CD41 Recordings

 
THE BLITZ (1939-41)
Audiobook 2xCD from CD41
ISBN: 978-1-906310-00-4

An evocative double-disc set, The Blitz features 145 minutes of rare audio material recorded between 1939 and 1941. Most of the 44 tracks cover the period of night air raids in British cities between September 1940 and May 1941, including the heavy raids on London known as Black Saturday (7 September 1940) and the Second Fire of London (29 December 1940). All featured recordings are first-hand accounts made at the time, and include civilians, evacuees, ARP and civil defence personnel, RAF pilots, AA gunners and politicians, as well as actuality recordings made during raids and inside shelters.

THE BLITZ (VOL 1) 1939-41 CD41-027 £12.50

On this 2xCD set (and download), recordings by named individuals include teenage ARP messenger Ronnie Hayes, a survivor of the horrific bombing of the Cafe de Paris, Helen Stevens; RAF fighter pilots D.F.B. Sheen and H.M. Stephen; the first George Cross winner, T.H. Alderson; a man buried alive for eight days on Glasgow, and several 'bombed-out' women and children. Also included are several recordings made in Coventry after the devastating raid in November 1940. Other historic recordings include a stirring speech by Winston Churchill, the resignation of Neville Chamberlain, an appeal for fire guards by Home Secretary Herbert Morrison, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and William Joyce, the infamous Lord Haw Haw. Featured correspondents include Ed Murrow, Robin Duff and Raymond Glendenning. All materials are authentic wartime recordings which have been carefully digitally remastered for CD. The booklet includes archive images and detailed historical notes by James Hayward.

Tracklist:

disc one:
1. AIR RAID SIREN: ALERT
2. TYNESIDE AIR RAID
3. SPITFIRE PILOT: H.M. STEPHEN
4. PORTSMOUTH : SHELTER DAMAGE
5. BOMBS ON WIMBLEDON
6. ED MURROW IN LONDON
7. BLACK SATURDAY: 7.9.1940
8. LONDON: BLITZ ACTUALITY
9. WINSTON CHURCHILL
10. MIDNIGHT NEWS 15.9.1940
11. MY BOMB
12. AA BATTERY: HYDE PARK
13. ARP GEORGE CROSS
14. KENNINGTON PUBLIC SHELTER
15. WAR COMMENTARY: NIGHT BOMBING
16. COVENTRY BLITZED
17. LONDON: BOMBED-OUT
18. THE SECOND FIRE OF LONDON
19. GUILDHALL DAMAGED
20. WREN CHURCH DESTROYED
21. THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

disc two:
1. HERBERT MORRISON: FIRE BOMBS
2. NEWS BULLETIN 10.1.1941
3. BANK STATION BOMBED
4. A NURSE IN THE BLITZ
5. GAS WORKS: GEORGE MEDAL
6. POLICE RESCUE: GEORGE MEDAL
7. RAF COMMUNIQUES
8. LORD HAW HAW: VIEWS ON THE NEWS
9. WAR COMMENTARY: AIR DEFENCE
10. CAF… DE PARIS BOMBED
11. COASTAL AA BATTERY
12. WINSTON CHURCHILL
13. CLYDESIDE: BURIED ALIVE
14. NIGHT FIGHTER: D.F.B. SHEEN
15. LONDON: PARLIAMENT BOMBED
16. CLYDEBANK: BOMBED-OUT
17. AFS MESSENGER: MERSEYSIDE
18. ARP WARDEN: PLYMOUTH
19. RAID ON LONDON
20. 5 MINUTES FOR FIRE GUARDS
21. MIXED AA BATTERY
22. ITMA INTERRUPTED
23. AIR RAID SIREN: ALL CLEAR

Liner notes by James Hayward

The Blitz is the term commonly applied to the German air offensive against the United Kingdom during the Second World War, and in particular sustained bombing raids on towns, cities and industrial targets. The main Blitz period extended from 7 September 1940 to 10 May 1941. The main target was London (71 major raids), notably on 7/8 September 1940 ('Black Saturday'), 29 December 1940 (the so-called 'Second Fire of London') and 10 May 1941. Other cities and industrial centres attacked included Glasgow, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and Plymouth.

