Waiting to be re-housed, when after a severe raid one night, I went into the next road where a string of bombs had fallen, and they were digging out the dead and the injured. My newsagents shop was no more and he was buried up to the waist in a huge mound of rubble spread across the road. A rescuer in overalls and wearing a steel helmet was kneeling in front of him, holding his face with both hands, when another rescuer emerged from beneath the debris, indicating that they could not release the newsagent, as his legs had been almost severed. The newsagent died, and the man holding his face stood up, and I could see he was wearing a vicars white collar. I could see tears streaming down through the grime on his cheeks, as he was called to yet another victim
Among the very small group watching was a teenage girl, whom I had never seen before, standing with her elderly father. I had never had time to think of the opposite sex, as survival was the order of the day for you and your family, but I was struck by her beauty, and as I surreptitiously glanced at her side face, I saw a solitary tear slowly falling down her cheek. They slowly walked away, her head resting on her fathers shoulder, and I thought, What a cruel world this is." The vision of that solitary tear remained with me for the next three years, and I often wondered if that young lady had survived the daily, day and night bombardment
It was three years later, when on passing through another district of London, another daylight raid started, and I got into one of the deep shelters. When it was over, I had to continue my journey on foot, and on passing a row of shops I saw a young lady sweeping broken glass from the shattered shop front, and trying once again to make the shop serviceable. I stopped and offered to help which she gladly accepted. She was covered in soot and dust, and laughed when I asked if she was alright, saying, "When the raids get too fierce, I dive under the table in the back room of the shop, but its over the old fireplace, and when the building shakes all the soot comes down."
She later made us tea, and we sat among the rubble sipping our tea, and then she went and somehow washed all the soot and grime from her face and hands, and found a clean white coat to wear, and I was amazed how beautiful this grimy sooty creature was.
As we spoke of friends and her customers she had lost by the bombing, she stared ahead, and at her side face I saw a solitary tear, and with shock realised that I had been re-united with the young girl of three years previously. She later confirmed that she had been there, and had realised that a young man was gazing at her.
The German Bombers, they passed overhead,
they had dropped all the bombs that they had.
More death and destruction, as London bled,
and things looked decidedly bad.
I was passing through Clapham before this attack,
and hurriedly got underground.
We had all learnt survival and acquired this knack,
as for years we had suffered such pound.
I then passed a shop, all the windows blown-in,
the poor shop girl was sweeping glass clear.
I stopped to help, mid'st the fire engines din,
as through wreckage they tried to steer.
Her face, hands and white coat were black,
smother-ed in what looked like soot.
I looked around for a first-aid pack,
in case a bandage I needed to put.
But she had not suffered any injury dire,
and laughed out loud at my thought.
She'd been under the table near the fire,
and falling soot was all she caught.
She washed herself and made us tea,
and I was amazed at her beautiful face.
Young ladies had never bothered me,
busy fighting the enemy race.
As we sat in the debris sipping our tea,
she spoke of her friends who'd been killed.
On her cheek, a tear I could see,
as sadly her eyes slowly filled.
I realised then that I had seen her before,
some three years, before that day.
With a tear on her cheek, in this dreadful war,
when both seeing some dead, as they lay.
I had thought of her so many times,
in those intervening years,
of her sad eyes, at the enemies crimes.
And now fate had made use of those tears.
In that moment of time I knew I was lost,
tongue tied with knees all a-tremble.
Poor heart racing. all twisted and tossed,
my thoughts I couldn't assemble.
We fell in love, became man and wife,
but in seven days I was sent abroad,
for three long years sent to the strife,
of those deserts of fire and sword.
But our sixty three years were really blessed,
each one a wonderful year.
I look back on those days, with thankful-ness,
especially that solitary tear.