This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
38th in the series
Bill Leonard introduces the series, he reminds listeners that the Civil Defense Radio Network links virtually every radio station in New York state and operates almost entirely by air and will operate even if other forms of communication are destroyed. He goes on to talk about the varied types of people working for Civil Defense.
Skitch Henderson and Faye Emerson talk about the threat of the atomic bomb. They remind listeners that you must be responsible for your own safety in the event of an attack. Self-reliance helps rescue workers get to those in need.
They interview two survivors of London blitz: Roland Sir William "Bill" Gillette and Margarette "Midge" Day. Midge describes how the bombing started when she was still a school girl. She was a volunteer fire watcher, she stood on the roofs of buildings, keeping an eye out and sounding alarms. Emerson describes Day's life since then, losing her husband to complications from injuries suffered during the war, and her arrival in the United States. Day describes her motivation for joining the Civil Defense effort - she wants to avoid complacency and wants to be able to help the older people who live in her apartment building.
Henderson introduces Bill Gillette. Gillette warns against the attitude of "it can never happen to me." He discusses the goals of aerial bombing - to destroy military installations and factories, to spread panic, death, and destruction among civilians, and finally, to create disorganization among civilians so that the war effort cannot continue. Gillette compares the bombing of London to some of the smaller towns. He recounts the story of a lorry driver who had been mortally wounded during an attack, though he was about to die he asked the doctor to hurry things along so that he might pick up his fairs.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 2494
Municipal archives id: LT1846
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
This is Bill Leonard to introduce the thirty eighth in a weekly series of programs called plan for survival broadcast over the civil defense Radio Network this network links virtually every radio station in New York State and operates and Kylee by air it can function even if regular communications are destroyed the business of civil defense is a varied one important jobs range from those of the wardens and the auxiliary policeman to the firefighters radiological experts and the medical workers to work in the job of planning and training in all branches of civil defense is by no means restricted to any single type of worker there are businessmen and bankers housewives and college students all working together in this vital effort on this week's program we present another phase of civil defense as seen by sketch Henderson and Faye Emerson two very popular and outstanding figures in the entertainment world this is a good turn to soon in behalf of my wife and I want to tell you that we are pretty steady listeners to plan for survival my show here in New York proceeds and follows the show on Wednesday night you hear probably during the week we listen and we learn but somehow it wasn't until we were asked to appear on plan for survival that we felt the full impact of the tremendous responsibility which rests with each of us and by each of us Skitch means every single individual lives in every single community in the country some of us by the nature of our work are denied the privilege of active participation in the civil defense plan but this does mean that our responsibility in. We've been reading a little booklet indicted you on the atomic bomb and the one thing that impressed just about all of this is that despite an efficient Civil Defense Organization just by the best of the fire and police departments the military can do the survival of any individual and those he holds dear is his own responsibility in the holocaust of tomorrow survival will not be measured in terms of hours and days but in terms of minutes and seconds and in those minutes in seconds the only person who can help you is yourself you may not believe that well we took a lot of this information with a grain of salt until we began to really study it now we realize that as a family face Global of the Myself we should be responsible for our own safety in case of attack not only for our own survival but for the survival of those who may really need the help of the trained civil defense workers now if you need help you are keeping that help from others if by a few hours of study you can make yourself and your family self sufficient You may be saving other lies just as surely as if you were on a rescue team yourself you know its cage one day member while we were practically pairing for this program we are began to talk about civil defense with our gang at the office and the riders and secretaries promotion people and their reactions were very interesting everybody agreed on the need for civil defense but most felt that there was a little that they personally could do to help and two of the people we were talking with however felt more strongly most of them lived in England before and during the reign of terror of the last five in one of them fought the enemy in a spit fire in the air above London the other fought on the ground as a fire watcher at sixteen years old they themselves were probably just as complacent in one nine hundred thirty eight as we are now and for them this was the second time around that's right and fail and I thought perhaps that. Maybe you at home would like to hear what these two people think of our need for a good efficient civil defense set up so pressed off a and I invited them to sit in with us here in New York one of them has Rowland Sir William Gillette everybody for some reason or other calls did. I call him other things because he's a Yankee fan but Bill has been directing wonderful town on television he is an executive producer for the video company and he was a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy at the start of the war but like all the other fly boys in Britain when the Battle of Britain got desperate he went up with every other available airman and airplane to defend England against Gehring so-called great Air Force or other guest the fire watcher is a good marriage day or more formally which is Margaret day Midge typescript Manchus Mayo and work for the writers in our office and where she works just about as hard as anyone I know but she's unrolled and civil defense I think is we talk to you find out why the first contact made you had with bombings when she was still a pupil in school and your King and marriage what did your school children do when an air raid came along and generally of there was time after the same one we found up to the shelter usually there wasn't we had quite a few that came without any warning whatsoever and that point we crouched over there was a move until the all clear went. You know image I've heard mothers complain they think it's psychologically bad for children to be taught to fear do you think it's wrong for them to practice taking shelter under desks What do you think. I think that's what I answer that is to cite a. Bombing attack in London on Lewisham of matter of fact when they Germans hit at a time when the luncheon period was occurring and if the children hadn't been trained there would have been a great many more lives lost in the war as it was there were too many but of course there were too many other words the training really paid off and lives saved midget's a little hard to think of you as a fire watcher I'll have to explain to our listeners are just about five feet in there and a