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Air Raid Protection Wardens in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

Air Raid Protection Wardens




       Air Raid Protection Wardens were appointed through out Britain to assist the Police in protecting the public during air raids. In September 1935, as the possibility of a war increased, the British prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, published a circular entitled Air Raid Precautions (ARP) inviting local authorities to make plans to protect their people in event of a war. In April 1937 the government decided to create an Air Raid Wardens' Service and during the next year recruited around 200,000 volunteers.

    The duties of an Air Raid Warden included: Ensuring that the blackout was observed, sounding air raid sirens, ensuring that people went into public air raid shelters in an orderly fashion, checking gas masks, evacuating areas around unexploded bombs as well as helping to rescue casualties from bomb damaged properties, finding accomodation for people who had been bombed out, judging the extent and type of damage and informing the Control Centre to send out the rescue services. There were ARP wardens in many other countries.

    29th Jan 1940 Air Raid

    7th Feb 1940 Scare

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    3rd Mar 1940 Excerise

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    If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.



    Those known to have served with

    Air Raid Protection Wardens

    during the Second World War 1939-1945.

    The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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    Sam Taylor Manchester. ARP

    I am attempting to find out about my uncle Sam Taylor who was in the ARP during WW2. Sam had his legs blown off during a bombing raid in Manchester, he received a Medal but I do not know what medal he received. Can anyone please help me find out more about my uncle Sam?

    Mrs Glenda Packer.



    George Henry Sexton ARP Warden

    My father, George Henry Sexton, was an ARP warden. He was aged 60 when he joined, and took a lot of pride in what he was doing. I think they were very brave men, and often risked their lives to save others. Without them doing that job, I think that many lives may have been lost. He has been gone for many years now, but I still remember him in his uniform, and feel very proud that he was my Dad.

    Maureen Prior



    Leading Stores Assistant Philip " " Linder

    TORQUAY AT WAR.

    I am standing in the nave of St John’s Church, Torquay. The morning sun illuminating the stained glass windows; projecting multi-coloured patterns through the swirling dust mites on to the tiled floor. It was 10am; and my thoughts returned to that momentous day seventy years ago. A day that changed my life and countless millions of others as well.

    It was Sunday September 3rd 1939 and I was in the church vestry, with my brother Tony. I was twelve year’s old; my brother a year and a half older. Angelically dressed in our cassocks; surplices and ruffs; together with the rest of the choristers, we prepared ourselves for the morning service. The organ softly started to play as Mr Vernon Read; the choirmaster began the introductory music. We filed into the choir stalls as we had done so many times before, not knowing then, that this Sunday would turn out to be so different!

    We were barely into the service; half way through a hymn, when the churchwarden came into the nave and conferred in whispers with the Vicar, the Reverend Robert Boggis. The hymn finished and there was an unnatural silence; the puzzled congregation whispering amongst themselves. The warden left; the Vicar hesitated briefly; then slowly made his way into the pulpit. From where he solemnly announced,

    “I regret that we must terminate the service earlier than usual, as the BBC has just announced that the Prime Minister, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, is going to make an announcement of national importance at 11.15”.

    After a brief blessing, the congregation rose as one and the church quickly emptied. My brother and I rode on our bicycles to our home on Beacon Terrace, and joined our mother and father who were seated in front of the radio set; tuned into the Home Service. At the designated time, Mr Neville Chamberlain was introduced by the announcer and after a pause, the Prime Minister began his speech; his voice filled with suppressed emotion.

    "I am speaking to you from the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street. This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by eleven o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.” He continued on, giving further details.

    When his speech ended, we were silent as we tried to take in the full import of what we had heard. My parents were worried and apprehensive as the radio played some quiet music, but my brother and I were inwardly excited. It would mean that we would now get issued with and get to wear the gas masks that we had been fitted with at Torwood school a few weeks earlier. But as the days went by, the pattern of life we had known changed. Blackout restrictions were imposed; at night the streets were pitch black with all windows completely covered. Without any moonlight, finding your way around after dark was extremely hazardous! One night my mother inadvertently left a small gap in the curtains, which was spotted by a warden; she was reported and made to appear in court like a common criminal and fined the sum of ten shillings for this offence.

    The air raid sirens chillingly sounded at all hours of the day and night, for no apparent reason. Within days, plans were announced for rationing all food products and petrol throughout the country, the ration books issued. Fuel rationing was added to the list before the end of the month. The population were restricted to one egg, half a pound of butter and margarine, half pound of sugar and a quarter pound of meat, each person per week and clothes could only be bought with clothing coupons. We were urged to paint a black line around the bath; five inches from the bottom to remind us to economize the use of water and fuel.

    By 1940, Torquay had changed beyond recognition. The harbour area was requisitioned by the military which was festooned with barrage balloons and all the large hotels in Torquay and Paignton, other than the Imperial, were taken over by the RAF as accommodation for the recruits of the Initial Training Wing for their basic training as prospective air crew. Unfortunately, in June 1940, Beacon Terrace was also requisitioned and we were given two weeks notice to move ourselves and all our belongings out of our house. Ironically, this was history repeating itself, as Beacon Terrace had been similarly used by the military in 1918, when it was taken over as convalescent accommodation for New Zealand troops, recovering from the trauma of trench warfare in France. It was only when that war finished and the houses lay empty that my parents bought our present home. In the meantime, we found a temporary accommodation in Babbacombe Road opposite Lisburne Square. My father, at the age of 60, was directed to essential war work; employed in Sampson’s garage in St Marychurch, which built parts for Sunderland flying boats. My mother also worked part-time in a small factory in Braddons Hill Road East, making army bunk beds. I was also working, after school and Saturdays’, delivering groceries on an errand boy’s bike, from a shop in the Lisburne Square. I also did two nights a week as a fire-watcher at St Johns Church, with another boy and a senior member of the choir. We boys were paid the princely sum of one shilling and sixpence per night. We had a stirrup pump and a bucket of sand; which was all that was deemed necessary to protect the church from being burnt to the ground,in the event if there was a incendiary bomb attack!