The Blitz on Britain later extended to include the 'Baedecker Raids' in mid-1942, the 'Little Blitz' of January-May 1944, and attacks by pilotless V1 and V2 weapons from June 1944 onwards. By this time British defences were much improved, while German commitments on other fronts meant that fewer bombers could be deployed against Britain.

The total civilian death toll from enemy action by the end of the war exceeded 43,000, with another 139,000 injured. More than a million houses were damaged or destroyed. From the outset, official sources in Britain portrayed the raids as terror tactics, and this view prevailed in America. Although the Blitz inflicted considerable damage on the country's infrastructure and housing stock, it failed to force Britain to capitulate.

disc one:
1. AIR RAID SIREN: ALERT (0.59)
Actuality recording of British siren sounding 'Alert' (undulating note). Recorded 27 September 1940.

2. AIR RAID ON TYNESIDE (2.55)
Joyce Coombs (aged 17) describes an air raid on Tyneside in the early hours of 25 May 1940. Bombs were dropped on Southbank, Middlesborough and Teeside. Slight damage was done to buildings, gas mains and electric cables, and at Dorman Long's Cleveland Iron and Steel Works eight civilians were injured. Recorded 25 May 1940.

3. SPITFIRE PILOT: H.M. STEPHEN (3.34)
Pilot Officer Harbourne Mackay Stephen (1914-2001) of 74 Squadron talks about his combat experiences in over Dunkirk and Boulogne, and over England during a night raid. Stephen went on to become one of the top-scoring Fighter Command pilots during the Battle of Britain, credited with downing eight enemy aircraft in a single day. He was awarded the DFC on 27 August 1940 and Bar on 15 November. Recorded 14 July 1940.

4. PORTSMOUTH: SHELTER DAMAGE (2.39)
An account of the partial collapse of a public shelter during a raid in August 1940 by a policeman, and two small boys. Linking by A.R. Phillips. Despite the collapse of the supporting pillars the shelter did not collapse, and only one person of some 200 was killed. Recorded 13 August 1940. Portsmouth and its naval base came under sustained attack, receiving 1,271 tons of bombs in five significant night raids between August 1940 and June 1941.

5. BOMBS ON WIMBLEDON (3.21)
BBC producer Margery Wace OBE talks about an early daylight raid on London, during which her house was rocked by blast. Wace also pays tribute to the calmness of housewives under fire. Recorded 17 August 1940.

6. ED MURROW: LONDON AIR RAID ALERT (2.44)
CBS correspondent Edward R. Murrow reports from St Martin in the Fields on Trafalgar Square during an air raid alert on 24 August 1940. The crypt of this famous church was used as a public shelter. On this night German aircraft bound for Rochester and Thameshaven instead dropped bombs over Central London, causing the first damage from enemy bombs since 1918. Murrow's concise, evocative London broadcasts made him a celebrity in the United States.

7. BLACK SATURDAY: 7 SEPTEMBER 1940 (5.21)
Two commentaries recorded on the roof of BBC Broadcasting House in Portland Place, describing the first night raid on London. The first (by Tom Chalmers) was recorded on the night of 7 September 1940 ('Black Saturday') and describes the view across London, with Tower Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral silhouetted against the red sky and leaping flames. The second (by Raymond Glendenning) was recorded at approximately 8 pm (twilight) on Sunday 8 September 1940. Glendenning describes aircraft contrails, anti-aircraft fire and searchlights, falling shrapnel and fires in the direction of Poplar. On Saturday the first wave of 300 aircraft bombed between 16.35 and 18.15, while the second mass attack by 180 aircraft commenced at 20.10. The main areas affected were West Ham, Poplar, Stepney, Southwark and Bermondsey and the London docklands. Almost 1,800 people were killed or seriously injured.

