"Raiders passed"

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by MrSwan, Sep 2, 2016.

  1. MrSwan

    MrSwan New Member

    Hello all,

    This is my first post so forgive any breaches of forum etiquette...

    I have spent some considerable time recently typing up the diaries of my great uncle, Arthur Nicholls. He suffered terribly from asthma and so was an observer rather than a participant of life in Weymouth in the first half of the last century.

    He meticulously recorded not only every single air raid on the town during the war, but gunfire, aircraft movements, anti-aircraft fire, shrapnel falling - everything.

    The reason for my post is that he invariably used the expression "raiders passed" or "RP" in relation to the end of an alert, and his (limited) usage of "all clear" is normally because other people said it. Despite a long-standing interest in the blitz and air warfare this "RP" is an expression I had not encountered before. Was this term widely used, or is it something he made up for himself?

    I'd be grateful for any thoughts.
    Slipdigit, Charley Fortnum and CL1 like this.
  2. RCG

    RCG Senior Member, Deceased

  3. MrSwan

    MrSwan New Member

    Thanks RCG - I hadn't seen that picture before, so it does appear to be an official term. I note that it is from 1939, so I wonder if it fell out of use?

    I don't think it is a reflection of the man, but the diaries are unfortunately very dull. He does give an account of eating dinner under the Morrison shelter in the living room during one raid, but most of the narrative is endless lists of dates and times of raids, bus journeys, books read, and films seen.
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Thank you for posting
    I think it was a common term and you are lucky to have detailed info fom the time


    ARPCDHG Member

    'Raiders Past' was the offical ARP warning term for the green alert - also, unofficially, termed 'All Clear', so, as such, they are both the same thing and were both used from 1939.
    dbf likes this.
  6. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member Patron

    Mr Swan, The diaries might seem dull to you but they are primary evidence of what was happening in Weymouth and as such might interest historians. We must be grateful to people such as your great uncle who took the trouble to record seemingly mundane events. And of course to his relatives who preserved his efforts!
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  7. MrSwan

    MrSwan New Member

    Thank you all for your responses. I've copied an extract from his diary for the week of the 15th April 1941. Ivy is his sister (my great aunt) who was an ARP warden, and David is my late uncle who was aged about six at the time.

    15 Tuesday

    0000 Plane in distance, probably ours. 0009 Plane. 0019 RP. 0030 Ivy home (there have been some incendiaries on Portland). 0031 Plane coming in. 0045 Alert. 0048 AA. 0100 RP or 0105. 0045 Alert. 0105 RP. [sic] 0154 Alert. 0308 RP. Didn’t hear Alert. 04040 Plane machine gunning. (Incendiaries at Portland. Hotel burnt – killed). 2124 Alert. 2148 Heavy long burst AA. 2201 Bombs. Look out but saw nothing. Starlight. 2212 Plane. 2216 Plane. Machine gun. 2221 Just looked out – warden asking people if they are all right – plane was firing tracer bullets. Incendiary glow in West. [illegible] 2227 Bombs. House shook heard them whistling down. Grabbed David out of bed. 2233 AA. 2245 just made shelter with table and chairs, etc., been several more bombs, fire over hills to North, but out now also the one West. 2253 AA[1].

    16 Wednesday

    0003 Since last entry we have been under the table, where David is now asleep. Planes have been over several times – sounds of bombs in distance; glow towards Dorchester for short time. Some AA, just had a sausage roll, and got time signal. 0007 Mother lit gas for supper. 0014 just been upstairs, incendiaries dropped to East (direction of Preston or Osmington) and AA. 0016 AA (Mother dishing up stew for supper). 0023 Plane – AA – 0032 Upstairs to look out, glow gone, searchlights on – far and pale [sic] 0110 (approx) bombs or AA – we very sleepy. 0016 ½ bombs AA. Mother upstairs. Incendiaries in long line Wyke way. David got back in bed. 0157 Plane – AA. 0210 A few minutes ago at foot of stairs hear 3 rattles. 0218 Bombs. Looked out smoke and fire to East. 0222 AA? 0224 fire out. 0245 AA. 025 AA. 0454 Ivy home (with picture of the Battle of Portland). 0520 RP. (Bombs fell at Rodwell, Dorchester Road and near Marquis of Granby, etc. Houses wrecked, several killed (soldiers), but only one civilian, the booking clerk at Rodwell Halt. Mr Wilkins bombed out of new home. Also Miss Cotton and Florrie (house damaged), 48 bombs on district.) 2137 Alert. 2149 Ivy left. 2231 RP. 2306 Ivy home[2].

