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AIR RAIDS 1938 - 45

TC23: 12 boxes


23/1/A: Investigation into ARP

"The Sociology of the ARP " by Mass-Observation in New Statesman and Nation, 5.11.38

Newscutting : "What people think of ARP" by Mass-Observation, Daily Herald, 17.1.39

Letter from Daily Herald to Tom Harrisson re above article

Newscutting : "Deep Shelters Are Not Ruled Out", News Chronicle, 10.1.39

Questionnaire on ARP and underground shelters - various replies gathered by Observers AH. and LT. in London areas

Casual interviews in ARP, Bolton

Questionnaire : "What led you to join ARP or NFS. ?" Two pages of extracts from replies, with analyses


23/1/B: The Crisis, August - September 1939

Observations at Victoria Station 26.8.39

Informal interviews, overheard comments and observations by JA in various London areas

Count of gas masks being carried, 13.9.39

Assorted oddments, conversations on the impact of the declaration of war

23/1/C: Behaviour during the blackout, September 1939

Observations made in various parts of London by three Observers (JA, WRL. and AH) who followed members of the public through the streets

Two letters to Tom Harrisson from people who had carried out "follows"

Notes on the "follows" with analyses

23/1/D: Reactions to the blackout, September - November 1939

Selected comments taken from Panel material and overheard comments in Bolton

Descriptions of incidents and conversations relating to the blackout

Effects of the blackout on leisure activities : dancing, cinemas, cafes, shops, colleges, sport, parks

Light counts September - November 1939 in London

Observations and accounts of conversations made on the underground and on the main line trains, October 1939 by NM

Cuttings and typed extracts from the press on the blackout, ARP, the progress of the war, October-November 1939

23/1/E: Preparations for air raids, August 1939

Questionnaire survey carried out in Hampstead asking people about blackout preparations, shelters, air raid alarms etc. (45 interviews)

Typed report of conversation with the Deputy Town Clerk of Finchley about the building of shelters, 30.8.39 (TH)

23/1/F: Opinion about the likelihood of air raids on London, October - November 1939

Questionnaire survey carried out at intervals in different types of areas

Report by CF. and qq replies

Questionnaires on the news, December 1939

23/1/G: Detailed observations of community life at the outbreak of war, September 1939

Letter and report by DMH. at Sidford, South Devon

Letter and report by BA at Glenfield, Leicestershire

23/1/H: Effects of the outbreak of war on ordinary life

Personal letters :

To Tom Harrisson from his mother in Winchester, August 1939

To Tom Harrisson from his wife Biddy (Clayton) in West Stafford, Dorset

To Tom Harrisson and Biddy from her mother, Elinor Pellatt, in Dorset

To Elinor Pellatt, from Mary Clayton (Biddy Clayton's first mother-in-law)

[Tom Harrisson married Biddy Clayton née Pellatt. Biddy's first husband was Michael Clayton and they had a son, John, aged about six in 1939]

To unknown person from Lady Anne Hill

Observations by Tom Harrisson, August - September 1939. Accounts of journey from London to Dorchester. Account of visit to mother-in-law's home, Dorset

23/1/I: Accounts of volunteer stretcher bearers

Report : Hampstead Rescue Party Depot 3 [stretcher bearers], HDW., September 1939

Report : Observers' experiences : ARP, Ealing, WRL, December 1939

Reactions to officials

Extracts from panel material referring to ARP wardens, 1939

Report on ARP wardens, Streatham, by Observer WP, September 1939

Observation of a war policeman on duty, West Ealing, September 1939

Report on the vigilance of ARP officials in Harrow, by CLB., September 1939

Reactions to the sound of the air raid siren, August - November 1939

Reactions to air raid warning and sight of German bomber in Bolton, November 1939

Assorted notes and observations on ARP

23/1/J: Shelters in Fulham, November 1939

Report by Observer KB on the state of Anderson shelters


23/2/A: Attitudes to the ARP in Fulham, March 1939

63 Questionnaire replies to 4 questions on what people think of the local ARP, whether the Council is doing its best, whether Fulham is prepared for war and interviewees' own voluntary efforts. KB

23/2/B: Opinions of ARP volunteers in Fulham, April 1939.

