- Contributed by
- People in story:
- F H Dawson
- Location of story:
- Birkenhead, Merseyside
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 13 July 2005
Sept 3rd 1939, Lord Chamberlain had just made a statement to the people of England saying “As from this moment England is in a state of war with the German nation.” Going on to explain the reasons and wherefores of how he intended to defend the rights of the free peoples of Europe, and go to the help of the Polish, whose country had been attacked by heavy German forces, bombing the towns of Warsaw and Danzig in so called retaliation for what they described as a vicious attack on German troops on the German Polish borders.
On the streets people gathered, discussing the news and what it would mean in the following days to come, points had been set up[ in various places in the towns and cities for the issue of gas-masks for children and adults, even babies had their own special issue, looking almost like an iron lung in miniature. The whole of that day was spent in conjecture and everybody speculating as to the outcome as the different families prepared themselves for the worst. Those who were lucky to have a radio, and accumulator sat with their ears glued to it, to catch every word spoken those who couldn’t afford such a luxury were using home made crystal-sets with an earphone and each minute that brought further news was spread verbally to the public gathered on the street corners.
Out on the street were quite a few neighbours, all the gossip was of the declaration of war. The air was balmy and the day had been quite warm and pleasant putting most people into a humorous frame of mind despite the seriousness of the situation. Some were showing off the gas-masks they had that day been issued with. One who had a baby of three months was showing her neighbours the special one with a side pump on, remarking that she wouldn’t know what to do if she had to use it. It seemed that within the next few days instructions would be given to obtain Identity Cards, register for food ration books, and to apply for the first batch of evacuation groups which would be done by the schools, which the children attended.
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