This week in the War, 26 Aug–1 Sept 1940: London on alert

This week in the war saw the first all-night alert in London, 26 August 1940. The Luftwaffe launched a number of night attacks on the city that week. The picture to the left shows one of the platforms of the London underground railway system (the ‘Tube’) being used as an air-raid shelter. A few years later, the citizens of Berlin would be using their Untergrundbahn (U-Bahn) for the same purpose.

Another option for taking cover was the Anderson shelter, provided as a corrugated-iron ‘kit’ that one could put together before sinking it into the back garden and heaping earth overtop. British factories were producing them in the tens of thousands. Contrary to practice, the one shown here is not buried below ground.

For people without a garden, there was the Morrison shelter, which was a steel cage, table-sized (in fact designed to function as a dining table) with a height of 2 feet 9 inches. During air raids, the family was meant to take refuge beneath the ‘table’. Apartment dwellers were out of luck. The Morrison was heavy and intended for use on the main floor.

Both shelters were named for British politicians: John Anderson (Lord Privy Seal—entrusted with organizing air raid precautions), and Herbert Morrison (Home Secretary).

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