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Letters courtesy of the family
In a letter to his parents from the Brook War Hospital near Woolwich on 7 July 1917, Sudbury describes an air raid that he witnessed:
Saturday 11.10 amMy dear Ma, Dad & all,
Just a few lines to let you know that I am alright & safe after the great Air Raid this morning.
My word Ma it was a sight. At 10 o’clock we had a warning that there were Taubes on the way. I was in the hospital grounds practising for the sports: we saw 3 or 4 of our aeroplanes flying about at a great height. At about 10.30 we could hear guns being fired over London way so we looked in that direction – do you know Ma I could hardly believe my eyes, right in the distance I could see these Taubes, there seemed to be hundreds of them flying about like a lot of birds, we could see the shells bursting over the top, under and around them then, but they were flying towards us, as they came nearer the buzzing became louder; they would fly right over the top of Woolwich arsenal, which is only about a mile from here, but they didn’t drop any bombs there; they did drop some which we heard quite plain. These Taubes gradually came nearer and nearer and came right over the top of this hospital. I was in the grounds all the time the raid was on Ma. It was a fine sight, but it makes you mad when you can see the shells bursting over, under & all round the aeroplanes & never hit one – they never even hit one Ma. The 3 aeroplanes of ours, which we saw just before the Germans came, flew right into the clouds & we never saw them again until the Germans flew right over the top of us & were about a mile away – then they came out. Altogether I think there were about 6 or 8 of our machines – I saw one air fight at a close range, they seemed only a few feet apart. I could hear the machine guns going; our man was driven down & the German machine went sailing merrily on. My word it was a sight I shall never forget. I counted 22 German aeroplanes and so far as I could see none of them were brought down. I wasn’t a bit afraid, but if they had dropped any bombs they would have blown this hospital to smithereens. I could see all these aeroplanes & the fighting for half an hour. Anyway Ma I’m pleased to say I’m quite safe & well, although somebody’s sure to have gone west. The Germans were flying very low and it seemed as though we could hit them with stones.
I must now close
Your ever loving Sudbury
I didn’t post this yesterday because I thought it might be censored