Wednesday, 9 December 2009

School Kids get experience of the "Blitz"

We recently retrieved our World War Two Morrison Shelter from Godstone Village School having been on loan at the school for the past term. As part of their school project the Children were each given a turn to experience what it was like to shelter in the Morrison "Table" Shelter while their teacher played sound effects of the Blitz, it was the quietest they had been all day!! The children were then asked to write about their feelings and what it would have been like to be a child in wartime Britain.

Our Morrison was recently recovered from a local garden were it had spent the past 60 years outside, the shelter was lovingly restored to its former glory. The gentleman who owned the shelter actually used it as a boy himself when he lived in London during the Blitz. The shelter has certainly been put to good use and provides a valuable teaching aid helping the younger generation understand what wartime Britain was like all those years ago.

About the "Morrison" shelter

The Morrison shelter, officially termed Table (Morrison) Indoor Shelter, had a cage-like construction beneath it. It was designed by John Baker and named after Herbert Morrison, the Minister of Home Security at the time. It was the result of the realization that due to the lack of house cellars it was necessary to develop an effective type of indoor shelter. The shelters came in assembly kits, to be bolted together inside the home. They were approximately 6 ft 6 in (2 m) long, 4 ft (1.2 m) wide and 2 ft 6 in (0.75 m) high, had a solid 1/8 in (3 mm) steel plate “table” top, welded wire mesh sides, and a metal lath “mattress”- type floor. Altogether it had 359 parts and had 3 tools supplied with the pack.

One of the first structures to be designed using Baker's theory of plastic structural analysis, it was designed to absorb the impact of debris falling on the top of the shelter. The sides could be removed to permit its being used as a table. 500,000 Morrisons had been distributed by the end of 1941, with a further 100,000 being added in 1943 to prepare the population for the expected German V-1 flying bomb (doodlebug) attacks.

In one examination of 44 severely damaged houses where three people had been killed, 13 seriously injured, and 16 slightly injured out of a total of 136 people who had occupied Morrison shelters, it was found that the fatalities had occurred in a house which had suffered a direct hit. Some of the severely injured were in shelters sited incorrectly within the houses.

The Morrison "Table" Shelter served many functions, for example sometimes it was utilised as a table tennis table and also as a dinning room table which was the most popular use. Because of the bulky and heavy construction very few of these survived the war and many were simply scrapped, we must be thankful that one of these shelters has survived for prosperity and will be on display at the Wings Museum.