Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Inheritance :: the bomb glass

Inheritance :: possession by transmission from past generations
Chambers Concise Dictionary

I don't usually wear gloves when I garden, but I really should do.  Our flowerbeds are full of pieces of glass.  These are the seven pieces I found from digging one small wallflower-sized hole this morning.

The glass is there because roughly seventy years ago, during The Blitz, a bomb was dropped on the terraced street behind ours, badly damaging about twenty houses.  Their windows were all blown out, and they were so structurally unsound that they later had to be pulled down.  There is now a low block of flats, built in the late 1950s, behind our house rather than the Victorian terraced street that used to be there. 

All along our street, the back gardens are still full of shards of glass from the windows that exploded that night.  As the worms rummage through the soil, the glass gets worked up to the surface.

I never find these pieces of glass without thinking about the people who lost their homes that night.  We don't live in the part of the East End that was really heavily damaged - we are not near the docks or the gasworks - but the people who lived in our house then must have had nightly air raids during the Blitz and would have been terrified to hear the bomb drop so close. Then perhaps they would have been relieved - and maybe have felt a little guilty for being so fortunate - that it had fallen a street away from them and that their own house - our house now - was safe.


  1. It's very evocative finding things like that. I've just started reading Few Eggs and No Oranges by Vere Hodgson published by Persephone Books. It's the diary she kept between 1940-1945, it makes an interesting read especially as she mentions lots of places that are near to where my grandparents lived, places that I used to walk round when I visited them.Makes the war seem much more personal.

  2. It's wonderful to know the history of your house like that. Shortly before we moved into the village, and couple of long term residents wrote and published a history of it, and a copy was distributed to every household. It makes fascinating reading.

  3. we used to live in a terrace house too that was missing the next street along too... but the houses only had yards so I guess all the glass must have been swept away...... x

  4. I love it when you write about the history of your home, Nancy - like this and the fireplace. It's eerie (in this case) and fascinating at the same time.


    P.S. wear your gloves!!!

  5. I often find glass in the garden. I never thought that it may be due to a bomb blast. I am told that the houses at the end of the street had to be pulled down due to being bombed. I will never look at those shards of glass in the garden in quite the same way.

  6. thank you for sharing this--what fascinating reading. It's actually something I think about now and then--what people might find a long time from now that we have left buried in the ground.

    I haven't found anything nearly so dramatic, except for what looks like a shotgun casing (!) and an entire clamshell. I have no idea how either item came to rest on our bit of earth.

  7. Wow! I never really thought about that as we have loads of glass in our garden, when I occasionally go digging! The houses as the back of our garden look like they were built post war too, so that explains a lot. So I've got the same response as Simone! I live in the East End too. Found you through Twitter!


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