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Frank Howcroft - The Diary of an Air Raid Warden - October-December 1941
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Bolton ARP Handbook


Oct 12 1941

After an interval lasting over three months the sirens sounded at 23-00 hours and the ensuing raid lasted just two hours, “Raiders Passed” sounding at 01-00. This was the most destructive raid we have had in Bolton. As soon as we met at the rendezvous we could hear aircraft and “AA” fire. One machine in particular was flying very low, but he made off without dropping anything in our sector. Nearly all our wardens were on duty and several of the fire guard. After the warning had been in progress half an hour we saw something a bright red colour hurtling downwards through space. We flung ourselves on the ground expecting the burst of a bomb, but it must have passed us by, as nothing else resulted. About 23-45 we noticed a glare in the sky. A fire had been started in a small works and it was burnt out. Bombs fell in Ardwick Street and Punch Street, off Deane Road, and considerable damage was done to house property. Over eighty casualties have been recorded, about a dozen of them being fatal. Many searchlights swept the sky without locating any raider, however. The winter raiding period has commenced tragically for Bolton.

Oct 20 1941

The sirens sent out their call to duty at 21-02 and after reporting at the rendezvous it was not long before flashes let us know that the game had begun. The activity was well out of our way, towards Manchester as of old. Later on the raid centred on Merseyside. We saw a parachute flare but it no sooner lit than it went out, perhaps shot down before it had time to light up a target. It was soon apparent to us that Bolton was not on the visiting list on this occasion, and it was just a matter of waiting until the raiders had left the region. The night was very dark, and to add to our discomfiture it began to rain, so we had to shelter as best we could against the gable end of a house. Later on a cup of tea was made for us, which was very welcome. Nearly all our wardens reported for duty. At 23-44 the “Raiders Passed” sounded so we immediately left for home. On the way home the S.P.W. said he would send us some rations to our hide-out. Good.

Oct 22 1941

At 20-55 another alert sounded and at once I went out into inky blackness, and reported at our meeting place. Very soon there was “AA “barrage to let us know Jerry was up to his tricks again. As before, Merseyside was the target and at times the “AA” fire was intense. True to his promise the S.P.W. brought us some rations, tea, sugar, and biscuits. It was bitterly cold and we were glad of a hot drink. Whilst we were partaking of this the “Raiders Passed” sounded at 22-45. Early in the raid we thought a fire had been started towards the North, but the light glow was the Northern Lights.

Oct 25 1941

The sirens called us to duty at 21-07 hours. Wardens Brabin, Hubberstey, and Chadwick other than myself were soon at the rendezvous. This was very good for a Saturday night. There was not very much going on, but after a time we could see AA shells bursting over Liverpool. It was not as much as on previous nights, when the firing has sometimes been terrific. This was quite mild in comparison. It was another case of waiting for something that did not happen. At 22-15 the “Raiders Passed” sounded, so we left for home.

Dec 18 1941

The day had been very cold, frost on everything, and there was also some fog, which worsened as the day progressed. It seemed very unlikely that we should be called out for duty. Anyhow, the sirens sounded at 18-07 hours. I was able to go out at once, and stayed at the contact point until other wardens arrived. I then went for tea. On returning wardens Bullough, Hubberstey and Chadwick had reported for duty. The prospects of a lengthy alert were distinctly bad. No moon, icy cold, and a good dose of fog. One or two planes passed by but there was no bombing and no “AA” fire. We patrolled for a while, and we were relieved to hear “Raiders Passed” a few moments before 20-00 hours. Before going home we went to the post to fill in particulars concerning our duty. This is a new idea.


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