World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                             Dan Kirwin

The Air Raid Shelter

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Dan Gerald Kirwin
Location of story: Beeston, Leeds
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Joanna Thomas of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Dan Gerald Kirwin.

When war was declared on Germany in September 1939, I was intrigued to see workmen, digging by hand, a 6ft deep zig-zag trench in Cross Flats Park, Beeston, Leeds where we used to play.

The work went on for many days and fascinated me as an 11-year-old boy. I ventured to ask one of the workmen the purpose of this long trench. He said to me that if bombs were dropped from planes, the people in the area could leave their houses, run into the park and jump into the trench for protection. "What a splendid idea," I thought.

I enquired further, why not a straight trench rather than this zig-zag shape, to be told that if there was a bomb explosion at the end of a straight trench, the blast would travel down the length of the trench and possibly kill all inside. This impressed me even more of the thinking and planning of these ‘Air Raid Precautions’ as they were called.

It was not until late October that I visited the completed trench only to find it completely filled to the brim with rain water, due to the clay sub-soil! So much for the clever thinking!

So then more Anderson shelters were provided for gardens.