A Memorial Day Tribute from Aunt Doris: Shaken — Not Stirred

This is another post in an occasional series from my dear Aunt Doris, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 94.

Living in the heart of London during World War II and the Blitz, I came so near to “kicking the bucket” (or as we say, “falling off me perch”) more times than I can count.

A London neighborhood during the Blitz.

When the war started, I was an 18-year-old civil servant working at a big government building in Kensington. We “carried on” — even though they bombed us day and night for months.

Every Friday was payday and a bunch of us workers would go to a special restaurant for lunch. One particularly memorable Friday our pay was late and so, being low on funds, my friend Jean and I decided to go in the opposite direction to a cheaper place.

When we got back, we learned that our favorite restaurant that we usually went to had been bombed to the ground and our friends had been killed! Jean and I had been saved by a late paycheck!

Another time, while I was at home I decided to go upstairs to bed early. Mum warned me, “At least wait until you hear the ‘All Clear’ siren.” But off I went anyway.

Then, just as I was falling asleep, I heard someone yelling on the street below, “It’s coming for Bowmore Rd!” And I thought: Hey, I live on Bowm —

WHAM! That V-1 rocket hit a block of apartments about 150 yards away. The blast took out my bedroom window — glass, frame and all — part of the ceiling fell on me, furniture skidded across the room. It was a mess! I managed to crawl out of my bed and get downstairs even though everything was completely blacked out.

Mum shone a light on me. “You’re covered in blood,” she said. “Let’s get you to a first aid station.”

So off we went, through all the debris and in total darkness (except for the fires that were burning).

After we got to the aid station, a nurse came by with a tetanus shot for me and … I fainted! What the V-1 couldn’t achieve, the needle did!

During the war I dodged shrapnel from our own anti-aircraft guns. One time I even avoided bullets from a low-flying enemy airplane.

I still shudder when I hear an air raid siren in World War II movies, or even low flying airplanes.

Aunt Doris’ wedding photo. (c. 1946)

Our home was bombed three more times while Mum and I were in it.

Eventually, I began to wonder if I was destined for great things. Fame? Fortune? Marriage to royalty? But, alas, no. Although I did marry a prince of a fellow — one of General Patton’s Third Army guys!

To this day I so admire the bravery of our military and their sacrifices. In my own small way I kind of know what they go through.

I once read a bumper sticker. It said, “If you can read this, thank a teacher. If it’s in English, thank a soldier.” I do — every time I see a soldier, sailor, or airman I walk up to them and thank them. We all should thank them.

Oh, by the way, one last thing: I happen to share my birthday with the United States Marine Corps. So … OORAH!


Aunt Doris

Photo Credit: public domain


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    We are shaped by our experiences! These experiences influence our judgment and instincts. It is no surprise, that Aunt Doris shares her wisdom. It comes from the many years of experience.

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    MT says

    OORAH Aunt Doris. You have a much greater appreciation for what soldiers go through than you grant yourself. Your words are touching. Thank you.

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    threadbndr says

    Aunt Doris – thanks for the stories of the Blitz. It’s hard to imagine the day to day sacrifices that you all made.

    As the daughter, widow and mother of Marines, we are proud to share our birthday with such a gallant lady.

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    Ann says

    Sat next to a Marine at the DMV, that had been released from service due to disabilities from war . He had been shot at or hurt from IED devices, 18 different times in Afghanistan, he started naming off different fire fights he had been in, I recognized some from the news but not all. He looked to be around 29 or 30, and had been married 3 times already! He had been declared dead officially, getting his name mixed up with another Marine with same name. His wife thought he was dead for an entire month, then learned he was alive and DIVORCED him! He is quite a book waiting to be written. All I could think the entire time he was telling me this, is wow.. I thanked him for his service to our country, but left thinking is thanks ever enough?

    • 12

      Len Penzo says

      “I thanked him for his service to our country, but left thinking is thanks ever enough?”

      I’ve often thought the same thing, Ann.


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