explosions which began in the near distance but quickly came nearer and consequently louder.  By the time the enemy aircraft were over the town, having come from the direction of Yeovil, five miles to our west, we had all realised that high explosive bombs were being dropped upon us. It must be admitted that we were all not a little frightened by the noise of what might be described as a thousand battling rams on the walls.  The building shook with the blast caused by the explosions and we could see masses of debris falling outside a window.  Despite the tremendous noise it is true that no one realised at the time in what great danger we were. After two or three minutes of this, all was quiet again and we began to inspect the damage.  Final assessment of this proved to be, in brief, the following to put it in clear and simple form:
Number of people killed – 18.
Number of people badly wounded – 20.
Not of houses that received any form of damage – 520.
Damage to communications and essential services – extensive.
Our own House had 14,000 tiles replace and a large number of windows have still to be repaired (written November 2nd 1940).

The conduct of boys and staff alike may be said to have been exemplary.  The School itself received considerable damage also.  The raid has been described by experts as the worst of the war that has so far taken place on English soil.

John Pollexfen Trelawny TRELAWNY-ROSS (1926-2013)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1940-July 1944, exhibitioner, Upper 6th form, XI 1944.
Nephew of Alexander Hamelin Trelawny-Ross.
Age on 30 September 1940: 14.

‘My experiences in the Air Raid of 30th September 1940’.
The air raid warning went at 4.30 in the afternoon, and I was in the “Cowshed”.  We were sent to the cloisters where most, or at any rate a fair number, of people go when the alarm sounds, and some of us stayed in the cloisters while others went into the Pound [now the computer room in the library].  Nothing happened for about 20 minutes and I went into the Pound.  Then I heard what I thought might be gunfire in the distance, but it gradually became louder and I realised it was probably bombs.  Mr Hey [Samuel Hey (1904-1977) assistant master 1926-1973] was near the Pound and shouted to us to lie down, which we did pretty quickly.  By this time the bombs were very close and I could plainly hear the whistling as they came down.  The windows all blew in and parts of the ceiling collapsed.  I don’t think it was my imagination, but I believe the walls bulged in and out slightly at each of the close explosions.  The place was filled with dust and we could see it rolling in through the ends of the cloisters in clouds.  Then somebody shouted that there was a bomb crater in the Courts, which we afterwards saw to be rather an understatement.  All this time the explosions were getting fainter in the distance until they finally stopped altogether.

We stayed in our places for some time and then everyone  began to go out.  I suppose a warden had come round and shouted that all was clear, as the sirens didn’t go at all.  (We afterwards discovered that the electricity was cut and that consequently they couldn’t go!).  When I came out I saw that there were 3 or 4 craters in the Courts and a small one, which caused a lot of damage, by the Carrington Buildings.  These were badly damaged as was also the Big Schoolroom.

John Maxwell WARD (1922-2002)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1936-December 1940, Exhibitioner, House Prefect, PT Instructor with Badge, Sergeant in OTC, member of the Duffers.
Age on 30 September 1940: 18.

‘What things an air raid impressed on us’, 2 November 1940.
The afternoon of the last day of September, Monday the thirtieth, left me feeling complacent and very well disposed toward the world in general.  I had just played in a game on the Lower whose early finish enabled me to enjoy a cup of tea leisurely in the study next door; added to this was the comforting feeling that the next period would not necessitate my migrating down to school; kindly premonition also forewarned me that we would have an air raid warning which if long enough in duration, would even save me the postponed journey down to an English period at 5 o’clock.

At 4.30 Mona stared up on her unmelodious chant, half an hour too previous to be ideally timed.  Hearing the noise of approaching aircraft two [?uninitiated] boobs, Mumford and Ward, went out into the yard “to see if we could see anything.”  We saw nothing: this and another important factor, namely apprehension lest the housemaster at the head of his flock should find us thus star-gazing, deterred us from further observation, and sent us to our respective posts to await our charges.  I retired to the Upper Studies with a small volume of selections from Hilaire Belloc, a chair and a cushion.

