The provision of air raid shelters, particularly at schools, has been a recurring theme in the Wycombe War Timeline on the Nostalgia page over the last few months.

Reader John Turner has contacted us with his memories of the shelters at Sands and Mill End schools.

The shelters at Sands, like those at West Wycombe school, were described as “concrete-lined trenches” of the “Cut & Cover” type.

Both schools had been built on sloping ground, where the sites had to be cut into the slope. At Sands the bank of the slope was at the back of the playground behind the school, at West Wycombe it was at the side of the entrance to the school. At both schools the air raid shelters were formed by cutting (ie excavating) into the bank.

On the land which had been cleared Stanton air raid shelters were assembled, then the roof was the covered with the soil which had been removed in the first place.

The Stanton air-raid shelter was manufactured by the Stanton Ironworks Co Ltd, which were located near Nottingham (the iron connection is in the mould pattern).

They could be built in any length but usually consisted of 18 precast concrete arched-shaped units (each one in two parts), bolted together to form a standard Air Ministry shelter.

At Sands, there were two shelters, each set into the bank side by side and linked by a narrow corridor. Each shelter was entered by a steel door, which was protected by blast walls.

At one end of each shelter was a small toilet with a metal bucket, at the other end was a metal stairway. This led up and through an escape hatch to the outside of the roof, ie the restored slope. Slatted wooden seats were set along the walls of each shelter and lighting was provided via hurricane lamps. John remembers that there was one advantage to going into a shelter, this was that it gave an opportunity to memorise your multiplication tables!

At Mill End school the air raid shelters were brick-built ones, with two or three behind the school on the playground area, others were built a short distance away from the school.

These were on ground between the river and the West Wycombe Rd, and were reached from the school by a bridge over the river Wye.

John has also provided a picture of the pupils in one of the classes at Sands school in 1939, and has been able to name about half of them. If you recognise yourself and any others please contact me, or ring 01628 525207.