Thursday, 20 October 2016

After the Raid .............. discovering the preparations for the Manchester Blitz

Nell lane after the air raid, 1940
I suppose for most people the sound of an air raid siren is one of those historic curiosities which feature as a backdrop to fictional accounts of the last war or accompany a TV documentary on the Blitz.

Now I was born four years after the war and will never have heard the warning alert or the all clear played in earnest.

But I remember watching my mother react to hearing them and in an instant she was back on some night waiting for the bombs to fall.

After the Raid, 1940

And just briefly a little of that fear caught me one summer’s day when at the height of the second Cold War in the 1980s the local police station tested their siren.

Of course all of that is now long gone, but occasionally you come across vivid reminders of that period.

There are still a few painted signs for EWS on walls which indicated the site of Emergency Water Supplies, and the odd gas mask appears at a jumble sale.*

But I doubt that many of the millions of leaflets issued by the Ministry of Home Security in the December of 1940 will have survived.

After all once the war was over few people I think would wanted to hang on to such a document and yet it is a fascinating piece of history.

AFTER THE RAID began “WHEN YOU HAVE been in the front line and taken it extra hard the country wants to look after you.  

For you have suffered in the national interests as well as in your own interest in the fight against Hitler.  If your home is damaged there is a great deal of help ready for you.”

Bombs over Chorlton, 1940
And then went on to provide advice on preparing in advance, what do about food and shelter along with guidance on obtaining a new homes, tracing friends and relatives, compensation and repairs.

It makes chilling reading especially given that as it fell through the letter box many of our cities including our own were being hit nightly.
Chorlton received its fair share with most of the casualties during the Manchester Blitz just before the Christmas of 1940.

Have your plans ready 1940
Just how useful the leaflet would have been to those bombed out here I have no idea but it remains a tiny insight into what our parents and grandparents coped with.

Which just leaves me to thank David Harrop who lent me the leaflet from his collection which until recently was on display at his permanent exhibition of war time memorabilia at the Remembrance Lodge in Southern Cemetery.

Pictures; After the Raid, December 1940, Ministry of Home Security, from the collection of David Harrop,  the corner of Mauldeth Road and Nell Lane today courtesy of Brian Lee Whitworth and bomb damage at Nell Lane, 1940, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, m09736,

*Beware such gas masks, many used asbestos in the filter and these may now prove a health hazard.

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