Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother



Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother


Writes about exams and passing. Mentions leave possibility and church parade. Speculates over embarkation and writes of being re-equipped. Starts writing about a friend's experience of a bombing attack on Bath but then breaks off. Resumes to write of witnessing a Me 109 attack on fishing boat and others dropping bombs on railway station and local hotel used by the RAF. Describes damage to accommodation from bombing. WAAFs had to move out due to near miss. Comments on Me 109 'cowardly hit and run attacks on churches and peaceful towns' and the impossibility of countering them.




Temporal Coverage



Four page handwritten letter


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[underlined] 1 [/underlined]
1436220 L.A.C. Akrill,
2 Flight “D” Squadron,
1. E.A.O.S.,
Monday 4.5.42.
Dear Mum,
Well my exam results turned out to be on the right side of the pass-mark so that’s that worry over. The papers were very tricky & some of the questions unfair & the marking stiff but only 10% didn’t get through. We’re here for 3 more weeks & I think its very likely that we’ll be able to manage a 48 the week-end after next – oh no that’s Church parade so we may not get one. Anyway our Flt/Commdr is trying to get us one. Then we go to the Embarkation Centre at Heton Park in Manchester to wait for the boat. We should get at least a week’s Embarkation Leave from there. That will be in about a month’s time. In the meantime we just have to amuse ourselves here. We’ve just been re-issued with equipment & I’ve got about £70’s worth this time including a 15 guinea watch. I’m very pleased to say that except for Wednesdays & one fine night from 10 – 11 each week (for star sights) our evenings will be free in future. Shan’t know what to do with so much spare time.
Denny said he got home last Saturday in the middle of the air-raid on Bath. His village is only
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a mile or two away & had some bombs. He says Bath is –
Well I wrote that at dinner time [deleted] & had [/deleted] & I was going to say that Bath was levelled & that the villages round are crowded with refugees with neither food nor shelter & that his village alone cooks a thousand meals a day. Little did I realise then that before I could say that I should also be “bombed out” but alive, thank God, and at least fed and sheltered.
I was writing a letter to Dave in class this afternoon (we’d nothing to do) when without any warning there was a terriffic [sic] “bump” & a drone of aero engines. I turned to the window just at my back to see, just outside, an Me 109 bank round and dive on a tiny little boat where two people were fishing and turn his guns on it – the filthy swine. There was another terriffic [sic] bang – some had sence [sic] to crouch under tables but most of us rushed to the windows & balcony until we were ordered downstairs. We rushed to those windows in time to see the rest of the Jerries 5 Me 109E’s in all make off low over the Channel. Each apparently loosed a bomb. One on a train in the station which I think will be repaired in time for my 48 if I get it. One on the gas works and another has just about demolished one of the churches. The remaining 2 caused all the fuss
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[underlined] 3 [/underlined]
Both of them were on a Raf hotel just on the opposite side of the road from ours & a few hundred yards from our classroom. One is not yet exploded so our flight – as we’d finished our course – had to charge into our shattered billets among splinters, rubble, broken glass &c & collect everyones bedding – also covered with broken glass &c. & cart it on lorries to a safer area. Out kit’s still scattered around our old billets. I just managed to grab eating, washing & shaving things. We’re sleeping crowded on the floor of the basement of another hotel. The Waafs have also had to move out – their billets missed it by inches. They’re allowed to take kit & it’s a scream to see them rushing about with their belongings. Lots of our boys are going around with scars & bruises & dusty clothes. Most of them were out doing P.T. but there were a number of casualties – some fatal according to reports & I think some are still trapped. I hope the confounded bomb goes off soon as its not going to be very pleasant sleeping as we are now. Don’t think our billets will be very badly hurt when, or if, it does. So now I know what it’s like to be bombed out. It was terrifficaly [sic] exciting while the raid lasted to [deleted] ha [/deleted] see the Me 109 outside just as we’d seen the spits so often before. It was all over in a few minutes & they were scooting like mad across the Channel. I can’t admire their
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[underlined] 4 [/underlined]
bravery in gunning the tiny boat with its two occupants having a quiet afternoons fishing – then they didn’t sink it for one of its mates went out & towed it back with one occupant showing signs of life. I suppose they’ll go back saying that hits were made on an enemy patrol vessel! Well I’ll shake ‘em one of these days - & it won’t be cowardly hit & run raids on Churches & peaceful towns either. The Mes have been doing quite a bit of that during the last week on the coast just here. There’s absolutely no means of stopping them as they just nip across the narrow strip of water, drop their bombs, & scram. We got no warning but the “all clear” went when it was over & since then the Civil Defence has been rushing around wasting time & petrol
So much for our raid – we’ll probably be having more within the next [deleted] few [/deleted] 3 weeks. You’ll not get this until late as I didn’t get it finished & posted in the rush.
Hope to see you – [underlined] maybe [/underlined] next week-end. Hope that blinking bomb goes off soon so that we can have somewhere to live again.
Had a grand leave – missing the food & “lie-in”.
[underlined] Bill [/underlined]



William Akrill, “Letter from Bill Akrill to his mother,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 10, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/18022.

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