50 interviews with volunteers about why they offered their services and what factors influenced their decision. KB (2 copies)

23/2/C Pilot study : ARP volunteers in Fulham, April -May 1939

Copy of questionnaire with 6 questions (as above), with 63 replies (KB) plus a further 8 replies from Observers MR. and LT

Analysis of results

23/2/D: Preliminary survey : ARP volunteers in Fulham, May 1939

Copies of questionnaire (8/9 qqs)

42 replies; interviews by KB, LT, EBC, MER

Brief summary of results by EBC

23/2/E: Personal accounts from ARP volunteers

8 short reports on ARP work sent to KB

23/2/F: ARP in Fulham May - June 1939

Various manuscripts describing Mass-Observation's major study, with sections on method and results, covering recruitment and propaganda, reasons for volunteering and attitudes to ARP work

Notes on ARP propaganda

ARP leaflets

23/2/G: Questionnaire : ARP Study, May 1939

Various drafts with notes by TH and KB

Questionnaire replies, May - June 1939 (Total 769)

23/2/H: From Observers DS (62) and AH (78)

23/2/I: From Observer HAC (116)

23/2/J: From Observer KB (413)

23/2/K: From Observer EBC. (96)

23/2/L: From Observer MER. (134)


23/3/A: Breakdown of results: Tables and analysis sheets

23/3/B: Tabulation of results

23/3/C: Address labels for ARP volunteers

23/3/D: Address list of ARP volunteers


23/4/A: Air Raid Precautions : official advice and information.

Air Raids : What you must do, What you must know. Ministry of Home Security, 1941

Posters: 3 Fougasse posters on ARP

Booklet : The Duties of an Air Raid Warden. HMSO, 1938

Selection of leaflets about ARP on home security, recruitment to voluntary services, the ARP card, the ARP button, warden's form for reporting air raid damage

Sudden birth in an air raid shelter: "instructions for persons in charge of air raid shelters...." Ministry of Health, June 1940

[Air Raid Precautions Memo No.16 Working after the siren. Ministry of Home Security (1940) - moved to Topic Collection INDUSTRY: 6/j]

23/4/B: ARP social functions

Miscellaneous notes and printed ephemera

23/4/C: ARP magazines

Correspondence between Mass-Observation and the producers of ARP publications, 1940 - 1

Report on ARP magazines (BW 26.7.40)

23/4/D: Gas : protection and advice

Booklets, leaflets, cuttings and posters on the use of gas masks and the identification of types of gas attacks

23/4/E: Commercial ARP products

Selection of advertising material and information booklets produced by commercial firms, including items on protecting the home, types of shelter, useful publications on ARP, blackout etc

23/4/F: Fire watching

Recruiting leaflets for the Auxiliary Fire Service, instructions for dealing with fire bombs, forms for volunteers

23/4/G: First aid

Recruitment leaflets, Red Cross enrolment forms, charity requests from Red Cross, Ministry of Health advice leaflet on first aid

23/4/H: Shelters

Selection of official printed items on shelters

23/4/I: Air raid damage and post-raid relief

Pamphlet : How to act after a raid, issued by the Dept of Health for Scotland (3 versions for different areas)

Assorted leaflets and forms with information on rest centres, claims for damages, relief, evacuation etc

23/4/J: Air raids

Cuttings from national and local press, 1940 - 1

23/4/K: Voluntary organisations

Assorted printed material produced by the Air Raid Defence League, the Friends Relief Service, the War Damage Claimants' Association and the National Council of Social Service

