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Frank Howcroft - The Diary of an Air Raid Warden - May 1941
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May 1 1941

Having just retired for the night I was disturbed by the “alert” sounding at 23-19 hours. Gunfire had been going on prior to this and there was much “AA” fire as soon as I reached the street, and vivid flashes lit up earth and sky. It was obvious from the outset that Merseyside was to be the target once again, and the barrage from the guns was terrific. Other than myself, there arrived wardens Brabin, Chadwick, Shirres and Bullough. The night was very fine and clear, with a coldish East wind blowing. We were quite prepared to settle down for a long raid, when suddenly at 00-20 the “Raiders Passed” sounded. This was surprising for only a few minutes before the “AA” fire had been giving merry hell to the Hun, and we came to the conclusion that the “AA” had once again been successful. Let us hope so.

May 2 1941

At 22-36 another “alert” sounded and as I had not yet retired I was soon out patrolling my area prior to proceeding to our rendezvous. I was soon joined by wardens Brabin, Shirres, Bullough, Chadwick and Harker. Mr. Harker and myself were on duty for the whole of the raid. Once again there was considerable activity, and at intervals the big guns sent forth their shells. “AA” fire was going up in the Manchester district, but it was soon evident that the Huns objective was Liverpool. We heard them at regular intervals flying over us on their errand of destruction. This went on for a few hours. After a time we went into our hide-out for a drink of tea. Then followed another period looking out for Jerry. A party of fire watchers came in to get warm, having been out some hours. We were about to make them a hot drink, when the sirens sounded the “Raiders Passed” at 02-42 hours.

May 3 1941

The sirens heralded the Hun at 22-40 hours. I was soon outside and had not long to wait before the “AA” was busy, also the big guns. The searchlights were trying to find hostile aircraft without being successful. Once again Liverpool and district were the targets. All the time we could hear the appalling procession of planes loaded with bombs going in to attack. There must have been considerable damage done, but the Jerries did not get away free, for sixteen bombers were brought down, the record bag for night operations. The more the merrier. After about three and a half hours I left wardens Brabin, Shirres and Chadwick to see the job through while I went home for a much needed rest. I later learned that the “Raiders Passed” did not sound until 04-50 hours. During this alert the clock was put forward another hour.

May 4 1941

It was 23-55 when this “alert” sounded and I had to get out of bed to report for duty. Shortly after warden Bullough came on the scene, no other warden appeared, so we saw the alert through to the end. This was a matter of nearly five hours, as the “Raiders Passed” did not sound until 04-45. There was the usual gunfire and the probing of the searchlights, but to me it seemed to be a nuisance raid. There was not the same activity as on recent nights. Certainly not the same.

Being on holiday from 5 May to 10 May I ascertained the times of the following alerts on my return.

May 6 1941

00-10 to 03-49 when bombs were dropped locally and some damage done.

May 7 1941

00-39 to 02-40.

May 8 1941

00-01 to 03-50, 14-12 to 15-15, 23-48 to 03-55. The sirens also sounded at Fleetwood about the above stated times.

May 12 1941

An alert sounded at 01-18 and lasted until 02-25 hours. I was soon awake and out in the streets, and with the moon at the full it was almost like day. The extra hour of daylight will mean getting out of bed early for some few weeks now. Mr. Hubberstey was out when I arrived at the rendezvous and shortly after Mr. Brabin came along, and we all stayed out until the “Raiders Passed” sounded. Very early in the proceedings some bombs were dropped quite close, almost locally, and then we heard the aircraft leaving in an Easterly direction and he was flying very low. That was the limit of the activity from our point of vantage. Of course, there was some AA fire.

May 16 1941

The sirens sounded an alert at 03-02 hours and dressing hastily I turned out. No other warden came to join me. It was very quiet indeed. A few searchlights were sweeping the skies towards the North of the town, but without any luck. I was not surprised when the “Raiders Passed” sounded at 04-03 and I immediately went home to renew my interrupted sleep.


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