Bolton Remembers the War Logo
Frank Howcroft - The Diary of an Air Raid Warden - August 1940
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Bolton ARP Handbook


August 3 1940 (3)

Sirens sounded about 00-20. Went on duty at once. Aircraft overhead flying very high. About a score of searchlights failed to locate him. The “Raiders Passed” sounded at 01-05, and after reporting to the post the wardens went home.

August 4 1940 (4)

Another warning at 00-10. Went to the warden's rendezvous to await their coming. Nothing doing again, the searchlights being unable to locate the aircraft. At 01-00 the welcome sounds of the sirens gave us the signal to return home. Reported at post and wrote names of all wardens who had reported for duty.

August 12 1940 (5)

Patrolled the area and signed off at 23-00. Having just got settled in bed was aroused by the wailing of the sirens about 23-25. Went out at once to the rendezvous and when Mr. Brabin came I left him in charge. I then proceeded to the post to don anti-gas clothing (my turn this week) but before I could dress the sirens sounded “Raiders Passed “about 23-35. We had however to stand by at the post as the danger was not over. We were eventually free to return home at 00-20.

August 18/19 1940 (6)

On patrol with Mr. Brabin till 23-00 when we retired to rest. We were to be rudely awakened, as the sirens sounded the warning at 23-50. Nothing happened however, and the “Raiders Passed” sounded at 00-15. We are getting familiar with these action warnings. The searchlights did not try to find the aircraft. On returning to the post various wardens said they had heard aircraft for several nights in succession. After reporting Mr. Brabin dressed in anti-gas clothing and came back ready to reconnoiter for gas. On returning to the post a short meeting of the Senior Post wardens and the Senior wardens decided that in future one warden only from each area should return to the post with the names of wardens who have reported for duty. Returned home about 01-00, and so to bed.

August 24 1940 (7)

I went on post duty at 19-00 hours and everything was as usual until 20-18 when the sirens wailed their now familiar action warning. I waited only until an elderly warden came to the post who took charge whilst I made contact with the wardens at rendezvous. The whole area was patrolled several times, while the aircraft circled overhead. At times he came pretty low, but continuous sweepings of the searchlights did not reveal his presence. Mr. Brabin came along in anti-gas clothing looking like a being from another sphere. The ‘swish‘ of the material can be heard many yards away. On this occasion, more than any previous, I personally think that Bolton was lucky to escape being bombed. I think we all more or less expected hearing bursting bombs any instant. A report had to be made about a house on Lever Edge Lane showing pencils of light through insufficiently drawn blinds. We had a long wait before hearing the welcome steady pitch of the sirens which denoted “Raiders Passed “at 23-45. On this alarm it appears that the shelters were used more than hitherto, owing, no doubt to the fact that the warning was received earlier and there were many people on the streets. A report to the post of wardens who had been on duty ended another air raid warning and the longest up to date.

August 27 1940 (8)

Having got nicely settled in bed the sirens caused a rude awakening and I hurriedly got dressed and went out to the meeting place on the bridge. The other wardens arrived one by one until all had reported. We patrolled the area and found the blackout quite good. The searchlights failed to locate the aircraft. The clouds were low and the aircraft very high. He appeared to circle round and round and finally sheared off. The authorities too, thought the same and sounded “Raiders Passed “about 01-30.

August 28 1940 (9)

I reported at the post and arrived home round about 02-00 and so to bed, but the bomber returned flying very low. I turned out again about 02-15 and was joined by wardens J. Brabin, R. Hubberstey and A. McCann. Bombs were heard to fall and it later transpired that damage to property was done at Kearsley and Walkden. One girl casualty was reported and a pig was killed. They don't even spare their own kind. We noticed several flashes in the sky for which we were unable to account. After the bombing was over, Mr. Brabin and I went through the shelters on the golf course and finally returned to the post. That put paid to our activities for one raid and we returned to our homes at 03-00.

August 28 1940 (10)

I had expressed a desire to go to bed early this evening to catch up on some lost sleep, but as it was my night for patrol that was out of the question. During patrol the wavering sounds of the sirens put us once again on the alert at 22-40. All the wardens reported as usual and after chatting a while we dispersed as the aircraft was very near. We took cover for a while. Searchlights were very much in evidence a little further South to the place they had bombed in the small hours of the morning. Some heavy thuds were heard. The conditions were not good as there was a drizzly rain falling most of the time we were out. The wet flags reflected the lights of cars for some yards ahead and I am sure could be spotted by low flying aircraft. Things seem to be livening up for us. A few members of the Home Guard patrol made a halt on the bridge and a chat with them was very welcome. Nothing occurred in our sector and it was a great relief to hear the “Raiders Passed” signal at 23-45+. On returning to the post the messenger said the warnings were dull affairs. Evidently he wants to see and hear the AA guns in action. After reporting wardens who had been on duty we returned home, I to sleep the sleep of the just.

August 29/30 1940 (11)

Once again the warning note of the sirens caused a rude awakening about 22-40 hours. The length of each raid was about three and a half hours. Bombing was going on to the South West of our contact point. After a preliminary patrol of their own houses all the wardens reported and patrolled the whole area in turn. Nothing exciting to us occurred and it was a great relief to hear the “Raiders Passed signal”. Another irritating raid.

August 30/31 1940 (12)

I retired early in order to catch up on lost sleep. Less than one hour in bed had to suffice, however, for the sirens sent out their dismal message at 22-20 hours. I hastily dressed and as usual accentuated the warning on my whistle. Mr. Hubberstey was already on the bridge and all the other wardens arrived in due course. The usual patrols were kept up. After a long time of waiting we were rewarded with a barrage of AA shells piercing the sky with their flashes. We can only hope that they were successful in destroying the aircraft which was out on its errand of destruction. The scene of this activity was further West than the previous raid. It would be some consolation for us if we could get to know if any had been brought down to earth. After a few hours we decided on a drink of tea. Mr. Hubberstey provided a stone bottle and Mr. Brabin filled it with tea and thus we had a very acceptable drink in the wee small hours. Aircraft were heard on several occasions but nothing happened anywhere near us. I have confidence that should anything serious occur in our area the wardens will acquit themselves well. But to be out several hours on end and nothing doing, well, it's just dull. The length of the raids extend every subsequent one. On this occasion the “Raiders Passed” sounded at 02-50, so we were on duty four and a half hours. At the beginning there was developing a rather ugly incident on the bridge as a passing civilian took umbrage after being warned about a glowing cigarette end. As usual a report at the post ended another warning and left us free to return home.

August 31/September 1 1940 (13)

I retired rather early but for very little purpose as the aeroplanes could be heard. I arose and went outside just in time to hear the wail of the sirens send out their unwelcome message at 20-25. The scene of the activity was more Westerly than the previous raid. All week the bombers have been raiding further South and West, and so have been operating in part of a huge circle. Nothing untoward occurred in our particular area. We were rewarded by seeing the A.A. reception given to the bombers. They were met with a terrific barrage, and it would appear that nothing could withstand such a terrific shelling and escape. The early morning hours are now getting chill, so, during this raid we decided to change our rendezvous, which is now one of the shelters on the golf links. The whole area was patrolled by different pairs from time to time, and it was quite a relief to hear the “Raiders Passed” signal at approx 02-45 hours. On reporting at the post there was an order to senior wardens to divide their parties into two, each party to operate on alternate raids, this giving the wardens a chance of a good night's rest. Of course should bombs fall in the vicinity, all wardens would report for duty. I don't know how Area A wardens will take it, but it is going to be no easy thing to arrange two parties. We shall have to meet and talk it over.

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