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Air-Raid Precautions

Rushden Echo, 19th October 1917, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Air-Raid Precautions at Rushden and Higham Ferrers

Supt. McLeod, of Wellingborough, has issued an important notice in view of the possibility of air-raids in this district.  “On receipt before 10.30 p.m. of an order to take air-raid action,” he says, “constables and special constables will be dispatched through the main streets to warn the public by shouting ‘Take cover!’  All persons then in the open are requested at once to get under the nearest and best cover available.”  We trust that the public will carefully note these instructions and act accordingly in case of necessity.  Unquestionably many lives have been lost by the foolhardy conduct of those who have neglected the reasonable precaution of “taking cover.”  It must be borne in mind that there is grave danger during an air-raid from the falling fragments of shells of our own anti-aircraft guns and from the missiles of our own air-scouts, as well as from the bombs dropped by hostile machines.  In a list of air-raid precautions issued by the Home Office, people are recommended not to wait until they see the air-craft nearly overhead or hear an explosion from a bomb nearby, but to take the best cover near at hand directly it is known that an attack is imminent.  A doorway or open archway, though better than remaining in the open, is not good cover, as it affords little protection against fragments of a bomb exploding on the ground.  “If bombs are being dropped, and there is no building near,” the official recommendations say, “it is better to lie down on the ground in the best ditch or hole you can find near at hand, or behind a strong wall or tree, than to remain standing in the open.” And again: “If you are in a building on the top floor, go downstairs, where you will have the best available cover overhead, avoiding lift wells, open staircases, and parts of the building under skylights.”

People are urged not to look out of windows, but to keep in a part of a room or passage where they will be out of the line of fragments of metal or debris which may enter by a window or door if a bomb should explode outside.  It is recommended that people should not crowd in a basement with only a single means of exit, as the fumes from all bombs are injurious if breathed in any quantity, and it is advisable to have a second means of exit in case fumes should enter, or a gas pipe be broken, or rapid escape be necessary for any other reason.  There are various precautions which are suggested in case of fire, and it is impressed upon the public that no unexploded bombs or shells should be moved or touched, but that the police should at once be informed where the missile is lying, and that steps should be taken to prevent its being interfered with meanwhile.  No naked light should be brought near if a bomb has broken and powdered explosive has been scattered about.  The public are warned not to breathe fumes given off by the bombs, and not to touch the powder or articles covered with the powder from broken bombs and shells.  We must give a word or warning to rumour-mongers and rumour spreaders, who should bear in mind that it is an offence under the Defence of the Realm Regulations to spread false reports of an air-raid warning having been issued or an air-raid having taken place.  We all hope that no raiders will visit the Rushden and Higham Ferrers district, but it is as well to be prepared, and it would be an advantage if our readers cut out this article from the “Rushden Echo” and pasted it up in an accessible place, where from time to time it could be perused.  As reported a month ago, an unexploded bomb – apparently an enemy bomb – was found in Bedfordshire, half-a-mile from Knotting Green, and within five or six miles of Rushden, so that, though there is no need for alarm, there is every reason to be prepared.

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