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Dear Betty

Dear Betty

Miriam Clements


29 St Michael’s St.


15th November 1940


Dear Betty

You can’t possibly imagine what happened last night. I venture to tell you it but you will just think it was a story. I have luckily survived it and can tell you all about it.

It all started peacefully enough. It was just a normal teatime in the Bowler house. Mum was baking fresh bread with some bacon we had left from our rations last week. And Papa was reading the paper. He had just got back from work and was reading the Daily Express. I knew to be silent when he reads, so I quietly got on with my geography homework. I was just about to get into my bath in front of the fire when I heard the strangest sound. I didn’t recognise it, but then Mum burst through the door. Over the noise I could hear her shout “Susan! That is the air raid siren! Come on, down to the Anderson shelter!”

I wanted to take my best doll Polly with me, so I ran upstairs, grabbed hold of her and then ran back down.

“Ow! Ooow! That hurts!” Mum was scolding me for bringing Polly. She frantically threw Polly onto the floor and shoved me outside. My poor beloved doll thrown on the floor and me being shoved out into the darkness: what could be worse?

I could see strange shapes in the sky. They were almost like jellyfish clouds. Mum explained they were parachute bombs and that we were in the middle of the blitz. The only thing I was concerned about was that I couldn’t see Lucy, our cat. Where was she? Could she still be in the house, about to die? There was a sudden crash: the first bomb had landed. There was a whirring sound, like 1,000 angry wasps in a jamjar. They were the planes’ engines. I could tell Mum was frightened, even Papa was, because of the white of his knuckles gripping onto Mum’s hand. “It’s all right, Papa,” I said to him, “we are going to be really fine.”

But it wasn’t. I could hear the most devastating noise of crunching and smashing. There was absolutely lots of banging on the roof of our shelter. All I could think of was sleep. Just sleep.

After that terrible night there finally came the sound of the all-clear siren. I suddenly woke up at a start to feel a comforting hand upon my shoulder. It was Papa’s. I quickly got up, still in my school clothes, and looked out of the shelter. I couldn’t see my house any more. I had been in there yesterday in the bath, or doing homework, but now it had been smashed to smithereens.

This scrap of wallpaper is all that’s left of my bedroom. Do you remember playing in there, making dens. I have given this to you because you are my best friend in the whole wide world.

Lots of love,

Your friend,


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