The government believed that in the event of war there would be night time bombing raids by enemy aircraft. It was believed that lights on the ground would help the bombers to find their targets. So a blackout was decreed.
On 1st September 1939, two days before the outbreak of war outbreak of war, Britain was blacked out.
The Blackout imposed on all civilians in all cities was absolute. No chinks-of light, no see through curtains, no car headlights. Even the red glow of a cigarette was banned. Britain was plunged into complete darkness.
Ensuring that your home was properly blacked out every night was a tedious and difficult chore for most families and could be expensive depending on how many windows were in your house.
The Blackout made moving around outside at night very difficult and dangerous. There was a great increase in the number of traffic accidents and in the number of people injured by tripping over colliding with hazards in the dark.
To help prevent accidents white stripes were painted on the roads and on lamp-posts.
The government was very concerned about the consequences or air raids in the event of war. As early as September 1935 local authorities were encouraged to organise air raid precautions. In April 1937 an Air Raid Warden Service was created and by the middle of 1938 this had some 2,000 recruits. By September 1939 there were more than 1.5 million ARP Wardens. Women as well as men joined the emergency services as an ARP warden
The British government believed that in the event of war some form of poison gas would be used on the civilian population. It was therefore decided to issue every one with a gas mask. By 1940 the government had issued 38 million gas masks. Adult gas masks were black whereas children had ‘Micky Mouse‘ masks with red rubber pieces and bright eye piece rims. There were also gas helmets for babies into which mothers would have to pump air with a bellows.
The cardboard box hanging by string contained the gas mask that people was supposed to carry at all times.
Below are two typical Ads that appeared in the Market Rasen Mail