Public Gas Tests June 7th 1941 Borough of Bexley
16mm film Black & White Silent 07.06.1941 3:40
Summary: Amateur film of a civil defence exercise. Tear gas is released at four points throughout the borough in order that locals become familiar with using their gas masks in an emergency. The fire brigade assist with the exercise, and we also see the decontamination procedure.
Title number: 30
Description: The film begins with a sign reading 'Exercise Only Danger! Gas', and shots of wooden rattles being spun in alarm. A woman in a gas mask passes by a policeman dressed in a gas mask and rain poncho. Various men in gas masks and uniforms mill about the streets. Some other men wearing white coats and gas masks stand outside a building (the building has a war bond poster upon it reading 'Lend us Your Money - Freedom's a good dividend'), while a small smoking flare burns on a street corner. Outside a tobacconist shop (Lewis for Tobaccos), some children mill around watching the exercise. Uniformed men with helmets marked with the letters DC, hosing down the street. A close up of metal bell being rung indicates the end of the exercise, and men walk past a sandbagged area and remove the exercise sign seen at the beginning of the film. The film ends with a shot of a Union Jack flying and the sunset.
Further information: Notice in the Bexleyheath Observer, Friday June 6th 1941, page 5:
TEAR GAS FOR BEXLEY
MASK TEST ON SATURDAY
"It is proposed to hold a gas exercise and tear gas test in this borough on Saturday, June 7, 1941 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. The object of the exercise is to encourage the carrying of respirators and their use, and to give the public confidence both in their respirators and in the Civil Defence services. Tear gas will be released at four points within the borough, and in addition five decontamination incidents will be staged. The public are being asked to co-operate and carry their respirators."
a further article appeared in the Bexleyheath Observer, Friday June 20th 1941, page 5:
GAS TEST IN BEXLEY BOROUGH
PUBLIC MAKE GOOD USE OF GAS MASKS
"Tear gas was released at four main points within the borough-Broadway, Bexley Heath; Welling Corner; High-street, Bexley, and Bexley Heath railway-station. The public co-operated well, carrying their gas masks, and, when circumstances demanded, using them without hesitation. The entire Civil Defence services of the borough took part in the exercise, including the decontamination squads, who dealt with five persistent gas incidents in various localities. The fire brigade gave a convincing demonstration of dealing with a fire in a concentration of tear gas. Much was learnt from the exercise, and it is hoped that another will be held in the near future. The scope of the exercise is, however, very materially limited by the small supplies of gas made available by the appropriate Government department. Major W. G. Cowley, No. 8 Group Controller, London Civil Defence Region, was present at some of the incidents."
Keywords: Air raid precautions; Civil defence
Locations: United Kingdom; England; London; Bexley