8. BLITZ ACTUALITY (2.55)
Recording made during a raid on London, including German bombers passing overhead, falling bombs and anti-aircraft fire. Recorded 1940.

9. WINSTON CHURCHILL (1.39)
The British Prime Minister broadcasts to the nation via the BBC in 11 September 1940: "These cruel, wanton, indiscriminate bombings of LondonÖ"

10. MIDNIGHT NEWS (0.36)
An extract from the BBC Midnight News broadcast on Sunday 15 September 1940, read by Alvar Lidell, announcing that 173 German aircraft shot down that day. The true figure was 60, as against 27 RAF machines. The Luftwaffe lost only some 600 bombers during the entire Blitz, a loss rate per sortie of 1.5%. September 15 is traditionally regarded as the climax of the Battle of Britain, and is remembered annually as Battle of Britain Day. On 17 September Hitler postponed Operation Sea Lion, the planned invasion of Britain.

11. MY BOMB: CECIL MADDEN (3.44)
An unscripted account by playwright and radio producer Cecil Madden of his experience of being bombed near a 'famous London Common', probably on 18 September 1940. Recorded 20 September 1940. A pioneer of television at the BBC, Madden (1902-1987) was also later president of the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild. The skips are present on the original recording.

12. AA BATTERY: HYDE PARK (3.45)
Morale-boosting broadcast by correspondent Edward Ward from a gun site in Hyde Park, London, recorded 21 September 1940, which also includes interviews with Lieutenant Woodruffe and an unnamed gunner. When German bombers first attacked London by night the capitol was almost defenceless, with too few anti-aircraft ('ack-ack') guns and searchlights available, and no effective RAF night fighters. In August it was estimated that to give a one in fifty chance of bring down a raider flying at 250 mph and 'crossing a vertical rectangle ten miles wide and four miles high', a barrage of 3,000 3.7 inch shells would have to be fired every second. In fact few AA guns were fired in order to allow night fighters to operate. The public outcry saw night fighters withdrawn, and on 11 September the reinforced AA batteries were allowed to fire at will, producing thunderous barrages which lasted all night. The result was widespread joy (as well as sleep deprivation), but the military effect was still limited. In September 30,000 rounds were fired for every German aircraft destroyed, and falling shrapnel meant that the sustained barrage was more dangerous for civilians on the ground that the enemy in the air. AA Command's tactics quickly improved to include gun-laying radar, and in October 11,000 rounds were fired for each raider brought down. The increasingly accurate fire forced Luftwaffe bombers to fly higher, and thus bomb less accurately, although this in turn made it more likely that civilian areas would be hit.

13. ARP GEORGE CROSS: T.H. ALDERSON (3.57)
An account by Thomas Hopper Alderson (1903-1965), winner of the first George Cross, for 'sustained gallantry, enterprise and devotion to duty during enemy air raids.' Recorded 2 October 1940 for 'On The Air'. Alderson (then aged 37) was Works Supervisor for Bridlington Corporation, and was also in charge of the town's rescue and demolition parties. Over the course of a series of raids on 15, 20 and 23 August 1940, Alderson and his team conducted a number of hazardous rescue operations in collapsed buildings, spending many hours tunneling through wreckage to reach survivors, and saving several lives. The George Cross was instituted by Royal Warrant on 24 September 1940 and is the highest award for conspicuous gallantry not in the face of the enemy. Equivalent to the Victoria Cross, it may be awarded to both civilian and military personnel. Today Alderson is commemorated on a plaque situated in the Bridlington branch of Marks & Spencer.

