Eleven essays written by boys in Westcott 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.

Arranged A-Z by surname:

 Charles Irwin BALL (1924-2002)
Attended Sherborne School (Westcott House) September 1937-March 1942, Exhibitioner, Head of House, School Prefect.
Age on 30 September 1940: 16.

‘Impressions of Sept 30th 1940’
When the German ‘planes had passed over after dropping their bombs I went outside with the House Fire Squad to see what damage had been done.  We were met by a strong smell of cordite.  There was a cloud of smoke over the lower part of the town, but our house seemed to be untouched.  We then made a tour of inspection inside the house, with Minimases [sic] in hand in case incendiaries had fallen, but the only damage was a small hole in the ceilings where plaster had come down, and about twenty windows were also broken.  After that we went out into Horsecastles to see if anything could be done.  Rumours had already begun to spread.  We heard that a block of classrooms had been hit and later the more reliable news of bombs in the Courts and outside the Armoury.  Soon after, the school went back to their houses owing to a time-bomb in Perry’s garden [Joseph James Perry (1870-1941) school gardener for 33 years (1908-1941), lived at what is now the Bursary]. It was not long before souvenir hunting began, especially on the playing-fields where several bombs had fallen, including a big one in the middle of the Upper.

We began to feel the effects of the raid in the evening as there was no gas or electricity and afterwards no water.  Hall consisted in discussing our experiences by candlelight.  The main topic was the reason why we had been bombed.  Was Sherborne the target or was it accidental?  There was also speculation about the effect the bombing would have on the school.  We wondered whether panic-stricken parents would take their sons away from the school immediately or whether they would realise that the bombing only proved that no part of England was safe, as no town could be less harmful to German interests than Sherborne.  The worst part of the whole day was trying to get to sleep that night.  The actual bombing was so sudden that I hardly had time to realise what was happening when it was all over.  But that night I heard bombs fall every minute until the early hours of the morning, and it was several days before my nerves returned to normal.  However, we all had a lot to be thankful for that the damage was not far more devastating, and the loss of life greater, especially in the school, and we all sincerely hope that our experience will not be repeated.

 John Maxwell BOYD (1927-1991)
Attended Sherborne School (Westcott House) September 1940-July 1944.
Age on 30 September 1940: 13.

‘English. ‘The Blitz comes to Sherborne’
It was Monday 30th September 1940, and fifteen minutes past four in the afternoon.  We had just had a good game of rugger, and were settling [down] to a geography lesson, when the siren over the police station went.  Our master, being an Air Raid Warden had to go out at once.  He told us to go to the Cloisters, which was our Air Raid Shelter.  When we got there some of us stayed in the Cloisters and some, like myself, went into the Book Pound [the computer room in the library].  Several others and myself were looking at books which we had taken from the shelves, when suddenly a roaring noise began.  At first it was in the distance, but it was rapidly coming nearer.  Nobody knew quite what it was until somebody told us to lie on the floor.  There were four of us including myself, lying in a bundle upon the floor.  The roaring got louder, the sound of breaking glass could be heard and dust and plaster were flying about.  Then the sound of the bombs died away as quickly as it arose.  After everybody had sorted themselves out, I went out into the cloisters. Almost as soon as I was out there somebody told me in a very excited voice that there was a huge crater in the courts.  Of course I did not believe this, then I was told to go and look for myself.  So I climbed upon one of the sandbags in the cloisters and looked into the courts through one of the apertures in the stonework.  Sure enough there was a huge round pile of earth there, and inside was a very large hole.

We all stayed in the cloisters talking excitedly about the noise and how many bombs fell and other such topics of conversation, until the Headmaster told us that we could leave the shelter and proceed to our houses.  As soon as I got out, the first thought that entered my head was “souvenirs!”  And I and many others started to look for bomb fragments.  I did not find any however and I was about to go back to my house [Westcott House] when I saw, to my great surprise a big crater outside the Carrington Buildings.  I was selected with some others, to put a barrier around the crater.  This having been done I went back to the house, where the electric light had failed and where those few people who had already found pieces of bomb were selling them at fabulous prices.

Then I followed other boys to the “Upper” football ground, where bombs had fallen.  Here I found my first piece of bomb.  After this I went up Richmond Road to Lyon House and to a house nearby which had had a bomb in the garden.  Here I helped to get some of the silver goods out of the nearby wrecked house, and after a short time doing this I went back to the house, where after tea, we had to write letters home telling our parents what had happened, as best we could, having to write by candlelight.

