It's hard to imagine the feeling in the summer of 1940 but the possibility of a German invasion of the UK was taken incredibly seriously. Following the Dunkirk debacle the Ministry of Home Security released a number of posters and pamphlets providing advice. Many included information about moving into air raid shelters should the invasion arrive in your locality. Below is the text from one such pamphlet.
Issued by the Ministry of Information on behalf of the War Office and the Ministry of Home Security
STAY WHERE YOU ARE
If this island is invaded by sea or air everyone who is not under orders must stay where he or she is. This is not simply advice: it is an order from the Government, and you must obey it just as soldiers obey their orders. Your order is “Stay Put”, but remember that this does not apply until invasion comes.
Why must I stay put?
Because in France, Holland and Belgium, the Germans were helped by the people who took flight before them. Great crowds of refugees blocked all the roads. The soldiers who could have defended them could not get at the enemy. The enemy used the refugees as a human shield. These refugees were got out on to the roads by rumour and false orders. Do not be caught out in this way. Do not take any notice of any story telling what the enemy has done or where he is. Do not take orders except from the Military, the Police, the Home Guard (L.D.V.) and the A.R.P. authorities or wardens.
What will happen if I don’t stay put?
If you do not stay put you will stand a very good chance of being killed. The enemy may machine-gun you from the air in order to increase panic, or you may run into enemy forces which have landed behind you. An official German message was captured in Belgium which ran:
“Watch for civilian refugees on the roads. Harass them as much as possible.”
Our soldiers will be hurrying to drive back the invader and will not be able to stop and help you. On the contrary, they will have to turn you off the roads so that they can get at the enemy. You will not have reached safety and you will have done just what the enemy wanted you to do.
How shall I prepare to stay put?
Make ready your air-raid shelter; if you have no shelter prepare one. Advice can be obtained from your local Air Raid Warden or in “Your Home as an Air-raid Shelter”, the government booklet which tells you how to prepare a shelter in your house that will be strong enough to protect you against stray shots and falling metal. If you can have a trench ready in your garden or field, so much the better, especially if you live where there is likely to be danger from shell-fire.
How can I help?
You can help by setting a good example to others. Civilians who try to join the fight are more likely to get in the way than to help. The defeat of the enemy attack is the task of the armed forces which include the Home Guard, so if you wish to fight enrol in the Home Guard. If there is no vacancy for you at the moment register your name for enrolment and you will be called upon as soon as the Army is ready to employ you. For those who cannot join there are many ways in which the Military and Home Guard may need your help in their preparations. Find out what you can do to help in any local defence work that is going on, and be ready to turn your hand to anything if asked by the Military or Home Guard to do so.
If you are responsible for the safety of a factory or some other important building, get in touch with the nearest military authority. You will then be told how your defence should fit in with the military organisation and plans.
What shall I do if the Invader comes my way?
If fighting by organised forces is going on in your district and you have no special duties elsewhere go to your shelter and stay there till the battle is past. Do not attempt to join in the fight. Behave as if an ai-raid were going on. The enemy wills seldom turn aside to attack separate houses.
It’s easy to say. When the time comes it may be hard to do. But you have got to do it; and in doing it you will be fighting Britain’s battle as bravely as a soldier.
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