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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Dad’s random memories of being an Air Raid Warden in WW2

by cambsaction

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Wilfred Karl Smith (born 31st March 1904)
Location of story: 
Harrow Weald, Middlesex
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
21 December 2005

Harrow Weald (where the family then lived) was then the outskirts of London. The first V1 missed London and fell about 0.5 mile from Dad’s ARP post. They saw it going over and thought it was a plane on fire, never having seen a V1 before.
A deaf man came to the ARP post one day and asked ‘Is this a bomb?’, holding a bomb in his hand. The post never cleared so quickly.
The ARP post was blown off it’s foundations during one raid — with six wardens.
Dad was standing on-duty on Stationery office roof, where he worked at the time, watching Messcherschmitts being chased by R.A.F. planes. He also saw Spitfires chasing ‘Doodlebugs’ — if they seemed to be coming their way, he rang a bell to evacuate the shelters.
They had a sort of Dad’s Army rifle training at Whitefriars School, in case of invasion.
A bomb dropped in the next road to the ARP Post; on checking for damage a man was found in his bed … in the garden, having been blown through the window!!
When hostilities were over everyone got together and built bonfires on the road, made from shelter bunks etc, which were so hot the tarmac melted and caught fire.
Butterfly bombs (cylinder with propeller) came down slowly and silently. The wardens were supposed to get sandbags, lie down and push the sandbags up to surround bombs or pick up the bomb with a long bamboo pole and hook and take it to a safe place. The wardens got fed up with this procedure, so, after warning residents, they used to take cover and throw bricks at the bomb to explode it.
Dad remembered those with small boats being asked to go to the South Coast (for the Dunkirk evacuation) and rifles being issued to anyone who’d take one, for the expected invasion.
A bomber came down at the bottom of Harrow Hill and was left there for three weeks, while bits were taken for souvenirs.

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