Following one of my missions, I was given a three- day pass. I decided that I was going to London. I had been through London on another occasion, but had not spent any time there. London had always been of interest to me and this was my big opportunity. Going to the train station, I caught the old London-Midland-Scotland train. I arrived at St. Pancras station about 7 or 8:00 o’clock at night. It was pitch black and in one of the heaviest fogs that I have ever seen. I’ve heard fog like this referred to as “pea soup” fog (a comedian described this fog, ”thick as she poop!”). At this time England was burning coal. The coal smoke mixed with the fog made the fog greasy. You could not see any distance, not over a few hundred feet.
Arriving at St. Pancras station, I got off the train and noticed that St. Pancras station didn’t have a roof. The roof had been blown off! In looking around at the walls, I saw all these holes in the walls where the steel from bombs had hit the bricks and cut out big chunks. The station was operational, but the housing of the tracks was really in shambles.
Going outside, I was lucky that I got a cab almost immediately. I gave the cab driver the address of the officer’s hotel where I would to be staying. When I checked in the hotel, I was given my room key and advised that dinner was being served. I decided the best thing to do was go to the bar! So, to the bar I went. I indulged all of my frustrations and fears and got pleasantly smashed. If I ate that night, I have no recollection of it. Obviously, I found my way to bed since I woke up in bed the next morning. Awake is probably not the correct term, as I was being pushed by someone who was saying, “Lieutenant, Lieutenant, they’re serving breakfast downstairs. Come .on down and have breakfast”. I looked around and there was this man. I said,” Ok”
Leaving out all of the ”he said-I said”, here is the conversation that followed: “By, the way Lieutenant, how’d you enjoy sleeping in the shelters last night?” “What shelters-I didn’t sleep in any shelters!” “You didn’t?” “Hell no! “We had a bad air raid last night and everybody slept in the shelters (Was he telling the truth or was he pulling a huge joke on me? I still do not know the answer!). He left.
For the first time, I really looked around at my room. It was a nice room. It was long, it must have been thirty feet long, and about fifteen-twenty feet wide with practically no furniture. At one end of the room, was the bed up against the wall. On the far end of the room, I could see there were blackout curtains drawn across something, which I took to be a window or doors. I get up. I go over to see what kind of a day I’ve got and I pull back the blackout curtains. Here were two French doors. I opened them and out past the doors was this nice balcony. Looking from the balcony, I see a park across the street. It was a very tranquil, nice looking neighborhood. The fog was terribly heavy. I left the doors open.
Turning around, I decided that I was going to go back to bed for a little while. The only clothes I had on were my boxer shorts. As I was walking back to bed, something hit me in the back – then, there was this tremendous explosion! I do not know whether the explosion knocked me down, whether I tripped, whether I flinched, or whether I was hung over and couldn’t walk, but I ended up on the floor. The next thing I noticed was a man in an Air Raid Warden’s helmet, who came into the room. He asked, “Are you all right?” I said, “Yes.” Then I asked, “What in the hell was that?” He replied, “ One of those German rocket bombs just blew up down the street.” Well. Enough is enough! I hastily packed my bag, went to the train station and returned to the base. It was safer there. I was not going to hang out in London under these conditions. In addition, I did not want the War Department to send a letter to my mother telling her, ”We regret to inform you that your son Lee, was killed in a hotel in downtown London. He was hung-over and wearing only his boxer shorts!