Saturday, April 6, 2024

Put out That Light!

My night vision is not good. At. All. So, I shudder when I read about blackout restrictions that occurred during WWII. I cannot imagine driving with “slitted” headlights or walking without street lamps.

The world watched in horror as the Germans bombarded the United Kingdom during the Blitz in the fall of 1940. Recognizing the superior aircraft of the Luftwaffe, American authorities sprang to action and cities such as Seattle, Washington adopted rules for a complete blackout as early as March 1941. Oregon followed with statewide mandates in October 1941. Ketchikan, Alaska had held a blackout drill as early as April 1940, then again in April 1941.

Restrictions included businesses and residents turning off all lights that would
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enable enemy aircraft to identify population centers. No streetlights or neon signs, no flashlights or car headlights. Special headlights were designed by U.S. Army Engineers and mass-produced by General Electric and were the equivalent of “one-sixth of the light cast by a full moon on a clear night.” Speed limits were reduced to 12 MPH at night. Windows had to be covered with heavy drapes or blackout paper by 11 PM to prevent any light escaping.

In early 1942, drills were conducted nationwide to test communication, organization, and participation. Despite thousands of air raid wardens, auxiliary firemen, boy scouts, aircraft observers, and others who volunteered, there were mixed results, with reports ranging from “minor errors” to “a pronounced success.”

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Because of the distance from military targets, individuals in rural areas were frustrated with the blackout regulations. In response to military orders that no lights could show outside of poultry houses or dairy barns from 1:30 AM to 7:00 AM, farmers complained that “poultry and cattle were largely creatures of habit and by upsetting their routine will cause their production to fall of materially.” John Stimpson of Scappoose, Oregon claimed, “hens will drop their egg production from peak production to a bare minimum by cutting out lights and disturbing their route, and it takes a period of from three to six weeks after disturbance to bring them back to normalcy.”

M.R.D. Foot, a British Intelligence officer (and perhaps others) held the belief that blackouts didn’t impair navigation by bombers because navigators focused on reflective bodies of water, railroad tracks, or large highways. However, one incident might call that into question.

On June 21, 1942, a Japanese submarine surfaced near Fort Stevens, Oregon and began firing. A complete blackout was instituted, and despite firing for fifteen more minutes, no more damage was done, and the sub slunk away.


Spies & Sweethearts

She wants to do her part. He’s just trying to stay out of the stockade. Will two agents deep behind enemy lines find capture… or love?

1942. Emily Strealer is tired of being told what she can’t do. Wanting to prove herself to her older sisters and do her part for the war effort, the high school French teacher joins the OSS and trains to become a covert operative. And when she completes her training, she finds herself parachuting into occupied France with her instructor to send radio signals to the Resistance.

Major Gerard Lucas has always been a rogue. Transferring to the so-called “Office of Dirty Tricks” to escape a court-martial, he poses as a husband to one of his trainees on a dangerous secret mission. But when their cover is blown after only three weeks, he has to flee with the young schoolteacher to avoid Nazi arrest.

Running for their lives, Emily clings to her mentor’s military experience during the harrowing three-hundred-mile trek to neutral Switzerland. And while Gerard can’t bear the thought of his partner falling into German hands, their forged papers might not be enough to get them over the border.

Can the fugitive pair receive God’s grace to elude the SS and discover the future He intended?

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Linda Shenton Matchett writes happily-ever-after historical Christian fiction about second chances and women who overcome life’s challenges to be better versions of themselves.

Whether you choose her books set in the Old West or across the globe during WWII, you will be immersed in the past through rich detail. Follow the journeys of relatable characters whose faith is sorely tested, yet in the end, emerge triumphant. Be encouraged in your own faith-walk through stories of history and hope.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting. I've known about blackout orders but never read up on what it actually meant. Thank you.