    After Dunkirk, the threat of immenant invasion was very real. The country was on full alert; beaches were closed to the public; ringed by tall barbed wire fences and rumoured to be mined. The ringing of church bells was forbidden; to be rung only in the event of an invasion. The volunteer army of The Home Guard was formed; air raid shelters were built on The Strand and all other populated areas. The Royal Navy commandered the harbour and twin torpedo tubes were installed on the end of Haldon Pier. Similarly, the Royal Artillery mounted two 4.7 inch coastal guns on Corbyn Head to protect the Bay from enemy shipping. Tragically when on a practice firing; one of the guns misfired causing a breech explosion, which killed five local Home Guardsmen who were manning it, together with their army instructor. A memorial plate was installed on the site in 2007, marking this very sad accident

    The Princess Pier was closed to the public and a large section of the boardwalk was removed to prevent any foreign invaders from using it as a landing platform. But it was still possible to access it by sea So one day, my brother Tony and I and a couple of other boys, took a rowing boat to the pier, and after climbing a metal ladder, managed to get inside the wooden pavilion on the pier itself. Under the stage, we found boxes of roller skates, which in peacetime were hired to people wishing to skate on the pier. Now we had our own private skating rink, in which to spend many happy hours skating. We never skated out in the open on the pier itself so were never apprehended. Many years later, I was devastated, when standing on Beacon Terrace, I watched this lovely old wooden Victorian building completely destroyed by fire; accidentally set alight by a workman’s blow torch! So many happy memories going up in flames!

    An old cargo ship, full of scrap iron, was moored across the outer harbour mouth; acting as a block-ship, intended to be scuttled by an explosive charge, to stop any German invasion craft using the harbour. Occasionally, this ship was towed from its mooring and berthed in the inner harbour, alongside South Pier for repairs and servicing. In one of the many regular tip and run air raids, a German fighter-bomber; when trying to sink it; swooped low across the harbour and dropped a bomb; narrowly missing the boat by about ten feet. The bomb hit the pier alongside, but was on such a low trajectory, it didn’t explode but bounced off the pier, skipping over the ship and over the dome of the Pavilion Theatre; exploding harmlessly in the side of the cliff of Rock Walk The scrape furrow mark of the bomb could still been seen on the pier long after the war ended, until it was filled in one day by an over-zealous council workman.

    I attended the Torquay Grammar school, then situated in Torre. When the London Blitz began, St Olaves Grammar school, from Bermondsey in London, was evacuated ‘en masse’ and accommodated at our school. The local pupils used the school buildings in the mornings and the evacuees in the afternoons. It was nice to have time off school, but I think the lack of the many lessons I missed, had a lasting detrimental effect on my overall education.

    I joined the Air Training Corps when it was formed at the school. The Commanding Officer was A C Ellis, the school’s history master, who was designated as Squadron Leader. We cadets endured many hours of ‘square bashing’ in the schoolyard and were taught the Morse code, air navigation, shooting, and aircraft recognition, etc. On the lighter side, we visited various RAF airdromes for flying experience. Exeter, Locking, near Weston-super-Mare and the Royal Naval airdrome, HMS Heron 2, near Teignmouth, flying in planes of the Royal Naval Fleet Air Arm.

    On one occasion, I was in the observer’s seat, of a Fairy Fulmar, from Haldon, flying high over Lyme Bay, near Teignmouth. The pilot was practicing aerial combat and was attacking and firing his machine guns at a drogue target being towed through the air by a Blackburn Skua aircraft. Suddenly, we were radioed by the airdrome controller to break off from the exercise; take evasive action and return immediately to base, as there were enemy aircraft reported in our immediate area. As the pilot took a steep diving turn back towards the airdrome, from 3000 feet, we could see five German fighter bombers below us, swooping low over Teignmouth; dropping their bombs. One demolished the Berkley Hotel on that day, causing death and injuries. On landing back at Haldon, I was very relieved indeed to get my feet safely back on to the ground once again.

    Our Squadron 1528 of the ATC inherited a complete set of brass band musical instruments donated by a well-wisher. Cadets were asked to volunteer to form a brass band. I put myself forward; taking up the cornet; later becoming the band sergeant. We had a musical instructor and everyone in the band had to practice and learn their own various instruments from scratch. It was almost a year before we were skilful enough to appear in public. It was a proud day when on ‘Salute the Soldier Week’, we made our debut and marched down the town from the Castle Circus, through the streets to The Strand, where the Mayor took the salute. We preceded our own 1528 squadron, the rival 200 squadron and a contingent of the local Home Guard. At the time, our repertoire consisted of only three marches. We eventually received complaints from Squadron Leader Eric Perry, the Commanding Officer of 200 squadron, that we always seemed to play “You’d be far better off in a home” as his squadron marched past!

    Sometime in 1942, with no given reason, all local ATC squadrons were ordered to muster at eleven hundred hours one Saturday morning, on the roadway opposite the Imperial Hotel. It was a very hush-hush operation, amongst tight security, and only later on that day did we learn the reason. We lined up in columns of eight; behind us were many hundreds of the airmen who were training in the area. The Central Band of the RAF was assembled beside the Triangle at the top of Beacon Hill. As they struck up with the RAF March Past, we lead the whole procession down towards the saluting base. On the dais was King George VI, smartly dressed in his RAF uniform accompanied by his wife Queen Elizabeth charmingly dressed in her outfit of light blue. We were very proud cadets indeed, as we marched past the saluting base and were given the command of ‘eyes right’ and gazed at such important and well-known figures!

    I and some other young lads formed a small five-piece dance band, in which I played my trumpet. We performed at various venues including the regular weekly Saturday night dance held at the Pengelly Hall, at the rear of Torquay Museum. For which I received the sum of ten shillings a gig; a small fortune to me at the time! This was the only youth dance in the district. We used to practice our sets every Sunday at a hall in the Teignmouth Road, near the Havelock Arms public house!

