The Bombing of Bristol

[audio: /wp-content/uploads/2011/12/bombs.mp3]

Olga Brandt-Bull lived next to the Downs during the war and vividly remembers the bombing there, and in the city of Bristol.

Bombs neatly stacked at the Cherrier bomb-making plant

Bombs at the Cherrier bomb-making plant (Nicholas Morant. National Film Board of Canada)


Olga Brandt Bull:

So, the Downs itself, when the war started, they built pillars all over the Downs to stop the aircraft landing. We did have a scare once; there was a raid on and we were all down in the cellar and two men, very breathless, came flying into the cellar saying that there were parachutists coming down, and I had a baby in my arms, my little daughter, and I thought ‘oh my goodness,’ you know, ‘whatever is going to happen, are we going to be shot here in the cellar’, but actually it was two of our men bailing out and they landed up at Failand I believe.

Behind here in the garden there’s the row of houses, and just over the chimneys, I watched the German bombers . When I saw them I thought what a wonderful sight, all these bombers coming along, and then I saw the swastikas and I thought my goodness, I was down the stairs quicker than I’ve ever been down before, into the cellar. And that’s when they raided Filton.

This house used to shake in the war, and if it shook really badly then I got out of bed, if it only tremored I remained in bed. We had an incendiary bomb through the kitchen upstairs but we managed to put that out. The house opposite belonged to a Mrs Fisher, quite an elderly lady, her husband was in umbrellas or something, there were five incendiaries there, the gardener put one out in the garden instead of the one on the roof, so the house went up , and they brought her here into our cellar. They didn’t save her pictures, her jewellery, her furniture, they brought all the potted plants in and they surrounded her in potted plants -which is amazing.

The Ackack guns were on the Downs of course, and they were the things that really shook us. We also had the balloons up, but on the raid of Bristol we didn’t have a single one up, and I think our fighters had been enticed elsewhere, the very few we had. I did stand on the Downs and I watched Bristol burn. We walked to the top of Blackboy and stood there wand watched, and it was a bit terrifying these mighty fires everywhere, and the devastation. My younger brother was down helping dig people out of falling houses, and hacking conductresses out of buses, and doing all sorts of things. And the next day my husband had no firm, that was demolished completely, he was down in Victoria Street.

Nearly all the young men I knew were killed including my brother when he went into the RAF straight from college. He was killed in a Lancaster, at 20, on his way to Dresden. He was a pilot officer rear gunner and just before his death on his last leave he was here, and he they had a fair of a sort on the Downs to cheer people up, and we had half a crown between us, and we took this and we gave it to him to shoot. You had to have three bullseyes for four shots, and he got four shots right through the middle so I think he did very well as a rear gunner

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