Crystal Lake’s John Kinsley shared his memories of growing in London during World War II with the Methodist Men of the First Methodist Church of Crystal Lake last Saturday morning.
This is the third installment of what he said.
Down London Memory Lane with John Kinsley
It was not long before we found out that in every country they occupied, anti-Jewish laws were implemented.
Jews were forced to wear the Star of David on their clothing, were not allowed to work in any of the professions, had their property confiscated and their bank accounts frozen.
Millions ended up being murdered or sent to concentration camps and when this began to filter back to us in England, we despised those who were responsible.
England became a shelter for many who escaped from the occupied countries and those able to joined various branches of the armed forces.
I remember that in the RAF there was a whole squadron of Polish fighter pilots.
Preparations for war were everywhere.
Almost immediately a nighttime blackout all over England was enforced.
Air raid sirens were installed in all the big cities.
An oscillating wail indicated that you take cover and a constant pitch was the all clear.
Personal air raid shelters were built.
They were called Anderson Shelters named after the fellow who thought of it.
Curved sheets of corrugated steel bolted at the top with matching ends formed the shelter and were usually placed in a hole which had been dug out about 2ft down.
It was about 6ft by 4ft and most people put benches inside that would accommodate four people.
At night candles would provide light and in the event of heavy rain it was wise to wear rubber boots.
In some areas where it was considered possible that aircraft or gliders might try to land, wires were strung out across the fields.
There was darkness everywhere.
Cars and trucks were difficult to see during the blackout so bumpers, fenders and running boards were painted with white stripes, and headlights were covered except for a small slit.
The ARP was formed, thousands of men and women were trained in air raid precautions and went around houses making sure no lights were showing through cracks in the curtains and the shout of “put that light out” was often to be heard.
Thousands of sandbags were used to protect the entrances to public buildings, all road signs were taken down, and pill boxes were built at critical road junctions.
Some are still there.
Barrage balloons were sent up, presumably in the belief that enemy aircraft would fly into the cables that hung from them.
We could no longer go swimming in the sea as barbed wire was installed along the beaches that were likely landing sites and at low tide mines were laid.
After the war many of these mines were not found as they had moved due to the action of the sea and after the war we watched as bulldozers swept up and down the beaches until eventually they were declared safe.
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