Not many minutes elapsed before the rest of the Home Guard took up their alert positions in the same passage.  From now on this narrative should continue under the subheading [?EYW], but that cannot be remedied, for I was at the time too preoccupied in what was doing to notice other people’s activities.

The minute hand of my watch had passed the figure eight and was well on its way to quarter to five when “crumps” became audible in the near distance.  My first reaction was that of a confirmed lunatic.  I felt impelled to go to the window to “have a look out” – some sensible fellow promptly advised me otherwise, and as the noise of explosions was most definitely on the crescendo we floored ourselves without further ado.  As I lay on the floor I saw before my eyes a large pile of official A.R.P. instructions – I metaphorically ran through the lot and, in the procedure, remembered one thing – equalise the pressure on both sides of the ear drum by keeping the mouth open – this I did and then decided that my last minutes should not be unworthy so I prayed that He would treat me with mercy.

We then bustled downstairs to the accompaniment of tinkling glass and cascading tiles.  As I passed the upper swill room door I remember seeing two pale ghosts flitting down the stairs from the top floor – my impressions of the actual event were not, funnily enough those of terror, but mainly amazement and contemplation of its inmitability.  I realised that they were bombs, and pretty close at that.

After a minute of nervous excitement in the Lower Studies passage I went in the yard where I met the housemaster [Alexander Hamelin Trelawny-Ross (1884-1967) assistant master 1911-1946, housemaster of Lyon House 1914-1946] who announced the advent of the Palmer’s and informed me of a fatal casualty in Mr Palmer’s garden [Assistant master Mr Clephan Palmer (1881-1971) lived at ‘South Hill’, Richmond Road].  I went there & found Jimmy Lintern [Arthur James Lintern, aged 62, died in Mr Clephan Palmer’s garden at ‘South Hill’, Richmond Road] in the garden approximately five yards from the crater.  Hence I ran down to the first aid post and told them that there was no hope for the fellow and returned.  In the crater in the road outside Mr Palmer’s house there were a lot of little children playing despite the fact that there was a very strong smell of gas – having turned them out I came across Mrs Thorne [Ella Thorne (1875-1968) lived at Brighton Villa, Richmond Road and married to Walter Thorne], very much the worse for wear, and so led her, and I use that word literally, to the house and handed her over to the matron.  As I was coming out from the house again, some electrically-minded boy informed me that some of the wires on the road outside might be live, to which I was perforce to reply that I had tripped over 90% of them and that I was still alive!  As I went from the house this time I was in my shirt sleeves and was equipped with a  large jug of tea & several cups for the benefit of various almost hysterical people who lived in the houses round Mr Thorne’s house – one good lady asked me whether it would be safer for her to lie under the table, or the sofa, or merely in a trench in the garden – I consoled her and the like & then returned to poor Jimmy whose heart and eyes I inspected with the obvious negative results – then Hamersley appeared with a sheet to cover the unfortunate fellow.  Later on a stretcher party arrived and simultaneously an ambulance but having seen their patient remarked that it would be a waste of time to do anything and so left poor Jimmy to get colder and stiffer. A warden came up soon afterwards and later an old Morris van from a garage.  The warden and the other two then asked me if I could find some [?sacking] – I raced off and as I was passing through the house, Wilson asked me whether I had “cleared out” my study – not quite understanding what on earth he was talking about I replied “No” to which he roared in response “Well, go and do it, and BRACE UP.”  Thinking that other things were more important and that he was only doing his duty, I hurried on without paying any intention to him.

We four, the warden, two others, and myself, then lifted the corpse into the van and the latter moved off.  I then moved off in search of Thorne [Walter Thorne (1877-1953) lived at Brighton Villa, Richmond Road and married to Ella Thorne], who was weeping in the back parlour – I tried to console him.  Little did I know that I was then standing directly over a 580lb bomb!  When the night came with more contemplation I felt physically sick and very unhappy.

John Charles Thomas Tremayne WARING (1923-1989)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1937-December 1941, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 17.

