Letter: Collateral casualty

Click to follow
Sir: Between Dunkirk and D-Day the Luftwaffe attacked coastal towns in what we called "tip-and-run" raids by flying fighter-bombers low over the Channel, thus avoiding being easily spotted by our radar.

In one such raid the target was a branch-line railway bridge which could perhaps have carried troop trains to the harbour at the time of an Allied invasion of France. The pilot missed the bridge with his bomb but hit it with his machine guns and cannon.

At the time I was an unfortunate civilian who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time - in the roadway by the bridge, directly in the line of fire. As a consequence I was badly mauled by bullet and shrapnel. I bore no grudge against the pilot - he was intent only on fulfilling his mission.

Time warp to the present day and there are TV cameras trained on my hospital bed while a reporter intones about this example of collateral damage to civilians caused by "indiscriminate attacks by the Luftwaffe".

An "indiscriminate attack" it was not - collateral damage it was. That may be an "obscene expression" but it is nevertheless a fact of war.


Hove, East Sussex