    On Sunday; the 30th May; I cycled up Union Street on my way to a practice session. I had just reached Castle Circus; next to the Town Hall, when the air raid sirens began to wail. Almost instantaneously there was a deafening roar of racing engines. I looked up and saw a formation of six German planes flash across the sky above me at about two hundred feet; temporarily blotting out the sun. Immediately there was a deafening explosion, and I was literally blown off my bicycle by the shock wave. A bomb had landed less than 100 yards away and demolished a terrace of houses and shops opposite Woolworths, where the Argos store is now situated. I picked myself up from the road and walked; wheeling my bicycle back to the top of Union Street. It was like a scene from hell. The smell of the cordite and crushed masonry pervaded the air and I could barely see the demolished houses through the thick swirling clouds of dust and smoke. Then I heard the sound of demented howling, when through the dust haze staggered a man dragging three frenzied greyhounds straining against their leashes, all completely white; covered with the cloying dust. The man was dazed and walking like a robot. Opposite the bombed buildings, all the windows and shop fronts of Woolworths and the many others had been completely blown out. The emergency services were soon at the scene, clearing the road and searching amongst the debris, looking for any survivors. It was very fortunate indeed that it happened on a Sunday and the shops were closed, otherwise there would have certainly been countless dead and wounded shoppers..

    Realizing that there was nothing I could do to assist; I continued my journey along Lymington Road towards the Havelock Arms. Just before I reached it, I could see smoke and flames rising from the side of the road ahead of me. One of the raiding aircraft had crashed on the terrace of houses on the right-hand side of Teignmouth Road. As I drew level with it, I could see the wreckage of the plane buried in the roofs of the houses; burning fiercely, the body of the pilot still in the cockpit. A fire engine arrived and played water on the conflagration. This plane had had been flying so low over Babbacombe, that its wing had clipped the spire of the Roman Catholic Church. It immediate lost height and fell into the houses in Teignmouth Rd. Tragically, before crashing, it jettisoned a bomb, which fell on St Marychurch Church, where a Sunday school service was just commencing; killing twenty-one children and five of their teachers. It was the biggest loss of life in a single air raid on the town! Being a Sunday, fate had decreed that although no shoppers at Castle \circus died, tragically, many unfortunatel children and teachers, suffered untimely cruel deaths!

    I became a member of the ARP as a Wardens Messenger. I was issued with a steel helmet with a white ‘M’ emblazoned on it. Our post was situated in the sandbagged basement of the Norfolk Hotel on The Terrace. The task of a Messenger was to deliver messages by bicycle, in the event of the telephone network being damaged by enemy action. One weekend, our section; all volunteers, were loaded into a lorry and transported down to Plymouth, which was experiencing severe bombing by the Luftwaffe. On so many nights, over Paignton, the clouds reflected the ruddy glow of the inferno that raged in the stricken city. On our arrival, we were not quite prepared for the carnage that met our eyes. The City centre that I remembered, was unrecognizable; being all but demolished; the flattened buildings lying across the roads. We spent the day helping to clear the roadways of the rubble; returning home before dark, before the bombing started again! We repeated this exercise many times afterwards.

    One sunny afternoon, a lone Messerschmitt 109, flew very low along the coast from Brixham. It machine-gunned the beach at Paignton and then carried on towards Torquay at cliff top level. An army cook whilst taking a smoking break at the gun site on Corbyn Head saw the aircraft approaching and quickly appreciating the situation; ran to the nearby twin Lewis guns, which were mounted on the edge of the cliff. He swiveled them around and with no regard to his own personal safety, bravely fired point blank into the oncoming plane. His accuracy was unerring and immediately the plane’s engine started smoking; exploded and caught fire. Climbing frantically to gain height, the pilot, flew the plane out to sea and then turned back to try to make a crash-landing in the shallow water off Torre Abbey Sands. Although he made a perfect wheels-up belly landing, the unfortunate pilot was trapped and could not get out of the cockpit as the plane was devoured by the flames. I arrived on the scene only minutes afterwards and watched the plane burning itself out. There was a sequel to this incident,. The brave cook was charged with firing the machine guns on which he had not been trained and without obtaining prior permission. When the news leaked out about of this injustice, there was a public outcry and rightly so, the charges were promptly dropped. I understand that later on; he was belatedly commended for his bravery!

    On October 25th 1942, members of our ARP post, was dispatched to the Palace Hotel, which was then an RAF hospital for rehabilitating officers, who had been badly wounded and burnt in combat. We would often see patients walking the streets of the town, with badly burnt and disfigured faces! The hotel had just been bombed by a German aircraft. When we arrived, it was a very disturbing scene, with many casualties; dead and injured. I counted at least nineteen bodies in the make-shift mortuary in a wooden hut in front of the hotel. I was given a container and allotted the task of collecting clothing and articles of personal possessions, which were scattered around the badly damaged bedrooms, whilst the work went on searching for any further survivors in the broken shell of the building. The memories of the horrific scenes I had witnessed that day caused me to have nightmares for many nights afterwards. In the aftermatth of this raid, the RAF abandoned the hotel as a hospital, as it was fairly obvious that the enemy had gained knowledge for what this hotel was being used. It was a wise move, as some months later, the empty building was bombed once again.

    In 1944, Torquay went through another dramatic change. Almost overnight, the Torbay area was filled to bursting point with American soldiers. Camps sprung up all around the outskirts of the town and the Grey Car garage in Torwood Street, became a PX, (an American forces supermarket). The Bay itself was full of naval ships, both British and American. My mother, father and myself, were now living at Morden Hall in Warren Road; where we had a bird’s eye view of the goings on. My mother was acting caretaker. For many months the house had been empty. Suddenly, without any warning, twelve soldiers of the American 4th Infantry Division, (the Ivy Division) were billeted on us. They were very friendly; well-behaved and generous tenants. I was now seventeen and I now learned to smoke, with the unlimited free cigarettes, which were given to me. My mother fussed over these young boys; they called her ‘Mum’ and she spent many hours sewing and making repairs to their clothes. We were given many boxes of emergency K rations, in which there were many long-forgotten delicacies; tinned steak, spam, tinned fruit, chocolate bars, chewing gum and a luxury that we had not seen for many years; soft toilet tissues!

    Regularly, they left their billet for a couple of days on exercises. They were taken to the harbour slipways; which had been built in May 1943, by the Royal Engineers, and loaded on to landing craft and shipped down the coast to Slapton Sands, This stretch of coast had been designated as a operational mock French beach and there they practiced getting ashore under ‘live fire’. This continued for many weeks throughout the spring. On their free nights, they frequented the town’s pubs and local dance halls. I can still remember the over-crowded smoked-filled ballroom of the Marine Spa; above Beacon Cove; the ‘Yanks’ dancing and jitterbugging with the local girls, who were enamoured and completely knocked off their feet by the appearance of these glamorous young men. They talked like Hollywood movie stars, continually chewed gum; smoked cigars and had unlimited money to burn. There was a fantastic atmosphere at the Spa in those days, as we danced to the music of Art Jennings and his band! I am afraid that we local lotharios, were ignored by the girls and really had our noses put out of joint.

