Ipswich 1944

On Jan 6th the Fire Guard Officer reported that the Fire Guard plan for Ipswich was now in operation. He had agreed sectorisation of the whole town with the Fire Brigade. Sector, block and assembly areas would be marked with notices, sector and block leaders were all familiar with their duties and communications with the National Fire Service had been agreed. The plan was also advertised in the East Anglian Daily Times. Despite this there were still problems of Fire Guards registering. It was agreed to place an advertisement reminding all those who had not registered to do so and remind all of the heavy penalties of not doing so.

Exercise “FLAM”, held during February, highlighted that the messenger service was inadequate. The ARP officer reported to the Committee that he did not think the messenger service could be maintained on the basis of reporting on an “Alert”. He considered that boys should stand by weekly to maintain interest; the Committee agreed.

Another issue that concerned the Fire Guard Officer was the lack of static water supply for individual households (i.e. a bucket of water outside each house). He wanted to issue a leaflet in this respect but the Committee stated the matter should be dealt with by Fire Party leaders. The matter was highlighted again as a result of Fire Guard exercises held in May which showed an urgent need for static water supplies at every house. It was agreed to issue a suitable communication to the press.

A census of required sandbags for firefighting undertaken in May showed that 1,411 were required to replace damaged ones and also 11,366 filled bags were needed. The Borough Surveyor was asked to proceed with these.

The Committee continued to get reports of shelters being used for “immoral” purposes. On Feb 24th it was agreed to pass a Direction prohibiting the use of all shelters except during a raid to try and deal with this matter. Many shelters were also described as being in a filthy condition. The Cleansing Superintendant was asked to keep them clean. A discussion took place on the definition of “Public Air Raid Shelters” and it was agreed that Communal Domestic shelters came under this definition. As a result a request by the residents of Charles Street for the Charles Street Communal shelter (which they were keeping clean) might be kept locked was not granted.

Some of the trench shelters were deteriorating – for example the shelter at Winkworth’s Pit, Woodbridge Road was regarded to be in such a state that it would not be possible to remedy. The cost of demolishing and making good the land was considered too high at the present time so it was closed.

In July the Committee had to reply to Ministry of Home Security Circular 87/1944 requesting details of Anderson Shelters in stock. The Committee replied that it still held 15 which it wished to keep in stock in case of further bombing. Matters regarding Anderson shelters featured again on the Committee’s agenda in November due to wet weather, resulting in some requests from residents for tanking of their shelters. The Borough Surveyor expected more requests and the matter of further tanking was referred to the Regional Commissioner.

The housing stock maintained by the Committee for the rehousing of bombed out families continued to feature during Committee meetings. On Jun 19th the pool was 28 houses with 10 under repair which would come into the pool on completion (the total, 38, comprised 17 with four bedrooms, 18 with three and three with two). The Committee decided to retain the whole pool due to the risk of the new jet driven bombs. However on July 24th the Committee decided to release the three two bedroom houses.

Ipswich suffered its first “fly bomb” – i.e. V1 Rocket on Sept 1st which fell on Maryon Road. However Ipswich did not suffer too much from this new weapon. As at Sept 14th the housing pool stood at 14 parlour-type houses and 14 three bedroom houses with a further three houses to return to the pool of completion of repairs. The Committee still felt able to release the 14 non parlour types and the three under repairs due to the improvement in conditions. The most serious V1 incident occurred on Oct 18th resulting in a number of fatalities. The incident also required the entire 15 houses remining in the pool. The Committee decided to take 20 houses relinquished by the Military for a new pool.

  The new jet "fly bomb" or V1 Rocket - Bundesarchiv Bild 148-1973-029A-24A

London suffered the most from the V1’s and as a result a new wave of evacuees had to be housed. The Town Clerk had seen a confidential letter that suggested that some of London’s refugees housed in Hemel Hempstead were to be passed on to Ipswich. The Committee felt this would encourage the Ipswich evacuees to return. This was discussed with the Regional Commissioner on Aug 14th, who stated he had in Hertfordshire more London refugees than could be dealt with. He had no objection if some of the 1940 Ipswich evacuees decided to return as a result and also agreed the Special Evacuation Scheme, which the Committee had been opposing for the last few years, could go into “cold storage”. Some of the London evacuees were to be housed in the 78 houses on the Whitten Estate relinquished by the Military and handed over to the Ministry of Health. The Commissioner stated these houses would be returned to the Corporation as soon as possible.

Despite the V1 attacks, the work load of the Committee was clearly reduced due to improving conditions following D Day. On Oct 2nd the Committee agreed to meet on Thursday mornings only. The Fire Guard Officer, Mr. Bates, had already suggested reducing the Fire Guard staff by giving one months notice to four Area Officers in August. The Regional Commissioner issued a communication in October on proposals to reduce the Warden and Rescue Service from November onwards. Eastern Region Circular 201/1944 was issued in November announcing a relaxation of Fire Guard duties.


Ipswich Emergency Committee minutes, SRO


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