Chief Constable's Instructions 1st September 1939.

1940s Brighton seafront
Gunner Bruno Anderson and his Bofors gun & crew, March 1943
From the private collection of Margaret Stewart
Children still went to school despite the threat of air-raids. All were drilled in how to use their gas masks.
Courtesy Royal Pavilion, Libraries and Museums, Brighton & Hove.
The cinema was full when a bomb fell through the roof and exploded in the middle of the seats
Brighton History Centre

On the 1st September 1939 the Chief Constable, Captain W. J. Hutchinson, issued important advice to the residents of Brighton about any enemy attacks.

He emphasized the importance that everybody should understand the air raid warning sound and the ‘All Clear’ sounds when the air raid sirens sounded. He also made the point that everyone had got to co-operate with the Air Raid wardens, the First Aid parties and the Auxiliary Fire Services.

He told the residents that they must go and see their wardens now and they would give all the advice that would be needed and should they lose their documents or mislay them they must get them replaced immediately. Residents must decide where to shelter in time of an air raid.

He told people the importance of the air raid shelters and then went into detail of what people should do. He said that a siren note, high pitched rising and falling, will indicate the warning of an air raid. They will also be shrill notes on whistles by the wardens and the Police. “You must carry your gas mask at all times and do not remain in the street but find cover or shelter immediately. The indication of a gas attack will be warned by hand rattles which will mean to put on your gas masks and go indoors”.

The signal for ‘Raiders Passed’ would be signalled by a continuous steady note of the siren. If the wooden rattles had been used then they should wait for a few minutes or until they heard the hand bells which would indicate that it was safe to remove their gas mask.

Make sure that you know the address of your nearest warden.

He said that there would be a number of emergency fire stations and these included Moore’s Garage in Regency Mews, Southdown bus garage in Edward Street, Thornley’s Garage in High Street, Rottingdean, and Hodson’s Garage in Preston Drove. There were a number of Casualty Stations First Aid Posts and these were being set up at the following addresses, the main hospitals, the school clinic in Sussex Street and Rottingdean Village Hall in Park  Road. There would also be First Aid Parties stationed at various locations in the town including Circus Street car Park, Hollingdean Council Yard, Park Street Council Yard, Moore’s Garage in Regency Square, Patcham Place and Rottingdean Car Park.

In times of a gas attack two cleansing stations would be set up in Circus Street schools and the Park Street Council Depot.

World War 2: Public welcome cinema opening

Queuing up with smiling faces, and gas masks in their hands, people in neutral   and reception areas welcomed the reopening of cinemas on Saturday.

Article first published in the Daily Telegraph, Sept 11, 1939.

Audiences in the morning were not large. They rarely are, even in normal times; and on Saturday many people were not aware of the reopening.

In the evening and again last night attendances were large enough to prove the wisdom of the decision to lift the ban. When programmes ended at 10 p.m. people trooped out cheerfully, agreeing that entertainment in these dull, anxious evenings was cheap at the cost of a little stumbling and minor collisions in the dark. 

Twenty cinemas were open at Brighton and Hove. Capt. W. J. Hutchinson, Chief   Constable of Brighton, has kept in touch with the Sussex branch of the Cinematograph Exhibitors’ Association and a working arrangement promising entertainment with reasonable safety has been evolved.

On an air raid signal being given programmes will stop for five minutes, and audiences will be told where the nearest shelter is. Those who wish to leave will do so, and the rest will be able to see the continuation of the films. DavidRowland

Welcome to the Finsbury Publishing

David Rowland has just launched his 15th and final book, “The Spirit of Winsome Winn II”, all about the B-17 Flying Fortress which crashed at Patcham after being hit by anti-aircraft fire over Germany.

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