world war ii: the blitz

A great shout went up from outside the flats where I was living in Westminster. A Luftwaffe pilot had been shot down in nearby Victoria and had baled out in his parachute, landing in Kennington.

That pilot was pursued by a huge crowd of angry women wielding shovels, brushes, sticks and whatever weapons they could grab. They were hellbent on his annihilation. One woman reached him and hit him with her coal shovel with an angry cry of ‘That’s for my boy at Dunkirk.’

He tried to run but his harness was too much for him. Suddenly, an Army lorry drew up and half a dozen soldiers with fixed bayonets jumped out and forced a way through the crowd. They rescued the airman and the last I saw of him was when, looking battered, he climbed into the back of the lorry.

You have to understand how much we hated them. The Germans started it, but we sure as hell finished it.
—  83-year-old Gladys Edwards on witnessing a downed pilot during the Blitz