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World War Two: Air Raids

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Attacks on people from WW2 low-flying German aircraft: strafing

Planes often flew low during World War Two air raids and it was not uncommon for people out in the street during to find themselves being strafed. ('Strafe' means 'attack with fire power from a low-flying aircraft'.) This page gives some personal recollections of being strafed.

Personal experiences of being strafed

Guest contributions

In 1943 during one of my grandfather's sorties for hatching eggs, a lone German fighter plane came in very low and strafed a main road between Erith and Crayford - then a semi-rural area with corn fields on both sides of the road. I can still vividly remember seeing the young pilot's profile. He seemed not much older than I was - just like one of the boys we used to refer to at school as being 'one of the big boys'. I've occasionally wondered whether he survived the war.

Granddad and I threw ourselves into a ditch and the fertile eggs in his raincoat pocket were, needless to say, smashed to a messy pulp!

We then cowered for what seemed an eternity under the counter of the local corner shop until Granddad deemed it safe to run for safer cover. Just as well we did, as the plane turned and strafed the same road again. Granddad threatened me, "Say one word about this boy, and it will be the last time I'll take you with me"! I said nothing - not for many years afterwards!

Michael Sullivan



One day I was outside with my eldest sister, who was looking after our younger brother, our youngest sister who was in a pram. Suddenly a German plane flew low overhead and started firing directly at us. As the bullets hit the ground, they sounded like a heavy horse galloping past. The ground shook and soil flew into the air.

My eldest sister snatched my youngest sister from out of the pram, and dragged my younger brother with her into a ditch under an hedge, with me running to catch her up. We huddled together there as the bullets ripped through the hedge tops sending bits of wood and twigs flying everywhere. Some of the bullets made holes in my clothes, and something very hot burnt me under my chin. I still have the scar.

Suddenly two Spitfires or Hurricanes appeared, flying extremely low, and started chasing the German plane. I was told later that they had shot it down.

Stan Clark


One day while I was cycling to school a German fighter plane appeared suddenly out of the clouds and loosed off a few rounds of machine-gun fire in my direction. It was all over in a few seconds, fortunately without me being hit.

Geoff Copus


A German pilot is caught on English soil

My mother related to me and my two older brothers that she was riding a bus west of London past a park, which naturally had been taken over as Dig for Victory vegetable garden allotments, when a German fighter plane made a crash landing. The bus stopped and everyone, including my mother, got off to have a look. They saw the pilot being taken into custody by a man wielding a garden fork. The man gave the badly shaken pilot a cigarette in exchange for the souvenir of a button off the Luftwaffe pilot's uniform!

Jan Clifford


If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.

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