    Early in 1944 a coastal ban, from The Wash to Cornwall, had come into force and visitors were only allowed into the coastal areas if they possessed appropriate permits. This was to ensure absolutely security surrounded the preparation of Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings. My brother Bert had quite a task getting through the security barriers, when trying to gain access to the town after returning from Canada on his RAF duties!

    It was very sad occasion when without any notice whatsoever, our tenant soldiers told us they were leaving, not to return. As we all made our fond farewells, my mother was in tears. They had become like family. We knew then that the invasion was imminent and that the next few days were going to be a very perilous and dangerous time for these young men. They loaded their kit into a lorry; never to be seen again! The house rang hollow and felt more than empty with their departure. The Bay itself, had been absolutely chocker-block with craft of all kind; so many that you could almost walk from one to the other. They all disappeared as if by magic overnight. All around the coast enemy air raids were expected and Torquay's took place on 29th May 1944 when some 21 planes are believed to have been flying over Torbay laying mines, some carried bombs which were dropped around the Harbour, in Chelston and elsewhere. Nos 4 and 5 Park Crescent was destroyed but the worst affected property was Bay Court Hotel in Park Hill Road, which was completely demolished.

    Opposite the bombed Bay Court, at the bottom of Meadfoot Lane, there lived a school friend of mine called Brian Gill. The Gills were an old Torquay fishing family.1` He was one of the first on the scene. There was a small opening in the rubble where only someone as slight as he was able to enter. Ignoring advice by other would-be rescuers, he squeezed in the hole and crawled through the ruins searching for any survivors; an extremely hazardous operation as the house was virtually collapsing about him. Afterwards, his courage was recognized by the authorities and he was awarded the George Cross. Unfortunately, none of the occupants of the house survived! This was the last recorded air raid of the war on Torbay, but throughout the past four years the attacks had been many and often. One hundred and sixty people were killed; 157 severely wounded; 137 buildings were destroyed and a total of1300 were damaged in the area.

    At the age of eighteen, I was called-up! I expected to go into the RAF, being in the ATC, but was enlisted instead to serve in the Royal Navy. After training, I was posted to HMS Drake in Plymouth and later was drafted to a landing craft, LST428; which had been involved in the D Day landings. We were then engaged in ferrying stores, vehicles and equipment from England to the continent. Some months’ after the war had ended, these vessels had to be returned to the United States, so we sailed with five other LST’s from Plymouth to cross the Atlantic. The ships were loaded with tanks, and after frequent engine breakdowns, it was three weeks later when we berthed in New York. It was an awesome sight as we entered the River Hudson and slowly watched the skyscrapers emerge above the morning mist. We passed the Statue of Liberty and finally ended our voyage; docking in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We then spent a glorious ten days there, exploring the sites and sounds of New York City, before returning home. After all the austrity and rationing of the past few years, it was like a fairy land that we had only seen on the cinema screens of the Hollywood movies.

    On the last day of our stay, the LST was decommissioned and after a brief ceremony, was returned to the US Navy. From the Grand Central Station; we embarked on a two day train journey to Halifax, Nova Scotia. From there we sailed back to Southampton in the liner Aquatania, and then returned to the barracks at HMS Drake, Plymouth. I spent the last three months of my naval career, happily playing the trumpet; as a volunteer bandsman in HMS Drake’s Bluejacket Military Band. We played on the parade ground; ceremonial occasions in the City and on many engagements in town and villages around Devon and Cornwall. Once in Torquay. We actually marched in a procession with my old ATC band.

    Finally, demobilized, I returned to my home on Beacon Terrace, which has been handed back to us by the Air Minsitry. Sadly my father had died in 1945 and so my brother and I helped my mother to settle in; decorate and open the building as a hotel once again. The town itself showed many signs of war damage but was slowly returning to be a Mecca for holiday makers, in search of the elusive English sun! But we must not forget that from 1939 to 1945, Torquay had made a massive contribution to the war effort with its part in the training of RAF personnel and its ultimate role in the preparation and success of the invasion of France.

    When I was a civilian once more, with so many vivid memories of the war years, spent growing up in the town of my birth. I also had many happy recalls of my the time spent serving in the Royal Navy; and my Atlantic adventure. These many and varied experiences had broadened my horizons and opened my eyes to a new and different world. From the age of twelve to eighteen, there were happy times, sad times and tragic times; this was the war I had witnessed and lived through. These experiences forever in my memory!

    Philip Linder



    Senior Air Raid Warden Walter Henry Pollington (d. )

    I am trying to trace my family tree and I have just found out my grandfather, Walter Pollington was at Gallipoli in the first world war and in the second he was a senior air raid warden in London but I am not sure which town. That's all I have about him so if anyone could tell me any more I would be very grateful.

    Ian Pollington



    ARP Warden Irene Mary "Renee" Hodsdon

    Just another name for your list, my Nanna was an ARP warden in London during the Blitz, beyond that I know no more. Thank you

    Shannon Cook



    Charles Hawksworth

    I have just found my Grandad's card number 496 he was one of a family of Master Butchers but obviously he also was an Air Raid Warden from Nov 28th 1938 until the end of the war. That is all we know at the moment.

    Brian Taylor



    Air Raid Warden Thomas William Moran

    My Grandfather TW Moran of 51 Hunter Avenue Blyth Northumberland was an air raid warden during WW2

    Janet Doherty



    Henry Bingley Whaler

    My father was in charge of the post located roughly half way between Fairlop station and the north east end of Forest Road. The post was located on the north side of the road. On his rounds, which he made by bicycle, he came across what he thought was the first unexploded doodlebug which had landed on on the northwest corner of Fairlop airfield.

