The Night They Hit No. 8

by John Finch

Episode Number: 9
Director: June Howson



Edwin Ashton   Colin Douglas
Jean Ashton   Shelagh Fraser
David Ashton   Colin Campbell
Sheila Ashton   Coral Atkins
Margaret Porter   Lesley Nunnerley
Philip Ashton   Keith Drinkel
Freda Ashton   Barbara Flynn
Janet Ashton   Janet Tute
Peter Ashton   Peter Finch
John George Porter   Christopher Renshaw
Alfred Powner   David Bradley
Mrs. Powner   Julie Goodyear
Jack Sanderson   Bryan Mosley
An Air-Raid Warden   Harry Markham
A Nurse   Leanne O'Neill



The Ashton Home   Edwin, Jean, and Margaret are listening to a German newscast on the radio.

Finally, Jean has had enough: "Oh, he's talking rubbish. Switch him off, Edwin."

She asks the very pregnant Margaret if her case is packed, but Margaret replies that she is not due for another five days.

Philip comes in, reporting that he has finished preparing the makeshift air-raid shelter beneath the stairs.

Margaret is more fatalistic, doubtful that any shelter can protect you against a bomb that happens to have your name on it.

David's and Sheila's Flat   Sheila and David are preparing to go out for the evening.

He requests her help in securing his necktie, having injured his right hand in a bicycle mishap.

Sheila teases him that England is in sad shape when the RAF must rely on one-handed navigators who cannot even stay upright on a bicycle.

Playfully, he chases her around the room.

When she inquires where they are going, David suggests The Bricklayers pub.

He remarks that it seems strange having the children evacuated to Wales.

When he asks her how long it will be before she again sees Peter and Janet, Sheila replies that she hopes to visit them in a week or two.

Embracing, David and Sheila muse over how wonderful it would be if there were no war to separate them—to be able to lie together in bed as husband and wife any time they choose.

Sheila tells David that she lives in fear that someday she will receive, as Margaret did, a telegram that begins with the words, "The War Office regrets…"

David cautions her not to think such thoughts, as the fates of war are out of their hands.

The Ashton Home   Jean asks Philip if he has heard from "that girl" in Guernsey.

No, replies Philip, adding that he is unlikely to receive any word from her, now that the Germans have occupied the Channel Islands.

When he cuts the topic short by leaving the room, Jean instantly regrets having asked such a sensitive question.

Margaret answers the door and tells her father that neighbour Jack Sanderson is there to see him.

She goes to the kitchen, where Philip confides to her that he retains strong feelings for his girlfriend in Guernsey, but that there is nothing he can do about her now.

Margaret urges him never to give up hope, just as she still clings to the hope that one day her John will return.

At the front door, Edwin is surprised to see that Jack Sanderson, dressed in his policeman's uniform, has brought a boy with him.

Jack asks Edwin whether this lad, Alfred Powner, might spend the night with the Ashtons, explaining that Mrs. Sanderson has hurt her back and would be unable to manage.

He goes on to say that Alfred claims to be an evacuee from Pontefract.

Edwin agrees to feed and house the boy until morning, saying that he is sure Jean will not mind.

David's and Sheila's Flat   Over breakfast, Sheila asks David what is the worst part of the war for him.

The waiting, he replies, and Sheila says she thinks of him as being on every plane she hears flying overhead.

The Ashton Home   The boy, Alfred, admits to Edwin that he is not from Pontefract but rather from Featherstone.

Edwin is well familiar with that entire Bradford/Leeds area, as his own father worked in the mines near Wakefield.

Alfred asks where the bathroom is, and Philip volunteers to take him there.

Noticing Philip's rifle in the hallway, the boy asks him whether he has killed any Germans.

Philip says that he has not yet seen a German, but that he would of course try to kill the German before the German killed him.

Both Alfred and Philip confess to hating the war.

David's and Sheila's Flat   David returns home with bottles of drink but no cigarettes.

Sheila says that is just as well because he should give up smoking anyway.

David asks her whether the delivery man still gives her rides to and from work, and she tells him yes.

The Ashton Home   Margaret brings Alfred a cup of cocoa and a pair of brother Robert's pajamas for him to wear.

She asks him how old he is, and he replies, "Thirteen and a bit."

Seeing that Margaret is going to have a baby soon, Alfred asks where her husband is.

When she answers, "He was a soldier," Alfred asks, "Is he dead? Did the Germans stick a bayonet in him?"

This reduces Margaret to tears—just as the air-raid siren begins to wail.

A bombing raid on Liverpool commences, but Margaret has a difficult time convincing Alfred to come with her to the shelter.

Finally, he apologises for making her cry and follows her beneath the stairs.

David's and Sheila's Flat   David and Sheila have sought shelter under a table.

David says thank God that Sheila sent the children away to Wales.

But Sheila confesses that she did not evacuate them at all—that they are still in Liverpool, at her mother's house.

The Ashton Home   Frantic knocking is heard, and Edwin lets a terrified Freda in the front door.

David's and Sheila's Flat   David is furious at his wife for not taking the kids to Wales.

