Colin Perry: October 14, 1940

Colin Perry was an eye-witness to the Battle of Britain, which lasted from July 10 through October 31, 1940. Although it is referred to as a battle, it was actually a massive bombing campaign by Germany that lasted almost four months and was intended to serve as a prelude to an invasion of the British Isles. Colin was eighteen years old at the time and hoped to become a professional writer in the future. He kept a diary of his observations during the Battle of Britain, often ignoring danger to enter hard hit areas so that he could record the news in his journal. As time passed, he became increasingly aware of the devastating impact of the war on his country and its people. He was not deterred from his reporting, though.

On October 14 1940, Colin wrote about an attack that had occurred the night before. “Near midnight there was an enormous red glow; it lit the whole of London. It was ten times brighter than the brightest summer’s day. Then a series of explosions, more and still more, and the redness made us wonder. It was the new bomb I spoke of yesterday. A basket full of splitting death. Very near too. London is grotesque, insane. I cannot describe it – it’s all too enveloping.” Colin struggled to describe the level of destruction that he witnessed before his own eyes. In spite of the terrible destruction and suffering, Great Britain did not give up the fight. Perhaps many others had the same attitude that Colin expressed on this day. “Yet I live here in this city of death, of shocking reality and see my people’s homes and persons killed and razed to the ground. I know any moment my turn may come. Yet paradoxically, I know it won’t. I know that despite the blood, the death, the absurdity of this life I shall survive. And I feel not one atom of perturbance as I contemplate my future. Last night I slept as usual.”

Nazi Germany thought that it could use terror bombing to force the British nation into submission. Colin’s attitude helps to show why this was not possible. People do not surrender hope quite so easily. Germany broke off its air attacks at the end of October without gaining the advantage that it sought. The threatened invasion never came.

You may learn more about the Battle of Britain here.

Colin Perry’s diary was eventually published as a book entitled, A Boy in the Blitz. You may read reviews of the book here. You may also read excerpts in Children in the Holocaust and Their Secret Diaries by Laurel Holliday.

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