Seeking Shelter

Preparing for the Air Raids

"So you stepped into the thing—you stepped into water."

"Well the government required you to put up any material that would block light being emitted from windows to aid German bombers. But although the war started on 3 September ’39 the bombing didn’t start until June of 1940.

Although Hitler terminated his max bombing after nine months, thereabouts, he did let bombers come over every now and again. More or less as nuisance raids—propaganda raids—I’m not quite sure what the military, if there was a military objective. I don’t know. They’re the things that I remember because my mother used to have to come around and get us out when the siren went. We had to go into the shelter, which was in the bottom of the garden. Thirty yards down the garden. But of course it’s cold in London—in Britain. And the water level in England is very high ‘cause it rains all the time there, as you know. So there was always water forming in this pit. So you stepped into the thing—you stepped into water. And of course we had—my father built some bunk beds. So we climbed onto the bunk beds. But after you stepped in, and you’re doing this in the middle of the winter with your pajamas on and maybe a coat over you to go into the shelter. So it was a decidedly unpleasant experience. So I got that I wouldn’t go in the shelter. And of course that drove my mother. Another thing my mother was driven nuts by me. Because I would give her a hard time about going in the shelter."