The next day we did lessons also as best we could, because several, in fact many of the classrooms were not useable, so we had the usual lessons in the dayrooms and other portions of nearby houses.  That day, being a Tuesday was a half-holiday, and during my free time I discovered other bomb damage and craters.  A deed that I think is worthy of mention is that a telephonist in the Post Office [Maude Steele (1901-1997) supervisor of Sherborne telephone exchange] stuck to her job through the raid and refused to go into the shelter provided. For her deed she received the George Medal.  Just another thing I forgot to mention in the beginning was that after the raid a squadron of Spitfire fighters zoomed low over the town, it reminded one very much of the fact that Britain had and always will have air supremacy.  I think that all the boys responded very well to the raid and treated it just like a six penny thriller. I know I did.

Keith Scott BRUCE (b.1925)
Attended Sherborne School (Westcott House) September 1939-December 1943, School Prefect.
Age on 30 September 1940: 14.

‘30th September 1940’
The siren sounded a short time after afternoon school had begun on Monday, the 30th of September, 1940, and the school duly dispersed to the various parts of the buildings allocated for use during air-raids.  I went to the Pound [the computer room in the library], where all the second-hand textbooks are kept, to while away the time by reading any books of interest such as English short-stories or History books.  A short while afterwards I thought I heard the “All Clear”, and then what I thought was someone knocking on the window to confirm my idea.  But just as I was about to come out, Mr Hey [Samuel Hey (1904-1977) assistant master 1926-1973] came along shouting, “Lie down! Lie down!” and I realised the “knocking on the window” was caused by bombs!  As I lay down the ground quivered and the windows shook. I covered my head with my arms, stopped up my ears and opened my mouth.  The bombs were now falling in large numbers and came rapidly nearer.  Another second or two and the whole building was rocking, my ear-drums felt as if they were bursting.  Then a ceiling came down just next door to me and a window blew in, showering broken glass all over me, so that I thought a bomb hand landed right on top of us and breathed a silent prayer of relief as I realised I was still alive.  Suddenly the din stopped and after a second or two I sat up, shaking the glass off me, and started to cough as acrid fumes came in through a broken window and tickled my throat.

We were told to stay where we were and so we all started chattering.  A rumour went round like wild-fire that a bomb had fallen in the Courts, then two, then three, and someone absurdly remarked there were four.  We laughed, for we thought that even one, would completely raze all the buildings round.  The Headmaster [Alexander Ross Wallace (1891-1982) Headmaster 1934-1950] then said a few words and told us to go back to our houses.  When we went out into the Courts and to our amazement there were four craters!  While the only building that had really suffered was the Big Schoolroom which had had a bomb in the road between it and the Carrington Buildings as well as the ones in the Courts.

After returning to our houses, which were all, with the exception of Lyon House, habitable, we made a tour of the neighbouring bombed districts, some of which were in a sorry plight.  I felt very sorry for the bands of homeless folk who were carrying a few prized possessions in a basket or bag to the homes of the more fortunate who gladly received them.  I felt thankful that I had been so lucky and escaped without a bruise or cut, and hoped the Huns would keep away from Sherborne in future.

Charles Michael Kendall BURGESS (b.1926)
Attended Sherborne School (Westcott House) September 1939-December 1942.
Age on 30 September 1940: 14.

‘My personal experience of the bombing of Sherborne’
The incident about which I am going to tell you happened on the thirtieth of September in the year nineteen hundred and forty.  It was a Monday afternoon, bright and sunny.

At about four o’clock in the afternoon the siren began to wail mournfully.  Joyfully I packed up my books and sped to the cloisters, expecting nothing more serious than perhaps a thirty minute ‘alert’.  I must confess that I should have gone into classroom ten as I had been working in number twelve above; but instead I went over to the cloisters and as I ran across I suddenly wondered if by any chance we should be bombed and I should pay for my disobedience with my life.  However these wistful thoughts were rudely thrust from my mind by a dull explosion in the distance. A voice shouted “lie down flat!”  I did so as quickly as I could.  My mind raced – would I ever see home again? – my parents – surely I cannot die at fourteen? – far too young.  Gradually the detonations came nearer and nearer.  Suddenly a terrific explosion rocked the cloisters.  The pressure on my eardrums was enormous.  A piece of shrapnel whined overhead.  That is my most vivid impression – that piece of shrapnel.  A cloud of brown dust rolled over the lying figures.  Then someone laughed and before I knew where I was, I was laughing.  We all laughed when Scott [laboratory demonstrator] appeared with his face caked with dust.  I think he must have escaped death by a hair’s breadth.  The next thing I did was to climb up and look over the sandbags.  The Courts were filled with a cloud of brown dust and in the centre it appeared as if some titanic hand had heaped up the golden gravel.  Quickly the word went round that five bombs had landed in the courts.  About half an hour later the ‘all-clear’ sounded and we streamed out to gather souvenirs and inspect the damage.

