70-year-old Blitz letter from Potters Bar resident
A LETTER sent from a Potters Bar resident during The Blitz in 1940 has been unearthed – 70 years after it was written.
ON the 16th November, 1940, Dorothy Waters (nee Newland) of 129 Billy Lows Lane, Potters Bar, wrote a letter.
She wanted to tell relatives in Australia that she was still alive, “after the worst night London has had” since the start of The Blitz two months previously.
The capital had just narrowly avoided another attack from Hitler’s Luftwaffe, after British gunners destroyed a German plane trying to drop a bomb on the town.
“We have been through some very trying experiences indeed and, but for miracles, might not have been here to tell the tale,” she wrote.
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“We thought the heavens had burst when our gunners caught in mid-air a bomber lowering a 1,000lb landmine. I saw the red glare for a second or two. The machine and crew were, of course, blown to smitherines.”
The letter, written at the Ministry of Supply in London, where Dorothy worked, describes a number of hits and near-misses around Potters Bar, including a bomb that lands in a duck pond in a neighbouring house in “BLL” (Billy Lows Lane).
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She conveys not only the sense of dread experienced by residents living in and around the capital during Adolf Hitler’s bombing campaign, but also their resolve.
In a postscript to the letter, dated November 18, Dorothy writes: “We had a fairly quiet night last night till 3am then the guns started going hell for leather and my [daughter] Patricia complained this morning that it was too quiet for her she could not sleep well – she must have more gun fire!”
Dorothy’s account of life during wartime was made public this week by her nephew, Michael Newland, who released a copy of the letter exclusively to the Potters Bar Edition, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of its composition.
Now 66, Michael was born at the very house Dorothy lived in, and remembers his aunt fondly.
“My mother worked a lot, and Dorothy more or less brought me up,” said Michael, who now lives in Kentish Town, North London.
“I obviously don’t remember the Blitz, but I sometimes wish I was a little bit older and lived through it.”
The letter was first shown to Michael’s daughter Amanda when she visited family in Australia in the 1990s. And while the original copy remains in the southern hemisphere, Michael thought the time was right to tell the world about his aunt – who died in 1966 – and her family’s trials during World War Two.
“I’ve been saving it for a special occasion,” he said.
Dorothy died in 1966, but her family’s legacy in Pottes Bar is still alive today.
The letter also refers to a number of relatives, including Dorothy’s brother “Siddie” – better known as Sid Newland, the founder of Newland Construction, which today is run by his grandchildren Paul and Andrew and based in St Vincent’s Way, Potters Bar.
*To read Dorothy’s letter, see this week’s Potters Bar Edition, out now.