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Patricia Beatrice deCates

from:Teddington, London

I must write about the most amazing experience of my whole life. After being evacuated to Derbyshire to finish my education, I worked as a secretary at the Shell Lensbury Club, Teddington. During peacetime this was a club where Shell employees could go to stay at weekends etc. There were many facilities for sports, and it was right on the River Thames, at Teddington Lock, ideal for swimming. The Shell London office was evacuated there during the war, with overflow in nearby large houses. My father had worked there during the entire war.

We lived in a house a short distance away, on the other side of the river, also with a back garden going down to the towpath and river. One day I was standing in the back garden, and heard the sound of a “flying bomb” V1 rocket (not unusual at that time). It was like a small plane with no pilot. Suddenly the noise got loud and I saw the flying bomb skimming along the surface just above the river (on a level with me and only a few yards away!). I knew as long as the engine continued I was safe (the noise always stopped just before it hit the ground and exploded). There was no escape and I was not scared but just transfixed and staring at it. If it had had a pilot, I could have seen the whites of his eyes. It continued to make a noise until it passed me and fell on a film studio next to the Lensbury club, It may have been aimed at Eisenhower’s headquarters in nearby Bushey Park.

I must be one of the few people who came that close to a ‘flying bomb’ and lived to tell the tale!

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