To sum up everything I think my most vivid impressions were the roof shaking, the pressure on my eardrums, the dust, the crouching figures and above all, the piece of shrapnel which whined overhead.

Patrick Galloway GRATTAN (1927-2002)
Attended Sherborne School (Westcott House) September 1940-March 1945, 6th form, Hockey 1945.
Age on 30 September 1940: 13.

‘The Air-Raid on Sherborne’, 11/3/41.
I was in the Geography room when the siren went and I walked slowly across the road, looking upward for any sign of activity in the sky. I entered the cloisters and lay down just in front of the board where the whereabouts of masters are put up, then I took out my book and started to read – not my Geography book as I had been told, but an entertaining novel of Leslie Charteris.

After I had read for about quarter of an hour I got up and went off to speak to someone in another part of the cloisters.  As I was returning I heard some ‘planes flying over – it seemed to me that they were very low – and then I heard some explosions in the distance which I took to be anti-aircraft fire.  Suddenly I heard a whistle and Graham shouted to everyone to lie down. There was a terrific explosion and I lay down just under the OTC board. In a few second there was silence and I thought that it was all over, but far from being all over it had scarcely begun. Suddenly I heard the bombs whistling down and they burst one after each other with a terrific noise: for a moment or two there was silence and I remember glancing up to the roof of the cloisters to see how they were standing it, however before I could see how they were the din had started again, crash followed crash with amazing rapidity.  Then as quickly as it had started the drone of the engines and roar of exploding bombs died away.  For a minute or two I was a bit dazed but when I had discovered that I was alright (except for slight bruises & cuts caused by flying stones and glass) I looked around.  Most people seemed to be standing up and looking round, whilst they wiped the dust from their clothes. I could not see anyone hurt but at first I thought that some people must have been injured, however after I had had a good look round and made sure that everyone was alright I looked to see where the bombs had fallen…

I have since the 30th of September been through a good number of very heavy raids in Plymouth, but since this was really my most exciting experience I find that many details stick in my mind.  I always thought that where I had to face a heavy bombing I would completely fail to keep my head and become really very frightened, but curiously enough I found myself quite cool and composed, the reason for this is I suppose that one is so unprepared that one gets such a shock that all ones emotions are stilled.  I must say that I was most favourably impressed with the way in which people in authority recovered and took in hand what promised to be a very tricky position.

I sincerely trust that such a historic town as Sherborne will never again be submitted to such a ruthless attack.  But I suppose it must bring a certain amount of pleasure to the souls [?] of Goering and his Luftwaffe gangsters and certainly the bombs which did such damage here would have done far more damage to an important military objective.

Geoffrey Paul HETT (1924-1951)
Attended Sherborne School (Westcott House) September 1937-March 1942, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 16.

‘My impressions of September 30th 1940’
About ten minutes after the siren had gone, quite a few of us were standing round talking and looking at the books in the pound when there was a gentle rumble and we were all told to lie down.  A few seconds later the windows opened and the door shook; the bombs slowly got nearer and after about half a minute there was a huge explosion. At this, strangely enough, I felt relieved because it suddenly crossed my mind that except for a direct hit that was the nearest any bomb would get.   I got a very unpleasant surprise when the stick of bombs fell in the Courts since my comforting theory had been shattered.  The three minutes bombing was so full of incidents that it passed quite quickly and I felt worst of the whole period just after it had stopped; I fully expected to find that the whole block of classrooms on the northside had been hit and I expected there to be a number of casualties so that I was not at all looking forward to going out into the Courts.  Before I had time to do anything else some plaster began to come down and I got another nasty shock as I thought the whole ceiling was coming down, so covered my head with my hands once again.

Whenever I have been asked if I was very frightened during the raid I have replied, “Strangely enough I felt more scared just after the bombing than during the actual time the bombs were falling.”

