Now here’s a wonderful thing from local history Rapscallion Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, who in his usual inimitable style, has been rootling trough the newspaper archives for references to the air raids alluded to in the St. John’s School log book I featured at the weekend.
As usual, the man has turned up gold for which, as ever, I’m sure readers will join with me in expressing huge gratitude. Please note at the end, Peter proffers some other article titles readers may be interested in. If you are, please shout up – either comment here or drop me a line: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.
In David’s last great post of the School Log he mentions the air raid around 25th August 1940. This year happens to be on the Archives for the Lichfield Mercury, and so I looked to see what could be found.
The details and place names are sometimes a little vague, for obvious reasons, so I have picked out a few that may be of interest to your readers.
REGIONAL COMMISSIONER’S APPEAL TO THE PUBLIC
The urgent necessity of keeping a close watch on the incendiary bomb danger is stressed by the Earl of Dudley, the Regional Commissioner for the Midlands. He points out that in its early stages the incendiary bomb is easily dealt with, and that it is the patriotic duty of every citizen to be on the alert to deal with this possible menace.
Experience of recent night raids in various parts of the country suggests that the German method has been to send over a few skilled pilots to drop their incendiary bombs in order to start fires which would guide and give light enough to less experienced navigators to drop high-explosive bombs.
The Fire Watcher Service, which was the subject of a recent Order, therefore becomes of paramount importance. Not only that, but it is the bounden duty of every citizen to do his or her part in dealing with the incendiary bomb menace. The Fire Watchers’ Order, which recently came into force, makes it obligatory upon the occupiers of premises where there are thirty persons or more employed, or of warehouses, saw-mills and timber yards of more than 50,000 cubic feet capacity, to arrange for a Fire Watcher to be on the premises at all times night and day. In cases where there are a number of different employers in the same premises, none of whom, or only some of whom, employ as many as thirty persons, each individual employer is legally responsible for meeting with the requirements of the Order where the premises as a whole come within its scope, unless they make co-operative arrangements to fulfil its requirements. All occupiers of such premises ought to lose no time in finding out whether anything is being done to start a Fire Watching Service in their building, and, if necessary, take the lead in organising one.
In addition to this, however, there are obvious safeguards which every person should take in his own and the common interest. For example, house-holders should themselves keep watch on their neighbours’ premises and ensure that their gardens, if surrounded by unclimbable fences, are left unlocked, so that wardens and other responsible people may deal with any incendiary bombs which drop in them at a time when the occupants are not
about. Owners or occupiers of premises temporarily vacant should also ensure that the sector warden, policeman on the beat, or local fire authorities are given means of access to the building should emergency arise.
The serious part of an outbreak due to an Incendiary bomb of the kilo calibre – which has been dealt with by women and children as well as men, so that there is no reason why women should not act as flre-watchers as well as men – is that essential fire-flghting. services may be occupied in dealing with what, in the first instance, was a preventable outbreak while their services may be urgently required elsewhere for attending to another type of incendiary or a major conflagration of more dangerous proportions. Experience teaches that an ordinary sandbag filled with dry sand dumped on a small Incendiary bomb of the type generally used will do much to render it harmless at once. If, therefore, sand is kept handy, preferably In bags, so that it does not become wet or scatter by the weather it should not be a difficult task to deal with the ordinary incendiary bombs provided care is taken that on non-fireproof surfaces some of the sand should be under the bomb or the surrounding surface kept wet by a stirrup pump until the bomb has burnt out. The chief point of covering an incendiary bomb with sand where possible is that It conceals the glare.
Local authorities who have been keeping sand at street corners and people who have been keeping it in heaps on roofs, are advised to get bags for the storage. Now that so many people are using bricks as a substitute for sandbags protection a large number of bags have become available. In any case, flour bags or sugar bags would be an effective method of storage. It should not be forgotten that any person can get Instruction in the method of dealing with incendiary bombs if application be made to the local Fire Brigade or A R P. authorities.
The Regional Commissioner in his appeal has pointed out the vital himportance of preventing outbreaks of fire. Do not wait until tomorrow, or your premises may be the cause of just another unnecessary fire—and more important a successful enemy search for a vital objective.
THE WHISTLING BOMB
No more dangerous than others of the same size.
By the use of the whistling bomb, which has contrivances made of sheet metal and wood, shaped like organ pipes, attached the wings, the Germans hope to spread demoralisation among the civil population. As the bomb falls the pipes emit an unearthly an ear piercing scream. Hardened soldiers say it would have a terrific moral effect on anyone hearing it for the first time unprepared.
Members of the public should bear in mind that noise cannot kill, and that whistling bomb is no more dangerous than any other bomb with the same size. They should realise that the effect of the whistle is to make the bomb sound nearer than it really is. A simple way to nullify the effect of the Whistler is to plug in the ears with cotton wool during the raid.
If people allow themselves to be persuaded that the ‘Whistler’ is more dangerous because it makes a terrifying noise, the bomb will be doing far more than it’s worth. If Hitler uses whistling bombs, Britain will use them too.
DORNIER’S BOMB EXPLODES AMONG SOUVENIR HUNTERS
Tragic underlining of repeated warnings against souvenir hunting and going too close to crashed planes was contained in a message issued on Monday by the Air Ministry News Service.
On Sunday afternoon light anti-aircraft guns near a Kent town shot down a Dornier 17 bomber flying at a height of only 400 feet. It had already been attacked and damaged by a Hurricane. It crashed in an open space. Civilians who had been watching rushed forward to collect souvenirs, no knowing or forgetting that a crashed bomber may contain unexptoded bombs. One of the bombs went off, and several people were either killed or wounded.
DISHONEST LICHFIELD LADS STOLE EXHIBITION SOUVENIRS AND CINEMA PATRON’S PURSE
At recent Spitfire exhibition in Lichfield, two boys aged 14 and 11 admitted to stealing a partly-spent incendiary bomb and a German gold watch. Also a purse from a patron at the Regal Cinema.
There are several others that may be of interest such as…
August 1940: Safety in air raids…Anderson shelters
February 1940: Details of the incendiary bomb
March 1940: Details of the effect of bombs
August 1940: Midlands biggest raid
November 1940: Nine Hours raid on the Midlands – Germany’s claim to have ‘plastered Birmingham’ – Too many Blackout Offences