23/4/L: Spitfire Funds and salvage

Publicity and requests for support for Spitfire Funds

Items on salvage, waste and rubbish

23/4/M: National Service

Assorted leaflets on recruitment to Civil Defence and the armed forces


Public Shelters

Reactions to alarms; use of public shelters; types of shelters and facilities; descriptions of behaviour, dress, morale; accounts of overheard conversations and incidents. Observations made chiefly in London by full-time Mass-Observation investigators; some reports from voluntary observers. For further reports on air raids, see Directive Replies 1940

23/5/A: Observations gathered June - July 1940

23/5/B: Observations gathered August 1940

News Quotas (JS) August 1940

23/5/C: Observations gathered September 1940

File D: Observations gathered October - November 1940

23/5/E: Tube shelters : observations in the London Underground, September - November 1940

Reports, observations and impressions gathered in the underground shelters : descriptions of behaviour, clothing, noise, food, facilities, police presence and morale

23/5/F: Brick shelters, July 1940

Report on brick shelters with interviews and accounts of people's opinions on safety of shelters. Account of inspection of shelters by Professor JBS Haldane

23/5/G: Types of shelters, September 1940

Results of small survey asking people in London what they think of the shelters they use; questionnaire also on attitudes to bombing and death

23/5/H: Anderson shelters, September 1940

Reports from Observer LE on private shelters, particularly his family's Anderson shelter in Streatham

General note on Anderson shelters in Kilburn

23/5/I: Tilbury shelter, October 1940

Observations made on facilities, behaviour etc

Replies to questions on the Tilbury shelter - smell, food, organisations, charity efforts, first aid

23/5/J: Tube shelter publications, 1940

Note on papers The Swiss Cottager and Piccadilly Gazette produced by tube shelterers


23/6/A: Personal diary 5.10.40 - 9.10.40

An account by full-time Observer, KB of her trip from Bristol to London, her family home in Wandsworth and her flat in Fulham; includes information of London bomb damage and on people's attitudes. Description of the plight of friends who had been bombed out

23/6/B: Questionnaire on use of shelters, November 1940

Survey of sleeping habits, choice of sleep-place and opinions on the safety of shelters. Carried out in London areas; Shepherds Bush, Nottinghill Gate, Streatham, Finchley and Kilburn, approx. 200 interviews

Table of results

23/6/C: Household readjustments, October 1940

Small survey by NM and CF on domestic arrangements during air raids, including sleeping patterns, use of shelters, games played, food available, first aid, clothing and so on. Kilburn and Stepney areas

23/6/D: News Quota Survey October 1940

Questions put to people in Kilburn and Streatham about reactions to the latest news, amount of sleep they have been getting, getting out of London and sleeping in the Underground

23/6/E: Sleeping arrangements, August - September 1940

Detailed observations with interviews : bedding arrangements, people's sleep difficulties, shelter facilities etc

Various observations : effects of war on nerves; psychological strain of the bombing

23/6/F: Ear plugs 1940

Sample of ear plugs. Reports on use of ear plugs, including interviews on people's attitudes to them. (Questionnaire includes question on reactions to slogan : "Be like Dad, keep Mum".)

23/6/G: Health and first aid, 1940

Reports, observations and overheard comments on first aid facilities, ambulances, stretcher bearers, reactions to air raids in hospitals, recruitment of medical personnel (pamphlets), sales in chemist shops of ear plugs, first aid kits etc., casualties and funerals of air raid victims

23/6/H: Air raid morale, 1940 - 41

Reports and impressions of the way in which people cope with raids and behaviour in shelters

Printed pamphlet : Psychological Effects of Air Raids, by PE Vernon from The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, October 1941

Notes on government propaganda directed at people in bombed areas

Newspaper cuttings on raids, 1940 - 1

23/6/I: Miscellaneous notes and correspondence

Assorted papers relating to ARP, shelters and air raids


23/7/A: Homelessness, rest centres and communal feeding, September - October 1940

Observations made in heavily blitzed areas of London, including Stepney, Paddington, and Walthamstow. Interviews with people whose homes have been bombed, impressions of morale, comments on post-raid services and availability of information

Official leaflets

Press cuttings on air raid damage

Leaflets of local Tenants' Defence Leagues, etc.

