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The Political Genesis of Air Raid Precautions and the York Raid of 1942

Price, Christopher (2000) The Political Genesis of Air Raid Precautions and the York Raid of 1942. Northern History, 36 (2). pp. 299-317.

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Discusses the political and financial conflicts that plagued air raid precautions (ARP) prior to World War II, noting the impact of the "ingrained structural failings" of British prewar civil defense policy that left its cities and its population largely unprepared and unprotected from German bombing attacks when war broke out. The author focuses on the city of York, which was hit by a German air raid in April 1942. Britain's prewar policy, largely a propaganda campaign aimed at "impressing foreigners and soothing the public," was insufficiently funded to be effective. The national government urged citizens to fortify their homes, advocating individual rather than "deep shelters," because it feared that communal shelters would create widespread panic and civil disobedience. Two false alarms in 1938 and 1939 exposed "serious shortcomings" in preparedness, which the local ARP services in York worked to alleviate. Consequently, despite a failed alarm system, the death toll was relatively low after the attack, with most casualties resulting from people remaining in their homes (as the government advised). The people of York were left vulnerable by the national government's shelter policy, concern for saving money, and an "authoritarian official attitude" that mistakenly regarded British citizens as "the enemy within".

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1179/007817200790177851
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
School/Department: School of Humanities
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/7704

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