Bolton Remembers the War Logo
Frank Howcroft - The Diary of an Air Raid Warden - April 1941
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Bolton ARP Handbook


Apr 7 1941

After a respite lasting over three weeks the sirens called us to duty at 22-18 hours. I was able to go out at once, and on proceeding to the rendezvous I found I was alone. Sickness and work has reduced our numbers temporarily. After a time Mr. Chadwick arrived followed shortly after by Mr. Brabin and then Mr. Bullough. As we had lost the sequence of our rota, Mr. Brabin and I went to the post to discover who were the duty wardens. As was to be expected it fell to our lot to stay out the whole length of the alert. The light was not bad, but it was a rather cold night and we were pleased a fire had been lit in our hide-out. At intervals the drone of a plane was heard. It may have been the same one doing a circular tour, just in order to be a nuisance. There was not much doing either in bombing or AA shells. We made contact with fire watching parties now and again, and when they got too cold, they came to sit near our fire. After a few hours we sent them home, explaining that we would knock them up if required. We then settled down for a little relaxation and must have been in a state of drowsiness when the sirens sounded “Raiders Passed” at 03-45. We then made for home, I for one, to sleep the sleep of the just. Some slight damage to local property was caused by a dud “AA” shell.

Apr 9 1941

An alert sounded at 22-32 hours but we heard no aircraft about, so we were not surprised to hear the “Raiders Passed” at 23-30.

Apr 10 1941

An alert of about an hour's duration sounded. (23-13 to 00-10). We did not hear aircraft after meeting at our rendezvous, but some had been heard going over about ten minutes before the sounding of the sirens. There was no activity in our region.

Apr 15 1941

A mid-day “alert” sounded at 12-35hours, and the “Raiders Passed” at 13-35.

At 22-15 hours another “alert” sounded and I went out at once and patrolled my own area before reporting at the rendezvous. I was the first to arrive but others came on the scene in a few minutes. There were several aircraft in the vicinity, and Bolton was encircled with searchlights trying to locate them, but without success. Wardens Chadwick and Bullough were on duty for the whole of the raid. It was rather dark and the moon was not due till the morning side. It was milder however, than of late, for the weather has been bitterly cold. Big guns began to play a part in the proceedings after about an hour, and then a few bombs fell, the sound of them coming from the North of the town. There had previously been much searchlight activity in that direction. About midnight Mr. Brabin and I decided to leave the others on duty while we went to rest at home. Just as we were leaving there was renewed activity from several points of the compass simultaneously so we stayed on for a further half hour, when things quietened down again, so then we beat a retreat. Altogether the raid lasted about six hours. The “Raiders Passed” signal sounding at 04-05 hours.

Apr 26 1941

At 22-32 an “alert” sounded and as I was just preparing to go to bed I was soon outside patrolling my own area before proceeding to the rendezvous. As soon as I went out into the street I noticed vivid flashes lighting everything up for a few seconds. This went on for some minutes and at various times during the alert. The big guns were soon in action giving the Hun the welcome he deserved. Merseyside was the target in chief, but the raid was not as fierce as some we have witnessed. Searchlights were busy, without finding any raider, however. A keen East wind was blowing and with the night being dark it was not a pleasant occupation to be on the watch. Still the work must be done. Besides myself wardens Brabin, Chadwick and Shirres came on duty and we four saw the job to its end. Late on in the proceedings we repaired to our hide-out and made a hot drink which was very welcome. We went out in couples at intervals, until at last the “Raiders Passed” sounded at 02-10 hours so we immediately made for home.


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