The SIREN

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An Anderson Shelter from WW2 – c. 1940.

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Click on the link below to hear the siren sound of an ‘Air Raid Warning’, followed by the ‘All Clear’, accompanied by a video with some memories of the 1940s in the U.K.  . . .

Siren Sound

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The SIREN

The Air Raid Warden came to say:
‘It’s best to be prepared;
A little forethought and hard work –
Don’t want to make the young ‘un scared.’

Dad dug a cave deep in the garden,
Covered it with earth.
Our escape in time of stress,
Yes, this is what our lives were worth.

Then in the night the wailing came,
Woke me from my dreams.
Homes haunted by this dreaded sound
Soon learnt to know just what it means.

Escape to shelter in the dark,
All lighting was forbidden.
To hide in dark and musty gloom,
From bombs and fear hopefully hidden.

That siren sound has haunted me,
Its memory’s with me still.
The fear and dread, diminished now,
But yet it brings to me a chill.

All this, for me, was what war meant –
‘Twas hiding in the shadows,
While sounds around brought fear and doubt,
And longed for hopes of new tomorrows.

 

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Table-Talk

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Detail from one of Henry Moore’s ‘Shelter Drawings – ‘Sleepers’ … 1941

TABLE-TALK

In the deep vaults of my musing mind
Where the oldest memories live
There the surest ones I find
Are those which childhood give.

In darkest times, unfelt by me,
When war was at its height
Then what to me was just a fear
For my mother was direst fright.

The siren’s call came late at night,
Always excitement there;
A change of scenery, a new-found bed,
Heralded by its blare.

Under the table I found a haven,
A primitive cave, a thrill,
A nest where I curled up and slept,
Where time and life stood still.

My mother must have been distraught
Whilst I, in raw oblivion,
Enjoyed the change of scenery,
While all around was Stygian.

And then the sound of planes above,
Heading on their mission,
Though stuttering engines sometimes brought
A faltering recognition

That maybe now the time had come
To wish and say a prayer;
No more Messerschmitt and bombs
Why won’t they go elsewhere?

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Detail from one of Henry Moore’s ‘Shelter Drawings – ‘Sleepers’ … 1941

During World War 2 many homes provided themselves with an Air Raid Shelter to protect the inhabitants from bombs being dropped by German aircraft.  Anderson Shelters were those normally placed in back gardens and half-buried in the ground with earth heaped on top to protect them from bomb blasts.  Morrison shelters, named after the then Minister for Home Security, Mr. Herbert Morrison, were introduced in 1941. These were made from heavy steel, and were for indoor use, where they could also be used as a table. People sheltered underneath them during an air raid. 

Before my father built an Anderson shelter in the back garden, we sheltered under the dining table, fortunately never experiencing the heavy bombing which took place over London and many major cities in the country.

 

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The Torch I Carry

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‘The Depths Of The Sea’ (The Lure Of The Sirens’) … Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1881)

THE TORCH I CARRY

I carry a torch for the ocean,
In her relentless swell I am held;
My light will see me to the foreshore
Where vast wave and mild ripple meld.

For though my love’s unrequited,
As I walk on the shore by the sea,
The sight and the sound of her motion
Bring solace and hope back to me.

For when I watch her crescendo
Its beauty and force I admire;
The sigh and the roar of her surges
Are those of a celestial choir.

My heart is in thrall to her passion,
Her awesome breakers I ride;
White horses call me ever forward
To meet the turn of the tide.

And when she is still as a millpond
My senses respond in repose;
My life consummates in devotion,
All yearning brought to a close.

Yes, the lure of the Siren defeats me;
I am snared by her destructive song.

I have given my all to her beauty;
Now only to her I belong.

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