    17 Thursday

    0450 Plane – AA several bursts. 6 down during night. London had its biggest raid of the war. 2048 Alert. Foggy. 2054 Ivy left. (Planes and AA once or twice) 2327 RP. 2353 Ivy home.

    18 Friday

    0208 Alert. Raining. 0215 Called Ivy. 0222 Ivy left. 0435 Ivy home. 0447 RP. Ivy writing. Main raid on Portsmouth. 1138 bang, looked out but nothing to see. Plane about. 1152 terrific bang. 1154 ditto. 1201 Just been looking out back door; several explosions eastwards – probably time bombs. Very misty. 1222 1226 1228 1239 1312 two or three. (Turned out to be coastal defence guns firing into the bay from Dorchester).

    21 Monday

    2106 Distant bombs. Ivy went to see – smoke over cliffs – people out over the way – “Put that light out down there!”. 2110 Ivy went out. 2125 Ivy back. 2220 or 21 Alert. 2230 Ivy left. 2353 AA? 55 Planes.

    22 Tuesday

    0250 RP. 0301 Ivy home. 2135 Alert. Ivy on duty since 1900. Planes and AA very distant at intervals between 2235 and 2305 approx.
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  8. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member Patron

    I think this is an interesting record and shows how difficult life was, even on the Home Front. Portland's Naval Base would have been a target for the enemy bombers and the town of adjacent Weymouth would have suffered as a result. How many years do the diaries cover?
  9. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Perhaps I have an over-active imagination, but as soon as we're into full sentences beyond notation my mind fills the gaps with the human drama that surrounds even laconic accounts like those:

    0003 Since last entry we have been under the table, where David is now asleep. Planes have been over several times – sounds of bombs in distance; glow towards Dorchester for short time. Some AA, just had a sausage roll, and got time signal. 0007 Mother lit gas for supper.

    There's poetry of sorts in that.
  10. RCG

    RCG Senior Member, Deceased

    Same as what Charley says.
    Plus we now know what time this occurred and the occupiers of the houses.

    Rodwell: Station (ticket collector killed); 1 & 2 Clearmount Rd & another; Westham: Heathwood Rd and north end Goldcroft Rd; corner of Abbotsbury Rd/Lanehouse Rocks; 2 bungalows destroyed at Lynch Rd; Dorchester Rd: Gt. Western Terr/Argyle Terr; direct hit at Radipole House (1) (4 soldiers killed); house opposite Radipole House; Fernhill Ave (1); At Radipole's Southill estate: direct hit on house in Sutcliffe Ave & bungalow;

    Weymouth in World War 2

  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    As ARPCDHG has indicated.

    RP as Raiders Passed is an official designated abbreviation that was appropriate to any official log being completed....usually these abbreviations crept into everyday communication.

    Old enough to hear the Air Raid Wardens shout All Clear

    Similar to u/s....unserviceable ......ETA...estimated time of arrival...et al

    All organisations who are required to maintain what are intended to be official logs,some might be required by legislation, have official designated abbreviations which are defined and understood by the personnel who work within those organisations.

    As regard the diaries,they are invaluable for they record the tribulations of living in an uncertain world when Britain stood alone against the Third Reich......times when no one could predict what the outcome would be.
  12. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Dull but meticulous, detailed, accurate and contemporary - MrSwan that is a researcher's dream! I really wish it had an impact on my own particular area of research. I would happily take the dull with the invaluable information it contained.
  13. BC610E

    BC610E Junior Member

    Just a personal comment, in the late 1970s I worked for a company involved in the offshore industry and when they expanded they moved into a former clothing factory in Great Yarmouth. On the roof of the main building was what we were told was an air-raid siren and in a cupboard downstairs there was a switchboard with "Alert" and "Raiders Passed" (or "Past") switches. AFAIK, the siren is still there and is used nowadays for flood warnings.

    dbf likes this.

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