Lettice had just managed to run through the Main Gate, still in the dust of the lorry, when the first stick threw her face-down onto the tarmac. A Staffel of Ju88s in tight formation hung directly over the airfield. Explosions erupted across the field in rapid succession, flinging dust and debris into the air. Lettice closed her eyes and clung to the earth for what seemed like ages. When there seemed to be a lull, she lifted her head to see where she might run.
What she saw was the lorry with the WAAF almost upside down, with the cab on fire. A white hand was sticking out between the tarp and the side of the lorry, struggling to release the tarp. The tarp was moving, too, as the girls inside tried to escape.
Lettice dragged herself up and ran towards the lorry.
“Get down, you stupid girl! They’re still coming in!” a male voice shouted at her from the slit trench over to the right.
Lettice turned and screamed back. “There are girls trapped in that lorry! For God’s sake, help me, you bastards!” Then she continued running towards the lorry. Gasping for breath and streaming tears, she barely reached the lorry before – as predicted – the second Staffel started their bomb run.
The earth shook, and detonations came from all sides. Lettice tried to tear the tarpaulin free, but she was too weak. All she did was rip her long fingernails. She could hear someone sobbing beyond the canvas and carefully kept her look averted from the cab, where Liz Hadley and the driver lay crushed. How much petrol was in that engine?
Suddenly four airman joined Lettice. Rather trying to open the tarpaulin, they sought to push the lorry off its roof and over onto one side. Shouting “Two-Six!” they heaved together and the lorry rolled enough to enable the WAAF inside to start crawling out the back.
Several girls, however, were groaning and sobbing in a heap. Corporal Winters tried to help them, but her left arm dangled uselessly at her side. Two of the airmen climbed into the lorry to help pull the injured out, and Lettice glanced once more toward the cab, but there was nothing anyone could do for Liz.
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