Terry earned his Ph.D. for his study of the history of the Metropolitan Police so he was well prepared to give us a memorable talk, illustrated not by sldes but by bringing with him some amazing artefacts, the most surprising being an enrmous contraption which turned out to be a gas mask for a baby.
He told us how in the run up to the war there was in fact a great deal of preparation carried out, including the doubling of the size of the Met. This was mainly done by the recall of the recently retired and the refusal of resignations. This then provided the manpower needed to supervise the wholesale evacuation of children to new and usually unknown homes around the country and to prepare for the coming of the dreaded blitz..
Then there was the imposition of a blackout, for it was recognised that night time bombers needed to see their targets. A whole system of street wardens was set up to make sure the blackout rules were enforced and large numbers of police were kept on standby so that they could be rushed to bombed areas to give assistance along with ambulances and firefighters. One perk for the police was that they were provided with their main meal when on duty which meant their rations went further and kept up morale.
Terry’s talk painted a vivid picture of an extreme and terrifying time when the UK was standing alone before the might of an aggressive and malevolent dictatorship bent on the invasion of England and prevented from doing so only by the men in the fighter aircraft overhead.