23/7/B: Post raid services, October 1940

Press cuttings, leaflets and correspondence

Leaflets from the Air Raid Damage Relief Fund

23/7/C: Quality of life during air raids, October 1940

Selection of letters from friends and relatives to Mass-Observation volunteer panel members: covers all aspects of life during air raids, including evacuation, reactions to news, shelter social life, sleeping habits, inconveniences caused by war conditions. Letters from all over Britain

23/7/D: Effects of air raids on leisure, entertainment and shopping

Assorted notes and observations relating to the effects of blackout on shopping habits, use of cafes, cinemas, libraries, colleges, clothing and fashion trends

Interviews carried out in September 1940 on visiting friends, domestic activities, radio listening, and newspaper reading, games, eating habits

23/7/E: ARP and ARP Wardens 1939 - 40

Impressions and accounts of incidents at wardens' posts including observations on the behaviour of wardens

23/7/F: ARP Questionnaire, June 1940

Report : "The ARP Card and its Effects". Information based on 105 interviews with householders in 4 areas of London about the ARP card distributed by the Ministry of Home Security. The card contained information of local ARP services

Press-cutting re ARP recruitment, The Star 10.6.40

ARP questionnaire with replies

23/7/G: Barrage, September 1939 - 40

Reactions to the sound of anti-aircraft guns. Note on blimps (barrage balloons)

Observations of reactions to blimps in Shepherds Bush Green (JA) 14.9.39

23/7/H: German bomber down, 1939 - 40

Report : local response to incident in small village

Report: rumours of an aeroplane being brought down near Romford, sent in by volunteer, 10.9.39

23/7/I: Fear of parachutists, May 1940

Impressions based on indirect interviews about the likelihood of German soldiers landing by parachute

23/7/J: Local Defence Volunteers (LDV), June - September 1940

General reports from Worcester and Fulham

23/7/K: Appeal for support of munitions and aircraft production, 1940 - 41

Report on Aluminium Appeal, 15.7.40

Account of an exhibition of Messerschmitt 109 at Croydon, in aid of Croydon "Spitfire" Fund

Assorted notes and reports on appeal funds, War Weapon Weeks, and propaganda including a Spitfire badge

23/7/L: Regulations and offences, 1940

Copy of Everyman's Guide to the War Regulations, 1940

Notes on cases of prosecutions under the Defence Regulations from the press, July 1940


Apart from the first file which contains general information about the bombing of provincial towns, the files contain reports, letters, leaflets, official forms and memoranda and other items relating to a specific town or area. Much of this material has been donated to Mass-Observation by members of the volunteer panel, but the main reports come from full-time Mass Observation investigators

  • Further material on air raids is filed with the Directive Replies for 1940
  • Additional town files which have been added after the first sorting have been interfiled alphabetically (hence C2)
  • Other information about air raids may be found in the Topic Collection: TOWN AND DISTRICT SURVEYS

23/8/A: Effects of air raids

Report : The Effect of Air Raids in Great Britain published by The Economic League (Central Council). Duplicated copy, 1.7.40

Report : Reactions to Air Raids as Observed by Citizens Advice Bureaux (Home Intelligence, from Stephen Taylor to Mary Adams), September 1940 ? References to a number of cities and towns

Report by Lionel Fielder of Ministry of Food who accompanied Tom Harrisson to Southampton, 3.12.40. No title, but discusses reactions of civilians to bombing. Annotation "Lord Woolton took this to Cabinet"

Report (M-O) Plan for Survey of Blitzed Town, 8.1.41. Guidance for Mass Observation investigators (CF)

Report (M-O) : Re Morale in Blitzes by JF, 23.3.41. Suggestions for policy changes in reporting on blitzed towns

Report : Draft Plan (Mark III) for use in emergencies resulting from serious air raiding, MOI, 18.1.41

23/8/B: Aberdeen (printed material only)

23/8/C: Barrow-in-Furness (printed and duplicated material only)

