Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sepia Saturday 84 : Digging Around In The Anderson Shelter


Moving on to No. 3 in the recently discovered Family Stash, and this one certainly gives us more clues as to dates. That is my father, Albert, on the left, and he is holding ... well he is either holding me or my brother Roger. Now given that my brother was born in 1943 and I was born in 1948, that definitely moves the photographs on to the mid or late 1940s. But which?

"Is that me or our Roger in that photograph?" I asked the GLW last night during a break in the pub quiz (I seem to recall we were mulling over the anagram "rotten batchelors" meaning "famous author" at the time). She said she had no idea and suggested I should try facial recognition on Picasa. "Is that me or our Roger?" I asked Maxine, the Landlady, and she quite logically pointed out that as she had never met my brother she had no idea (It must be said in my defense that I had downed a good few pints of Timothy Taylor by then). In the sober light of this morning, I checked the facial recognition on Picasa, but like everyone else it simply said it had no idea.

So a new approach is necessary. First of all, where are we? The answer I suspect is the back garden of our house at 6, Southmere Drive in Bradford - a location which would be equally supported by either a 1943 or a 1948 date. But look over that fence, what is going on in next door's garden? What did people dig in their gardens in 1940s' England : not potatoes, or cabbages or plunge pools or gazebos. No, they dug Anderson air-raid shelters. Bradford did get bombed during the war, although on nothing like the scale of some other British cities. But, if it is an Anderson Shelter, is it being constructed or destructed, dug-in or dug-out?

Research shows that the worst bombing raids over Bradford took place in 1940 and 1941, and it would therefore take an especially slow citizen to start constructing his shelter in 1943, let alone 1948 (this is, after all, Yorkshire and not Lancashire we are talking about). But it would take an over-optimistic citizen to start filling his shelter in as early as 1943, but not perhaps, 1948.

So there we are. Say hello to young Alan Burnett pictured with his Dad.

Start digging through other Sepia Saturday contributions by following the links on the SEPIA SATURDAY BLOG

22 comments:

  1. Amazing bit of detective work! In my own SS post for the day, I had to do a bit of research myself, but watching your thoughts at work here are much better than in my own tale!

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  2. Alan: It's neither. Your dad is manipulating a puppet in preparation for his stint on Blackpool Pier.

    Burnett's Bouncing Babies. Roll up, roll up!

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  3. ...rather in the manner of Ray Wossisface and Lord Charles.

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  4. What a sleuth you are! And it is an adorable photo of you and your dad. I can just feel the love he has for you!

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  5. Well done on working out the answer to the mystery; now what about that anagram? It’s almost Charlotte Bronte but there’s a spare ’s’ and as far as I know she was a one-off. Lovely picture by the way.

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  6. Nell : You are right, of course. The extra "s" was the result of a rotten transcription : now what can that be an anagram for?

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  7. Unless your brother is a dead ringer for you, I'd have said that was you anyway! That's going by the planes of the face, and set of the eyes...

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  8. I don't remember an Anderson shelter in our village. I do remember the air raid shelter behind the village school but will draw a veil over what happened there. (When you are in trouble stop digging!)

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  9. Not bad Ali, but a few flaws…

    Albert did start work on an Anderson Shelter but the hole kept flooding and he gave up on the job. That was well before I was born (68 years ago yesterday). I do vividly recollect playing in the garden long before you were born and there was no sign of a hole – filled in or otherwise. Can you imagine Gladys living with the worry of a hole for me to fall down?

    The “scenery” does not match 6 Southmere Drive. (1) The fence slats appear to be too far apart – I remember getting my leg stuck in the fence at Southmere and I don’t have fat legs. (2) The shed we had was lower. One next-door neighbour had a garage and green house and the other had no shed at all. (3) The curious framework in the background does not tie in.

    I’d say that the photo (circa 1945) was taken when we were out visiting. In those days we made regular visits to “Uncle” Charley and to Albert’s workmate, Bob Nolan. From what I remember, their gardens were similar to ours.

    It’s me in the picture. That’s hat!

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  10. I remember the Anderson at my grandmother's place in Sheffield, before the whole road was pulled down many years ago.

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  11. At last I am so happy that you are the baby boy! It also is sad that we ever found the need to build shelters and not just gardens...my son-in-law just finished building what he calls a panic room in their house that he has food and an enormous amount of necessary supplies in case something happens...of course he is a Mn. National Guard and no his mind set is on things like that ...thanks for another glimpse into your family stash...it's quite fun!

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  12. I'm betting you were giggling.

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  13. Oh dear. We have a brace of Burnetts each claiming to be in the starring role! A conundrum indeed :)

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  14. Okay ... I've done a lot of research on WWII in the last ten years and I'm dreadfully ashamed to admit that I've never heard of an Anderson Shelter! Humph. Thanks for teaching me something, Alan!

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  15. Maybe it's that third brother nobody every mentioned to you or to Roger.

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  16. We had a tornado shelter in the making that filled with water and was also abandoned. Interesting that you and your brother were identical twins born so many years apart.

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  17. I'm intrigued by the black and white structure in the background. At first glance it looked like an old timber framed house but looking more closely, probably not.

    More importantly though, I wondered if I could borrow your/your brother's hat?

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  18. Such a charming picture and story/ies..........

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  19. Interesting post. Constructing a shelter is fascinating. I have seen it on television but never met a person who lived in one during the war years.

    The old photo is really a keepsake and filled with memories for you.

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  20. I never hear of Anderson air-raid shelters before. I like your reasoning, though I am tempted to call the blurry being an alien. Or maybe a UCO--an unidentified crying object.

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  21. well, hello!! Alan Burnett!! mighty cute there.
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  22. Another fine family mystery that can't be solved until we get the personal time machine! A new project for NASA?

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