The wireless sprang into life at the turn of a knob. A nation held their breath in
anticipation of the announcement they had been dreading. In the cosy living room
of 536 High Road, Leyton, Philip and Lillian Macdonald sat down with nine year old
Kathleen and seven year old John to hear the statement which would change their lives.
'This morning the British Ambassador sent a message to Berlin saying, unless their
troops withdraw from Poland by 11 o'clock we will declare a state of war. No undertaking
has been received, and so this country is at war with Germany.' Philip turned off
the wireless and looked at his wife. 'These are serious times Lily.' he said solemnly.
'Let's pray it will be over by Christmas.'
However, as time went on, it became clear that drastic steps would have to be taken
in order to protect people against the imminent air-raids. Anderson air-raid shelters
began to arrive, funny little corrugated igloos which were placed over a dugout at
the bottom of the garden. Underground stations and cellars were designated as shelters
for anyone caught outdoors when the warning was sounded. Black tape was stuck to
the windows in funny little crisscross patterns, to prevent the glass from splintering,
should a bomb go off nearby. Blackout curtains were put up to keep all traces of
light being seen from the air. Gatling guns were set up on the Leyton Midland Bridge
to shoot down enemy aircraft. Kathleen and John's grandmother said that she had prayed
that her windows would not be broken. She said she was trusting God to preserve them,
and throughout the war, even though all the other houses had their windows broken,
hers were still intact.