Text and images are copyright. All rights reserved.
This page about inside purpose-built Second World War public air-raid shelters is due to Peter Johnson, who, being a few years older than me remembered experiencing them. As I was born three months before the war, my own recollections are limited to Anderson shelters and Morrison shelters, both for families, and school shelters.
The shelters I remember had a bucket for a WC fitted with a seat, usually in a corner. Modesty was protected by a cloth curtain. My experience was that during an air-raid we sat there in fear as the bombs came screaming down and the last thing we thought of was going to the toilet.
During an air-raid when the doors were shut, the air inside these shelters became very smelly. A combination of people smoking, body odour, the toilets, and the rank condensation all added with fear of dying stays with you for ever.
After an air-raid, ie after the 'all-clear' sounded we would go outside to breath in some fresh air even if it was laced with the fumes of burning buildings.
We were all in the same boat; we were all friends in adversity. Somebody would bring a large tea pot, the mug was passed round. Sometimes we had a sing song. Life went on.
Community spirit grew as the war dragged on because we all got to share a public space, and there was always somebody with an accordion or a mouth organ. They would start playing and we would all join in singing the popular songs of the day. As a bomb came whistling down we would all stop singing. Then if it fell somewhere else we would all start singing again.
During the day volunteers would empty the buckets and sweep out the shelters. Everybody 'mucked in'.