Mrs Boehm’s party should have turned into a victory celebration. Unfortunately, Major Percy had also brought a preliminary list of casualties. The Prince Regent knew so many of them personally that he ended the evening in tears and the party was ruined.
‘All our trouble, anxiety and expense were utterly thrown away,’ complained Mr Boehm. ‘I always shall think it would have been far better if Henry Percy had waited quietly till the morning, instead of bursting in upon us, as he did, with such indecent haste.’
No 10 Downing Street (next to the white building) has been the official residence of Britain’s prime ministers since 1735. On 14 October 1940, the prime minister of the day was hosting a dinner in the garden rooms at the rear of No 10 when it was interrupted by a Luftwaffe air raid, as he later recalled:
‘The butler and parlourmaid continued to serve dinner with complete detachment… The cook and the kitchen-maid, never turning a hair, were at work. I got up abruptly, went into the kitchen, told the butler to put the dinner on the hot plate in the dining room, and ordered the cook and the other servants into the shelter, such as it was.
‘I had been seated again at the table only about three minutes when a really loud crash, close at hand, and a violent shock showed that the house had been struck…
‘We went into the kitchen to view the scene. The devastation was complete… the blast had smitten the large, tidy kitchen, with all its bright saucepans and crockery, into a heap of black dust and rubble.’
HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 26. Name the Prime Minister whose dinner was so rudely interrupted by German bombs.