The OD Issue 2 - page 16

14
THE Od
WarTIME
Staff
Some of the staff were of course
involved in events outside the school.
In 1940 some joined the Local Defence
Volunteers whose jobs included
patrolling the University Parks at
sunrise to watch for any descending
paratroopers and to be on sentry duty at
the University’s science buildings at night.
As Jacques wrote: “These nights may have
blunted the edge of the next morning’s
teaching; but if one could land the 4am
spell on a summer morning one could
get a lot of corrections done by the dawn’s
early light, with scripts resting on the
back of a service respirator and question
paper impaled on nearby bayonet.”
Precautions and Practices
The Blackout was a universal constraint
and a constant worry for all. The rule was
that not a chink of light was to show from
a house: the air raid wardens patrolled the
streets looking for any light which might
reveal the presence of a house to the enemy.
The maintenance team made blackout
screens individually fitted to the windows
and light enough for the children to
manipulate. Blackout linings were provided
for all the curtains in the boarding houses
which had to be checked regularly for any
inadvertent rips resulting from games. So
robust were these that as late as 1980 several
were still doing duty around the school.
Any large windows such as those in the Old
Hall had diagonal strips of brown tape stuck
across as protection in the event of bombing
nearby. Glass was expensive and the loss of
some daylight in the daytime was accepted.
Other necessary wartime precautions did
provide new sources of fun in troubling times.
John Walters (OD 1943) remembers that:
“…an exciting consolation was our favourite
air raid precaution practise, sliding down the
escape chutes from the School House second
floor. I was encouraged to be brave.”
Radio
The radio became the essential means
of obtaining news during the war and it
replaced the newly started pre-war television
service. Listening daily to the six o’clock
news on the radio in the Lodge Common
Room was an important ritual for staff.
John Walters (OD 1943) recalls that
in his science club he and his classmates
“formed a radio team and built a simple
crystal set radio with ear headsets, and
later a one-valver.” Their news scoop of the
sinking of the Bismarck by the Royal Navy
spread across the playground; however it was
only afterwards that further news brought
the understanding of how this German
battleship had sunk HMS Hood shortly
beforehand. All news was carefully noted.
“In class Middle Three, the Daily Telegraph
wall map of Europe and North Africa was
set up to follow the campaigns and battle
fronts,” says John who remembers how, week
by week, pins with flags were inserted at the
front lines.
Daily life continues, 1939 Rugger Team
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