The End ... and a Beginning: 96
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
The End ... and a Beginning: 97

The outbreak of the war during September 1939 nearly sabotaged a performance of the Dance Poem at the Proms:

And so it has begun! For how long? Even postal communications may cease sometime, so this is to send you a line whilst the going is good. On Sept 1st I conducted an orchestral work at the last Queen's Hall Promenade Concert. From the rehearsal in the morning onwards there were many doubts expressed as to whether the concert would take place. However, it did. A 'blackout' of London taking place at the same time. Eventually the programme was curtailed and everybody made for home. Such an eerie experience. Visibility almost nil. Anticipated air raid did not materialize but was apprehensively expected. Since then we seem to have done nothing but attempt to mask the cottage windows. When everything was designed for light and air in the cottage it has not been so simple as you might think. It is all horrible. The local coordination respecting raid warnings - one yesterday morning at 8.0.a.m. - has proved chaotic - but should improve!! Thousands of East End children are in Eastbourne. Imagine youngsters in bathing suits on the beach and a box containing a gas mask slung round their necks.6

The children had been evacuated from London to Eastbourne because it had been designated a 'fairly safe' area, but with the collapse of France and the German occupation of the French coast, Eastbourne became a prime target:

Poor Eastbourne (five miles away from here) has had a gruesome time. We 'vibrate' with their agony. Only those who have experienced the whine and whizz of falling bombs can know what one feels like. A night or two ago we were convinced that [we] were 'for it'. Providentially they fell on a barn about a quarter of a mile away, in the valley. (Eight of them!) The noise was terrific. The cottage seemed to bend in and out. No damage. A few more cracks in the ceilings. The brutes are always going over us. Twice last week low down over our garden, not more than 25 to 30 ft. up. One dropped out of the cloud over the next field, flattened out in time to hop over the hedge and get away safely to the sea. Unless I had seen this (a huge bomber) I should have never believed it possible.7

6 Letter, Frank Bridge to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, 8 September 1939.
7 Letter, Frank Bridge to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, 14 October 1940.