Lowestoft 1941

Early in 1941 a scheme was drawn up to ensure better co-ordination between the various ARP services and also the Civil services with the Military. Water provision in times of emergency was also considered – the Lowestoft water and Gas Company was asked to provide storage tanks for the supply of domestic water in times of emergency. A new Committee was set up to administer funds that had been made available from the National Air Raid Distress Fund for the relief of hardship as a result of enemy attack.

The appointment of shelter marshals was considered for the principal shelters which were used for sleeping in. By July marshals had been appointed for the Co-Operative Wholesale Factory, Waveney Drive public shelter and the Crown Street public shelter. A marshal was appointed for the Harold Road shelter during September. The Committee had considered using the Battery Green Shelter as a Rest Centre but was informed by the relevant Authorities that if it was to be used as a Rest Centre it would have to be closed as an air raid shelter. In order to ensure adequate shelter provision in the area of London Road north it was decided to retain the Battery Green Shelter as a shelter.

A section of the beach between Claremont and South Piers was opened for public bathing. It was noted that obstacles in the sea on south beach were not visible at certain states of the tide. It was resolved to provide beacons for these obstructions and draw the public’s attention to them.

Fire fighting provisions continued to be improved. A further excavation was to be made at Kirkley Run in order to provide an additional 100,000 gallons of water for fire fighting.

Concern was raised by the Deputy Regional Information Officer that Lowestoft was one of only two towns in which an Information Officer had not been appointed within the Region. It was considered that this post was vital for towns that had suffered heavily from enemy action to convey the instructions of the Local Authority and the relevant National Authorities (Ministry of Information, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Home security). The Committee resolved to appoint an Information Officer.

The Lowestoft Rotary Club suggested that a list of all occupants of houses should be kept at each Wardens post to enable a check to be made in case of heavy enemy attack. The Committee rejected this suggestion on the grounds that the number of persons at each house was continually changing and it would be a too onerous duty on Wardens to compile such lists.

Permission was granted from the Regional Commissioner to build a Report Centre at the Allotments on Normanston Drive. The Borough had to settle claims with allotment holders dispossessed from the land and the value of crops.

On Aug 28th the Committee approved a scheme for dealing with foodstuffs contaminated by poison gas.

The Committee minutes of Aug 28th note that new Fire Guard arrangements would apply to Lowestoft with the Borough Council organizing the scheme through the Wardens. As East Suffolk County Council was the (Civil Defence) Scheme-making authority, a certain delegation of powers to the Borough would be required. The Regional Commissioner also notified the Committee that the Civil Defence Duties (Compulsory Enrollment) Order 1941 would be applied to Lowestoft. The registration dates were fixed for 14th, 20th and 21st September and would be carried out by the Employment Exchange. The Order also allowed for the creation of paid posts to ensure the supervision of part-time fire watchers at a salary of £300 to £500 per annum.

The scheme in Lowestoft was planned to be organized as follows: The Chief Warden would be overall responsible for the scheme and a Fire Guard Staff Officer would be appointed to help in this. The Fire Guard Staff Officer’s duties would be to supervise the work of Fire Guards, organize depots and points of assembly for Fire Guards and organize the administration and inspections under the Fire Prevention (Business Premises) Order. Each of the five Head Wardens in the Lowestoft District would have an appointed Senior Fire Guard. The Senior Fire Guard duties were to train, organize and supervise the work of the Fire Guards. The Regional Commissioner queried the need for five Senior Fire Guards and by the end of 1941 only one had been appointed with the others to be on a voluntary basis although it proved difficult to obtain volunteers fro the role.

  Above: Orgainization of Fire Guards - Lowestoft 1941
  HW = Head Warden; SFG = Senior Fire Guard; FG = Fire Guard

On Oct 24th the Committee resolved to issue enrollment notices to those who had registered under the Compulsory Enrollment Order and had not claimed exemption. A number of people tried to get out of the Scheme by claiming exemptions that they were not entitled too and the Fire Guard Staff Officer was instructed to notify such people that they would be enrolled.

On Dec 23rd the Town Clerk reported that the Secretary of the War Damage Commission* was to place the following notice in the London Gazette:

“Works costing more than one thousand pounds or ten times the nett annual value (if any) of the hereditament , whichever was the less, to be executed for making good war damage sustained by any hereditament situated within the Borough of Lowestoft”.

The Borough set up a Committee to look at general planning and development in Lowestoft and also to consider the provisions under the War Damage Act 1941. The first consideration for the Committee was where to rebuild any factory that was essential to the War Effort if required as a result of war damage. For example, East Anglian Engineering Co, Adrian Works, Alexandra Road (engaged on war production for Ministry of Aircraft Production) would be rebuilt in new proposed Industrial Zone while L.E.N.R Harbour Works, Commercial Road would be rebuilt on its current location as it was within the new proposed Industrial Zone.

* The War Damage Act 1941 (passed 26 March 1941 with subsequent amendments over 15 years), administered by the War Damage Commission, was set up to provide compensation to buildings and other immovable property including plant and machinery. War Damage means damage occurring (accidently or not) as a result of direct enemy action. It also referred to damage as a result of precautionary measures, with regards to enemy attack, such as demolition by Civil Defence personnel.

Reference:
Lowestoft Emergency Committee Minutes, SRO
www.tpyfdigitalarchive.org.uk

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