by Chris Myers
Thirty Second Memory
There’s a distant roar, ever growing. It seems to be
approaching us. Dad and I are in our dining room, at the
back of the house on the Chester Road in Streetly, where
we spend most of our evenings because there are easy
chairs there and a table and the wireless set. And it’s a
warm room in winter because there is a fireplace which
heats the water as well.
We barely have time to rush to the bay window and
look out. It’s early evening and the sun is behind us as
we look down the garden. The noise by now is reaching its
crescendo. It is the roar of eight Merlins, running
probably at full throttle. Two aircraft flash past from
the left, from the north. From over Mr. Lyon's little
market garden, next-door-but-one to us. Lancasters. One
slightly behind the other. We seem to see them through the
branches of the two apple trees at the bottom of our
garden. (They are much taller now, compared with this
picture which is six or seven years old and taken the year
I was born, 1936).
And the Lancs seem almost to clip the roof of my
sister's Wendy House; but they must surely be a bit higher
than that. Although not by very much. A glimpse of
cockpit, engines, fuselage with its RAF roundel, an oval
tail fin. Followed immediately by a second tailfin, a
little further away, that of the other aircraft. All in
green and brown camouflage but gleaming in the sun.
In a split second they have gone. Off to the
right. To the south, towards Castle Bromwich and
Birmingham. Immediately the roar fades into the distance
and in moments it has disappeared entirely. Beneath them,
where they have passed, roof tiles in Kingscroft Road have
been dislodged, here and there a pane of glass has
cracked, a TV aerial leans at a crazy angle. Or at least,
these things would have happened, had Kingscroft Road
But it doesn't and so they haven't. There's just a
field of spring wheat there which no longer ripples and
the treetops nearby are still again. All is now tranquil
in this rural part of Streetly, as it normally is.
Where have they come from, these two roaring
monsters? What are they doing, where are they going?
Perhaps they are two aircraft which only days
previously have been rolled out from within the factory on
to the apron at Castle Bromwich and are on their last
stage of a test flight. When the pilots have decided that
all is well and that they'll indulge in a spot of
exuberant low-level flying before returning to the
aerodrome and signing off the aircraft.
Or perhaps they are not new, but well-used and
veterans of visits to Berlin and the Ruhr. Could they even
be a pair from a Lincolnshire squadron flying a route
which today has been to the south, including a pass at 50
or 60 feet down Derwent Reservoir? And then following a
circular course, hedge-hopping their way over Streetly and
round in a big loop to the south of Birmingham and finally
back northward, over Staffordshire and Derbyshire, back to
Scampton. All this prior to more low-level flying practice
around the country, tomorrow, and every day; and then,
next week, next month, attacking the Möhne and Eder dams.
I have no idea. And never shall.
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Family/Local History Pages
L8I May 2022