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Bombs of Penzance
by Sydney Butler

Sydney Butler (born 1930 in Plymouth, England, emigrated to Canada in 1960, residing in Vancouver since 1968)

The bomb woke me from a deep sleep. My eyes were stinging with encrusted dirt, my mouth and nose clogged with plaster dust and grit. I rolled off my narrow, iron bed to find myself standing, not on the cold linoleum, but on a pile of sharp rubble and debris.

When the bedside lamp flickered on, my brother and I could see that the whole room was filled with a cloud of dust. Both our beds were covered with the debris from the caved-in ceiling. Above us was the jagged hole, fringed with broken laths which hung down, some with lumps of plaster still clinging. Beneath this hole, in the eighteen-inch gap between our beds, was the pile of rock and clay which had smashed its way through the roof, barely missing the iron water tank on the rafters above my head.

The noise had woken my mother. Flashlight in hand, she told us to get downstairs quickly, and herded us into the kitchen. We spent the rest of that night huddled in our steel Morrison table-shelter.

We were up with the first light, excited to see the daylight streaming through the hole in the roof. Then we went down the back lane to inspect the thirty-foot crater which the German bomb had carved in the small churchyard of St. John's. The single palm tree that had stood there was gone; the east windows were shattered; and a stone cross was missing from the gable.

Luckily, the churchyard had not been used as a graveyard. 


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