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Anderson Shelters

Discussion in 'The Blitz' started by Jim, Oct 14, 2006.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    In September 1935, the British prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, published a circular entitled Air Raid Precautions, inviting local authorities to make plans to protect their people in event of a war. Some towns responded by arranging the building of public air raid shelters. These shelters were built of brick with roofs of reinforced concrete. However, some local authorities ignored the circular and in April 1937 the government decided to create an Air Raid Wardens' Service and during the next year recruited around 200,000 volunteers.

    In August 1938 Adolf Hitler began making speeches that suggested he was going to send the German Army into Czechoslovakia. The British government now began to fear a war with Nazi Germany and Neville Chamberlain ordered that Air Raid Precautions (ARP) volunteers to be mobilized. Cellars and basements were requisitioned for air raid shelters and trenches were dug in the parks of large towns. The government also ordered the flying of barrage balloons over London and quickly made plans for the evacuation of children from Britain's large cities.

    In November 1938, Chamberlain placed Sir John Anderson in charge of the ARP. He immediately commissioned the engineer, William Patterson, to design a small and cheap shelter that could be erected in people's gardens. Within a few months nearly one and a half million of these Anderson Shelters were distributed to people living in areas expected to be bombed by the Luftwaffe. Made from six curved sheets bolted together at the top, with steel plates at either end, and measuring 6ft 6in by 4ft 6in (1.95m by 1.35m) the shelter could accommodate six people. These shelters were half buried in the ground with earth heaped on top. The entrance was protected by a steel shield and an earthen blast wall.

    Anderson shelters were given free to poor people. Men who earned more than £5 a week could buy one for £7. Soon after the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, over 2 million families had shelters in their garden. By the time of the Blitz this had risen to two and a quarter million.

    When the Luftwaffe changed from daylight to night bombing raids, the government expected people to sleep in their Anderson shelters. Each night the wailing of the air raid sirens announced the approach of the German bombers and ensured that most people had time to take cover before the raid actually started.

    The Anderson Shelters were dark and damp and people were reluctant to use them at night. In low-lying areas they tended to flood and sleeping was difficult as they did not keep out the sound of the bombings. Another problem was that the majority of people living in industrial areas did not have gardens where they could erect their shelters.

    Demonstrating the new bunk designed Anderson Shelter

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    In March 1940 the government began to build communal shelters designed to protect around fifty people living in the same area. Made of brick and concrete they provided more protection than garden shelters. However, within a couple of months there was a severe shortage of cement and this slowed down the building of these shelters. There were also accidents that persuaded people not to use these shelters. On one occasion all the occupants of a purpose-built shelter in London drowned when it was "filled to the brim" by a burst water main.

    The government passed legislation that attempted to control people's behaviour in air raid shelters. If someone was found to "wilfully disturb other persons in the proper use of an air raid shelter" he could be sent to prison. In December 1941, fifty-three-year-old George Hall was sent to prison under this legislation. In fact, he was guilty of snoring in a shelter. He had been warned by the shelter marshal but continued to snore and was eventually arrested by the police for the offence. When the judge sentenced him to 14 days in prison he replied "I can't help what I do when I'm asleep".

    During the Blitz the deep trenches dug in parks in 1938 were lined and covered with concrete or steel. These trenches could normally hold some fifty people. They were impossible to keep waterproof and were very uncomfortable during air raids.

    Some people left the city every night. Special trains were run from London every night to Chislehurst in Kent where people slept in the caves in the area. Some people set up home in the caves and others established shops to serve the growing number of people seeking safety in Chislehurst. Music concerts and church services were also held in the caves.

    Another popular place to go in London during air raids was the Tilbury Arches in Stepney. The local council took over this collection of cellars and vaults and turned them into a large public shelter for 3,000 people. However it is estimated that on some nights there were over 16,000 people sheltering in the Tilbury Arches.


    People in London also used tube stations during the Blitz. People would buy platform tickets for a penny halfpenny and camped on the platforms for the night. They were popular because they were dry, warm and quiet. The government, fearing that the overcrowded platforms would hamper troop movements, attempted to stop the public from using the tube stations as shelters. The people refused to give them up and the government was forced to back down. In some cases underground stations were closed down and given over to the public to use during air raids.

    The tube stations were not as safe as people thought. High explosive bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe could penetrate up to fifty feet through solid ground. On 17th September 1940, a bomb killed twenty people sheltering in Marble Arch station. The worst incident took place at Balham in October 1940 when 600 people were killed or injured. The following year 111 people were killed while sheltering at the Bank underground station. One night 178 people suffocated at Bethnal Green station after a panic stampede.

    A census held in November 1940 discovered that the majority of people in London did not use specially created shelters. The survey revealed that of those interviewed, 27 per cent used domestic shelters, 9 per cent slept in public shelters whereas 4 per cent used underground railway stations (4 per cent). The rest of those interviewed were either on duty at night or slept in their own homes.

    This picture shows two young boys entering Britain’s largest shelter, it was the disused electric railway tunnel at Southwark, it could hold 11,000 people.

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    The actual entrance to the shelter seen here adding the finishing touches before it was opened to the public..

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    In March 1941 the government began issuing Morrison Shelters. Named after the Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison, the shelters were made of very heavy steel and could be put in the living room and used as a table. One wire side lifted up for people to crawl underneath and get inside. Morrison shelters were fairly large and provided sleeping space for two or three people.

