Hut 4 – Britain Prepares!
Air Raid Shelters
In 1937, an Act of Parliament called for a programme of shelters. There were four main types of shelter adopted – strengthened basements and cellars, back garden Anderson shelters made of steel, communal street shelters “which looked like public conveniences”, and later Morrison shelters to go inside houses.
The Fire Guard
On New Years Eve 1940, Herbert Morrison made a BBC Radio broadcast in which he blamed the public for what was to be known as the Second Great Fire of London which occurred on Sunday 29th December 1940, following a Luftwaffe bombing raid which unleashed 100,000 incendiaries onto the capital.
Herman Goering, Commander of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) targeted London at the beginning of September 1940. He hoped to break the morale of the people of Britain by attacking their capital. He promised Hitler that London, all 800 square miles of it, would be reduced to uninhabitable chaos. Its citizens would flee in terror, blocking the roads, bringing the Government to a standstill and Britain would sue for peace. He had at his disposal the largest air force in the world.
Pigeons In Wartime
Pigeons have been used as message carriers from time immemorial, and they have been continually used as such throughout history. 22,000 were used during the siege of Paris in 1870, and thousands had been extensively used during WWI. On 11th November 1937, a sub-committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence was set up, the National Pigeon service grew out of this. In all, 200,000 birds were given to the services during the course of World War II.
The Threat of Gas – Britain Prepares
If Britain was to enter into a war with Germany, the British Government’s greatest fear was that Germany would attack the civilian population with poisonous gas from the air. With this great fear in mind, the British Government began the production of gas masks as early as 1935.
The A.R.P Warden
The Air Raid Precautions organisation was established by the Civil Defence authorities towards the end of 1938, in preparation for the expected bombing of Britain’s cities by enemy aircraft. The Air Raid Wardens were key figures of the A.R.P. They checked that the blackout was effective and being observed by all and ensured that everyone had been issued with a gas mask. They also had to judge the extent and type of damage in their area so that the Control Centre could send out the appropriate rescue services. Their local knowledge was vital if time was to be saved hunting for survivors trapped beneath debris. They had also to find temporary accommodation for those whose homes had been destroyed during the air raids.