23/8/C2: Billingshurst, Sussex

23/8/D: Birmingham

23/8/E: Bishop Auckland, Co Durham

23/8/F: Bolton

23/8/G: Bradford

23/8/H: Brighton

23/8/I: Bristol

23/8/J: Bromley

23/8/K: Campbeltown, Argyllshire

23/8/K2: Cambridge (rest centres)

23/8/L: Cardiff

23/8/M: Caterham

23/8/N: Chelmsford (duplicated material only)

23/8/O: Cheltenham

23/8/P: Chepstow

23/8/Q: Clacton

23/8/R: Clydeside, including Glasgow

23/8/S: Consett (poster and correspondence relating to the Citizens Advice Bureau)

23/8/T: Coventry

23/8/U: Croydon

23/8/V: Derby

23/8/W: Doncaster


23/9/A: Eastbourne

23/9/B: "East Coast Village", Essex

23/9/B2: Exeter

23/9/C: Gateshead

23/9/C2: Great Malvern

23/9/D: Harrow

23/9/E: Hastings

23/9/F: Huddersfield

23/9/F2: Hull

23/9/G: Ipswich (printed material only)

23/9/H: Isle of Dogs

23/9/I: Kilburnie (printed material only)

23/9/J: Leatherhead

23/9/K: Leeds

23/9/K2: Leek

23/9/L: Leicester

23/9/M: Liverpool

23/9/N: London : general, including raids on City and Putney

23/9/O: London : fire watching

23/9/P: London areas: Fulham

23/9/Q: London areas: Hendon

23/9/R: London areas: Lewisham

23/9/S: London areas: Notting Hill Gate

23/9/T: London areas: Stepney

23/9/U: London areas: Streatham

23/9/V: Loughborough

23/9/W: Lowestoft


23/10/A: Manchester

23/10/B: Middlesbrough

23/10/C: Newcastle

23/10/D: Norwich

23/10/E: Northampton

23/10/F: Oxford

23/10/G: Petersfield

23/10/H: Plumstead

23/10/I: Plymouth

23/10/J: Portsmouth

23/10/K: Radlett

23/10/L: Redcar

23/10/M: Romford

23/10/N: Salford

23/10/O: Scunthorpe

23/10/P: Sheffield

23/10/Q: Southend

23/10/R: Southampton

23/10/S: Swansea

23/10/T: Swindon

23/10/T2: Trowbridge

23/10/U: Watford

23/10/V: West Bromwich

23/10/W: Wolverhampton

23/10/X: Woodbridge

23/10/Y: Worcester

23/10/Z: York and North Riding

BOX 11: AIR RAIDS 1940-42

23/11/A: Survey on attitudes to compulsory ARP work, January 1941

Small number of interviews in London area on following questions :

  • Should ARP work be made compulsory ?
  • If yes, should this apply to both men and women ?
  • Should the army help with ARP work ?
  • Should fire watching be compulsory for private premises ?

Tabulations of results included

23/11/B: Fire-fighting, 1939-41

Selected leaflets and duplicated instructions

Observations on fire fighting activities in London

Diary extracts (Harrisson) September 1941; (Smallbones) January 1942

23/11/C: Gas masks, 1941-42

Counts of numbers of people carrying gas masks.

Report on a mock gas attack, Putney High Street, London

Description of poster on gas

For detailed information see GAS MASKS

23/11/D: Bombs in Hendon, February - March 1941

Account of bomb incidents by full-time Observer including accounts of interviews with local people

23/11/E: Air Raid Questionnaire, July 1941

Survey carried out in Oxford and London on people's expectations of further heavy raids

Report of results included

23/11/F: News Quota, March 1941

Report on the effect on the public of hearing that 9 German planes had been brought down

23/11/G Shelters, 1941

Counts of people using public shelters, London areas, March 1941. Correspondence about sheltering and types of shelters

Survey on shelter preference: questions in the street about choice of shelter, brick or Anderson, February 1941