    Eventually the government decided to build eight shelters, far below ground, in central London. Each one of these shelters could house 8,000 people. Although these shelters provided excellent protection, they fulfilled no practical purpose as they were not finished until the Blitz was over.
     
  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    WHEN technical experts of the Ministry of Home Security visited the areas bombed during the raids in mid June, they reported most favourably on the way in which Anderson shelters had stood up to their task. In one South Eastern town, it was stated, a heavy bomb, probably of 500 lb, fell in a garden at the back of a group of small houses, most of which had shelters. One of these shelters was only 30 feet from the bomb-crater and held a family of four, including two children. All were unharmed, while the house from which they had come was badly damaged. Two other Anderson shelters close to the bomb-crater were damaged because they had insufficient earth covering, in one case the entrance, which was not facing the house had no earth bank, or similar protection, as officially recommended.

    This crater was made by a bomb during the Germans raid of June18th. The people in the Anderson Shelter were unscathed.

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    Inside this Anderson shelter in East Anglia an elderly couple took refuge during a raid. A bomb fell only four metres from the entrance to the shelter, but except for a slight cut sustained by one of them they were unhurt.

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  3. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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    Thanks a bundle Mr Prime Minister. :wtf:
     
  4. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Though a German bomb fell close beside this Anderson shelter in the east of England, making the crater seen here, the two occupants were not injured.

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    No better tribute to the efficacy of the Anderson shelter could be desired than that given by these photographs of the erections after German aerial bombs had fallen close beside them. Three are on the very brink of bomb craters, and in no case did the enemy missile fall more than a few yards away. It will be noted that the corrugated steel walls and roof had been well covered and backed up with earth, in accordance with the official directions; the thickness should be 15 inches at top and 30 inches at the sides. Another important point is to ensure that the entrance was shielded by a neighbouring brick wall, or by a baffle made of bags or boxes of earth or sand piled up high enough to protect the opening from blast or splinters. Only by attention to these points could the full security of the Anderson shelter be obtained.
     
  5. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    This shelter (Above) in a south-west town of England kept a family of four safe from a bomb that fell a few yards away and almost buried it in debris. Even the gramophone (below) which they had taken with them to pass away the time was retrieved intact.

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    Despite the destruction wrought on near by houses by a Nazi bomb, this shelter was left intact, and none of its occupants was harmed.

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  6. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The Anderson shelter was developed before war broke out, in 1938, and named after Sir John Anderson, who commissioned it after being put in charge of Air Raid Precautions by Neville Chamberlain. It was constructed from corrugated iron sheets with a steel plate door, but was only suitable for people with gardens as it had to be half buried to a depth of 4ft. The soil unearthed by digging the hole was used to cover the shelter with a thick protective layer. The first shelters were delivered in February 1939 and before long 2,250,000 had been erected in areas thought likely to be bombed. They were remarkably effective against anything other than a direct hit, but they were also cold and often wet in winter, and not very appealing, especially at night. In March 1941 an alternative, the Morrison shelter, was introduced which could be erected indoors.

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  7. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Many people took their most treasured belongings inside their Anderson shelters in case their house was totally destroyed.

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  8. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    As war clouds gathered, the Government began distribution of Anderson shelters. This photo shows residents from a street in Islington, London, on 25 February 1939 waiting for the arrival of their Anderson shelters, which was a little cumbersome as it had to be trailed through the house into the back garden ...


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  9. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Shelters must be up by June 11th

    A headline from the Daily Express in May 1940 stressing that shelters should be assembled

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    Shelters must be up by June 11th

    If you have an Anderson shelter and have not yet erected it and covered it with earth, you must do so before June 11th, or give a good reason In writing to your local authority.

    This order was announced last night by the Ministry of Home Security under a new Dcfence Regulation. Failure to comply with It renders you liable to substantial penalties. If a householder Is unable to erect the shelter himself, the local authority may help him If a good reason is given. If not, the shelter will be taken away and penalties may be imposed.

    "Covering the shelter properly" means covering to a depth of 15ins on top and 30ins on sides and back.
     
  10. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    How was this checked, did someone actually go around all the houses in Britain checking that they had actually been put up? :ponder:
     
  11. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Anderson shelters which came as a kit of 6 sheets of steel which were bolted together and partly dug into the ground. It was so popular that by September 1940 2,300,000 had been distributed. Once you received one you had to dig a deep hole in your garden and half bury the shelter with soil. Some people made the shelters look more attractive by growing flowers over them, while others grew much needed vegetables. The shelter offered protection against anything except a direct hit.

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    Despite the Blackout, the anti-aircraft guns and the RAF, many bombs were to fall on Britons cities. At the beginning of the Blitz these were bombs dropped from aeroplanes but towards the end the Germans had started to use two new weapons which had been used to fly from France over to Briton These were called the V1 and V2 Rockets. People needed to shelter from all this bombing, using air raid shelters or Anderson shelters like below.

    This picture shows two familys placing their Shelters along side of each other seperated by the boundry wall ...

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  12. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    A planned drawing of the Anderson Shelter that helped home owners errect the shelter.

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    This was the type of spanner supplied with each shelter..

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