Protecting windows from air-raid bomb blast in World War
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 film showing
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.
I recall that the tape on windows in World War Two was commonly
referred to as 'scrim'.
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
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.
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.
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.