frank's story – the bombing raid, august, 1940

My brother Johnnie and I were in bed this particular evening, our bedroom situated at the front of our house, 29 Kings Avenue, Tongham. My mother, Olive, was in her bedroom also at the front. Our father, a Warrant Officer in the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) was at the time serving in Egypt having earlier been evacuated from Dunkirk.

We were woken that night, the 22 August, 1940, by a large explosion as the first of a stick of bombs dropped by an enemy plane landed on and demolished the house immediately behind ours. Our two gardens backed on to each other, the destroyed home almost certainly no more than 200 yards away. Mother came in to assure us that all was well and we somehow went back to sleep.

After the first bomb fell, the plane evidently continued its run across the village and dropped its entire load one after the other. When we got up the next morning we were confronted with the back door hanging off its hinges and all the windows in the kitchen and lounge blown in with glass and bits of the frame embedded in the walls opposite.

Although only three years old at the time I remember the scene quite vividly. My mother, unhurt, had discovered a large piece of shrapnel (Schrapnel) outside on the step to our back door at the side of the house. It has remained a precious artefact in our family since, a testimony to our great and good fortune to be still here to tell our story, mother in later years filling in some of the gaps.

Frank Townsend