logo - Join me in the 1900s mid C20th
The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

Protecting windows from air-raid bomb blast in World War Two



House windows taped up to prevent flying glass from bomb blasts during World War Two.

House windows taped up to prevent flying glass from bomb blasts during World War Two. Family photo taken with the intention of showing my grandmother, aunt and baby cousin.

Screenshot from an old Second World War filmshowing windows taped against bomb blast

Screenshot from an old Second World War film showing taped windows.

Taping windows

As people could be injured from the flying glass of broken windows during an air-raid, many households taped up their windows. My mother said that it was too depressing and chose to live with the risk.

The photo, though, shows a house with its windows taped up against flying glass. It was taken while my grandmother was on holiday on the coast near Dover, which was directly below the flight path of the German bombers targeting London.

Each house was given some rolls of gummed brown sticky paper about 3 inches wide. These were for sticking to the inside of all the windows from corner to corner in a diagonal pattern to prevent shards of glass from flying into the rooms in a bomb blast.

Peter Johnson

I recall that the tape on windows in World War Two was commonly referred to as 'scrim'.

Robert Priddy

Although I wasn't old enough to remember the term 'scrim' for taping windows, it certainly doesn't surprise me, as 'scrim' is commonly used in the building trade today for sticking sheets of plasterboard together. This scrim is a woven open tape which is very thin.

My recollection is that the tape used on the windows came on a reel like sellotape, but it was brown paper which was gummed on one side. The gum became sticky when moistened, just like the postage stamps of the time.

Another type of tape comes to mind. It was called 'passepartou' (French for fits all over). It was used for sticking all sorts of things, like sticking shut the back of a photo frame or a cheap frame for a photo, and was more expensive than the brown paper variety.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

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Celluloid as a replacement for glass

The ARP (Air Raids Precautions) also recommended two other ways of preventing flying glass from shattered windows: replacing the glass with specially strengthened glass or with celluloid.

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

Pat Cryer
webmaster

I did see celluloid (or was it mica?) replacement side windows in cars after the war was over, and it was always cloudy and with cracks. I doubt whether anyone would have wanted it for windows of houses, and I doubt if strengthened glass was widely available or even up to the job. I only ever noticed taped up windows.

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times. It is Pat Cryer.