‘One night a terrific rushing noise like a steam traction engine coming nearer and nearer suddenly broke the peace of our little world. The entire Hospital rocked from what appeared to be an explosion, blowing out all the windows with its force. In the dim light among the shattered glass, we looked for our patients but stood amazed, for in a flash all 40 beds of the ward had emptied and we were alone.

Eventually we discovered our patients in the boiler room where they were huddled together in the darkness, shaking and crying like children, for many of them were still suffering from shell-shock following their ordeal in Dunkirk. Next day we learned a land mine had dropped on CellBarnesHospital, killing no one but definitely causing a great deal for anxiety.’

Extract from LIFE AT HILL END 1940 – THERE IS A WAR ON

By Hilary Anderson (nee Gathercole) and Jean James (nee Mossman)

Published in The Hillender 7 Oct 1982

St Albans Museums


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