Geoffrey Thomas MYERS (1925-2014)
Attended Sherborne School (Westcott House) September 1938-July 1942, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 15.

‘The Air Raid’
It was on Monday afternoon that I was having an English lesson with Mr Thomas [Meredith Dillon Thomas MC (1894-1979) assistant master 1921-1954] in his classroom, that we heard the warbling note of the air raid siren. We immediately hastened to Abbey House dayroom, which was our appointed place of shelter.  After having sat there reading over books for about three minutes, we heard that familiar sound of German planes.  But this sound was not that far away distant sound which we usually heard, but it seemed to be steady and getting nearer.  For a moment the idea that they would bomb us entered my mind, but in a split second, I rejected the idea as too preposterous.  A few seconds later the doors began to rattle, which I could not make out owing to the lack of wind.  Then the rattling became a fierce shaking, and vibration of the whole house, and I began to realise the truth.  By this time we were all under the tables and my heart was beating quickly, but up to then the bombs had not been falling very near but only in the Lenthay district.  Gradually the noise and shaking developed in terrific forms and bombs seemed to be exploding all round us, and I could see them exploding outside the window.  Every second I expected the house to come crashing down on our heads, and for the first time the fear of death entered my head.  It all seemed so unfair that I should have to die so young, without a chance of doing my bit in the making of a new world, and without having the chance to even say good bye to my parents, and that was the worst part of it, it seemed so unfair and I felt sure God would not allow it.  I am not ashamed to say that in those few seconds when danger and death were so near, I prayed more earnestly than I have ever prayed before and am glad to say that I never lost my presence of mind or became in the least bit frantic.  I suppose it was selfish in a way, for me to think so egotistically, but life is dear to most young people and I am not an exception.  However, as is known, we all emerged unscathed from those momentous seconds, and I thought and still do think that I was a miracle of God that we were not hit.

When the bombing stopped we got up from under the tables and wandered around the hall, then we heard a faint knock on the door and an old man almost fell into the room.  Two of the prefects in charge of Abbey House sat him on a chair and gave him a drink, and when he was sufficiently recovered, he told us that he had been outside in the road during the raid, and narrowly missed being hit by a huge boulder.  We remained in the house for about a half an hour longer, as there were still many aeroplanes roaring overhead, and I started to read my book again – but without much success, for when one’s nerves are on edge it is difficult to concentrate.  However, none of us were in the least bit gloomy, and we exchanged our views and joked about the affair in a characteristic British way.

When we were told that it was safe to go outside again (for the siren was put out of action), I eagerly went out, but was assailed with the strong smell of cordite and the thick atmosphere of dust.  I can so well remember walking back to Westcott House and on my way seeing the gutted Carrington Buildings and many others, and a feeling of unquenchable hatred and loathing sprang into my heart against the swine that had so wilfully destroyed these works of art and beauty, of which I had unconsciously grown to love and cherish. When I arrived at the house, I went to see if any damage had been done to my study, but luckily found only a few panes broken.

I then set off with a friend to go round Sherborne and see the damage done.  At the sight of all this destruction, that feeling came back into my heart again, and I hated as I have never hated before. Amongst other parts of the town we visited Newlands which seemed to have suffered the brunt of the attack, and I felt deeply sorry for those who had had all that was dear to them destroyed and gone for ever.  We came back to tea, with the smell of cordite in our nostrils, and owing to the absence of electricity, we went to bed fairly early.

In the middle of the night I was suddenly woken up by the explosion of a time bomb, which at the time I thought was the beginning of another raid, and immediately bustled downstairs as hard as I could go, but we soon discovered its origin and crept back to bed again.  I cannot but admit that for the next two days after the raid, my nerves were always on the alert for the sound of enemy aircraft, but after that, things settled down again and we resumed the usual course of events.

George Christopher RITTSON-THOMAS (1926-2014)
Attended Sherborne School (Westcott House) September 1940-March 1945, 6th form. School Prefect, Head of House, XV 1944, Hockey 1945.
Age on 30 September 1940: 13.

