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Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII

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Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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166 of 203  Wed 29th May 2019 3:12pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3509

August 1939, Coventry. We wait - war or peace? The governments have locked themselves in and continue exchanging letters, we no longer know what they are saying. Dad and I had a discussion about the duration if war came. Tension was running high, people seemed resigned that we would win if war came - almost cheerful in most households, soldiers were billeted on us. Sand everywhere - the weight of Coventry must be increasing! - the glare of paraffin arc-lamps as the frantic sand bag filling goes on through the night. Lorries, dust and smoke, petrol fumes. Cyclists, young couples, old men, stand and watch - discussions of the different kinds of explosions, and the protection from them. Young men, already in uniform, they are part of something, vital and important. Just call an office, sign your name and immediately you're somebody instead of nobody. Dad and I went for a walk across the fields. Out there in the quiet, if the heads of state walked in the open air in a big beautiful meadow, the countryside stretching around them, would they negotiate the difficulties peacefully? Last night we went to the pictures. When we came out, feared we had gone blind, it was pitch dark, not a street light, no lighted windows, tiny coloured crosses on the traffic lights. Cars had headlamps covered, using only side-lights. and police now wore steel helmets.
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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167 of 203  Fri 31st May 2019 4:49pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3509

Sept 1939 Political events grew from day to day, and the day has come - 'We are at war'. Children have been evacuated, Barnbys toy shop in Corporation St already have a new huge toy across their window, a model of the Maginot Line section and toy soldiers, a lorry with a blimp attached. I would have bought one but dad said, "Tanks will simply go round them". Nurses are attending courses on gas casualties, great arguments as to where they should be treated, wounds first or gas? At what point to remove from contaminated stretchers, are dead to be decontaminated or kept from clean corpses, serious questions? But first, attend to the want of nature. Bleach paste was carried in gas mask box. All cinemas and theatres are closed in Britain. Two ships were sunk, just hours after declaration, sunk by torpedoes from U-boat - one ship, hundreds of Americans trying to escape the war. Gas masks were issued to everyone. Differing opinions on how and when they should be carried and worn. Tops of post-boxes painted with gas-detector paint, and frightening leaflets were issued about enemy planes dropping poisons. Income tax rose by almost 50%. The war was now under way.
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
Choirboy
Bicester
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168 of 203  Sun 17th Jan 2021 1:28am  
Member: Joined Nov 2020  Total posts:3

On 20th Apr 2016 7:37pm, Norman Conquest said: I said it was in shreds because local housewives nicked the balloon material. For what purpose I have no idea.
If it's not too late to add some explanation as to what happened to the barrage balloon material, I recall my mother made waterproof baby pants for me. I expect pvc and latex were too valuable commodities during the war to find their way into domestic use. Edited by member, 17th Jan 2021 1:47 am
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
Helen F
Warrington
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169 of 203  Sun 17th Jan 2021 2:47pm  
Moderator: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:2436

Hi Choirboy, welcome to the forum Wave Lovely bit of extra information about the balloon. It made me laugh thinking of your baby self having trouble moving in your new pants if the material was as stiff as it looked. I had an woollen arran sweater so durable that I could barely bend my arms. How ingenious of your Mum though.
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
Choirboy
Bicester
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170 of 203  Sun 17th Jan 2021 4:13pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2020  Total posts:3

It was in fact quite supple and lasted much longer than any of those pvc ones we used on my brood in the 1980's. I only remember because I used to dress my teddy in my old baby clothes, and no, I didn't have a dolly as well, that was my brother's. Blush lol. A quick search does not reveal any detail as to what material was used. I remember it being charcoal grey on one side and the other had a metallic sheen. A description of the dope used to repair holes is given at this BBC page that says it was highly poisonous. It is a wonder any of us from the 40's survived the good intentions of our parents never mind Hitler!
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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171 of 203  Mon 18th Jan 2021 10:55am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3509

Choirboy. The same dope we used on model airplanes, to tighten the fabric, smelt awful. Can’t remember the name.
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
Helen F
172 of 203  Mon 18th Jan 2021 11:02am  
Off-topic / chat  

Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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173 of 203  Mon 18th Jan 2021 12:59pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3509

Nope, I doubt it. What is missing in those reports is that the balloons brought down twice as many friendly fire aircraft as enemy, and in Coventry German planes flew below them often. Several letters to the CET but no reply, the general thought at that time was that they weren’t the defence we hoped for.
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
Choirboy
Bicester
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174 of 203  Mon 18th Jan 2021 6:07pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2020  Total posts:3

I can't add any more to the discussion except that I was told the cable from an errant balloon removed the tiles from houses a few hundred yards away from us near to the junction of Hocking Road and Oldham Avenue, Wyken. I have no Idea of the date.
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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175 of 203  Tue 19th Jan 2021 11:57am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3509

Oh yes, Choirboy, the cables were lethal, about two inches dia of wire roughed up by dragging across the ground, at knots, could rip your leg in half. Yes, I saw what they were capable of.
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
Slim
Another Coventry kid
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176 of 203  Tue 19th Jan 2021 2:22pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:719

On 17th Jan 2021 4:13pm, Choirboy said: A description of the dope used to repair holes is given at this BBC page that says it was highly poisonous. It is a wonder any of us from the 40's survived the good intentions of our parents never mind Hitler!
My mother worked at Canley on the nightshift, on the assembly of the Mosquitoes (or Spitfires, can't remember which), and it was near the dope shop, and with no H&S the smell was overpowering.
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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177 of 203  Tue 19th Jan 2021 2:34pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3509

Cable was supposed to be a joke, but no matter. I could have said every time I went in a barrage balloon, like a pub, I went sky high and left by the side door. I believe barrage balloon material was sold to kids to play with and mess with. You couldn't tear it, so many cross stitches to stop them tearing in windy weather, it was good for pattern making as well. It was put to a lot of uses in its time.
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
belushi
coventry
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178 of 203  Tue 16th Feb 2021 2:47pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2014  Total posts:72

Like many of my generation, I grew up reading about and watching war stories and films. I still regularly go on to YouTube to watch old Pathe News reels and war movies made during the war; I don't go much for the post war gung-ho films that glorified the conflict. What relics remain from the war in Coventry? And what are people's memories of relics which remained after the war but have since vanished? I can think of the tank traps that are still at the bottom of Tile Hill Lane in Tile Hill village, but nothing else. There must be, however, some Anderson shelters remaining. My memories date from the early 1960s, and as a child I can remember playing in the old pill box on the Daimler sports field in Middlemarch Road. I'm sure there would still have been some old bombsites remaining, albeit cleared of their rubble.
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
NeilsYard
Coventry
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179 of 203  Tue 16th Feb 2021 3:03pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:2816

They were barrage balloon moorings in Tile Hill village apparently - like the ones in the Memorial Park, where you can also still see the filled in remains of the underground shelter and the shrapnel pot-marks on the War Memorial itself.
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII
scrutiny
coventry
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180 of 203  Tue 16th Feb 2021 3:40pm  
Member: Joined Feb 2010  Total posts:672

Belushi. If you turn left off Raglan Street up Canterbury Street, on the right hand side is a grassed area with trees on. The second half of this at the end of the row with the older terraced house on is an old bomb site. Thumbs up
Coventry & Warwickshire in WWII

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