University of Oxford
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A recollection of the Norwich blitz

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posted on 2024-06-05, 18:09 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

In 1942, my father was a 16-year-old, living in Aylsham, just outside Norwich. In late April they heard the German bombers overhead and stood out in the garden of the Vicarage where they lived, and watched the bombs falling, and the flames leaping. They had no doubt that there was serious damage being done.

The next morning my father had a long-awaited dental appointment in Norwich, and, despite the fact that the family had watched the air raid the night before, he got on the usual bus and went into the city. At a certain point, the driver stopped the bus and said that the road ahead was blocked and that he couldn't go any further. All the passengers on the bus, including my teenage father, alighted and picked their way around the rubble and fire engines to wherever they were going. My father always remembered stepping over the fire hoses and walking around piles of rubble where buildings had collapsed.

When he reached the dentist, he found that the surgery was operating as usual, although all the windows had been blown out by the blast. He sat in the chair and had his filling (or whatever) in great discomfort from the drafts. Once it was all done, he set off back through the bombed city until he reached the option where the roads were still open, and took the bus back out to Aylsham.

I later asked him whether he had any doubt about going into the city a matter of hours after a major bombing raid. His response was that he did not want to miss his appointment. I also find it remarkable that his parents clearly did not think to stop him, and that the dentist's surgery was operating as usual, despite the lack of windows!


Person the story/items relate to

Roger Martyn. Then a 16-year-old, later a Master of the Supreme Court

Person who shared the story/items

Topher Martyn

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

He was my father

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID