Brave Boys, 1940

Brave boys

Liverpool Daily Post Oct, 1940

Boy Heroes of Liverpool

Vital work during air raids

Some of the bravest boys of Liverpool are numbered amongst the gallant 400 now attached to the police messenger boy service in connection with air raid precautions.

The boy messengers are attached to about a dozen control centres and also to places where rescue and first-aid parties are at work, but actually their duties are even more useful. They are, in a sense, the second line in the event of the breakdown of telephone communication at the control centres, and experience has already proved that these alert youngsters are always ready - too ready, in fact - to volunteer for any job which will take them into the front line. They are so anxious for adventure that at every control centre there is a district organiser, who looks after their safety and welfare, and ensures that they do not take unnecessary risks.

Many Scouts enrol

But boys will be boys - especially boys of spirit, and they do not shirk danger. Cycling through the city to duty in the evenings, tin hats pressed hard on their heads, wearing armlets and air raid precaution badges, sometimes in Scout uniform, they present a fine picture of determination as dusk begins to fall.

The majority of them are Scouts from the Boy Scouts Association pioneered the scheme as early as March 1938. Originally some 1,000 names were enrolled, but a subsequent Home Office instruction that boys under sixteen should not be used reduced the numbers considerably. Later there was some relaxation of this ruling, with the result that boys from fifteen to Army age are now employed.

They work on a rota system, which means about two nights duty each a week. They report at the control centres at about 6.30pm, and while some go home at 10 or 11pm, others stay on and are provided with meals and sleeping accommodation. Not, infrequently some cycle home at 4am, and, after a few hours sleep, go to work in office and factory in the morning. But ask any of these boys to divulge some of the secrets of their night work. They are as close as oysters. There are no social barriers in their ranks. At one centre one boy is a dock labourer's son, another is the son of a clergyman, another the son of a doctor.

Many stories are told of the courage of the lads, though their service for external work involving danger is only employed in essential and exceptional cases. They proved their value when, telephone communication at one centre being dislocated for three days, they maintained unceasing contact with the nearest telephone some distance away.

In a bombed area

One boy riding back from a vicinity where bombs had fallen immediately volunteered to go out on another errand. Another lad summed up his impressions thus, "There was a lot of noise and racket - but it was awfully exciting!"

There, should be a special badge for some of these boys. Already they have formed their own codes and leaders under the searching test of war conditions. All the boys have had special air raid precautions training under Scout officers and other instructors, and on occasion, have acted as telephonists when the latter had not been able to get through. Cyclists were recruited with the assistance of the C.T.C and N.C.U, organisations. The boys are of good health and physique, and there have been few cases of absence through illness. They work in conjunction with motor cyclists, men who take on the bulk of the arduous work.

Mr Noel Ward, organising secretary of the service paid tribute to the efficiency of the boys, and also the work of other boys who were employed in vital services in the city. He particularly stressed the value of the new Civil Cadet Corps which was organising boys on a wider basis, and might eventually incorporate the junior air raid precautions organisations of the city.

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