In previous centuries people affected directly by war lived near the scene of conflict, hence the particular horror of civil war, when fighting might occur nearby, not just on the Continent or at sea. Even sinister First World War developments such as introducing tanks and poison gas still affected primarily people near the action – such as those caught up in trench warfare in northern
The ARP (Air Raid Precautions) Act came into force at the start of 1938, with basements of both public and private buildings, and church crypts, designated public air-raid shelters. At the time of the first aerial attack, on the King’s Dock in June 1940,
A different tactic was the use of barrage balloons, which aimed to damage aircraft that collided with their steel cables. Called “silver fish” or less politely “pigs”, they were approximately 19m long, part filled with hydrogen (which needed to be topped up each day), and often winched to the required altitude from vehicles for mobility. Members of the WAAF were recruited for a four-week course to operate them, using crews of 16 women, though otherwise 10 airmen would suffice.
On 8 May 1995 a heavy anti-aircraft gun was unveiled by the Lord Mayor on a plinth at the junction of