‘The Blitz on Sherborne’
At four o’clock on September the thirtieth 1940, the siren went. We had had one or two alarms already that term, and as nothing nasty had happened, we didn’t think much in it.  All our form went downstairs to the classroom underneath, which was on the ground floor.  We were preparing the piece of prose we had been doing before the alarm went. It was rather boring, and I for one half wished that something would happen; as I had never seen any blitz before.  In a little while we heard planes thundering overhead, and we were ordered to get under our desks.  Suddenly the door and windows began to rattle and shake ominously.  The first I heard of the bombs was a whistling sound, then they exploded with a tremendous roar.  I thought at first that they were quite a way off, till I smelt the T.N.T. and saw that the windows were shattered, and that stones from the Courts outside were strewn about the room. Some of the bolder spirits cracked feeble jokes, while others laughed nervously, but I felt rather sick.

Little by little, for the rest of the day, we learnt of the damage that had been done by the German bombs.  It was rather awful to see once proud buildings, now a heap or rubble, and fields with gaping holes in them.  It was rather surprising to see the different kinds of under-soils in and around the craters.  Since that day the siren has meant more to me than just a warning, it is a reminder of what happened then.

John Gibson WILLCOX (1925-1993)
Attended Sherborne School (Westcott House) September 1939-September 1943, Upper 6th form, XV 1943, Hockey 1943.
Age on 30 September 1940: 14.

‘30th September’
It was a cloudy Monday afternoon when the siren sent forth its ghastly wail for the second time that day.  Being on the ground floor we continued working. I heard the planes go over but did not take much notice.  Then, after a few minutes, they returned; the noise of their engines grew louder instead of fading. But it only seemed to me as if they were coming a bit lower than usual.  However, there were a few thuds which made the windows rattle, then as these grew louder I dived under the table with the rest.  Now, at one moment it seemed as if the roof was falling in; then as if the door and window frames would be blown in; next moment, when I saw a cloud of dust and fragments go up from the explosion of the bombs in the Courts, it was a wonder that the whole front of the building did not come crashing down onto us.  Then it all quietened down, but when some more planes came over I lay down again expecting the worst, but it turned out that they were our own.  When going across the Courts to the cloisters it seemed as if someone had dug holes in them and scattered the earth in every direction.  Then we went back to our Houses and cleared up the broken glass and rubbish. I could not set my mind to doing anything.

John Meredith WILLIAMS (1926-1997)
Attended Sherborne School (Westcott House) May 1940-July 1944, Upper 6th, School Prefect, Head of House, Morcom Science prize 1943 & 1944, Parsons Divinity prize 1944.
Age on 30 September 1940: 13.

On September 30th 1940 I was in room six in the centre of the North Block.  We were having a maths lesson with Mr Randolph [John Hervey Randolph (1898-1975) assistant master 1922-1967].  Ever since we had come back to school ten days before there had been air raid warnings every now and again, but nothing whatever had happened so everyone was rather fed up with the siren.  Every time so far the people in the Science Labs [Carrington Buildings] had gone into the cloisters and luckily they did so that time, also the people on the first floor all used to come down to the ground floor.

When the actual warning went at 4.45 the people from above came down as usual, but Mr Randolph was so tired of warnings that he continued with the lesson as if nothing had happened.  As there were no sounds of aeroplanes for the first few minutes everybody was lulled into a sense of false security and put off their guard.  Then, without any warning at all, I heard a series of bangs which sounded a long way away.  Without any hesitation the whole form got under the desks, according to the instructions posted on the board.  At first I did not realise they were bombs but thought they were a heavy A.A. barrage. However, we were given no time to think as immediately bombs began to fall around us and I realised fully what was happening. There was an explosion very close to us but the actual explosion did not really scare me.  The whine of the next bomb made me think the end was coming.  After the explosion I felt a sense of relief as I could hear no more bombs falling.

When I began to recover my wits I wondered what damage had been done.  At first I thought that the two near explosions were somewhere near the Abbey and I was very much surprised when Mr Randolph announced that they had been in the Courts.  The Courts were very dry and there was a layer of dust over everything while the stench of explosive helped to make the atmosphere extremely close and stuffy.  The little slivers of glass lying on the floor proved an absolute menace as we all remained on the floor for the next ten minutes shaking with fright.

Then we were told to go back to our Houses and do Hall, which seemed rather fatuous but as nobody did any it did not matter. The more enterprising of us picked up bomb splinters while going across the Courts but I was too shaken for that.  On the way back I saw some of the results, the shell of the Big Schoolroom and the remains of a house in Acreman Street and so I wondered if the House was safe.  A silver Spitfire banked low over the Abbey and restored a great deal of my spirit.  And from the wall by the dustpatch I looked, sadly, at the wrecked houses in Horsecastles and the inhabitants evacuating and at the craters on the fields.

