Suffolk did not suffer a “Blitz” or the “Baedeker” Raids but this would have been no consolation to those who suffered the effects of raids. On the whole enemy bombing in Suffolk was carried out by one or just a few raiders. Many raids were no doubt opportune but some almost certainly targeted specific military and industrial targets (e.g. Ipswich docks and airfield). During 1941 and 1942 Suffolk did suffer from the so called Battle of the Fringe Targets – also known as the “Tip and Run Raids” – whereby certain coastal towns on the East and South Coasts, or fringe targets, were attacked by a few fighter bombers in fleeting attacks. Lowestoft in particular was subject to these “Tip and Run Raids”, probably because of the proximity to the East Coast shipping lane. This ran between the north of England and the Thames Estuary, where it followed the Coast as far as Flamborough Head from which it then swings out in a wide arc touching the Coast again at Yarmouth. Hence a likely place for enemy bombers to intercept seaborne traffic was the Yarmouth area. It was considered that shipping was the main target of these fighter bombers but if they could not find any they made opportunist attacks in the Lowestoft / Yarmouth area.
Air Raid Warning System
A scheme existed in the United Kingdom for the issue of warnings of threatened attacks. This was done by telephonic message issued by a central warning authority. The United Kingdom was divided into Warning Districts and only those Districts threatened would receive the message.
Air Raid Warning Messages
The various messages issued at the start of the war are set out below. All messages were sent by telephone.
On 25th July 1940, another warning was introduced - 'Air raid message - purple'. This was essentially 'Air raid message - yellow' but issued in the hours of darkness to premises with lighting exemptions as an order to extinguish their lights. At the same time 'Air raid message - green' was abolished, 'Air raid message - white' instead now cancelled all warning messages.
Warning Signals to the public
The following national warning signals, given on any type of siren, hooter, etc were the only ones permitted.
From 1942 onwards, certain towns on or near the South and East coasts that were liable to “Hit and Run” raids were permitted to sound a local "Alarm" signal publicly in addition to the national “Alert” warning. This was due to the fact that "Hit and Run" raiders often arrived over their target before the ACTION WARNING was received, but local spotters etc could pick up the enemy aircraft allowing the "Alarm" to be sounded quicker. The system adopted was known as the "Cuckoo" warning. By means of an attachment to a siren, a warning sound of alternating high and low notes could be produced i.e. "cuck" and "oo". In Suffolk, the "Cuckoo" warning system was in operation at Ipswich, Leiston and Lowestoft.
In addition to the general signals given above, ARP Wardens, local lookouts, police etc would give the following local signals:
Protection against Gas and Air Raids, Phamphlet No.3, Passive Air Defence, HMSO, 1939