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Memorable experiences in Anderson
shelters in 1940s war-time Britain

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Below are what people have told me of their particularly memorable experiences in Anderson shelters.

The siren warning would go off and all we could hear would be the sound of bombers coming towards us. The bombs would start coming down.

This was in the first blitz. It went on every night for three months. I can still hear the crunch of the bombs and the ground shaking.

We lived in hope and fear. Although not a religious family, when the bombs and doodlebugs were falling we held each other and said a silent prayer.

Worst of all one night was when my mother was screaming that my father was not home yet, and had he made it to a public shelter? He did come in, but all shaken up. He told us that he was just coming up Silver Street by the Middlesex Hospital when he was blown off his bicycle by a bomb blast.

Peter Johnson

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A baby is born in an Anderson shelter

My sister Margaret Anderson Johnson was born in our Anderson shelter during the blitz, hence her Anderson middle name. This was at 153 Bulwer Road, Edmonton N.18. My mother went into labour. So my brother Eric, sister Betty and I went to stay in next door's shelter for the night. Next morning we had a new baby sister. She was in all the newspapers at the time, being christened "The Blitz Baby". We had a midwife, a Queens Nurse for the birth, and soap and water, carbolic and flea powder to try and keep the shelter tidy and smelling nice.

Peter Johnson

Here, though, is another quite the reverse story. Which of the two pregnant women do you think was better off?

When my mother was pregnant in Dagenham during the height of the Blitz, she was told that, for safety's sake, she would have to get herself to Rugby to give birth there in hospital. She was told that this was necessary because the whole of the North Thames area was "bomb alley" and Dagenham was "right in the firing line" Of course, it was a tedious trip for a woman 8+ months pregnant, but she did it. Then three days after I was born, she had to get herself and her new baby all the way BACK to Dagenham! I wonder who was the fool who made these dictates? She was away for about ten days altogether, and then right back in the firing line of the Blitz and subsequent V1s and V2s.

Colin Seeger

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Maintenance jobs inside Anderson shelters

Keeping as dry as possible in an Anderson shelter

My father made a wooden rack to keep our feet dry. He also installed a hand water pump so the water could be removed.

Tony Shepherd

It was my sister and my job to pump the water out. We had to do it once a week with a Paragon hand pump.

Norman Groocock

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Anderson shelters were always running in condensation after people had been in them a while and there was always water on the floor.

Someone had to empty the bucket or chamber pot, renew the candles or refill the lamps and dry off damp bedding.

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Christmas in an Anderson shelter

Christmas in an Anderson shelter in World War Two

Christmas in an Anderson shelter. Photographed in Tilford Rural Life Centre.