The after effects were almost worse as all the public services were out of action temporarily and the water had to be boiled for a month. Time bombs seemed to have dropped in the most undesirable places, especially the one which prevented the use of the Tuck Shop.

Wilfred Arthur WILLIAMS (1925-1997)
Sherborne School, Westcott House (h) September 1938-December 1942, Exhibitioner, 6th form.
Age on 30 September 1940: 15.

‘The Raid’
The thirtieth of September 1940 was a very ordinary day, typical of Sherborne: it was cloudy, dull, with a moderate wind, and looked as if it was trying to rain.  At about 4.30 pm the siren wailed: nobody took more notice than they had to, for those working upstairs had to come down.  For several minutes all was quiet: it seemed that we were in for just another long and useless wait.  At all events, I personally was perfectly contented with reading a book I had which was, by the way, what we were set and not of the Edgar Wallace type!!  In the back of number thirteen classroom, half-listening to a master delivering what appeared to be a sermon on Isosceles Triangles.  Some boy, who was obviously trying to side-track said we ought to open all the windows “In case a bomb landed anywhere near.”  We all laughed.  It was nearly 4.45.  The windows and door started to rattle: someone suggested that we should get down onto the floor.  We did. For the moment I thought it was only a passing lorry, so took my book with me. The rattling few worse, together with a noise that sounded like somebody falling very slowly down the stairs, coming nearer and nearer.  I kept my mouth wide open.  A black streak rushed sideways from left to right: several people in the room saw it.  There was a tremendous explosion; glass few straight across the room; huge chunks of road hurtled through the air; the building lurched sickeningly backwards and forwards; there was a short silence broken by a continuous tinkling of broken glass.  Clouds of dust had been forming since the explosion; now a fat, brown-red cloud oozed along the road and through the broken windows: someone shouted “Fire”.  We were still under the desks; the cloud filled the room; people began coughing and sneezing; my nose felt hot inside; I did not get rid of that feeling for nearly a week.  The next moments were rather blurred: as far as I know someone came in and told us to go into the cloisters.  I automatically picked up my books and, with hands trembling, followed the rest.

The cloisters were very cold.  That brought me to my senses.  We began to ask each other where the bombs had fallen, and if anyone had been killed.  I was amazed to find that the one I had seen had fallen by the Science Buildings [Carrington Buildings].  Various masters hurried backwards and forwards: one of was picking glass out of another master’s eyebrows.  Some boys tried to look over the sandbags, but were told to get down.  Someone declared that they wouldn’t have minded going through it all again.  At last we were told to go home.  The Headmaster, quite his usual self, told us to go back and do our Hall.  He was hopeful!  The mess about the Science Buildings was indescribable.  A boy came out of them 0 his hair steel-grey.

We went back to the House: Finger Lane and Acreman Street were littered with rubbish.  Contrary to expectation the House was standing: only one pane of glass had broken in my study.  I looked out of the window and saw an enormous crater on the Upper, so decided to investigate.  The row of cottages behind the pavilion [Horsecastles Terrace] had hardly a tile between them.  Several of us walked up towards Lyon House.  The road was covered with debris, and there was a filthy smell of gas.  By this time the sun had come out and you could see the balloons over Yeovil.  I remember thinking how unsympathetic they looked.

Nobody whatever they may say, can deny that they were frightened out of their wits.  I cannot say I thought about anything during the actual bombing, though I was shivering with fear immediately afterwards.  For the rest of the term, whenever I heard a bang I used to look upwards.

I have never heard any explanation of the red cloud. It was probably, I think, the Ham-stone dust from the pieces chipped out of the Science Building walls.  If the Germans had wanted to bomb the road and the Courts, they couldn’t have done it better.  At any rate it was very lucky that no more than nineteen people were killed in the town and no-one in the School.  The absence of sound was remarkable: you could feel more than could hear.  I never heard the bombs in the Courts: they were probably instantaneous with the bomb in the road.  It seemed unbelievable that the bombing had been all over the town and not centred round the School.

One thing to be thankful for is that it happened in the daytime. It is bad enough to have to go downstairs into a cold changing room, but it would have been very unpleasant to have had to evacuate in the middle of the night because of a time bomb, as Ross’s [Lyon House] would have had to do.  Also many more people in the town would have been killed.  It is also a good thing that no report reached the daily papers about the raid: new boys would have been much fewer this term.  If there had been another raid, half the School would have left, if not more.

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