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World War Two: Air Raids

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Blackout rules for lights from vehicles in WW2 UK

The World War Two blackout of homes and other buildings was to prevent enemy aircraft seeing lights that would suggest a populated area or factory, but lights on vehicles were also affected. Clearly vehicles couldn't travel safely with no lights at all, but they had to be dimmed and directed downwards onto the road ahead.

Poster labelling the requirements for dimming bicycle lights in the WW2 blackout

Poster on obeying blackout regulations for a bicycle. Tap/click for a larger, legible image. The logo on the lower right is of the Cyclists' Touring Club

How bicycle lights were dimmed and masked in the blackout

The above poster illustrates and labels the requirements for dimming bicycle lights. It enlarges to a legible size on tap/click, but the following bullet points summarise:

Dipped front bicycle light for blackout regulations

Dipped front bicycle light for blackout regulations. Note its 'camouflage' colour

As a young child, I knew nothing of these regulations and was seldom out after dark. Nevertheless, I do remember seeing the white patches on the backs of mudguards of bicycles. I assumed, at the time, that it was simply style.

In addition there was the requirement for good tyres and brakes.

How car lights were dimmed and masked in the blackout

For cars - and presumably for other vehicles - there was the requirement of good tyres and brakes, a clean windscreen and for doors to be locked for parking with the ignition key removed. Cars were not be left outside overnight.

The rules specifically for the blackout were stringent:

Poster labelling the requirements for dimming car lights in the WW2 blackout

Poster showing blackout rules for bicycles.
Tap/click for a larger, legible image.

Masks for car headlamps used in the WW2 blackout 1 of 2
Masks for car headlamps used in the WW2 blackout 2 of 2

Two types of masks for vehicle headlamps - slits and shades. Screenshots from wartime films.


If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.

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