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Mary's story

An Air Raid Warden in Coventry

Photograph of young Mary My brother Cyril and I were Air Raid Wardens for the section of Binley Road, Coventry, where we lived with our Parents and Family. This involved having some training in the effects of blast, etc., from the bombs, and also First Aid for immediate attention to any casualties before the Ambulance and First Aid Teams arrived on the scene.

One of our duties was to contact the people in all the Houses in our Sector and find out how many people were living there - a question resented by many of the occupants until we explained that this information was necessary so that should the house be destroyed by bombs we could tell the rescue squads how many people they might need to look for in the ruins. Not a nice thought but we had to be prepared.

Mary and Cyril practicing to put out incendiary bombs with a stirrup pump We also had to be prepared to put out incendiary bombs, and you can see us practicing in our back garden. We were to have plenty of practice over the next couple of years.

Once when things seemed quiet, we decided to go to a Cinema to the city centre, to see a Bing Crosby film. However bombs started dropping, so we went out (after helping to calm the panic in the cinema (it's amazing what a uniform can do!)), and reported to the nearest Warden's Post to see if we could help. Whilst we were there a High Explosive fell in the street behind, and when the Warden on duty opened the rear door to see what was happening he saw a deep crater with flames shooting out - a gas main had burst and ignited, but as he looked the water main also burst and put the fire out!

Mary Richardson
July 1997

Mary has written another story about this period :

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