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The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

Gun batteries fight back from the
ground in Second World War air raids

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I was too young to understand much about how Britain fought back during World War Two air raids. The following recollections come from people just a few years older than me.

Gun battery

UK Anti-aircraft gun, World War Two - known as an Ack-Ack gun

Anti-aircraft-gun (known as an 'ack ack'). A cigarette card.

During the blitz, the site later used for the Italian Prisoner of War Camp housed an Ack Ack gun battery and most nights when they fired, it was more scary than the bombing. A great source of shrapnel for the kids but too dangerous to be out during a raid. Ack Ack was the name given to anti aircraft gun fire (a hold over from WW1 and the use of Phonetic Alpha.) The aircraft on the receiving end called it flak.

A battery of guns, usually 6-12 was very mobile and could be rushed to various places when needed. Special guns with a high elevation and handling about a 3 inch shell were guided by a crude sonic direction and optical range finder and the shell could be fused to explode at a certain height just before firing. The casing split into hundreds of pieces called shrapnel, potentially dangerous to planes and airmen.

Frank Clarke

WW2 anti-aircraft-gun known as an 'ack ack'.

Anti-aircraft-gun known as an 'ack ack'. Screen shot from a history documentary.

There was an anti-aircraft battery stationed no more than about 500 yards from our house. One of the ways of passing time in our so-called 'shelter' was to count the number of bangs created by the gun firing. The battery remained in place during the war years and, around 1943 I was taken to see the gun. I was totally thrilled to be invited to sit on the gunner's chair and pretend to fire it.

Richard Ouston


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