Anderson Shelter Bomb Proof Yet Cold & Wet

Usually tougher than nazi bombs,anderson shelters, were named after home secretary  John Anderson. He also served as MINISTER OF HOME SECURITy, A WARTIME DEPARTMENT, ATTACHED TO THE HOME OFFICE.

 

AIR RAID SHELTERS IN LONDON, 1940 (HU 63827A) Mrs Alice Prendergast of 3 Western Lane, Balham, is not at a disadvantage through building an Anderson shelter where her vegetables grew. She planted her vegetables on top of the shelter, and now has lettuce, beetroots and marrows growing. Mrs Prendergast is seen watering the vegetables on the top of her shelter. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205070170

 

“While a properly installed Anderson shelter could withstand the effects of a hundred-pound bomb falling six feet away, Anderson shelters often leaked, were cold, dark and cramped and amplified the noise of falling bombs.”

http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/what-to-do-during-an-air-raid

While given free to people of limited means, others had to pay £7.  Anderson shelters were useful only to the middle class because one had to have a garden (backyard in the US) as usually referred to in England. More than three million were eventually erected in gardens throughout those cities in England often bombed by the Nazis. (source: Warrior Race: A History of the British at War, by Lawrence James. 2003)

BOMB DAMAGE IN BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND, C 1940 (D 4127) Although some debris has been cleared on this site on James Street, Aston Newtown, Birmingham, brick rubble can be clearly seen. Dominating the photograph, however, are the twisted remains of several Anderson shelters, one of which is still standing and intact, although warped. In the background, all the houses in row of terraced homes is missing a roof. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205198720

Unfortunately, the fourteen galvanized and corrugated steel plates which were bolted together to create the Anderson shelter weren’t waterproof. Unless one took extra measures, as many did, to make the shelter more comfortable, it wasn’t easy to get a restful night’s sleep. The shelters were often damp or even had standing water in them. They were cold. People waited until bombs got close to run to their Anderson shelters because they didn’t like being in one.

 

AIR RAID PRECAUTIONS DOG AT WORK IN POPLAR, LONDON, ENGLAND, 1941 (D 5949) An Anderson shelter remains intact amidst destruction and debris, after a land mine fell a few yards away. The three people that had been inside the shelter were not hurt. The effects of air raids in this area of London can be clearly seen behind the shelter. This photograph was taken on Latham Street in Poplar. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205198906

 

The reference to the landmine falling a few feet away is slightly inaccurate. What the Germans dropped were heavy sea mines which could break through heavy roofs, even ones made from cement, and the go off, creating a powerful explosion. Having learned this technique from the Germans, the Allies dropped sea mines on Nazi Germany.

 

A WORKING CLASS FAMILY IN WARTIME: EVERY DAY LIFE WITH THE SUTER FAMILY IN LONDON, 1940 (D 778) Doris and Alan Suter step down into the Anderson shelter in the garden of their home at 44 Edgeworth Road, Eltham, London, SE9, sometime between June and August 1940. Their mother, Mrs Suter, can just be seen behind them outside the shelter. Alan is carrying his gas mask box with him. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205195781

Obviously, this was an upper working class family given how well the children are dressed and that they have a back garden which provided enough room to dug in the Anderson shelter. The box around the boy’s neck is his gas mask.

AIR RAID PRECAUTIONS, 1940 (HU 104527) Sir John Anderson, the Home Secretary, examines hosing equipment used by the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) in Southampton, 25 February 1940. His visit coincided with a large-scale Air Raid Precautions (ARP) exercise in the towns of Portsmouth, Gosport and Southampton. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205229899

 

An Anderson shelter stands intact amongst a scene of debris in Norwich, c.1941

(photo courtesy Imperial War Museum)

“Anderson shelters – named after Sir John Anderson – consisted of two curved corrugated sheets of steel, bolted together at the top and sunk three feet into the ground, then covered with eighteen inches of earth. If constructed correctly, they could withstand the effects of a hundred-pound bomb falling six feet away. However, many Anderson shelters leaked, were cold, dark and cramped and amplified the noise of falling bombs.”

http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/what-to-do-during-an-air-raid