    Richard Whaler



    Section Leader Tom William Adams

    My Father, Tom Adams worked at Mortlake power station during the day and then after tea, went off to the fire station to serve as an Auxiliary Fireman. One of the tales he told was about Kingston-on-Thames going up in flames after some bombing. On the side of the river, apart from the smell of the tannery, there was a big timber yard that had a corrugated iron roof. This went up in flames and father was told to get on the roof and put water everywhere. As the flames got bigger and the roof got warmer the soles of his boots started to melt so he and his mates stuck the hose down their wellies in a vain effort to keep cool. Eventually they had to clamber off the roof as their feet were getting burnt. Apparently there was quite a row about him getting another pair of boots.

    Another occasion happened on his way home from work on his bike along Chiswick embankment. He heard the sound of the infamous doodlebug. When it stopped he looked up and saw the thing coming down so he took cover behind the low wall of someone's house. The bomb landed in the river with a loud "wooomf" in the mud. The tide was out and it showered everywhere with smelly mud. Apart from the windows shattering in the cottage behind him and large pieces of the odd boat landing on him he was ok. Only when he got home he smelt terrible and was covered in mud, he couldn't have his tea till he had a bath which made him late for his fire duty!

    Des Adams



    Messenger Walter Lyle Hume Messenger Service Air Raid Precautions

    WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR ?..............SONNY

    Early War time memories, in and around a busy sea-port. Almost against our infantile vision, schooling continued apace, with great difficulty, due in part to much upheaval caused by the government evacuation program which sent hundreds of pupils from city schools to locations considered safe from the inferno about to wreaked on areas such as Scotland's capital, this undertaking seemed to peter out after the initial surge in September 1939, the cost of running two homes soon brought economics into the equation, plus the further disturbance when the entire first floor of Trinity Academy was commandeered as a First Aid Casualty clearing station, complete with a full time trained Civil Defence staff. Class work became re-arranged to accommodate a relatively depleted pupil intake, coupled to an acute loss of teaching staff who were rapidly called up to serve in the different branches of the armed forces, the remaining teachers undertook additional duties, as indeed most people did during the war, we as supposedly responsible pupils were encouraged to `do our bit` for the war effort and volunteer our services to any of the civilian support agencies, known then as Civil Defence of the Realm, a good number of young people did engage in various activities, First Aid, Air Raid Wardens, Civil Defence Messengers, Auxiliary Fire Service, these people turned out for duty when the Air Raid Sirens wailed to warn the population of imminent danger, sometimes extending throughout the entire night, then carrying on the next day with no thought of -`I’ve been up all night and need a rest` - people at that time, generally, just did not think along those lines, the constant cry of “there's a war on” was thrown back at anyone who complained.

    Frequently we were asked to be (arm twisted volunteers) make believe casualties suffering from bomb damage in an Air Raid, an exercise to help the Auxiliary Fire Service, First Aid'ers and Air Raid Wardens how to deal with possible real incidents, this was always influenced with the `bribe` of Tea and Biscuits, after the event, they, the organisers, never said anything about being strapped - nay, tightly secured - in a stretcher, complete with an identity label, appropriately written in red, tied prominently to depict some gory medical problem - (1) one or more broken limbs, Tourniquet applied, or (2) found unconscious, no apparent injury observed - could be inebriated !!!, the laughs were numerous, until - just lay back on the stretcher laddie, whatever happens, do not struggle - ooh lor` what have I let myself in for, gulp, - after being lifted on the stretcher by an assortment of older, elderly but not quite decrepit men, up to window level, a mere 80-ft above the playground, with no hope of escape, amidst much discussion (a pleasant euphemism for argument), jolting and jooglin, then, ‘haud on tight sunshine yer on yer way doon’ the great descent started, and to be fair, the in-between bit is not remembered (thankfully). Gently grabbed by the willing helpers below, a `chief`, I assumed as much as he announced to all in a `chief` like voice, ahem, ah`ll just read the label to you all to keep you in the picture - as for myself I never felt better having reached the ground, albeit still bound to the stretcher - this one for the hospital, so again lifted up and put into the back of an ambulance, a converted Rolls Royce hearse !!!, no less, round the block to casualty reception (Tea Bar), untied and allowed to get up to de-briefed by the senior Civil Defence bods, did they treat you with care and sympathy ? Would you be prepared to volunteer for another exercise, right laddie go and get your tea and biscuits, only to discover that time has run out, tea was finished and only dry water biscuits left, rationing and all that, jeepers just my luck. So glad to get home, hoping for a quiet night in without the sirens going off to call us out, heaven help us if we had to undertake some of the exercise bit for real, in the middle of the night.

    An Auxiliary Fire Station had been established in the grounds of a new school under construction, temporarily halted, just along the road from our own school first floor First Aid clearing station, most of the Firemen being over the normal call up age, most of us lads being fit and keen were encouraged to turn out as a second string crew, usually at week-ends to allow the full timers a brief respite. The vehicles were mostly requisitioned large cars , trades vans or lorries, although there were two Bedford custom built fire engines, box shaped, the early version of the present day `Green Goddess` machines kept for emergencies, all of these motors towed a two wheeled trailer pump with lots of large hose, mainly to draw water from any source, in the event of hydrants or water mains being bomb damaged, huge steel open topped tanks were built at strategic points, containing many thousand gallons of water, which gathered all sorts of rubbish. Our nearest area for fire drill with these suction hoses was over the sea wall or harbour, all treated very seriously, and gave our roads a good wash, the day being finished back at the station with rinsing everything through with fresh water, hard work but we all seemed to enjoy the task, happily, we were never called to a real fire.

    Being fully accredited Civil Defence Messengers, all properly equipped with battledress uniforms, adorned with gold coloured badges and shoulder flashes - supply and maintain your own cycle, for which we received the princely sum of two shillings and sixpence per month (12.1/2 p), well lets face it, kept us going in fish suppers.

    Some of the early air-raids, especially at night, like the Clydebank blitz when the German bombers flew in droves directly over Edinburgh on their way to attack the shipyards, were very scary, not on account of bombs, no it was our own anti-aircraft guns, the batteries were dotted all round the city, together with lots of searchlights, when these guns put a barrage the fall out of shrapnel was considerable, the need to wear a steel helmet became apparent, some of the jagged shards of hot metal hurtling to earth were quite large, enough to force people to take cover, it wasn't all doom and gloom, on occasion we had to go on ARP patrol, ensuring the blackout regulations were being correctly observed, when we flaunted our pseudo authority if a mere chink of light could be seen, over harassed housewives complaining of being `spoken to` by overgrown school kids - happily it did not last too long as enforcement was relaxed as time wore on. Generally these early years of war for the civil population became an inconvenience more than a strict imposition, at least to us youngsters there was more adventure than hardship. long time ago, but not forgotten. © W. L. Hume……2005

    Walter Lyle Hume



    Edwin Charles Jordan

    My father is 4th from the left,third row down. The person who sent it to the paper Mr Davies is last on the right, back row. Both my father and Mr Davies lived in John St Pentre. I don't know what job Mr Davies used to do but my father was a coal miner as well.