Survey results : questions on the Morrison (indoor) shelters

News cuttings on sheltering

People's views on the effects of fog on the likelihood of raids, February 1941

23/11/H Shelter Survey proposed by the British Journal of Psychology (Social Psychology Section), 1941

Comparison of plans for survey from Gertrude Wagner, Marie Jahoda and others. Critique by JF (M-O)

Report of discussion between psychologists

23/11/I: Chislehurst Caves, August 1941

Impressions and observations of people using the caves as air raid shelters. Includes survey on people's use of the caves

23/11/J: Fire Bomb Fritz Questionnaire, September 1941

Reactions to the new Ministry of Home Security advertisement on dealing with fire bombs

23/11/K: Warden's post, June 1941

Description of an ARP post, appearance, facilities, personnel, organisation, with an account of one evening's activities

23/11/L: Argument at a Warden's post, April 1941

Correspondence relating to a complaint against personnel at an ARP post in Twickenham

23/11/M: Home Guard, 1941

Report from a young member of the Home Guard (EG). Description of routines, incidents. May - June 1941

23/11/N: Police, 1941

Check by Mass-Observation to see how good were police directions for finding Citizens Advice Bureaux

23/11/O: "Blitz information", 1941

Article "Blitz information - the lifeline of Civil Defence" by Tom Harrisson in Local Government Service, August 1941

Criticism of availability of post-raid information

Replies and correspondence to criticism

Copies of local government information booklets

23/11/P: Wearing white in the blackout

Comparisons of counts 1940, 1941, and 1942

BOX 12: AIR RAIDS 1942-45

23/12/A: Reprisals

Comparison of public attitudes towards bombing reprisals, 1940, 1941, and 1942

23/12/B: Civil Defence workers, 1942

Indirect comments, mainly from Hampstead, on Civil Defence Workers' attitudes to be released to take part time jobs, April 1942

Fire watching registration Kilburn, October 1942

Assorted duplicated papers on ARP education

Assorted papers on ARP education

Assorted notes on fire watching

Forms issued by the National Association of Girls' Training Corps, with correspondence

23/12/C: Air raid alert and sheltering, 1942

Indirect comments and observations of people' reactions to air raid alerts in various parts of London, 16.3.42

Observation in air raid shelters : Regent Square, St. Pancras and Museum Tube Shelter, 30.3.42

23/12/D: Air raids and sheltering, 1943

Indirect comments and observations

23/12/E: Air raids on London, June 1944

Reactions to the pilotless planes : indirect comments, observations and letters

23/12/F: Air raids on London, 1944

Assorted reactions to raids, overheard comments and observations, including account of Tube sheltering

Typed special report on unofficial noises, explosions and rumours about them. Sent in by volunteer, London, September 1944

23/12/G: Reaction to V2 bombs, 1945

Indirect comments with report

23/12/H: De-escalation of Civil Defence

Blackout: notes, 1943 and report on relaxation, 1944; lifting of blackout, 1945

Report on the stand down parade of part-timers in the National Fire Service, March 1945

Responses to special Directive on the lifting of the blackout, 1944, giving details of personal reactions and observations. Sent in by volunteers, September - October 1944

Press cutting from The Yorkshire Post on the lifting of the blackout, 18.9.44

Press cutting from The Caterham Times on the lifting of the blackout, 22.9.44

23/12/I: Diary extracts on air raids

Typed passages taken from war diaries sent to Mass-Observation, including a commentary

23/12/J: Tom Harrisson - air raid notes

Pencil notes (not very legible)

23/12/K: Mass-Observation volunteer Panel of Observers

Copy of letter from M-O to Observers asking for material, 20.11.40

Draft copy of Bulletin for Panel, 16.9.40, describing M-O's War Library

23/12/L: Picture Post article, 17.8.40

Notes, plans and draft mss for an issue of Picture Post on air raids; includes correspondence with Tom Hopkinson and poor photocopy of air raid article

23/12/M: Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous Notes, memos, letters etc. relating to Mass-Observation's study of air raids.

Mass-Observation Studies 1937-55

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