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Flitton in World War Two

It is always nice to add pages contributed by other people to the Community Histories. This article was written by Margaret Butt for the Parish Newsletter.

In the village, we are lucky to have the minute book of the Invasion Committee, formed to make plans in the event of a German invasion. The committee met regularly throughout the war, making decisions about fire equipment, medical aid and military exercises with the Home Guard. The two village noticeboard locations by the church hall and opposite Cornerways Garage were put up by the committee for the village to receive information. Also, in the minute book it says that the school was requested to get all children to draw slit trenches to take home for their parents or older siblings to dig in their back gardens. As this was an actual lesson for children in the war, we did this at the school day in 2010.

Slit trenches were simple air raid shelters dug to a width of 2 feet 3 inches. They could be dug to different depths depending on the time available. The first suggestion was to dig to a depth of 1 foot 6 inches which took 2-3 hours. Later it could be dug to 2 feet 6 inches which took another 2-4 hours where people could kneel down. With another few hours, the trench could get to 3 feet 9 inches . As it got deeper, the sides could be strengthened by sand bags, wood or corrugated iron. A sheet of corrugated iron could form a roof and cinders placed on the floor of the trench to drain away standing water. The length of the trench depended on how many people were likely to use it.

Such shelters were dug throughout Britain where there was danger from enemy aircraft. Bedford and Luton were both bombed in the war and as a community half way between it was considered that Flitton, Greenfield and Wardhedges could be at risk. A searchlight was stationed in the field behind the church hall, and enemy planes were often heard overhead. If there was no other shelter, people hid under their beds, tables or under the stairs.