Sometimes, something pops up that raises lots of questions – and so it is with this snippet from the Lichfield Mercury of 12th July 1940, when the emergency services, officials and even Boy Scouts of Brownhills and the local area came together to stage a mock air raid response operation at Sandhills House in Shire Oak.
This dovetails nicely with the stuff I’m still mulling over about bombing raids during the war: and that is, of course, still open to comment.
The first question is, where exactly was Sandhills House? Is it the big house that’s now a care home on the left as you head downhills to Lichfield, where Ralph Ferrie once lived, or was it the farm? The big house is now called Shire Oak House. If that’s the place, why the name change? I can’t find it marked on maps, but it’s clearly an important place as the same paper records its sale in 1925.
Secondly, the Lane family – I notice also from the archives that the Lanes held this house and Commandant Josiah Lane in particular appears to have been a man of great local standing and respect. What do we know about him?
Do you recognise any of the names? Were you one of the scouts?
Although it was deathly serious, and I wouldn’t mock that, it does remind me somewhat of the wartime tale of the recruits practicing without ammunition – one calls ‘Bang! You’re dead!’ to be met with the reply ‘Clinkety clank, I’m a tank!’…
If you can help, or have anything to add, please feel free. You know the drill, and so did they: comment here of BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.
Thanks to top local history ferret Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler for spotting this gem.
HOW A ‘BOMBING RAID’ WAS DEALT WITH
UNITED EFFORTS AT SANDHILLS HOUSE
REGULAR and Special Police Constables of Lichield and Brownhills, who had taken their training under P.C. Pinchard. co-operated with members of the Auxiliary Fire Service, under Supt. H. V. Speake, First Aid Post men, under Mr. T. Arnold; Rescue Squads, under Mr. C. R. Close: and Boy Scouts, under Scoutmaster W. Bickley, in a realistic bombing raid staged on Saturday evening in time grounds of Sandhills House, the home of Vice-Commandant J. B. Lane.
P.S. Lawrence, of Brownhills, who was in charge of the incident post, gave his orders to each section in such a clear and concise manner that everything went off without a hitch. The police directed traﬂic to keep the roads clear for the fire service, who quickly dealt with serious outbreaks caused by incendiary bombs, the Rescue Squads safely brought down seven persons from the bedroom of a burning building, while the First Aid Party, assisted by the Special Constables, efficiently dealt with gas and high explosive bomb casualties, in many instances bandages, splints and stretchers being improvised.
Imitation machine gun ﬁre at intervals throughout the operations made the raid most realistic, as also did the need for carrying on in respirators when the gas alarm was given. Finally, a casualty with extensive injuries was traced on the roof of the house, and safely brought down on a stretcher by means of a sliding ladder and ropes. The Boy Scouts gave valuable assistance by acting as runners and patients.
Superintendent H. Jones was keenly interested throughout the whole raid, and expreaed his satisfaction at the efficiency attained by the various services. while a large number of the general public were high in their praise of the work.