hundred pounds of well where I'm afraid now but I don't think the size did count on does count I think the modified goods an advantage to be small because one can run when the warning goes and I just think it's an advantage of Israeli Mossad. Well tell us something about your fire watching where you were generally where it was all volunteer of cause and we were asked. What watches we wanted to take and usually the older girls from sixteen to seventeen to the twelve to midnight shift and we stood on the roofs of schools and government buildings and hospitals and any time that there was an attack or if we saw that there was something going on like a fire we sound the alarm. That affects your own house took a hit didn't it yes that they got a direct hit like a drunk family push than tar from the kitchen right through to the living room almost It must be a frightening business yes it is it's a little hard for people over here to understand there wasn't your dad also a fire watch as he was he had quite an experience not a factory blowing something like sixteen feet and came to him with a block of concrete concrete about an inch from his head. Dear Mary is well that's that's just some of midges experiences will be able to tell you more she had to kind of an interesting life seventeen and a half you were left in the Royal Navy didn't she major metro in love with a boy in the American Air Force he flew out over Germany was plane was badly shot up and combination of once in battle today rested resulted in his death exactly one year after they were married she came to this country in November one nine hundred forty four and I can testify to the fact that mage's is successful and busy girl she's pretty too did I mention she's very pretty Irish coloring blue eyes back here she lives in a comfortable apartment house midtown Manhattan and yet when the call went out for civil defense workers she volunteered without a moment's hesitation why Major I think you're covered that in their own little speech of the and the other schools in the beginning of the program and said that we did remember complacency after winning and the year between nineteen thirty eight and thirty nine The people work stream taken place no one thought it was going to happen everybody was hoping it wasn't going to happen never sat back and nothing I don't want to have that happen again and I do think that having a bouncer heard that I will be able to help the people that can't possibly help themselves likely older people in the apartment they are ladies and. Women with children and I do think that I hope it doesn't have to happen but I certainly will be there as it does let this be a lesson to all of us who think because we're girls we can do anything if this time it comes it'll come quicker and before ours but us f├⌐in made today telling you their story now as I told you Bill Joy That story is a little bit different I don't feel that I feel that I can speak to because I was a fly but I'm going to keep quiet in this instance because he belonged to probably the greatest groupie. Royal Navy Air Arm so I'll just turn the microphone over to Rob on July and let him tell you his standpoint from a military man. Well you know sketch the other day one a few months ago when I noticed that the signs for civil defense are being put up in all the elevators in all the buildings and I watched people look at these signs a certain amount of indifference because you know rather like the man who hears it is a neighbor who was burgled. Last at it and says How funny that couldn't happen to me when it does he's outraged. And I went back to him the nine thirty nine and I thought about the same way I saw the signs. This could never happen when it did happen I felt very differently and at that time you were a member of the military too so you would be more cognizant of the civilian Yes You see if you look in the I think it's called the manual of war. Remember the wellness and we used to have an i horrible thing called naval regulations never understood the shop and the blunt end of a ship. Aerial bombardment has its primary objective to destroy the enemy's military establishments and it's factories that make the weapons of war that's the first objective but also the second and the second is to spread panic death and destruction of my siblings and. The last one to create disorganization of civilian life so that the war effort can continue. I think it's on the latitude that the civilian defenses civil defense is definitely essential. Let's examine for a moment the bombing of England by the law. Well could we find a specific example that would bring home our story like I think we could. Let's compare the bombing of London where they always said that London could take it whereas some of the other smaller cities couldn't. London's a big city like New York and anyone who's going to live in a big city has got to be a bit tough because you've got to keep going and big city to make your way and so on and. The people also in London always pretty cheerful they had a spirit and they picked up the great words of almost Churchill when he said We shall fight on the beaches in the fields and in the streets and cities of our times they really got that. One very short story I'd like to be a lot of man that I ran into in the Blitz I got the sort of tail end of the blast of a bomb once and went into a casualty clearing station and a local hospital which is a pretty terrible site because it had a bread basket on the hospital and it was a bus burning outside but the characters were all pretty cheery and suddenly in came an old London taxi driver the great long done very stylish and his cap on top of his head and the scarf wrapped around his face. And I was sort of standing there and I got much wrong with me and I was standing on a rock spends and I'm so. Into it and said to me would you lend a hand and help get the album dressed which I did and we found he got a great big chunk of. Stock rather foreign to him and it wasn't very nice and he was not going to live very long. But the in turn went to him and said you know you've got to have to give you a little gas to get this. Anesthetic you said all right he finally agreed to it and he would as he was going out you know wheelchair he said he turned around and he said You know doc I don't mind having this whiff he said but I can't stay all night you know I got me fast to think of. That one which is pretty fun we don't have much time Bill we only have about thirty seconds could you just briefly tell about Coventry Well yes there Coventry lesson I think it was when there was this this is a small city and they completely flattened the city and worse than that they smashed up the water the lights and the heat and although they pushed food into the town immediately. Nobody could carry on with life because they hadn't got the tools with which to carry on ordinary life and I think the parallel here is very simple and that is like a hurricane warning that you get here I think every civilian should do two things one know how to do everything to preserve his life during an attack and secondly have him still prepared to carry on our to the attack with Stan no cookstove water in the bath tubs drinking water and canned food so that we cannot the enemy cannot disorganize civilian life and work Thank you Bill very much we heard much today made today and Roland you let me say I think we'll say good night for now good night. Thank you a sketch Anderson and they Emerson bore being with us this week on plans for survival this is Bill Leonard asking you to be with us next week at the same time and reminding you that civil defense is common sense this is the civil defense radio network.