Taking Shelter

I remember hearing the siren and rushing out to the Anderson Shelter in the garden. My grandfather had erected it, with what I thought was a little help from me. He frequently hit his thumb and I learnt some new words as he bolted the metal sheets together. He covered the the shelter with earth and built a brick wall at the entrance, to stop any blast. It was always damp and cold and we had frequently to bail it out. 

At that time if you earned less than £250 per annum the government erected the shelter free of charge, otherwise they charged 7/6 plus labour. Many people liked to stay in the house during raids and so the Governnment brought out the Morrison shelter, which was like a table but was made of metal with mesh sides.  

Our bungalow had a veranda and at night the family would sit out on it and watch the London sky ablaze with colour as the incendiaries fell on the docks. Later we watched the doodle bugs chug across the sky on their way to London. There was no mistaking their sound. Occasionally their engines would cut out and we would dive to the ground and wait for the explosion. Later there were the V1, which nobody heard until they exploded.           

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  • I remember the Doodle Bug. There was one, or a model, on show surrounded by corrugated iron, on the parade opposite the Castle pub. It was either during the war or just after, as I can’t remember the date. They seemed to go across Wickford on a line from Southend to London.

    By bobcroot (09/11/2016)
  • I recently saw examples of the V1 and V2 in the Science Museum in London. Much bigger than I’d imagined. V2 was about as high as a house and classic rocket shape.

    By Maurice Wakeham (05/04/2013)
  • Sorry about this Jim – a minor accuracy comment: – V1 was the doodlebug, the V2 was the silent rocket. The V1 was a subsonic pulse jet which made a very distinct sound, when it ran out of fuel it would drop out of the sky. The V2 weighed 13 tons and travelled at 3,000 mph from the stratosphere. That is why it was silent! It had a guidance system which was preset for the target to be hit. Wernher von Braun was responsible for the V2. After the war he went to the USA and had a major role in the space race.

    By John Fuller (02/04/2013)
  • I remember those doodle bugs. Mum said, “When the engine cuts out, run.” But I can’t remember which way she told me.  It was so long ago.

    By bob croot (02/04/2012)
  • My mum told us that Billericay Urban District council issued Anderson shelters and Chelmsford Rural District council gave Morrison shelters. As we lived in Waverley Crescent we had a Morrisons, under Chelmsford.

    By bob croot (02/03/2012)

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