‘The Air Raid’.
It was four thirty in the afternoon of September the thirtieth when the siren sounded.  I was at that time endeavouring to learn some of the grammar which all beginners of the German language have to face.  The lesson was rudely interrupted by the sweet sounds of the siren.  I grabbed my books and seizing my coat dashed up to the house.

On arriving at the house we got our gas masks and settled down in the passage. Then someone suggested an ARP practice so we crashed upstairs to put out an imaginary bomb on the private side of the house. Having performed this duty we returned to the passage.  Just as I was sitting down I heard the sound of distant bombs and the drone of aeroplanes somewhere quite near.  The noise increased and the bombs sounded nearer and the old day room door started jumping up and down.  I knew then we were in for trouble as you could hear the planes approaching, but not very distinctly.  About half a minute after the first bomb, the real noise started.  Suddenly we heard whistling and then colossal explosions. In our passage we all got on the floor and lay there.  Then bombs came raising down; the noise was terrific and the whole house shook.  Then several bombs hit the road outside the house and several more within two hundred yards of the house.  Tiles poured off the roof and as I watched the window at the end of the passage, it was broken by debris hitting it. Then some of the ceiling plaster fell in over the dark room.

All this time the bombs were falling fast. My thoughts were to begin with that we were only going to get a few stray bombs from the aircraft overhead.  But when they started dropping them fast I knew we were in for a good dose.  It reminded me of London for a moment and I stated the fact to the person on the floor next to me and he agreed.  I had a queer feeling while the bombs dropped round the house and I must admit I wondered if the next bomb would hit the house.  I think that the noise was the most frightening factor but the violent shaking was also alarming.  In about four minutes from the first bomb it was all over.

Dust rose everywhere and we looked around to see if everyone was alright.  The yard was full of debris and the road had two lovely holes in it.  We then heard that someone was hurt in Mr Palmer’s garden. It was the gardener [Arthur James Lintern, aged 62, died in Mr Clephan Palmer’s garden at ‘South Hill’, Richmond Road] but he was dead, he had not taken cover during the raid.  After five minutes the rest of the house came pouring up from the school, looking very white.  They told us that bombs had landed in the Courts and round the school, but that luckily no one had been hurt.

We spent the rest of the day clearing up as much as possible.  There was no electric light, gas, or water but that did not matter much.  In the middle of that night one of the time bombs went off.  It certainly was an experience and a very thrilling one too.  It was a miracle the whole school escaped considering the extent of the raid.  Sherborne has seen many days but that will probably be the longest remembered in the whole of her long history. I for one shall never forget it.

Hugh Seymour Pennefather WATSON (1926-2017)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1940-July 1944, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 13.

‘My Experiences in an Air Raid’.
On the 30th September 1940, I, who was then in class 2A was in No.16 classroom learning history with Mr Whittle  [Charles James Richardson Whittle (1921-2001) temporary assistant master 1940].  The siren went and we went down to room 14 with Mr Parkes [B. Parkes, temporary assistant master 1940-1942].  Suddenly the door began to rattle. We all thought it was someone trying to get in until the windows started rattling and jarring open and the room began to vibrate.  We hurriedly crawled under the desks and waited.  Soon we heard the roar of German bombers and bombs began to fall some distance away.  It grew louder and louder till the whole place began to shake.  Suddenly a bomb fell quite nearby and most of the windows fell out, one falling across my legs but not cutting me.  Glancing up out of the window for a second I saw great columns of dust and flying debris rise up where one of the bombs fell.  Then the noise grew fainter and fainter and the sound of the bombs and aeroplanes died away in the distance.  We crawled out from under the desks but for some time the room was filled with choking dust and we could not see at all.  Soon it cleared, however, and we went and sat in the cloisters among broken glass until the all clear went.

There were four bombs in the Courts and one between the Carrington Buildings and the Big Schoolroom. It was an absolute miracle that no building was actually hit and no one was hurt, killed, or injured.  Everyone was naturally very frightened about it but behaved extraordinarily well and there was no panic.  Curiously enough when the bombing was actually going on it never occurred to me that my life was in danger and it was only until afterwards that I realised what a miracle it was that I was alive at all.

