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Smoke screens

sistersue61

master brummie
Have been to visit my 90 year old Aunty today and we were talking about memories of the war, in 1939/40, she was working at Cadburys and used to get the train from Camp Hill to there, she sys that all along the Moseley Road there were big oil drums, which on the bright moonlit "bomber" nights, were lit, causing whatever was in them to burn and cause a smoke screen to hide the tram and train lines from the bombers, so that they could not follow them straight to Longbridge and the factories.She says it carried on through the war, she left Cadburys when she married and worked as a clippy on the buses, she says the smell of the smoke was awful.
I hadn't heard of this before, thought it may be interesting.
Sue
 

Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
Me neither Sue. But it makes sense. There's a mention of it in the BBC WW2 People's War online archives https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/categories/

Here are 2 extracts that mention smoke screens:

"Another story of the black-out that I remember, that we not only had to black out our windows, but we also had to make sure that we did not show any light at night. During an air-raid in the cities like Birmingham,a smoke screen was put up by burning cans of old oil at night This made filthy black smoke which got everywhere. When we went out we were not allowed to carry torches; we had to wear special luminous buttons on our jackets so that people in cars would be able to see us".

"On one occasion Haw-Haw explained that the Luftwaffe were coming to bomb the Hams Hall Power station, it was explained by Haw-Haw that they would follow the river Tame through the village of Minworth and Water Orton to find the target. Although Haw-Haw had little credibility this was still quite a frightening experience for the family and the local villagers of Water Orton and Minworth at the time. However, the Luftwaffe were never able to find Hams Hall. One of the main reasons for this was the initiative taken to counter the possible attacks on Hams Hall. This involved the putting up of vast smoke screens from Hams Hall itself. However, I also remember the small individual smoke screen units, which lined Birmingham and Minworth Road sections of the village. These units would be lit each evening presumably burning crude oil they would send out thick black smoke. Goodness knows what this would do to the lungs of the villagers and the wretched military personnel who had to tend these units".

Viv.
 

sistersue61

master brummie
Thanks Viv, that all goes with what aunty Ivy said, her memory was having a good day today, she is amazing for her age, I try to write down everything she says now as a record.
Sue
 

Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
Good idea Sue. Mind you, I've frantically jotted down interesting info, eager to record everything the person said only to find when I came to read it again, I couldn't make head nor tail out of what I'd written! Viv.
 

sistersue61

master brummie
Did that myself Viv, luckily it was dad telling me things and all I had was a list of names and places and another of events!!!He managed to sort them out for me.
Sue
 
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