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1938: Telegraph wires prevent sirens being heard


From eleven o'clock to 11.15 on Wednesday morning the four sirens in the Cuckfield urban area, which would be used during wartime to warn the public of the approach of enemy aircraft were tested with a view to ascertaining the effective range of each one.


The weather conditions at the time were anything but favourable, with an exceptionally high wind blowing. Even so, only four of the 20 ARP volunteers posted at certain points in the district, to report on the strength of the sound have intimated to the Air Raid Precautions Organiser (Mr LH Merry) that they heard nothing.


The sirens are situated at the Haywards Heath Gas Works, the Brighton Borough Mental Hospital (Haywards Heath), the Mid-Sussex Laundry (Lindfield) and the West Hylands Institution (Cuckfield). They were blown at five-minute intervals for half-a-minute each. We have heard a criticism that they were sounded separately, but this is explained


Of the four volunteers who reported that they could not heur a siren three were in Cuckfield and one at Fox Hill, on the Wivelsfield Road. In one case the high wind whistling through the telegraph wires and the trees helped to prevent a siren being heard, while in other eases the prevailing traffic conditions were partly responsible.


Mr Merry points out that the wind was so high and the weather conditions generally were such that it would be a great disadvantage for aeroplanes to be up at all. While the person posted in Sussex Road, Haywards Heath, reported hearing a siren, we learn of people in that road who did not.


Altogether better?

This raises a point which should be considered. A person listening for a particular sound might hear it, but would those people doing their shopping or concentrating on their work hear it? On the other hand, it must be remembered that in the event of an impending air raid all the sirens will be sounded together and not for only half-a-minute. but intermittently for several minutes. A further test is to be carried out in the near future, and it is possible that on that on that occasion the sirens will be blown together.


Mid Sussex Times, 29 November 1938


Photo: A telegraph pole on the now decommisioned Pole Route on the Norwich-Ely Railway line, Norfolk, UK. This was the last such remaining section in England and was removed during March 2009. Wikimedia public domain image.


Contributed by Malcolm Davison.

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