WAR was declared on September 3rd 1939 between the United Kingdom and Germany. 15 minutes later the first air-raid “alert” was given in East Anglia. Even though this warning was only a test, it was the beginning of several years of blackouts, sirens, and attacks on the cities, ports and airfields of the region.
By the end of the war, the wail of the siren would be heard more than 2,000 times in some areas. The first incursions by German aircraft in the region began over Lowestoft on October 17th. Memories of German air attacks from the First World War along the Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex coats were still engrained in the minds of the survivors. As the German army quickly swept westwards through the Low Countries and France, the threat of invasion grew. Attacks became a daily threat, and the people of East Anglia braced themselves for what they knew would be a long struggle to victory.
By the beginning of July 1940, the people of Ipswich and Norwich were already suffering casualties from enemy action. From July to October 1940, several RAF Fighter Command stations in East Anglia participated in the defeat of the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. And, while London became the centre of the German bombing offensive known as “the Blitz” the airfields, cities, and ports of the East were still under frequent attack. Soon a new ally would be joining the fight against the Germans….