British Life in the Blitz
How were people warned that an air raid was about to take place?
People were warned of a likely air raid by loud sirens, positioned in different parts of towns and cities. During the blitz, they became an almost daily part of life.
The sirens made a very loud and long signal or warning sound. For an alert, the siren sound pitch rose and fell alternately. The All Clear was a continuous sound from the siren. Not every alert brought a raid, and sometimes raids happened when no alert had sounded.
When people heard the siren they would stop what they were doing and make for a shelter.
When you hear the warning take cover at once. Remember that most of the injuries in an air raid are caused not by direct hits by bombs but by flying fragments of debris or by bits of shells. Stay under cover until you hear the sirens sounding continuously for two minutes on the same note which is the signal "Raiders Passed".
What other cities were bombed?
Other cities and towns were also heavily bombed, including Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol, Southampton, Plymouth, Birmingham, Coventry and Liverpool.
One devastating raid on Coventry in November 1940 was the biggest air-raid the world had ever seen. 4,330 homes were destroyed and 554 people killed. At one point during the night 200 separate fires burned in the city.
During the Blitz 32,000 civilians were killed and 87,000 were seriously injured.
Two million houses (60 per cent of these in London) were destroyed in the Blitz.
How did people protect themselves from the bombs during an air raid?
Air Raid Shelters were built. To help prevent the Germans from seeing where the towns were, a blackout was rigorously enforced after darkness. This meant that all sources of light had to be blacked out.
What was life like during the Blitz?
Life was very hard during the Blitz and frightening too. London, in particular was very bad as it was bombed nearly every night. People in London spent most nights sleeping in Air Raid Shelters.
No one within any distance of a likely target such as a big city could sleep entirely easy in their beds. Sometimes German bombers made mistakes and dropped their bombs in entirely the wrong areas. At other times, returning from a raid, they would dump the remainder of their explosives at random in order to fly home in greater safety. Many bombs fell on the areas around the cities and in the Kent countryside, known as 'bomb alley' because it lay on the flight path to London.
It was difficult to move around at night time due to the Blackout and the problems it causes.
Families were separated with children being in evacuated.
Food and clothing were rationed and hard to get hold of because of shops being bombed.