British Humour in the Face of Adversity

This is an apocryphal story, in that I can’t validate it, being too young to remember at the time, a family legend if you like, but I am assured that it is true.

It is an example of the British working man laughing in the face of adversity during wartime.

During World War II, bombers of the German Luftwaffe visited the skies over Kent and London almost every night to carry out their raids, raining their bombs on the towns and villages below.

When an air raid was imminent the local Air Raid Precautionary would alert the population by means of a siren, affectionately known as  ‘Moaning Minnie’.

This was a signal for everyone to seek a safe haven, usually an air raid shelter. These came in the form of a public shelter built on the street where anyone could seek refuge from the bombs, or an Anderson shelter built of corrugated steel buried in your own back yard.

On this particular night when the siren sounded as usual, my aunt and uncle made a dash for the shelter in their back yard. Half way there my aunt stopped and turned to go back to the house.

“Where are you going, Emma?” said my uncle to his wife, anxiously.

“I’m going back for my false teeth,” she replied, “I’ve left them indoors!”

“What for, girl?” said my uncle, sarcastically, “They’re dropping bombs, not bloody sandwiches!”


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