We went back to the house to find that about 6 bombs had landed all round it but that it actually had nothing more damaged than the tiles smashed and windows blown in.  We spent a lot of time clearing up after that and were caused inconvenience by time bombs which landed nearby and which meant that we had to evacuate the House for some time.

‘My Experiences in an air-raid’. 2/11/1940.
On Monday, September 30th, at about 4.20 in the afternoon, the air raid siren went.  I was in an upstairs classroom, and we were immediately told to go to the room below, which was room number 12 [14?] where we settled down to work again.  Suddenly the door began to rattle, and we thought that someone was playing the fool with the door, and trying to come in.  Then we became aware of a faint roar, and the windows jarred open. We all got underneath the desks as quickly as we could then, for we all understood what it meant.  Then we began to hear the actual bombs falling.  I looked at the boys underneath the desks, and saw them with their mouths open, their fingers in their ears, and keeping their heads well away from the wall.  So I remembered the advice I had been given, and did the same thing.  Curiously enough I did not feel the least bit afraid, and even when a whole window fell out at my feet, it never entered my head that my life was in danger, and it was only afterwards that I realised what a narrow escape I had had.  The bombs were falling now in earnest, and great pieces of the ceiling plaster were beginning to fall, but being under the desks not actual bits hit me.  The noise and vibration was terrific, and the dust was choking and blinding.  I looked at the two masters that were taking us, and saw them exactly in the same position as ourselves, and it struck me as being rather funny that two masters, who were usually so superior and dignified should be cowering under a desk.

Soon the noise died away, and the dust settled down and everyone emerged from under their desks looking rather white.  Some boys made ridiculous remarks such as “Shall we continue with our essay, Sir?”, at which everyone laughed rather nervously.  Then we went out into the cloisters to wait for the all clear, which went a few minutes afterwards.

Kenneth Gordon Wycliffe WILSON (1922-1949)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1936-December 1940, 6th form (Army Class), School Prefect, Head of House, 1st XV (1939-1940), Trebles (1939-1940), CSM in OTC, PT Instructor with Badge, member of the Duffers.
Age on 30 September 1940: 18.

I walked out of the Carrington Buildings absolutely fed up. The warning had gone for the umpteenth time, and the thought of hanging round the cloisters for an hour or too, amidst the most appalling din of chattering of a thousand different tongues, appalled me.  “I hope to goodness they bomb this one-horse-town” said my neighbour as I walked into the cloisters, “there is nothing that this place wants more!”  “Hear! Hear” I agreed, “it won’t do it any harm to be shaken up a trifle.”  How little did we know what was to come.  The cloisters looked bleaker than ever and the noise was incredible.  However, the Lower Library had the snug, comfortable air about it which is usually associated with its form master.  I walked in and threw my books, in a tired way, onto a table.  “Life is a hell of a bore” I thought, as with pen in hand I failed miserably to do a sum.  Suddenly there were heard distant thuds.  “Get under the tables”, said the master, hastily pulling a cushion off his chair.  We slid underneath, laughing rather self-consciously, when the heavens opened.  There was the most devastating noise and the world outside was one mass of flying masonry and dust.  “The Abbey’s been hit” said someone in an awed whisper then the crashing ceased.  In defiance the Abbey cheerfully chimed the quarter.

We emerged, some visibly shaken, others saying, “At last we’ve been in an air raid. Not too bad is it?”  I’m afraid I was among the latter faction and in a mischievous impulse I yelled “Here they come again.”  Everyone went under the tables. I roared with laughter, a little unsteadily perhaps.  This is exactly what is needed, I said to myself, “Good old ‘Jerry’!”  A few minutes later I walked into the Courts and I changed my tune.  The Big Schoolroom looked a complete shambles.  It left me moderately unmoved, for it should be demolished anyway.  I walked round a crater outside the Carrington Building, still rather dulled, not realising how near had our escape been. It was not till a wreck, which had been a thatched cottage in Acreman Street, caught my eye that the full horror of the thing struck me.  “God damn Hitler, and all Huns who commit such crimes” I murmured. I was livid with impotent rage.