14. KENNINGTON AIR RAID SHELTER (2.39)
Robin Duff reports from a public surface shelter in Kennington (London), recorded Saturday 5 October 1940, a night of widespread enemy activity. Duff describes the cheerful decor and atmosphere of camaraderie, and also interviews the shelter warden. The occupants sing I Wouldn't Leave My Little Wooden Bunk For You (adapted from I Wouldn't Leave My Little Wooden Hut For You), and Kathleen Collins (aged 11) sings When I Was Single. With no electricity, and poor ventilation and sanitation, most public shelters soon became cheerless places.

15. WAR COMMENTARY: NIGHT BOMBING (3.50)
A talk by Air Marshal Sir Philip Joubert on the difficulty of stopping enemy raiders by night, and by day. Recorded 3 October 1940. A veteran of the Royal Flying Corps, Philip Joubert de la Ferte (1887-1965) lead Coastal Command between 1941 and 1943.

16. COVENTRY BLITZED (12.27)
Several Coventry residents and officials describe the devastating ten hour raid on the West Midlands city on the night of 14/15 November 1940, and its aftermath. Speakers include Mr E. Letts, Muriel Drewe; Miss G.M. Ellis and the Very Reverend R.T. Howard. During this raid 515 aircraft of Luftflotte 3 operated in relays to deliver 500 tonnes of high explosives and 36,000 incendiaries, killing 568 civilians and gutting the city centre and fourteenth century St Michael's Cathedral. The raid was also one of the first to employ pathfinder aircraft. German propaganda afterwards applied the term 'Coventrated' to devastated areas.

17. LONDON: BOMBED-OUT (0.53)
An unnamed London mother recounts her experience in a basement shelter after the building above it collapsed, and subsequent travails. Recorded 27 November 1940.

18. SECOND FIRE OF LONDON: 29 DECEMBER 1940 (3.57)
Robin Duff provides an eyewitness account during the devastating raid on London of 29 December 1940, when 136 Luftwaffe bombers attacked the City and government area, triggering what is often termed the Second Great Fire of London. Germany afterwards claimed that 100,000 incendiaries had been dropped. Duff describes the terrible beauty of the spectacle of St Paul's Cathedral surrounded by fires (captured in the iconic photograph by Herbert Mason for the Daily Mail), the sterling work of the fire service, and the anger of Londoners. The raid began shortly after 6 pm. Nearly 1500 fires were started, the majority in the City of London, where half a square mile was devastated by six large conflagrations. Eight Wren churches were destroyed, the Guildhall damaged, and the Port of London reduced to a quarter of its capacity. 163 people were killed, and 509 injured. Sixteen of those killed were firemen, and another 250 firemen were detained in hospital. Recorded 30 December 1940.

19. LONDON GUILDHALL DAMAGED (2.18)
Mr Garside, Superintendent Beadle of the Guildhall, describes the distressing wreckage of this venerable City of London ceremonial building (constructed between 1411 and 1430) after the heavy raid on Sunday 29 December. Amidst the ruins of the banqueting hall, Garside recalls how staff struggled in vain to extinguish a fire in the timber roof, which then collapsed. Recorded 31 December 1940. The wooden roof was not replaced until 1954.

20. WREN CHURCH DESTROYED (4.25)
The church warden, Douglas Clarke, describes extensive damage to St Lawrence Jewry church in the City of London on 29 December 1940. Recorded 7 January 1941. Designed by Christopher Wren, St Lawrence Jewry in Gresham Street was gutted during the Second Great Fire of London, the original having already been destroyed by the first conflagration in 1666. Sparks and embers from the burning church are thought to have set the neighbouring Guildhall on fire. Restoration was completed in 1957, and St Lawrence Jewry is now the official church of the Corporation of London.

21. THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY (3.28)
Address by Cosmo Lang recorded 26 December 1940. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual leader and senior clergyman of the Church of England. Lang (1864-1945) was in post from 1928 until his resignation in 1942, and despite his age and somewhat detached air was a vocal critic of the Nazi regime and racial policies. During the Blitz Lang regularly took evening prayers in the crypt-cum-shelter at Lambeth.

disc two:
1. HERBERT MORRISON: BRITAIN SHALL NOT BURN (7.03)
Home Secretary and Minister of Home Security Herbert Morrison (1888-1965) addresses the nation on the dangers posed by incendiary bombs and fires, and the need for fire watchers: "You cannot stop a high explosive bomb from bursting, but you can stop a firebomb from starting a fire." His famous 'Britain shall not burn' appeal was a result of the 'Second Fire of London' raid on 29 December, and met with a good response. Morrison succeeded Sir John Anderson as Home Secretary in October 1940, and was responsible for the National Fire Service (NFS) and ARP, also lending his name to the Morrison Shelter, a steel table for use as an indoor shelter, and able to withstand the collapse of a house.

2. NEWS BULLETIN: BBC HOME SERVICE (1.47)
Alan Howland reads the first Home Service news bulletin on the morning of 10 January 1941. On the previous night (a Thursday) German aircraft carried out a major attack on Manchester with a secondary attack on London. The bulletin also covers RAF raids on Germany, Lease-Lend, shelter epidemics and events in the Balkans.

3. BANK STATION BOMBED (3.53)
Robin Duff describes the scene of 'absolute devastation' at Bank underground station in London on 13 January 1941, including background actuality of rescue teams at work. On the night of Saturday 11 January the Central Line booking hall was hit by an HE bomb, resulting in some 58 killed and 69 injured. The enormous crater - 120 x 100 feet - was spanned by a temporary bridge so that traffic could negotiate the seven-way interchange, not fully repaired until May. Duff describes the scene as 'the picture of totalitarian war waged against a civilian population.'

4. A NURSE IN THE BLITZ (4.23)
An unnamed Jamaican nurse describes her experiences during the bombing of London. Recorded 1 January 1941.

5. GAS WORKS: GEORGE MEDAL (2.39)
Mr A.E. Page, a recipient of the George Medal, describes his part in averting disaster at a burning gas works in 1941. His account proves the value of the ordinary steel helmet. Recorded 7 February 1941. Like the George Cross, the George Medal was instituted on 24 September 1940. It is the second highest gallantry medal that can be awarded to a civilian. Please note that the sudden ending is present on the original recording.

6. POLICE RESCUE: GEORGE MEDAL (1.42)
An account by Henry Burgoyne, a Metropolitan Police constable (D Division) awarded the George Medal for his part in the rescue of several trapped civilians early in 1941. Together with PC John James, Burgoyne entered a collapsed block of flats in Marylebone, London, on top of which the roof had fallen. At one point Burgoyne and James had to support the roof on their backs. The first woman rescued died on the way to hospital, the second survived. Recorded 15 February 1941 (the Times of the same date also gives detail of the incident). Burgoyne subsequently became a pilot in RAF Bomber Command, flying Lancasters with 166 Squadron, and was killed during a raid on Nurnberg on 3 January 1945.

7. RAF COMMUNIQUES (5.31)
A talk by Squadron Leader Graham on the preparation and purpose of RAF Communiques, broadcast 21 February 1941. These communiquÈs were issued daily by the Air Ministry. Graham explains why these reports are of a vague nature: "We can only tell you what can't help him... The Germans are short of information, and we are determined to keep them short."

8. LORD HAW HAW: VIEWS ON THE NEWS (0.47)
"Germany calling..." Propaganda broadcast by William Joyce broadcast from Berlin in February 1940. In this extract Joyce offers a false account of the effect of German air raids on hat design. Several renegade Britons made broadcasts attributed to 'Lord Haw Haw', although Joyce was the most accomplished, and the most infamous. This off-air recording was made in order to gather prosecution evidence for use after the war. Born in New York in 1906, Joyce was convicted of high treason in 1946 and executed, although controversy persists over whether the British authorities had any power to condemn an American turned German citizen as a traitor.

