during World War II
The blackout began two days before the
war began. Under blackout rules, everyone had to cover up their windows
at night with black material. This was to make it difficult for german
bombers to find their target in the dark.
The street lamps were
turned off and often people bumped into one another. Traffic accidents
were common because car headlights had to be blacked out, and deaths from
drowning increased as people fell off bridges or walked into ponds.
1939 and the start of 1940 hardly any bombs were dropped on Britain. But
Hitler planned to invade Britain. In September 1940 the germans started
to bomb Britain's cities instead of RAF air bases hoping that Britons would
panic and surrender. This period was known as The Blitz. As soon
as the aircraft were spotted in the night sky, air raid
sirens sounded to warn everyone that an air raid was coming. Some families
would run down to a communal brick or concrete shelter in their street.
Others sheltered from the bombs at home in their cellars or underneath
a table or the stairs. Families with shelters in their gardens could hide
in there. These were usually damp and dark and made from corrugated iron.
they were known as Anderson shelters.
London they could shelter in the underground railway stations. At first
this was very uncomfortable but as time went on bunk beds, toilets and
snacks were provided.
These stations were
not totally safe in January 1941, a bomb fell above Bank underground station
killing over 100 people who were sheltering below.
Each street had an Air
Raid Warden. Their job was to send for fire engines and ambulances, and
to check for casualties or unexploded bombs.
After the Raids
As soon as the
raid was over a siren sounded the "all clear" and people went outside to
survey the damage.
Some found their homes flattened. Others
found dead or injured relatives and friends. The Germans showered Britain
with bombs, fire bombs and delayed action bombs. This kept the police,
the fire fighters, bomb disposal men, ambulance drivers and ARP wardens
As the war continued
people became used to this carnage and adjusted their lives where possible
continuing "Business as Usual".
Being an Evacuee must have been horrible
at first. You were sent off to some strange place and might never see your
The evacuation begun
on Friday 1 February the day German troops invaded Poland.Most children
were evacuated in school groups with their teachers. Children and their
teachers met in the school grounds. They wore name tags and carried their
gas masks in cardboard boxes over their shoulders.
Many children were
sometimes sent to farms and worked. Some were sent to big country houses.
Many of these children had never been out into the country before. Some
were afraid of the farm animals and others were surprised to see that apples
grew on trees. Lots of them from the slums were surprised to find themselves
staying in houses with inside toilets and carpets.
Also some well off
country families were horrified to find that some of the children had head
lice and skin disease.
Some children stayed
in danger areas because their parents refused to have them evacuated.
In most countries women worked in war
factories to make war materials. 75,00
women joined the Land Army in Britain to help grow more food.
In 1941 women between
the age of 19-30 had to register for war work Women who joined the forces
were mostly secretaries, drivers, cooks and mechanics. Lots of them also
joined the Women's Royal Voluntary Service (W.R.V.S.). They provided meals
and clothing etc. for survivors and rescue workers.
All fit young men were "called up" and
had to leave home and join the army, navy or air force. At first they had
to be between 20-22 but this was changed to between 18 and 41. British
men were sent to Africa, the far East and Europe. Some of them were away
so long that their families did not recognise them when they came back.
like scientists and engineers did not join the forces because their jobs
were important in wartime.
Also some men were
not fit enough to join they sometimes volunteered as fire fighters or ARP
wardens. They could also join the "Home Guard".
Home Guard units had
to protect Britain from German parachute attacks. They kept a look out
for spies, guarded factories and airfields. Their nickname was "Dad's Army"
because some of them were quite old. They sometimes wore tin
helmets to protect their heads.
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