CHAPTER 24 HEADQUARTERS AND CONTROL

(Headquarters included also the Report Centre, details of which are given under the Communications Service Section.) Although, under our decentralised system, the initial steps for dealing with an Incident were taken by our District Centres, Headquarters' Control was manned continuously from the outbreak of War, either by persons in the Control Room or within easy reach of the Control Room.

Originally Headquarters was stationed at the Old Monoux School in High Street, with Shadow Headquarters at Electric House. After the building in Forest Road had reached a stage when the semi-basement could be used, Headquarters was transferred to the new Town Hall, and Shadow Headquarters was installed at the Old Monoux School. A 24-hour rota was maintained so that at any hour of the day or night contact could be made with a responsible Officer and, during the 1940/41 blitz, Officers slept at Headquarters and at Shadow Head¬quarters in order to be on the spot for Incidents arising during the night, and, during the daytime, were always within easy reach.

All male Heads of operational Services (and Deputies) shared in the Control Room rota and the Officer responsible was required to be immediately available or, alternatively, himself to arrange a substitute. When the first cuts in the Service took place it was found impossible to continue to man the Report Centre and Control Room at Shadow Headquarters on a whole-time basis and, thereafter, during the daytime, it was manned only on Siren by part-timers, most of whom were members of the staff of the Education Architects Department. Shadow Headquarters was, however, manned every night by part-timers.

At the new Headquarters, at the new Town Hall, there was some additional accommodation available beyond that which had been available at the Old Monoux School, but the standard of protection was no greater. The protection available at the new Town Hall was that appropriate to a Public Shelter and, although the Town Hall itself looked a massive building, it had not even a steel-frame structure. The Sub-ground floor, however, had a concrete reinforced ceiling with a standard of protection equivalent to that of a public shelter designed to take the debris load of the building above.

The accommodation was by no means ideal but, fortunately, we were able to have a ventilation plant installed which provided a better atmosphere than would otherwise have been available. Sleeping and feeding accommodation was never satisfactory but the personnel accepted, with cheerfulness, a standard which would have been repudiated by the Council for its employees in peace-time. Throughout the war no Headquarters Officers claimed subsistence allowance, they regarding their attendance as part of their voluntary war effort. (They even paid for their meals and refreshments except that, during raids and operational work of that kind, they might receive a free cup of tea.)

This chapter would not be complete without reference to the Administrative work performed by the General Office Staff and the Headquarters Staff Officers who never grumbled, never appeared to resent my demands on their time, but gave ungrudgingly of their best in the interests of Civil Defence.

Part I - General

Part IIa - The Services

Part IIb - The Services

Part III - The Story of the Raids

Part IV - Flying Bombs & Rockets

Part V - To the Unknown Citizen