Extraordinary true stories from the WW2 blackout

extraordinary and stories from the WW2 blackout

These extraordinary stories from the WW2 blackout are true. They describe the mistakes, illusions, near misses and fears of ordinary people when they couldn’t see more than a metre or so ahead in the darkness outside.


Various firsthand contributions from people who lived through the WW2 blackout, edited by the webmaster

My mother's kiss goodnight saved my life

My mother's kiss goodnight saved my life in the blackout. I was a tiny baby in the early years of the Second World War. My mother tucked me up in my cot in the dark and bent down to kiss me goodnight, only to find that she was kissing my feet because she hadn't been able to see which way round I was. Without that kiss, my face would have stayed tucked over in blankets and I would have suffocated. I was far too young to push them back myself.

Hilary Thomas

The blackout helped clothes coupons to be eaked out

Clothes were rationed, but as the blackout was essential, blackout material was not rationed. So enterprising women made full, gypsy-style skirts out of blackout material, decorated with recycled fabric scraps.

Alma Russell

The blackout genuinely smelt

As we weren't allowed to have the house lights on in non-blacked-out rooms, we made do with a tiny paraffin lamp, like a miniature hurricane lamp. It was painted green and its chimney had a 'mica' window through which the burning wick was visible. The lamp gave off a strong smell of burning paraffin.

Richard Ouston

The acrid smell of spent matches still conjures up the blackout and cold, dark nights spent in the dank discomfort of the Anderson shelter.

Alma Russell

Like blind people out-of-doors

No street lights were on in the blackout, and it was not possible to see from one side of the road to the other. Some people had masked torches. Otherwise, if there was no moon, we felt our way with a stick like a blind person. We lived in fear that if we showed any light, the Germans would pick us out with a bomb.

Peter Johnson

There is another extraordinary experience in the blackout on the page on barrage-balloons.

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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