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Blackout by Ted Bage

In 2005 Hartlepool's Museum and Library Services worked together on a project called 'Their Past, Your Future', which commemorated the part played by local people in the Second World War. As part of the project Ted Bage from the 'Writing Together' group reminisced about his experiences as a child during the War. This is his story, in his own words:

Try and imagine if you can, the street, road, avenue that you live in. Now, try and imagine that same street at night time – you have street lights, every twenty or thirty yards apart, all lit up, lights shining from shop windows, house windows, the moon, passing cars, buses, in fact, in your street you can see from one end of the street to the other.

It will take a very vivid imagination to get a picture of what your street would look like in the war of World War Two. Just think no moonlight, no lights on your street, no lights from anywhere, the full town in blackness. You couldn’t see a hand in front of you, you had lights inside your house but you also had to make sure that it didn’t shine through your window. The window had a big black curtain put on them or anything else that would keep out the light from showing outside. If the slightest chink could be seen, a policeman or an Air Raid Warden would make sure you got it covered.

As soon as an air raid siren sounded, the lights in every part of the town were put out; outside of your house and street, it was a complete blackout. Air raids could last for hours and it wasn’t until the all-clear siren sounded that the lights came back on.

No matter how long you had lived in the street and you thought you knew every nook and cranny – once you had a complete blackout you were in another world. Sometimes, during an air raid you would get a quiet period; that was the time your mother would ask you to go to the fishy and you had to take your own paper, “no paper, no chips.” It was nerve wracking going down the street; sometimes you heard footsteps behind you – it made your hair stand on end; and lamp posts – we were always bumping into them. Believe me, in the black out your street became another world. 

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