Queen Mother's letter in full
Here is the full text of the Queen Mother's letter:
My darling Mama,
I hardly know how to begin to tell you of the horrible attack on Buckingham Palace this morning.
Bertie and I arrived there at about a quarter to 11, and he and I went up to our poor windowless rooms to collect a few odds and ends - I must tell you that there was a "Red" warning on, and I went into the little room opposite B's room, to see if he was coming down to the shelter - he asked me to take an eyelash out of his eye, and while I was battling with this task, Alec came into the room with a batch of papers in his hand. At that moment we heard the unmistakable whirr - whirr of a German plane. We said 'ah a German,' and before anything else could be said, there was the noise of aircraft diving at great speed, and then the scream of a bomb.
It all happened so quickly, that we had only time to look foolishly at each other, when the scream hurtled past us, and exploded with a tremendous crash in the quadrangle. I saw a great column of smoke and earth thrown up into the air, and then we all ducked like lightening into the corridor. There was another tremendous explosion, and we and our two pages who were outside the door, remained for a moment or two in the corridor away from the staircase, in case of flying glass. It is curious how one's instinct works at these moments of great danger, as quite without thinking, the urge was to get away from the windows. Everybody remained wonderfully calm, and we went down to the shelter - I went along to see if the housemaids were alright, and found them busy in their various shelters - then came a cry for "bandages," and the first aid party, who had been training for over a year, rose magnificently to the occasion, and treated the three poor casualties calmly and correctly.
They, poor men, were working below the Chapel, and how they survived I don't know - their whole workshop was a shambles, for the bomb had gone bang through the floor above them.
My knees trembled a little bit for a minute or two after the explosions! But we both feel quite well today, tho' just a bit tired.
I was so pleased with the behaviour of our servants. They were really magnificent. I went along to the kitchen which, as you will remember has a glass roof.
I found the chef bustling about, and when I asked him if he was alright, he replied cheerfully that there had been un petit quelque chose dans le coin (a little something in the corner), un petit bruit (a little noise), with a broad smile - the petit quelque chose (little something) was the bomb on the chapel just next door! He was perfectly unmoved, and took the opportunity to tell me of his unshakeable conviction that France will rise again!
We lunched down in our shelter, and luckily at about 1.30 the all-clear sounded, so we were able to set out on our tour of East and West Ham - the damage there is ghastly. I really felt as if I was walking in a dead city, when we walked down a little empty street. All the houses evacuated, and yet through the broken windows one saw all the poor little possessions, photographs, beds, just as they were left. At the end of the street is a school which was hit, and collapsed on the top of 500 people waiting to be evacuated - about 20 are still under the ruins. It does affect me seeing this terrible and senseless destruction - I think that really I mind it much more than being bombed myself. The people are marvellous, and full of fight. One could not imagine that life could become so terrible. We must win in the end.
Darling Mama, I do hope that you will let me come and stay a day or two later - it is so sad being parted, as this War has parted families.
With my love, and prayers for your safety, ever darling Mama, your loving daughter in-law,
P.S. Dear old B.P is still standing and that is the main thing.
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