The Air Raid Warden Helmet
There were sea mines all along the sea front from Ryde to Puckpool Park during WW2. Big concrete blocks were used to block the slip ways and barbed wire was put down on the beaches in case of invasion.
The first daylight visit to the Isle of Wight by enemy bombers came on 2nd July – they were chased back out to sea by a trio of British fighter planes.
The spectacle of a Dornier bomber returning from a German reconnaissance mission crossing over Newport on Monday 8th July was followed three days later by the enemy’s real daylight onslaught against the south of England. The Battle of Britain had begun.
At Ryde, on the 15th, Fred Kerridge’s private log filled up with details of another four raid warnings – taking the total past 275 – between early afternoon and late evening. By the time 300 had been logged on the evening of 23rd November, many more high explosive and incendiary bombs had fallen on the Island.
That raid on the 23rd was the significant one to involve Ryde. The warning sirens were heard in town at 6.15pm. Fred Kerridge recorded heavy AA gunfire until 9.20pm and went on to list a catalogue of high explosive and incendiary bombing incidents. It was 11.25 before Ryde was given the all-clear, with seven fires reported in town that night.
War time censorship restricted local press reporting of several bombs and incendiaries falling on the town on Thursday 9th January. But the Nazis had no such inhibitions. They communicated on 10th January a list of towns on the Island raided the previous night, including eight houses damaged on main road from Newport to Ryde. On 11th March, a suspected unexploded bomb was found on the railway in Ryde, north of St. John’s Road station. Traffic was immediately stopped between there and the pier head terminus, while Southern Railway called in the experts. Ernie Jolliffe recalls, however, that incident was dealt with in rather less expert a fashion than the railwaymen had a right to expect!
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