November 15, 2006
Swans on Hopedale Pond. Two were here for a short visit in June. Now there are three.
Also on Hopedale Pond, a recent picture of the fireplace area at Fishermen’s Island. And, in the
Would you like to support the Friends of Historic Hopedale’s Crystal Ball by buying an ad in the ad
book? Business or personal. Prices are: quarter page, $25; half page, $50; full page, $100. If
interested, you can email me, or call. (508 473 2779)
John D. Boomer, 89, October 19, HHS 1935, Mendon.
Ruth M. (Downey) Ambrogi, 70, October 29, Hopedale.
I don’t want to get stuck in the forties, but there are so many interesting World War II stories in the
library scrapbooks that I’m sending another. While I was reading through them last week, I decided to
add a new section to my Hopedale history website. It’s called War Stories. So far it includes articles on
most of the Hopedale men who were killed during World War II, and a few other stories about and
from servicemen of that time. I’ll add more over the next few weeks. The war story below, however, is
about a couple of civilians. For an introduction, I’ll revive Edward R. Murrow and his radio broadcasts
during the blitz for an introduction. “This (sound of bombs exploding in the background)…..is London.”
Blown Up By Robot
Hopedale Couple’s Son
Lives to Tell of His
Being blown up by a German robot bomb, and living, is the experience of Harry Midgley, Jr., of London,
son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Midgley of Hopedale, who has written to his father and mother of his
The younger Mr. Midgley’s wife had her ankle broken, a heel bone split and is suffering from shock in
a London hospital. He received only a minor case of shock, although both were thrown into the water
and all their night clothing blown off by the bomb blast.
The experience of watching the bomb descend and being unable to do to save themselves, is vividly
described in the following letter from Mr. Midgley, Jr.
Mr. Midgley is foreman of a factory employing 400 hands engaged in the manufacture of airplane
parts. His brother, Sgt. Wilfred Midgley, is a prisoner of the Japanese, having been taken during the
battle on Malay, two years ago, last January. His family hears from him about twice each year, his
letters stating that he is well and working for his captors.
Grove Park Rd.
No. 7 Isis Court
Dear Mother and Dad:
You’ll have received my telegram a long time ago. So I will tell you all about it.
We had had two nights and a day of robot bombs and had got totally fed up with them, so on Saturday
night, June 17th, we were in bed in the saloon of the yacht, tired out before the sirens went and we
never heard them.
Well, we slept all night, never hearing a thing, though the gunfire and the number of bombs were the
worst night we had had.
At about 4:15 a.m. Sherry woke me up saying one was coming down, and believe it or not, we could
see it (the flames coming out of the exhaust) through the port hole without moving; anyway we were
too paralyzed to move.
I cannot describe the fear that went through me. The bomb came down and cleared y cockpit with
about a foot to spare and it hit the firefloat to which my yacht was moored and we used for a landing
quay. The bomb exploded in the firefloat (which is a barge with a fire pump on it for fighting fires),
exactly seven feet from where we were laying, blowing both my yacht and the firefloat to matchwood
and Sherry and found ourselves 10 feet down in the water with the debris from both ships holding us
How we got to the surface is something which we will never know; Sherry was unconscious and I
brought her up by her hair.
Sherry came to in a few minutes on the surface and somehow I put her on some wood that was
floating. By this time people from other boats had come round and only one fellow noticed us, as it
was half dark and the others had seen the bomb hit direct, so took it that it was impossible for us to
live and therefore concentrated on the other yachts to see if there were any other casualties. The man
that saw us got hold of a dingy and was only able to get Sherry to the first aid post first as her ankle
was broken. So I was left swimming around in a six foot circle for half an hour until the others noticed
I could not possibly get out of this circle, as the wreckage was too thick for me to get away from it and
swim to shore.
Sherry and I had all our pajamas blown off us with the blast and found ourselves in the nude.
Anyway, Sherry is now in the hospital suffering from shock, a broken ankle, and a split heel bone.
I came out of it with only a few cuts and a mild case of shock. I was out of the hospital the next day.
As you probably have gathered by this time our clothes and everything are a total loss, but we have
both got our lives, which is the main thing.
When Sherry comes out of the hospital I am going to send her into the country to rest her nerves, as
she seems to have had them thoroughly wrecked.
I am living with a friend who has evacuated his wife and child after that episode and we are living like
Ken’s mother (by the way, his name is Kenneth Frisby) comes in every morning and tidies the place
up for us and takes care of us.
I sure will be glad to get back over there when this is all over.
Sherry and I were going to sail the yacht over as it was a deep sea yacht, but that is impossible now.
I was fully insured, so I have not had a financial loss.
If any silk stockings are going homeless over there you know what to do with them as Sherry has lost
her little hoard.
Well, I have so many forms to fill out that I will have to close now.
Milford Daily News, July 14, 1944
PS The bombing of England during the war resulted in more than 43,000 deaths and the destruction
of more than a million homes. The “robot bomb” referred to above must have been the German V-1.
(The first V-2s to be used against London were launched in September 1944.) According to Wikipedia,
10,000 V-1s were fired at England, with 2,419 reaching metropolitan London. The V-1 attacks resulted
in almost 6,000 deaths and 18,000 injuries in the London area.
More on the V-1.
Now, if you’re wondering what happened to Harry’s brother, Wilfred, there were two clippings about
him in the library scrapbooks. The first one could have been titled, “Happy Thanksgiving.”
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