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'The wandering boy'

During World War Two at the height of the blitz on East London, a boy of 12 was found wandering the rubbled streets near Tower Bridge. His dirty face and torn clothing suggested that something awful had happened.

It was 7am, and dawn was breaking into a sky of crimson red lit up by the many incendiary fires that burned across the City, London's Docks were ablaze as far as the eye could see, and the River had become a wall of snarling and crackling flame with dark plumes of smoke rising into the air as beleaguered firemen fought to douse fires with their spent hoses.

Wherever he looked, the boy could see the flames, the buildings all around him were on fire, and his nostrils were filled with the smell of charcoal and smoke, he could hear the sparks crackle as the flames licked at the burning beams of wood.

It is a vision that the boy, now a man, remembers, as though it were yesterday, for that boy was me and this is my true story:

That Morning my Father had sent me out after the 'all clear' had sounded, to get fresh Milk at the local Dairy, I had been scampering up the road when an un-exploded bomb went off in a house nearby covering me in rubble.

Somehow, dazed and bewildered, I had managed to brush myself down and run on, but I was badly cut by flying glass, and in no state to continue my journey.

It was then that an ARP Warden appeared, his dog had found me with tail wagging, 'come along son' he said 'you need a bandage on that wound', he looked me over apprehensively, 'come up the road to our 'first-aid' unit and we'll patch you up.

By nine o'clock I was covered with sticky plasters and bandages, and looked like a wounded war veteran, 'I've got to get the milk at 'Evans' now' I said, The Warden looked at me sadly, 'I'm afraid there'll be no milk supplies today, the Dairy was blitzed last night.

I wondered what my father would say, me coming home in such a state, and without milk too.

I hobbled back towards home through the back streets covered in rubble and bomb damage, but as I neared I had to rub my eyes, where my home had stood was a large smouldering crater, everything and everyone had gone, blown away by a land mine.

I remember searching with others for many hours, calling for my father and mother, I found his pocket watch and chain in the rubble just as another air-raid started and we had to rush once more for shelter, I opened up the watch when I felt safe, inside an inscription read 'Happy Birthday Dad', and I cried.

I can't ever forget what the war did to me and my family, as a London cockney I have taught my Children about their past so that they can guard against the future, this is one family that knows the anguish and loss that war brings, my children have never known their grandparents, but they do know right from wrong, for those who perish in war are often the innocent and we must remember that for all time.

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