'Crowds of sightseers'

An unforeseen consequence of the Blitz

An unforeseen consequence of the Blitz was the sightseers keen to view air-raid damage. Sir John Anderson (one type of air raid shelter was named after him)  was asked in the House of Commons on 19 September 1940, ‘ whether he is aware that crowds assembling near places on which bombs or aeroplanes have fallen, have impeded the work of civil defence and other services; and whether he will make such assembly an offence?’  He replied that  although ‘in the first few days of intensive air attack the work of the Civil Defence Services was impeded to some extent by crowds of sightseers, and it became necessary for me to appeal to the public to refrain from visiting places where air-raid damage had occurred.  The public have responded to that appeal, and I do not think it necessary to take any action on the lines suggested in the second part of the Question.’

Ken Flint recalls:

One afternoon I was at home and I heard a noise like the roof tiles falling. In fact it was a Hurricane firing in front of a German by plane to force it to land near the Lewes race course. ..My brother Gordon had the keys to the H.G Armoury at the race course so he grabbed a rifle and went to the plane ...the pilot surrendered without any trouble thank goodness.  Lots of Lewisians came to look at the plane but the story about it was censored and was not printed in the media.

Photo:Stephen Simmons was as a teenage boy fascinated by the bombs that fell over London.

Stephen Simmons was as a teenage boy fascinated by the bombs that fell over London.

Stephen Simmons

Stephen Simmons another Siemen’s factory worker, was more interested in the weapons of mass destruction rather than the damage they caused.  He writes:

I would go out with my brother early in the morning looking for bits and pieces of bombs and shell caps.  One evening we found that a 500 lb bomb had come down next to the Dance Hall at the Yorkshire Grey Pub at Eltham roundabout. We went down after 8 pm when Police and Home Guard had gone home. Took torch and brass tools we had made for removing fuses from bombs.  We climbed down two ladders to the bomb.  My brother sat astride the bomb, and we tried to knock out the fuse plate.  After about fifteen minutes we heard a rasping noise from the bomb, picked up our tools and left.  About two o’clock in the morning there was a large bang; the whole house shook. It was a clear night, we looked out of the bedroom window there was a column of smoke about 100 ft high.  The following morning we had a look on way to work, large crater and all the dance hall had gone. (Very lucky 1st escape.)

'My brother sat astride the bomb, and we tried to knock out the fuse plate.  After about fifteen minutes we heard a rasping noise from the bomb, picked up our tools and left'

Two days later on the way home from work met my brother when air raid started.  Found very large fire bomb half in the pavement, tried to remove fins from the bomb but were unable to. We put a dustbin full of pig food over the bomb intending to come back later and work on it.  Unable to come back we left it. The following morning it had exploded. The bin was blown to pieces, all the pig food hanging on over head wires; the door and window of  Doctor’s House were blown out. It was one of the first explosive fire bombs (No. 2 near one).

Found a Butterfly Bomb on the way home, started throwing stones at it; fell out of tree into hedge, never went off, left it.  Chased a barrage balloon that broke away from its base; tried to hold cables with RAF staff until the steel cable hit overhead tram wires, sparks everywhere, left it and went home.  Not a bad day in all.

Watched air battles next day, saw five British planes shot down in one day (cried at the sight of it).

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 22/11/2011.

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