Braving the ongoing attack, he rushes out to retrieve them, and Sheila rushes after him.

The Ashton Home   During a lull in the bombing, the Ashtons are having tea.

Alfred accidentally topples his cup, and the ladies scramble to clean up the mess before it stains the carpet.

In the shelter, Philip and Edwin consider strengthening the stairs with spare lumber.

Edwin makes Philip promise to write to his mother more often.

Alfred happens upon Edwin's packet of cigarettes, and he sneaks it into his pocket.

When he asks Margaret and Jean where the sea is, they tell him that perhaps Philip can show him the River Mersey, possibly even taking him for a ride on the ferry.

Edwin cannot find his cigarettes, and he confronts Alfred about them.

Just then, Margaret experiences a severe pain and believes that her labour has begun.

A Street in Liverpool   An air-raid warden stops David and Sheila from venturing any closer to the destroyed home of her mother, Mrs. Rutherford.

He explains that most people are sheltered at the school, so David and Sheila hurry there.

The Ashton Home   Edwin leaves the shelter to check on Jean and Margaret, who are lying under a strong table for protection.

Margaret confides to her mother that among John's personal effects was a photo, on the back of which he had scrawled, "All I ever care about are you and the boy."

His tags have not been found, something she interprets as a hopeful sign.

Margaret expresses her fear that she cannot hold onto her hope much longer and laments, "What shall I do when I stop hoping?"

Edwin returns with some candles, quipping that it is a bit like Halloween, complete with things going bump in the night.

Suddenly, they all realise that young Alfred is nowhere to be found.

A School Shelter   Sheila cannot bring herself to enter the final remaining shelter, so David goes in alone.

He asks if anyone inside has seen a Mrs. Rutherford, but no one has.

The Ashton Home   The all-clear sounds at 4:20 a.m., just as Philip is returning home.

Philip reports that an ambulance is on the way for Margaret.

He and his father both suspect that Alfred's disappearance is related somehow to the purloined cigarettes.

Margaret assures Philip that the girl in Guernsey will wait for him, but he is not so sure.

The labour pains are coming more frequently now, and Margaret tells her brother that she thinks he will be an uncle by morning.

David and Sheila arrive with the shocking news that they cannot find the kids and that Mrs. Rutherford's home was hit by a Luftwaffe bomb and destroyed.

David leaves to search for them in the daylight, while Philip attempts to locate Alfred.

A Street in Liverpool   Bombed-out homes are being sifted through for signs of life.

The same air-raid warden who spoke with them the night before tells David that no one has reported seeing Mrs. Rutherford.

The Ashton Home   As Edwin is leaving to join David in the desperate search, he asks Jean to have Philip inform Jack Sanderson that Alfred is missing.

The doorbell rings, and it is Jack Sanderson with the boy's mother, Mrs. Powner.

A Street in Liverpool   David helps the rescue crews search under rubble for survivors.

Edwin arrives on the scene and offers David a sandwich.

But David has no appetite, telling his father that no one knows where Mrs. Rutherford and the kids might be.

The Ashton Home   Alfred's mother tells Jean that the boy's father, a merchant sailor, was killed when his ship was sunk.

Jean informs her that Alfred has been found by the Wallasey police—and with Philip's paybook in his pocket.

When Jean invites Alfred's mother to see the garden, Mrs. Powner responds, "You think I'm common, don't you?"

The woman looks around the room and muses that it must be nice, living in a manager's house.

A Street in Liverpool   Townspeople are looking through the destruction, and David has all but lost hope.

Children's voices are heard, and Peter and Janet come running to their dad.

He embraces them, and Peter says, "Look at Grandma's house, Dad."

The River Mersey   Aboard the ferry, Alfred asks Philip if being killed in war is similar to Hopalong Cassidy, and Philip assures him that it is not at all like in the cowboys.

Alfred then informs him that his father is dead, having drowned when his ship was sunk.

The boy says his mother did not even care that his father was killed and that she had another chap that same night.

When Philip asks him why he took his paybook, Alfred cannot come up with an answer.

But when Philip asks why he stole the cigarettes, the boy explains that they are for his dad.

The water is like a cemetery, he says, and the cigarettes are like a wreath.

Philip tells him to throw the cigarettes into the river.

Alfred does not know a proper prayer, so he simply recites, "For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful."

Then he tosses the packet of cigarettes into the water and breaks down in tears.

The Ashton Home   It is now a happy home again, with the joyful news that Margaret's and John's son has been born.

Everyone except David and Sheila will be catching the bus for the hospital.

David says he will not be there by the time the family returns home, so he bids farewell to his mother now.

Little Janet and Peter will be spending the night, and then Sheila has promised to evacuate them to Wales.

The Hospital   Edwin and Jean view their baby grandson, named John George Porter, and the nurse asks whether the baby's father has seen him yet.

Margaret replies no, that he is a prisoner of war in Germany.

When the air-raid siren begins to sound, the nurse shakes her head and remarks, "Poor little fellow. Only born today, and he's already at war."

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