9. WAR COMMENTARY: BRITAIN'S AIR DEFENCE (4.08)
Talk by Air Commodore A.V. Goddard, broadcast 27 February 1941 as part of the series War Commentary. "Air defence is like a trusty old umbrella."

10. CAFE DE PARIS BOMBED (3.22)
Eyewitness account by Helen Stevens, a nursing sister and diner at the fashionable restaurant situated off Leicester Square on the night of Saturday 8 March 1941. Recorded February 1942. Situated 20 feet below street level, the Cafe de Paris was considered safe, but shortly after 9 pm two 50 kg bombs penetrated through the Rialto Cinema above. One failed to detonate, but the other exploded on the crowded dancefloor. 34 were killed (including bandleader Ken 'Snake Hips' Johnson) and 82 seriously injured. The incident became notorious on account of the instant transition from opulence to oblivion, and for looting. According to one witness, novelist Nicholas Monsarrat: "The first thing the rescue squads and the firemen saw was a frieze of other shadowy men, night creatures who had scuttled within as soon as the echoes ceased, crouching over any dead or wounded woman, and soignÈ corpse they could find, and ripping off its necklace, or earrings, of brooch; riffling its handbag, scooping up its loose change." These details do not feature in this BBC broadcast aired a year later.

11. COASTAL AA BATTERY (4.02)
Sergeant Goodhand, serving with a Light AA Battery at an isolated coastal location, describes several engagements with the Luftwaffe. Light AA units were equipped with the Bofors 40mm quick-firing cannon, capable of 120 rounds a minute and with range of some 12,500 feet. In his cheery account Goodhand also pays tribute to the work of Searchlight Batteries. Recorded 24 March 1941.

12. WINSTON CHURCHILL: PROGRESS OF THE WAR (5.17)
An extract from a longer broadcast by the Prime Minister on 27 April 1941, in which he pays tribute to the fortitude of civilians in Blitzed cities around the country. Churchill left London on 25 April to visit Liverpool and Manchester. The subsequent radio speech was described as "less vivid than usual" by his private secretary, John Colville, but his tone suits the sentiments expressed.

13. CLYDESIDE: BURIED ALIVE (2.30)
Tom Dawson interviews John Cormack, who survived burial beneath a collapsed tenement building in Partick (Glasgow) for eight days. Recorded 2 April 1941. On the night of 13 March Cormack (a ship's plumber aged 22) was in bed in lodgings at 33 Peel Street when the block collapsed after being hit by a bomb. Saved by furniture and the warmth of his bedclothes, he remained buried under debris until found on the evening of 21 March. Another man rescued at the same time died five hours later, and several members of the Docherty family also perished. A nurse at the Glasgow Western Infirmary also talks of the excellent recovery Cormack has made. More details of the rescue appeared in the Glasgow Herald (22 March 1941) and the Scotsman (24 March 1941). The devastating 'Clydeside Blitz' on Glasgow and Clydebank on 13/14 March left 1083 dead and 1602 seriously injured.

14. NIGHT FIGHTER: D.F.B. SHEEN (3.15)
An account by Squadron Leader Desmond Sheen DFC of 72 Squadron, a Spitfire pilot. Recorded 17 April 1941. At 10.25 pm the night of 13/14 March 1941 Sheen shot down a Junkers 88 bomber of 3/Kustenfliegergruppe 106 off Amble on the Northumberland coast, a remarkable 'Cat's Eyes' feat in a Spitfire. Sheen also talks of his experiences during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Born in Sydney (Australia) in 1917, Des Sheen joined the RAAF in 1936, and first joined 72 Squadron in June 1937. He saw action over Dunkirk and during the Battle of Britain, and was shot down on both 1 and 9 September 1940, baling out on both occasions, and sustaining wounds on the second. Sheen was awarded the DFC in May 1940, and a Bar on October 1941. He retired from the RAF in 1971 with the rank of Group Captain.

