OTD: The Bombing of Reading

On 10 February 1943, Reading was bombed by the Luftwaffe in an incident involving a single aircraft. Four 500kg bombs were dropped killing 41 people and injuring 150.  I visited the town twice to do gravehunting although I did not fully explore it, concentrating more on the old cemetery. Up till today I had not really known the details behind the bombing and the plaque that was affixed to the side of a building next to St Laurence Church. 

Only 37 of those killed were ever identified and the youngest casualty was a boy of 10 years old. Amongst the survivors was Michael Bond, the author of the Paddington Bear books. 

St Laurence Church

The bombs fell in a line from the north bank of the River Kennet to just outside Reading Town Hall, with the first landed on Simmonds Brewery, the second bomb penetrated the offices of the Reading Labour Party in Minster Street and exploding in Welsteeds Department store across the road. The third bomb landed on a Victorian arcade linking Broad Street and Friar Street and exploded outside the People’s Pantry in Friar Street and the fourth landed on top of the People’s Pantry and detonated outside the town hall, bringing down the front of Blandy and Blandy Solicitors and damaging St Laurence Church.

The Town Hall

The plaque in the image above is affixed to the wall of the building where Blandy and Blandy Solicitors are, and that is next to St Laurence Church.  I am sure that some of the victims of that incident are buried in the old Cemetery in the town. 

The Cenotaph in Reading is behind the churchyard of St Laurence at the entrance to Forbury Park

DRW © 2020. Created 10/02/2020. Most of the text and information comes from an article published on the getreading pages of 10/02/2020

Terrorism and the results thereof

I have been watching the recent developments in France with dismay. Make no mistake, I abhor the loss of innocent lives and I am in favour of using the maximum force to eradicate those who perpetrate it.
 
However, things are not always as they seem in conspiracy land, and herein lies the conundrum. The usual tub thumpers are frothing and foaming and portioning blame without looking rationally at what they are doing. Part of the doctrine of terrorism is the choosing of soft targets, eliciting the maximum sympathy and disgust and then blaming the people you are angry with for the loss of those innocent lives. EVEN THOUGH THE INNOCENTS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT IN THE FIRST PLACE! It does however help to prove your point as a terrorist, because once you pick up the gun/bomb you are really declaring war on non combatants. Terrorists very rarely choose military targets because those tend to shoot back.
 
The rise of religious fundamentalism has always been with us, especially in the Middle East, It is part of their lives, Feuding people who have been at it for decades and who continue feuding even though that have forgotten what the original feud was about in the first place! 
 
There are also those who see a conspiracy everywhere, and who then blame it on the usual suspects who occupy offices and departments of government and who wear black hats and trenchcoats. And naturally there are kooks and fringe groups who blame it on complete populations or groups because it suits their agenda. 
 
Then there are those in the middle, who sheepishly follow what they read on social networks or the media. “I saw it on the news/facebook/twitter therefore it must be true.” 
 
There are really only a few who know the truth and motivation. And often they get taken out by security forces or themselves in some mad death wish, and invariably in one sectors mind martyrs are created and in others justice is seen to have been done.
 
Apart from those physically affected by these acts the rest of society goes on its way, although their freedoms may be somewhat incurred and they will get delayed even longer at the airport by security. Sabres will be rattled, and maybe a few countries get invaded and the United Nations will continue to avoid the issue because the lobbyists on one side are more effective (or richer) than on the other side. 
 
I come from a country where we had a terrorism “problem” (for want of a better word), and we lived with the paranoia and heightened security that goes with it. Lots of civilians died, and fingers were waved, people were detained and the people in black hats and trenchcoats got more power to arrest and detain without trial and point fingers at those who were in opposition. I remember walking to work on morning in the  early 1980’s after a particularly heavy bout of rampaging and killing had broken out and hearing somebody shouting about how a woman had been hung on a station and how revenge was the order of the day. We were all hotheaded in those days, having just come from National Service, and were ready to pick up our R1’s and go hunt down those responsible. In all the years since then I have never read anywhere that this “hanging” ever happened. And I do remember reading how our own security forces were behind some of the bombings and mysterious deaths that occurred. Somebody had been spinning us a yarn.
 
My best advise to those who feel the urge to go out there and form a lynch mob is to stay at home and go read a book or eat a sandwich. The media frenzy will drive the hotheads into action, and there will be a baying for blood. Guess what? that is exactly what those responsible were hoping to achieve in the first place. It is exactly the sort of frenzy that makes arms dealers rich and shady corporations richer, it plays into those who are overflowing with hatred but living off the fat of the land in a country they profess to hate. It is the same madness that makes people hang dachshunds because their names were German or who burn synagogues and paint slogans on the windows of Jewish shopkeepers before shipping them off to the “final solution.”
 
The actions in France are playing into the hands of those who are not happy with the influx of “refugees” into Europe, as well as those who think that their religion is right and the rest are wrong. And before you join the ranks of those who wield pitchforks and burning torches make 100% sure that the person you are setting fire to is not an innocent who just happened to be going about their lawful business, in fact, make sure it is not your son, or daughter, or your co-worker or the kind shopkeeper who always smiles when he sees you. Make sure that when you get home and are busy washing the blood off your hands make sure that you do not boast about your barbarism to your children, because you may have deprived their classmates of a breadwinner. And, when you read about your “exploit” in the newspaper do not be proud of it, because be rest assured somebody will retaliate and when you look again we are burning witches and Billy-Bob because he is different.
 
Remember that tomorrow you may be Billy-Bob or that strange old lady with the beard who talks to cats.