Frederic de Hoffman '45, a refugee from Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakis, a veteran of London's worst bombing raids, and the only civilian, aboard a small Greek freighter in a British convoy, has been giving a series of broadcasts over the Crimson network on European affairs.
Aware that the Germans were intending to occupy the rest of Czechoslovakia, de Hoffman decided to get out of Prague, but was unable to leave until 10 days before the Germans actually occupied the city.
Survived Worst Raids
He flew to England and spent the next two years attending British universities. He was in London during all of the worst bombing raids and the famous fire raid of December 29 that practically destroyed the "city."
Telling of the way bomb damage is repaired in London, de Hoffman estimated that at the height of the raids, 8,000 men were constantly at work clearing up the damage to the transportation lines. A crater blown in the road at Charing Cross was so big, he said, that a public bridge was built over it and opened with proper ceremony.
After waiting two years for a United States visa, de Hoffman sailed on a small freighter in the middle of a British convoy. "When attacked for the first time," he related, "we were some 300 miles off the coast of Western Ireland on a fairly clear night.
"Suddenly there was a whizzing of a torpedo and a loud explosion, followed by a short, high-pitched whistle of the torpedoed ship calling for help. A boat fairly near us," de Hoffman said, "was hit, and the explosion shook the whole of our ship."
Though momentarily expecting to be hit themselves, the freighter was not touched and despite several more attacks, the convoy arrived in Norfolk.