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15 October 2014
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The Life and Times of an ARP Warden in the East end of London

by cambsaction

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Thomas William Newman, Annie Newman and Christine Clarke
Location of story: 
Maryland Point, Stratford
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
11 August 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Mike Langran of the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Story Gatherer Team on behalf of Christine Clarke and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

The Life and Times of an ARP warden in the East End of London

My grandfather, Thomas William Newman was born in 1894 and was In the Battle of the Somme in the First World War.

In the Second World War he became an ARP (Air Raid Precautions) Warden in Maryland Point, East London. The ARP Wardens would make sure there were no lights showing and helping people home, generally making sure people were safe. He had to learn sign language so as to be able to communicate with people who were deaf.

Bombed Out

His mother had been completely bombed out twice. Later, there was a big air raid and a call came through to the ARP post saying it had hit the street his mother lived in. my grandfather ran to the street and found and found most of the houses had been flattened but one house had the front completely blown out, his mother was sitting in her rocking chair on the first floor in her bedroom. She was safe and uninjured but refused to come down with the fireman until she had a clean apron!


There was a dairy in Romford Road, Stratford. In those days the milk was delivered by horse drawn milk cart. An air raid close by caused the horses to stampede down the Broadway to Whitechapel Road and the High Street. A lot of the horses were killed.

Large Man under the car

An air raid took place and my grandfather told this large gentleman to take cover, the only cover about was a car, the gentleman dived under the car and stayed there until the raid was over, when he tried to get out, he found he was stuck under the car, which had to be lifted up so he could get out.


As an ARP Warden, you could be called upon to do unusual lobs. Throughout the Second World War he delivered five babies. One was delivered under a table during an air raid. Another was delivered in an alleyway, again during an air raid. A couple were delivered in shelters.

Bomb Blast

When in Whitechapel, a bomb came down, he dived for shelter, his feet were sticking out from cover, and the blast from the bomb blew his boots off.

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