12 December 2014

12th dec 1944: "red ball of fire" over Bethlem Hospital, Lambeth

12 Tues. Raw cold; very dismal. At 4.25 a.m. I saw a rocket like a red ball of fire fall through the clouds to NE: it went off with a loud report and a long rumble like thunder. Subject to correction it blew up in the air over *Bethlem Hospital, Lambeth. Ciss had the morning off so we started to move contents of back room to the front room. Cooked a midday dinner and had tea at 5.30 p.m. for a change: we had sardines! Good! To Merton in afternoon to buy liver and sprats – half for Mrs. Veale’s animals. She brought me a cup of tea and some biscuits – a dear girl! Warning from 7.17 to 8.0 p.m. no incident save numbers of our own heavy machines going N to S. Rocket at 10.45 p.m. same direction as last night and about as loud: - NE.

*Founded in 1247 - yes, 1247. Europe's oldest extant psychiatric hospital - popularly known at times as 'Bedlam'. The location and building, not to mention attitudes towards mental illness, have much changed. A fascinating history at: Bethlem Royal Hospital.

*Our reader 'greyfox' adds: 'The Bethlem Hospital had moved from the Lambeth site before the War and in 1936 the central part of the building had become the Imperial War Museum.'

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