Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler has dropped me a line with some interesting stuff about wartime precautions in the area during the Second World War, in particular air raid shelters.
This clipping really gives a feel for the fear and daily threat people were living under, and I’m curious to know where local shelters were, at schools, businesses and private homes. I imagine there were a few communal ones around – so where were they located?
I’ve heard recollections of pupils from Watling Street and Walsall Wood schools being led to cover during alerts, but it’s unclear where the hideouts they used were.
Since we’re interested in the bombs and other effects of war, it seems reasonable to also discuss the precautions.
Any readers taken to task for bike lighting, for instance, or striking a match in the blackout? How severely do you recall this being policed?
As usual, I welcome comment and discussion. Please add your comment here or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.
Cheers, as ever, to Peter for the spot. He’s doing some great stuff behind the scenes at the moment and this blog wouldn’t be a fraction of what it is without his, and all the other contributors tireless efforts.
A few more observances from the Lichfield Mercury of 1940…
SAFETY IN AIR RAIDS
This is what happened in regard twenty-four Anderson shelters reported by ARP experts investigating bomb effects. In one case a bomb 75 feet from the shelter—no covering—large splinter hole in back sheet. Fortunately no one inside. Another 90 feet from bomb, poorly covered—perforated badly and distorted.
In another, six people were seriously injured by splinters which went through both ends, there was no earth covering at the back where the splinters entered.
A double shelter 19 feet from bomb, penetrated four thlcknesses of steel. Six people inside were O.K. But scared stiff!
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PICTURE
Bomb fell 19 feet from reasonabty covered shelter, no damage and four occupants safe.
Two well-covered shelters 50 feet from bomb—two people in each did not even feel any shook! Shelter 18 feet from bomb, screened at the back by a wall, and a brick traverse in front. Shelter occupants unharmed.
Five children in a well-covered shelter were so near the bomb crater that the shelter was burled In earth. The children were got out unhurt.
Sir Alexander Rouse, Chief Surgeon to the Home Office, who gives those instances, adds: ‘These facts require no commentary. Those of you who have not covered their shelters properly or protected the entrance, do you not think you are incredibly stupid? Go to it and get the Job done!’
Surface brick and concrete are shelters that also came out well in the test of actual bombing shelters only 10 or 20 feet from houses which have been hit and another only 25 feet from the crater have been undamaged.
In a raid on two towns, of 33 casualties, 30 were in the open and 13 in buildings. 17 injuries were due to flying glass and 6 to bomb splinters.
In one town about 100 incendiary bombs were dropped on houses and streets, but the 14 fires started were extinguished by the inhabitants with stirrup pumps and other means.
HAVE YOU EMPTIED YOUR LOFT?
Lofts and attics in dwelling houses in urban areas must at once be cleared of all movable articles as a precaution against fires caused by incendiary bombs. An Order to this effect has been made by the Minister of Home Security. A dwelling house under this Order means a building either constructed or adapted for use wholly or mainly for human habitation, and includes hospitals, flats, hotels, and other residential buildings. A loft includes any space between a ceiling and a roof. The Order will not apply to lofts or attics where there is a fixed staircase, or where they are used or furnished for living in. Local authorities are empowered by the Order to enter and inspect premises to see that the Order is complied with. But even where the clearing of attics is not made compulsory, householders are strongly urged to clear their roof spaces. Apart from minimising the danger of fires, the junk thus removed will contain many articles, especially paper and metal articles, which are urgently required. These should not be destroyed, but should be made available for collection by the local authority under the National Salvage Scheme of the Ministry of Supply.