29 NOVEMBER 1940, Page 12


StR,—Lady Violet Bonham Carter's admirable article in your issue of November 8th, on the needs of Air Raid Wardens, will be welcomed by all who have worked with the A.R.P. services. From my own experience as a part-time volunteer in a badly bombed sector in London, I want especially to emphasise what she says about the need for more paid wardens.

The position in our area is that there is a small number of paid wardens, who man the district-post day and night, and who take re- sponsibility in the district for " incidents " which have been many. The number of these wardens is so small that they can seldom, if ever, get away, and many have been working day and night since the intensive bombing of London began.

The " sectors " in the district (each sector is usually a street) are looked after by part-time volunteers responsible to the Post, and here, too, a serious shortage is making itself felt. In the sectors I know best, practically all the younger men and women have whole-time jobs—often Government jobs—and cannot do unlimited night work. There remain the older men and women whose day-time work is part-time or voluntary, and upon them a great deal of the night work has devolved. But again constant sleepless nights have proved too much for older people, and some are breaking down under the strain.

To add to these difficulties, the number of available volunteers in bombed areas is constantly reduced as people leave their dilapidated houses. In my own sector, for instance, at least two-thirds of the houses are now uninhabited. It will be said, of course, that this reduces the number of lives in danger. So it does, but it also in- creases the wardens' worries in another direction. The few remain- ing wardens must now cope with the keys of unoccupied houses and flats; where there are no householders to look out for incendiary bombs in their own houses and unexploded bombi in their own back gardens, the wardens must do this too, and I know by experience that it takes at least three hours to search the gardens in our sector. If more paid wardens could be appointed the pressure on both post wardens and sector wardens would be reduced and an overworked service greatly reinforced I emphasise this suggestion not by way of complaint, but like Lady Violet Bonham Carter in the interests of the efficiency of a unique and notably successful experiment in civil