Sharing Stories
Defending the Home Front

Ken

The only bombs dropped in St. Albans were in the Camp area. One was outside the old Hill End Hospital gates. Several houses were damaged. Here is a photograph taken in 1940 of a dugout that we made in our garden; this is myself and my brother and our dog all just coming out. It was very deep with very little earth on top. We went down the steps, turned left and there were two benches in the side, a recess for candles and iron rations. You could stand up inside and it would hold about 10 people. My father was in the Home Guard and he organised a dugout in the woods nearby to store ammunition and this one in our garden was a test to see how good it would be. The dugout in the woods is still there full of arms and ammunition, I have tried to get the police and the army to go in and search for it but nobody ever has. There were 6 fully qualified men involved in the dugout in the woods, the officer was in charge of the arms, my father was a demolition expert and the others were crack shots. These men were sure that England would soon be invaded and they wanted to shoot as many Germans as possible but when Dunkirk happened there was such an extreme shortage of weapons that the country had to raid museums for muskets, pikes blunderbusses etc. anything that could be used as a weapon because all the weapons had been dumped on the battlefields in France. I have here a picture of the woods. These woods were my playgrounds as a child. I also chased and caught rabbits there.


Ken

There were about 6 of us lads playing in the wood when some home guard soldiers went by and they were told to camouflage themselves in the wood. We were watching them in the trees when my brother got an acorn and hit a couple of the soldiers in the rear and then we quickly ran away.


John

Anderson shelters were distributed to all during the war.


Noel

No shelters were distributed in St. Albans; people just went to the communal shelters.


John

Blocks of concrete were put in the open spaces in Derbyshire to stop foreign aircraft landing.


Ken

They also used to erect poles in fields. Some of these are preserved now to show people.


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Jeff

They put a Lysander plane on a trailer in front of the town hall on show for the Spitfire Fund and the town would buy a plane. They folded the wings back to bring it to the town. They had to collect for planes because the country had no money.


Noel

People donated their railings and metal saucepans for the war effort but much of the metal could not be used it was the wrong kind but it was a great morale booster.