15 July, 2012

15 July 1945


438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
15 July, 1945

Good Morning, Sweetheart –

It’s Sunday again and we’re just sitting around the room and relaxing. I’ve already been down to the Dispensary, had sick-call and returned here. I haven’t bothered to shave and I feel just like slopping around and doing nothing. How I wish you were here to help me pass the time!

The French had a real celebration last nite – and as far as I know – there were no riots. Six of us walked down town last night and found there was to be a concert. There’s a lovely park here, amphitheater and shell. The concert was swell and brought me all the way back to the Charles and the Esplanade Concerts. It was over at 2215 – and then at 2245 – there were fireworks. Mobs of people were out. We then walked home – a nice evening – as evenings go.

Hatch Shell on the Esplanade along the Charles River in Boston
Then and Now

When – oh when am I going to be able to spend an evening with you, darling? I miss you so damned much, dear. No mail for a couple of days now – maybe today. All for now, sweetheart. Love to the folks – and

All my everlasting love –


about The Complete Return of Street Lights

From the beginning of the war, precautions were taken to 'black-out' all lights. This was essential as it soon became clear that most bombing raids would take place at night. It was thought that a light even from one house would be used as a target, by an enemy plane on which to drop its bombs. Each night everyone had to make sure that not one chink of light escaped from the windows and doors of their homes. Heavy curtains or blinds could be effective but some windows were simply painted over or covered with cardboard or thick paper for the duration of the war.

No one seems to have consulted the air authorities about whether blackout was really necessary. Bomber pilots found that they could navigate best at night by looking out for water, which shows up clearly from the air by starlight as well as by moonlight; so that, on clear nights, they should have been able to orient themselves without too much trouble, whether anything on the ground was lit up or not. Next to lakes and rivers, railways also showed up clearly; so did large roads.

Nonetheless, going out of their home at night, people had to remember to switch off the light before opening an outside door. Once outside, there were no street lights and what few cars, buses and lorries there were, were fitted with special headlamps that gave out very little light. Motoring, with headlights blacked out to a single narrow slit a few centimeters long, became nightmarish, except for those with exceptional night vision. Lampposts and curb edges were painted white or with luminous paint, but this did not prevent a number of deaths caused by people walking into solid objects or under the wheels of the few vehicles still running.

Night work in open air, on farms or at railway sidings had to be done with no light and in factories, nearly all with sealed windows, workers had to operate with no ventilation and only artificial lighting. The black-out was partially lifted on 17 September 1944 (coastal regions were still affected) and replaced by a "dim-out", in reality this was only a less stringent form of black-out, but it was welcomed at the time.

There were laws against allowing light to escape from buildings and by the time the black-out ended, nearly one million people had been prosecuted for breaking the black-out regulations. Most people were only fined but one man was sentenced in February 1940 to one month of hard labor for allowing light to be seen from his house. Opinion polls conducted during the war nearly always had the black-out at the top of their "most disliked inconvenience" list.

The black-out occasionally came in handy as an excuse for "wrong-doers", when a father and his son were summoned to court by the Ministry of Labor and National Service in Northumberland for being persistently late for work without reasonable excuse, the father stated that he had knocked a woman down in the black-out on the way to work (in January) and he didn't want the same thing to happen again, so he started out later; the son's excuse was not given in the account. The story was not accepted and the magistrates found both men guilty and fined them £2 each.


Aerial view of Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK in 2007

On 18 September 1939 the first casualties of the blackout occurred in Scarborough when 6 year old Thomas Johnson of 30 Colescliffe Road was knocked down by a passing car and broke his leg. The other was 79 year old David Dawson of 6 Hibernia Street who was knocked down by a car and suffered cuts to his head.

The blackout for the winter months usually lasted from about 5:57 pm till 7:40 am the following day. The times were always advertised in the evening paper. To help pedestrians, all curb edges, trees and other obstacles were painted with white bands, which did help to a certain degree.

By 5 November 1943 the Chief Constable was saying that the Scarborough blackout was once regarded as the best in England, but it had by this date deteriorated quite a lot. It was on 17 September 1944 that the blackout restrictions were lifted. House holders could take down their blackout curtains and shutters and use their ordinary curtains.

Starlighting, which allowed lighting to the equivalent of moonlight in the streets, had been used since 1943, but if an alert sounded the blackout had to be observed. By December 1944 more street lights were switched on but only on main streets. From Sunday, 24 December 1944 all vehicles could use their full headlights and from 15 July 1945 normal street lighting was announced. It was a year or two before electricity and gas supplies were built up enough to do the full job.

And now for your listening pleasure, "Scarborough Fair"
performed by Simon and Garfunkel
from YouTube


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