    I remember that at some point my father was posted to Southampton docks and he was telling me that during a particular raid he had to take cover under a truck while the stukas were coming in. Scary stuff, all before my time luckily.

    Gareth Jordan



    Reginald Cleaver flight eng. 419 Sqd.

    When the war began in 1939, I was an apprentice toolmaker at Armstrong Siddeley Motors in Coventry. My name is Reg Cleaver and I was 17 years old. I joined the Air Raid Precautions system and became an ambulance driver attached to No 3 First Aid Post in Livingstone Rd. The building had been the swimming baths. One pool was still open for swimming the other pool had been boarded over and became a reception centre for people injured in the air raids. After work at ASM, I spent most of my time waiting for the call to pick up the next load of dead and injured people from where the bombs had landed. This became very difficult at times as whole buildings were spread all over the roads, enormous bomb craters blocked roads with destroyed buses and trams everywhere. We could be driving along with whole rows of burning buildings each side. The ambulances had canvas sides and at times got badly scorched.

    In November 1940, a large bomb exploded in the swimming pool next door destroying the whole building and drenching all of us and the seriously injured people in what had been our First Aid Post. Outside, several of our ambulances had been badly damaged. My own vehicle had been flattened by a huge steel roof truss that had landed on it.

    Next morning being very concerned what may have happened to my home and parents, I arrived home: 159 Churchill Ave, Foleshill. My mother kept a small general store opposite to the Riley Motor Works. Fortunately, my parents escaped injury being in the air raid shelter. The house roof had gone and the shop destroyed. A very sad sight - all the stock and provisions, etc all over the pavement and road and mother very shocked.

    This became a turning point in my life. A burning hatred of Germans and a determination to hit back. As an apprentice we were considered to be in a reserved occupation and could not be called up into the Forces. The only way into the R.A.F. was to volunteer for air crew. I joined the R.A.F. in early 1941 as a pilot. Strange as it may seem the R.A.F. told me they didn’t need pilots. As I had been an apprentice engineer, I should train as a flight mechanic and engine fitter and transfer to a pilots’ course which I did. The rest of 1941, I was on a Spitfire squadron servicing Merlin engines, etc. I was still awaiting a pilots’ course but was overtaken by events. In 1942, four engine bombers began to arrive in the R.A.F. These needed flight engineers in the crew desperately. Notices on squadron notice boards appeared, asking for skilled ground engineers to volunteer for flight engineer aircrew. After a very short course of a week or two at St Athan in Wales and four or five weeks at English Electric Speke crawling all over Halifax bombers learning all the systems etc. I then found myself as a Sergeant Flight engineer with a crew flying Halifax on an Operational Training Unit, 1659 Heavy Conversion Unit at Topcliffe Yorkshire, becoming second pilot.

    From there I was posted to the Royal Canadian Air Force, 419 Squadron at Middleton St George, Durham. From there with an all Canadian crew, I flew a number of bombing operations against German cities during this time, we had some desperate times. On the night of 24-25th June 1943, during an attack on Wuppertal in the Ruhr Valley, nemesis caught up with us. We were attacked by 3 Focke Wulf 190 night fighters and shot down in flames and the aircraft falling to pieces around us in a dive. With the aircraft still in flames, the pilot recovered some control near the ground and we crashed through some trees. This removed the wings and fuel tanks and the fire. The fuselage hit the ground and miraculously we fell out.

    This part of my life is a long story which I cannot include now. The rest of the war until April 1945, I suffered as a prisoner of war in various prison and concentration camps.

    After liberation and hospital treatment I was flown back to England. After such an upheaval in my life I found it very difficult to settle down to a more normal type of life. In 1948, I found my soulmate and married Betty. I went back to Armstrong Siddeley Motors and helped found the rocket research department in a very interesting and rewarding job. We are still married after 57 years. I consider myself extremely lucky to survive the war as 50% of the Bomber Command aircrew were killed. I think people today would find it difficult to understand what a strange life we aircrew led in those days. In the afternoon we could be at a dance or cinema with girlfriends. That night we could be over Germany with everyone trying to kill us. If we got back the same cycle could be repeated weeks on end. It now seems very unreal.

    Reg Cleaver



    Cpl. Bernard George Beecher Portsmouth Div. Co. E Royal Marine Engineers

    My father, Benard Beecher was born in Sheffield in October 1915, where, after completing his schooling, he joined the Rating and Valuation Department at Sheffield Town Hall. In January of 1939 he moved to Croydon where he took up the post as Valuation Officer. His position delayed his call-up until December of 1941. In the meantime, out of work hours, he volunteered with the ARP. He told me of times when on duty he had to lie in the gutter as bombs came down. This was to be closest he came to hostile action.

    In December 1941 he reported to Eastney Barracks in Portsmouth, home of the Royal Marines, and given his background, was taken on as a clerk. In June 1942 be became an Acting Corporal, Temporary, and in March 1943 became a Corporal. He was fortunate enough to spend all his service within the British Isles, travelling no further afield than Scotland and Wales. At one posting, I think Fort William, there were always kippers for breakfast, but as these were so inedible, one of the favourite tricks was to take them out of the canteen, tie two kippers together with a short length of string, throw them onto the roof of a hut and watch the fun when the seagulls took one each.

    He was finally returned to his wife and daughter, who had been bombed out of their Croydon flat in the Blitz, when he was released to the Reserve list on the 6th of December 1945.

    Philip Beecher



    John William Scott

    This photo shows four ARP wardens in Sunderland, I think this group would have been in Roker or Monkwearmouth area, near to the shipyards on the River Wear. My Granfather John William Scott is centre of back row. I don't know much about it except that I can remember him talking of riding around on his bike telling people to make sure the blackout was intact. I believe that the Tyne & Wear Archive Service have listings of the personel but as I am in Australia I have not as yet accessed the information.

