Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December, 13-19, 1940

“Five houses were demolished and others damaged, but there were few casualties when a lone raider dropped bombs on a town in the South,” reported the Advertiser, following a raid on Swindon during the evening of Thursday December 19.

Among those caught in the bombing was 57 year old Jane Hobbs of 167 Beatrice Street who sustained serious injuries and was taken to Victoria Hospital where she died the following day.

Several people were trapped in their house when the staircase under which they had sheltered collapsed, but one little boy was able to rely on his brother for help when their home was damaged during the raid.

The boys had just gone to bed when the bombs fell on Beatrice and Ipswich Streets, causing their bedroom to cave in around them.

Eleven year old Roy Miller led his nine year old brother Leo to safety down the wrecked staircase where the boys found the rest of their family trapped in the dining room.

“Don’t cry mammy, I’ve got him all right,” Roy called to his mother.

“He is a proper little hero, and we are proud of him,” Mrs Miller told the Advertiser. 

And in a week when Swindon suffered yet another devastating air raid, the Corporation reported that offers of advice and practical assistance in the event of further attacks were being rejected by local householders.

Local government officials had been met with ‘an almost hostile reception’ during house to house calls with some residents accused of taking no interest in their own safety and claiming they could see no danger. 

However, Swindon householders answered back, critical of the provision of public shelters and urging that the local authority should provide Anderson shelters in the more densely populated areas of the town.

Residents were advised to designate an internal refuge room and to erect exterior ‘blast’ walls to protect vulnerable points of their homes.  “And this is where, in certain circumstances, the Corporation may give professional advice, material and labour free of charge,” reported the Advertiser.  “All ratepayers earning £250 or less a year or who are compulsorily insured, and who live in densely populated areas or within 800 yards of a possible enemy target, qualify for the free service.

Householders were encouraged to take advantage of this help and advice, although Swindonians were reminded that ‘the authority is not blessed with unlimited manpower and resources.

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