PART III THE STORY OF THE RAIDS

We are forbidden by the Government for " security reasons " to show on the Bomb Map the whole of the Fly Bombs and Rockets which arrived in the Borough. We are also forbidden to give separately the total casualties or damage caused by V.1's and V.2's, although we are permitted to include these figures in the gross totals for all missiles.

THE BROAD PICTURE

For most citizens of Walthamstow the memories of the raids are largely of prolonged periods when for weeks or months at a time they went to shelter at night and slept in their clothes, when they listened to the growl of the approach and departure of enemy aircraft and when they listened with bated breath to the whine of the falling bomb and tried to calculate its nearness or distance.

During the Autumn of 1940, life was a strange thing both by night and day. At about the time of black-out the warning siren would sound and Walthamstow would prepare for another night of anxiety, and about daybreak the " Raiders Passed " would be sounded and Walthamstow would come out prepared for another day of sirens and of vapour trails in a blue sky. By day the raiding died away considerably towards the end of September, 1940, after the Luftwaffe had lost the Battle of London in the air, but sporadic attempts still kept us literally on the " Alert " and for six weeks we had either bombs or shells (or both) except on two days.

On analysis it will be found that the raiding fell broadly into six phases.

The first Rocket in Walthamstow arrived in September, 1944, and this phase lasted until our last Rocket fell in College Road in March, 1945. One of the most striking things about the raids in retrospect is the number of casualties which did not occur. This can, I think, be directly attributed to the energy and forethought displayed by the Local Authority and its Officers in pressing forward with theprovision of shelters-public and domestic-before the bombing began, with the result that, when the bombs fell, people were in comparative safety and not in their unprotected homes.

EXPLANATORY NOTES

While every endeavour has been made to render the record correct, it has to be remembered that, in the heat of action, reporting was not always as accurate or as detailed as one would have desired. Moreover, two special difficulties arose: one in regard to the recording of casualties and the other in respect of Incendiary Bombs.

On the first it should be noted that not all casualties (particularly in the early days) went to a First Aid Post, many being dealt with on the spot by Wardens or Stretcher Bearers and then proceeding home or to a Rest Centre, without an accurate record being kept of them. In addition some minor casualties did not report until the next day.

Turning now to the I.B.s it has to be realised that the reporting of any missiles was dependent, of course, upon them being found by, or reported to, the Wardens, and that on many occasions no notification was given to the Warden until long after the I.B. had been dealt with, and it was therefore frequently difficult to determine accurately just which I.B.s fell from the same containers.

A further difficulty arose in trying to determine the number of I.B.s dropped. In the early days only isolated I.B.s. were received, but in some raids - particularly later in the War - they were dropped in containers holding hundreds of I.B.s, and Wardens frequently found it impossible to give a figure, simply reporting " Incendiary Bombs." On occasions they were reported as " showers," or " dozens and dozens" or " scores " of I.B.s.

In all it is estimated that Incendiary Bombs totalled some 5,000.

The following abbreviations are used freely: -

Part I - General

Part IIa - The Services

Part IIb - The Services

Part III - The Story of the Raids