Life during the Blitz was tough
‘‘The night sky was so bright, lit up by blazing warehouses.’’
Maisie vividly describes living under fire in her book ’My World War II Experiences’ and how bombing raids became a nightly occurrence, seeing first hand the bombing of Rotherhithe Docks.
‘‘The night sky was so bright, lit up by blazing warehouses, dock buildings and large ships. Rum, molasses, sugar, flour, margarine and paint all burning and floating on the River Thames,’’ she said.
‘‘Continous raids night and day. Six storey houses were sheared through as though cut with a knife but a mirror or a picture would still be hanging on a top floor wall...sometimes a body which was discreetly removed as soon as possible.
On the night of November 4, 1940, Maisie thought it might all be over for her and her father at their Sidcup home.
‘‘Twelve bombs came down, each one getting closer. We both said ‘the next one is ours’ but it didn’t come. The same thing happened about a week later.’’
They also witnessed the Dogfights that gave birth to Winston Churchill’s famous ‘‘never was so much owed by so many to so few’’ speech.
‘‘I saw quite a few planes spiral towards land, some of them on fire, both German and our,’’ Maisie said.
‘‘We watched until it became dangerous when machine bullet cases and bits of metal came hurtling down around us.’’
It was such a sight that greeted the couple as they emerged from All Saints Church in New Eltham on Sunday December 1, 1940, the day of their marriage.
After their wedding John’s radar work continued to take him around the country - and further afield - including a mission to Gibraltar which, in his understated style, he describes as ‘‘quite interesting’’.
The Bonds returned to New Zealand in 1944 when John was appointed New Zealand’s Director of Radar - a journey through submarine infested waters that included a stop at Guantanamo Bay - before leaving the service at the end of the War.
After a stint farming, Bond saw an advert for maths and physics teachers, a role that eventually took the couple to Rotorua.
‘‘I wasn’t interested in making money,’’ John said.
‘‘As long as we could afford a house. I just wanted to do a job for the country. Sounds a bit corny, but it’s a fact.’’
The night before their wedding was spent in separate corners of her parents dining room, the safest place in the house.