    Val Long



    ARP Sidney Arthur Green

    My great grandfather, Sid Green was a ARP Warden in WW2 as he, I believe, had one leg slightly shorter than the other and was not able to serve in the army. I never met him but I still hear great things about him.

    Karen Tunnell



    Bertie Knight

    My granddad, Bertie Knight was an air raid warden and he was killed putting people into the air raid shelter during the war WW2. He was approx 42 years old, and he left two sons, Laurence and Leonard and his wife Florence. I know that he is buried near Manor Park, and his grave is next to the railway line. I do not have any other information.

    Stella McNutt



    William Cooper (d.8th Sep 1940)

    Air raid wardens William Cooper of Bethnal Green died in bombing of Columbia Rd Market, London on the 8th of September 1940.

    G. Twidt



    Jacob Robinson (d.21st Oct 1941)

    Jacob Robinson was 40 when he died at ARP Council Yard Glen Street Hebburn. Born in Gateshead in 1900, he was the son of Jacob and Ellen Robison of Hebburn. He lived at 3 Oswald Road Hebburn

    Jacob is buried in Hebburn Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.

    Vin Mullen



    Henry George Winch (d.19th Mar 1941)

    Henry George Winch was my grandfather who I never met. He volunteered in WW2 for home duties and was killed trying to save others. He escorted people to an air raid shelter on 19th March 1941 at Cayley Close in London which took a direct hit from a German bomber. All were killed. Henry was aged 42.

    I am proud to say that this brave man served with the Middlesex Regiment in the Great War, fought at the Somme and survived.

    Chris Winch



    Olive Fryer

    This was written by my Grandma Olive Fryer who worked in the Civil Defence in Sheffield during WWII. We found it in her belongings after her death in 2014 aged 94.

    The hands of the clock stood at 3am, an air of hushed expectancy hung over the silent, darkened platforms, faint light came from shaded lamps, and above, the stars glowed with a light never noticed in the city in a time of peace. For this was wartime and blackout, and I, with many other Civil defence workers was awaiting the hospital train which would bring wounded Service Men to Sheffield.

    Outside the station, a long line of ambulances stood ready to receive their load of weary men, who had travelled from a distant port. We spoke to one another in hushed voices, or were silent altogether. I thought about the men who were coming nearer and nearer. Would I by chance know any of them, and would I perhaps find my husband or my brother among the many wounded who were to be sent to the various hospitals in the city. I pushed such thoughts from my mind, and mentally checked my ambulance equipment.

    In the distance, the sound of an approaching train, brought us all to our posts on the platform, ready to receive walking and stretcher cases. I hardly knew what to expect, but had I had the time, I think I would have wept at the sight of such bravery and fortitude. Badly wounded or only slightly, the men had a joke and a smile for us. So many accents and dialects, but all of them glad to be cared for.

    The work of getting them to the hospital went forward in the ordinary way which we had been trained, and some time later when the ambulances had all returned to their various depots, I walked home in the dawn. The sky was paling, and the stars were less bright.

    And so I had done my first ‘convoy duty’, the first of several more, but none of them so memorable as this. For I realised that in the midst of pain and suffering, a kind word and a smile (and a silent prayer) help to make a seemingly sad situation somewhat brighter.

    Jane Shaw



    Stanley Butcher

    Before my Dad Stanley Butcher joined the Royal Navy, he volunteered to be an ARP and remembers riding around Small Heath on his bike in the dark along the A45 Coventry Road. As he approached the junction of Tennison Road a shout came out the dark "watch that crater mate", and then he saw it a crater in the middle of the A45 junction with an unexploded bomb tail sticking out. He remembers the tin hat with a big W on.

    Alan Butcher



    Harry Rylance Taylor

    As I was born in 1935, my memory is somewhat lacking! However I do know that my father was in the A.R.P. and the civil defence. He spent many hours away from home, especially at night At the beginning we did not have an air raid shelter so, as he was stationed at that time at the city morgue, we went with him! Eventually as the war progressed he built a dugout shelter in the back yard which we shared with neighbours. I was and still am, very proud of him; a good man and very well respected in the community.




    Warden. Florence Gertrude George First Aid No 4 District Lancashire

    Florence George served in the Air Raid Precautions Auxiliary Reserve No 4 District Lancashire from 1940 to 1945. As well as warden duties to ensure the community were alerted and directed to air raid shelters in an emergency, she also administered first aid to those injured.

    John Proffitt



    George Farquar "Curly" Castel Royal Army Service Corps

    My grandfather, George Castel, was born in Inverness, Scotland on January 29, 1908. He was the son of George Farquar and Kate Castel. His father was originally from Peterhead, Scotland, with his mother hailing from Boston, in Lincolnshire. George had three siblings – sisters Jean and Lillian, and brother Norman. The family lived in Inverness until 1921, when they moved to Bradford, Yorkshire. Grandad was sent to Birmingham to the Dunlop tyre plant for training in vulcanizing and tyre fitting. After completing training, he moved back to Bradford to work for the City Corporation transport system. He was made redundant in 1931 and then got a job working for Model Milk Co. from 1931-35, delivering dairy products house-to-house, first using a horse and cart, then later a truck. In 1935, he became a driver for the Bradford Dyers Association where he stayed with BDA until 1937. He then moved to Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, to run a boarding house.

    When World War II began on 3rd of September 1939, George volunteered for the Air Raid Precaution unit in Cleethorpes, where he was assigned to be an ambulance driver. In May 1940 he volunteered for the Royal Army Service Corps. He left behind his wife and a 10-year-old daughter when his unit was sent to Egypt. The unit served there for two years before its men were just a small part of the 30,000 personnel captured after the Battle of Tobruk in June 1942.

    After being captured and interned, grandad found he was the oldest man in his camp, was at Stalag 4-B, though he was only 34 years old. He and several hundred other men were transported from Carpi to the camp in late 1943. He eventually ended up at a work camp in Halle. He kept a journal of his time from being captured until his liberation. I have turned this into a blog Home by Autumn.