15. PARLIAMENT BOMBED (3.16)
An account by Robin Duff of the scene at the Houses of Parliament after a raid on the night of 10/11 May 1941. Recorded 11 May 1941. Although the Palace of Westminster was hit 14 times during the war, this attack caused severe damage, destroying the debating chamber of the House of Commons and killing three people. The face of Big Ben was pocked and scarred, a bomb having passed through the tower. Fortunately Westminster Hall was saved. Duff describes the difficulty of combating the blaze due to the frequent arrival of fresh showers of incendiaries, the danger posed by delayed action bombs, and the narrow escape of 30 men in the courtyard when a wall collapsed. The raid on 10 May involved 507 aircraft and was the most devastating on London of the war. This was also the date on which Rudolf Hess arrived in Scotland on his ill-fated peace mission.

16. CLYDEBANK: BOMBED-OUT (4.20)
Scots civilian Tom Wright comments on the lessons of the Clydeside Blitz, based on his personal experience of being bombed out, losing his possessions, and spending several days in a shelter. Wright hopes for a communal state after the war ends, and the elimination of social inequality. Recorded 14 May 1941. The Clydeside Blitz was short and sharp, consisting chiefly of the raid on Glasgow and Clydebank of 13/14 March, another on 7/8 April, and on Greenock/Gourock on 6/7 May. In Clydebank just eight out of 12,000 dwellings remained undamaged, and the town was effectively evacuated.

17. AFS MESSENGER: MERSEYSIDE (3.12)
Ronnie Hayes, a 15 year old AFS Messenger, describes his experiences during a week of raids on Merseyside commencing on the night of 3/4 May 1941. During the infamous 'May Week' raids Hayes lost five bicycles, including two destroyed by blast and flying debris, and was knocked unconscious. These raids resulted in 1,900 were killed and 1,450 badly injured, causing a serious collapse of civilian morale in the city. Although rumours that martial law had been imposed on Liverpool were untrue, troops were deployed to prevent looting. Recorded 11 September 1941.

18. ARP WARDEN: PLYMOUTH (1.28)
Mr Clark gives a brief account of his experience as an ARP Warden in the city, recorded 16 May 1941. On 6 February 1941 Hitler directed the Luftwaffe to concentrate their bombing effort on ports. An important naval base, Plymouth was heavily bombed between August 1940 and June 1941, receiving eight significant raids and 1,332 tonnes tons of HE and incendiary bombs.

19. RAID ON LONDON (3.02)
Youthful 'Boy' Smith of the BBC describes an isolated raid on London in August 1941, and its aftermath. Recorded 20 August 1941, although this period was generally quiet.

20. FIVE MINUTES FOR FIRE GUARDS (3.02)
Talk by an unknown volunteer on the importance of Fire Guards, recorded 24 October 1941. The Fire Guard was formally organized in August 1941, and included existing fire watchers and street parties. Their main duty was to put out incendiaries and stop fires spreading.

21. MIXED AA BATTERY (2.42)
Actuality montage of a Heavy AA Battery in action, recorded in November 1941. The first mixed-sex battery had been deployed in Richmond Park, London, in August. The women of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) were trained to operate range finders, predictors, sound locators and searchlights, but not the actual guns.

22. ITMA BROADCAST INTERRUPTED (1.33)
On 26 October 1941 a recording of Tommy Handley's hugely popular radio comedy programme It's That Man Again (ITMA) in Bangor was interrupted and finally halted by an air raid. During a rendition of It Ain't What You Do by The Cavendish Three distant gunfire can be heard, after which the studio is hurriedly evacuated. Recorded light music then took the place of the performers. ITMA ran from 1939 to 1949 and was by far the most popular programme of its type during the war years.

23. AIR RAID SIREN: ALL CLEAR (1.18)
Actuality recording of British siren sounding 'All Clear' (sustained note). Recorded 27 September 1940.

James Hayward
July 2007
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