Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 06 January 1940

“Leaflet” Raid With A Difference

Mexboro’ and Dearne A.R.P. Workers Tackle “Paper” Incidents.

An A.R.P. control room is rather like a magnificent television unit. We rehearsed war in Mexborough and Dearne for two hours on Wednesday – a “leaflet raid” by phantom planes—and slowly before us, on a giant map moved a picture of high tension action of units speeding to their preselected tasks, of men and women going about their self-appointed jobs of saving life and property.

glimpse of the interior of the Report Centre at nerve centre of Wednesday’s air raid exercise.

No Excitement.

In our control room (a subterranean building at the rear of Mexborough police station), chiefs of staff were ready and prepared. There was no excitement—just the faint note of a machine tuned up to concert pitch, broken at intervals by the urgent shrilling of a telephone bell, a warden’s report of havoc by bomb and fire. Swiftly the message would be handed in from the telephonists.

At one chart, details would be noted and squads detailed. Across the room, the same details would be taken for report at regular intervals to Nether Hall, Don Valley nerve centre. And on our giant map, the course of units would be plotted by multi-coloured pins.

We saw the picture unfold, scene by scene—a fire at the Social Service Centre in Mexborough. a high explosive bomb in Cross Church Street, a fire at Furlong Road, Goldthorpe, mustard gas ‘at Highgate. By the map was a second chart, covered with coloured pins—red for fire services, black for private vehicles, and so on. This told where each unit was stationed. It was possible to tell just which unit was leaving for duty, which roads, if any, were blocked, how many units were on the job, and how long they were on the job.

We knew, too, when they returned. Only then was the pin removed from the map and returned to the smaller chart. Two fire units, one light rescue and one first aid unit were at work with an ambulance within the first twenty-five minutes. And all the time, the bell was shrilling. More work to be tackled, more action for our screen.

The Real Thing

Incidentally, while reports of fires were coming in a real fire occurred in King Street. Thurnscoe. It burned out a small saw mill used by Mr. George Green for a firewood business, and the flames had taken such a hold that the brigade had no chance of saving the building or its contents. The damagewas estimated at £50. Mr. H. Curry. captain of the auxiliary brigade, directed the fire-fighting operations.

The first incident came through shortly after half-past one—a fire at the Social Service Centre in Mexborough and the ingenuity with which the “incidents” had been planned was reflected in a second “explosion” which occurred almost immediately afterwards in Cross Church Street, and damaged a water main. A second heavy trailer pump was sent to relay water from the canal for the use of the first pump There followed reports from the Dearne area of a fire at Furlong Road and damage at the Council depot. then more “incidents” at Mexborough.

In Dearne District.

Perhaps the most interesting exercises chosen from the Dearne area programme occurred at the Council ‘depot, and at Thurnscoe. In Lockwood Road there was damage from a high explosive bomb. and four men were seriously hurt. They were removed and treated by the casualty services from Thurnscoe, stationed at the baths.

There was similar “trouble” at Goldthorpe, and in this case, the second first aid – post”—a mobile unit working from the Welfare Hall—was in action.

There was an interesting “incident” in Nicholas Lane, Highgate in that when a decontamination squad had finished dealing with the effects of mustard gas, they discovered that fires had broken out. This was reported to the watch room, referred to Mexborough, and dealt with by Goldthorpe section of the brigade. “Casualties” were Scouts who co-operated very well, and two stretcher parties had been released by the Hickleton Main Colliery Company. At the Baths, four stretcher parties were on duty, and generally, the area is well served for first aid workers. Doctors Boyle and McColm were on duty—and at Mexborough Dr. J. J. Huey, casualty officer.

About 60 women and 40 male workers were also on duty in the Dearne area. Operations were under the direction of Mr. G. H. Allemby (Sanitary Inspector to the Dearne Urban Council), who is Casualty Officer, and Mr. W. H. Adams (Engineer and Surveyor), who is rescue and decontamination officer, and chief officer of the auxiliary fire service. Volunteers of the auxiliary fire service also attended.

Major Incident.

The major “incident” was at Waddington’s old glassworks, Mexborough. Here, we were on the spot when two wardens rushed to the phone to report damage by high explosive and incendiary bombs, that one of the buildings involved was blazing furiously, and that men were trapped in the wreckage. For several minutes we saw firemen, rescue parties and first aid units hurrying about their tasks, and later the recovery of the “bodies,” heavy marked sacks, from the pile of bricks and wreckage.

One of the “casualties” (a little boy in a “crash” helmet), lent a rather droll touch, as, heavily bandaged, he propped himself up on one elbow in the ambulance and watched with serious expression the comings and goings of the first aid worker. In their protective clothing (they had come prepared for gas), they looked rather like Martians.

Mr. J. A. Harrison saw this exercise, and the Sub-Divisional Warden. Mr. W. lA. Launder, was also on the scene. Mr. T. Flather was in charge of operations at the report centre, and others assisting in this central organisation were Inspector Waugh, Mr. E. Windred (report officer), and Supt. L Heeson. This was the first week-day practice to be staged in the division, and some of the services were manned by only skeleton staffs.

Officials expressed themselves well satisfied with results. Every squad is prepared should rehearsal become reality.