    Mark Townsend



    Warden. Alfred Leonard Griffiths

    My Grandfather Alfred Griffiths died a long time ago but I believe he served as an ARP Warden. I would love to know more about him and wondered if you could find whether he did serve as APR Warden.

    Gary Griffiths



    George Francis Phillips

    My father, George Francis Phillips, was in the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) all through WW2. The ARP post he worked from was in Carshalton, Surrey, on the corner of Sibton Road and Sherbourne Crescent.

    One of my dad's good friends at this time was a man whose surname was Haddock. He was also in the Carshalton ARP. I met a Vic Haddock in Brisbane after I migrated to Australia. He was the son of my father's friend. Unfortunately, I lost touch with him.

    My father also had the job of collecting chickens and rabbits from bomb- damaged houses in the area. Our whole back garden was a chicken coop! We had special ration tokens to get feed for the collected beasts for which I believe we had to give up egg ration coupons.

    Brian Phillips



    Mary "Molly" MacCloud

    Does anyone know how I might track down any records of an air raid warden from Kensington named Mary MacLeod Moore, or Mary Rees, or Molly Rees? (Rees was her married name, but she wrote under the name of Mary MacLeod Moore.) Any help would be much appreciated.

    Debbie Marshall



    Warden Edward Williams

    All I know of my grandfather, Edward Williams was that during WW2 he served as an ARP warden in Fulham and, as he was French, he may also have been interned for part of the war.

    Pat Jones



    Jim "Geordie" Heptinstall

    ARP service took me through until I joined the RAF in 1943, then through India to the Dutch East Indies.

    Jim Heptinstall



    William Watson

    My grandfather was an air raid warden in Islington in 1940. His name was Bill Watson. Attached is a copy of a newspaper article from The Daily Mirror, 9th September 1940.

    "As bombs burst all around, the windows of the little house blew in and the roof collapsed, a young air raid warden acted a midwife to a mother in the East London raids. A thirteen year old boy acted as nurse. Without a light to see by, the warden, Bill Watson who is unmarried, brought the baby girl into the world. The boy, Richard Hannaway ran to the nearest horse trough for water, which was boiled to wash the baby in. The mother, dark haired Mrs R Foster lay on her bed surrounded by shattered glass as Warden Bill attended her. At the same time a heavy bomb crashed across the road about eighty yards away and blew the roof from the house. Now mother and child are both doing well and yesterday a few hours after the ordeal, Bill, who had had a wash and a brush up, went along to visit them.Thirteen year old Richard was busy too, He was fetching and carrying buckets of water from the nearby horse trough for neighbours."I have never done anything like this before" said Bill."

    I would love to find out more about him but there is nobody alive in my family who would be able to give more information. We know him as Bill Watson, though the family story from my father we only know that he was a "foreigner", possibly Jewish. He left Bristol with my grandmother before. For sometime she lived in Lewisham on her own at 20 Moreley Road, a place for single mothers and their babies. She returned about 1938 with a baby and my great grandmother brought my father up as her own. The only leads we have is a newspaper cutting from The Daily Mirror dated September 9th 1940 stating that Bill Watson was an Air Raid Warden and "acted as a midwife" for a "dark haired" Mrs R. Foster, who gave birth during an air raid in the East of London. He safely delivered a little girl. The birth would have probably taken place on 8th of September 1940 and would have been registered in East London. There was also a 13-year-old boy who helped by the name of Richard Hannaway. However he doesn't appear to be related to anyone in the story.

    We believe Bill Watson lived in East London approximately from about 1934/35 with an Iris Maud Lawrence, before leaving her with a baby. Through some research we have found that he could possibly have lived at 34 Pigott Street, Limehouse, but this has not yet been confirmed. If anyone does have any information, I would love to hear about him.

    Kay Evison



    Warden. Edith Ethel Blyth Group S

    My maternal grandmother, Edith Blyth, was an ARP Warden during the Second World War. For many years I kept her whistle on my keyring until it was trapped in the door and squashed. I still have photographs of her in her uniform and in training with other wardens. I have a brass badge and an aluminum tag with her name and unit number.

    Mike Vaughan



    Albert "Ted" Moll

    My father-in-law, Albert Moll, was an air raid warden in Dover during WWII. He also went on one or two trips from Dover to Dunkirk during the evacuation.

    Gary



    Katherine Mary Barber

    Katherine Barber was an ARP warden in Beeston, Nottingham.

    Stephen Barber



    Pte. Arthur Rowland 4th General Hospital Royal Army Medical Corps

    My grandfather, Arthur Rowland, had been in the Territorial Army. Despite being 37 years old, he volunteered for the RAMC in 1939. He was in A Company at first, and later his letters say 4th General Hospital. He was sent somewhere in Europe and crossed back to England at Dunkirk. He spent the rest of his service time at Leeds where he had plastic surgery on his neck to treat damage caused by radium treatment as a child. The surgery was not a great success, damaging the nerves in his neck. He was discharged in 1941 and joined the ARP in Leicester.

    P.J. Lightning



    George Louis Middleton

    My father, George Louis Middleton, based Lyon Wood Road, Thorpe, Norwich during WW2 as an ARP warden. We would like his Service Number as we qualify as next of kin for his Defence Medal. We would be grateful for any information, as we have tried our local archive records office, also the City Hall Norwich. We have also tried our local newspaper archive library to no avail. No one seems to have any records of these brave volunteers who worked tirelessly to save those people during and after the air raids. My parents themselves were 'bombed out' 3 times in Norwich! My father worked for Lawrence & Scott Electrical Motors as a skilled man, making torpedos and engine parts for the war effort. They do not have records either!

    Jan Middleton



    Annie Somers St. Johns Wood, London

    My aunt, Annie Somers, served as an Air Raid Warden in 2nd World War. She lived and worked in St. Johns Wood district of London. At some stage during the War she took a group of children perhaps to Scotland for safety. If anyone has any records of her I would love to hear about them.

    Paddy Osborne



    George William Cawood

    It was several years after my father's death that I was told he was one of Churchill's secret army. His name was George Cawood, he then lived at West Lutton in North Yorkshire. His official role was air raid warden. He had a livestock haulage business. I only wish he had told me about his role. But I suppose if you have kept it secret for so long. I feel it's a shame these people did not get the recognition they deserved while they were still alive.

    Ken Cawood









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