Patrick Dale WOOD (1927-2016)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1940-December 1944, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 13.

‘My experiences in my first air raid’.
Should this ever be read, may I warn the reader not to expect a clear accurate description for the simple reason that I had no clear and accurate impressions.

On the afternoon of Monday, the 30th of September, I, amongst others, was doing Greek in No.10 classroom. The air raid siren sounded, but no one seemed to take much notice. We proceeded with the lesson. Suddenly there came a “bump” from the distance, and several more in quick succession, coming closer. Mr Bensly [William James Bensly (1874-1943) assistant master 1905-1913, 1919-1934, 1939-1943], who was taking us, told us to get under our desks and cover our heads.  This we did, while the bangs came closer.  There came three or four big explosions which brought down flakes of plaster, and then four distinct whistling screeches, a colossal crash, and then three more.  Then the explosions died away in the distance.  We staged through the debris to the door, and out into the passage.  We stayed there until the all-clear sounded, and then went out to the Courts.

We discovered that a bomb, the one which lifted me some inches into the air, had dropped outside the Carrington Buildings, also just outside room 10, and that four had exploded in a group in the Courts, the other side.  I should think that we were one of the worst off of all the occupied rooms, as all the plaster came off the ceilings, every window was blown in and all the light shades and balls were shattered.

You will ask: “What were your feelings as the bombs exploded?”  Well, to that I answer that I was scared stiff, and I do not mind admitting it.  It was the closest that I have ever been to a bomb, and it is the nearest I ever want to be.  The most wonderful thing was that out of some five hundred people around and in the School, not one was touched.  You may call it Providence or luck, but surely this is a fact beyond mere chance.

Peter John WOOLLAND (1923-2010)
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) September 1937-April 1941, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 16.

When I heard the siren I came up to the house as a fire-squad. After about 10 mins Evans shouted “bomb in Gibbons and matron’s bathroom”.  I stayed downstairs and someone remarked to me that it would be mighty funny if a few bombs were dropped.  A minute after that I heard a whistle.  I said to myself “Oh! Blast someone doing the usual Burnet trick.”  Then all those upstairs seemed to rush downstairs.  I thought that they were taking a very long time over it considering all the noise.  Then when I felt the floor moving and the day room door bumping about and making a considerable noise (for once without the protector against it) I began to realise that something unforeseen was happening.  After the noise had died down I saw a vast amount of earth and stones and tiles fall down through the end of the passage. I was sent down to report to Chief [Alexander Ross Wallace (1891-1982) Headmaster 1934-1950] that nobody  was hurt etc. I thought I was quite the hero or going to be when I got down the cloisters but saw the Carrington Buildings bomb crater and 4 in the Courts and realised I wasn’t the only pebble on the beach.  I reported to Chief who was in the Courts looking very upset and talking to Norton [William Norton, School custos 1938-19964] and others.  I saw Scott [Stanley Westcott Scott (1908-?), laboratory demonstrator] and Mr H. Davis [Henry Cecil Waring Davis (1903-1989) assistant master 1928-1967] looking very dusty having been in the labs at the time. When I came back to the house I saw Mr Palmer’s gardener [Arthur James Lintern, aged 62, died in Mr Clephan Palmer’s garden at ‘South Hill’, Richmond Road] but as others were there attending to the corpse I went elsewhere to be helpful in clearing up the yard.  No damage was done to my personal property except that my saucepan was thrown to the floor and squash racket nearly off the wall.  But the study ceiling was so knocked about that it had to be brought down a fortnight later.

It wasn’t a pleasant affair and I don’t wish to repeat it really, but it will certainly give me something to talk about in the holidays.

See also:

For further information about the Sherborne School Archives please contact the School Archivist

Return to the School Archives homepage