Monday, May 6, 2024

Can You Hear Me Now?

Author Photo
The howling wail of a siren evokes myriad emotions, especially when that sound is to warn of possible attacks. As early as 1907, novelist H.G. Wells prophesized threats from the sky in his book “War in the Air.” Four years later, Lieutenant Giulio Gavotti dropped grapefruit-sized bombs by hand from the open canopy of his aircraft during Italy’s fight against the Turkish Ottoman empire in Libya. In a letter to his father, Gavotti wrote, “It is the first time that we will try this and if I succeed, I will be really pleased to be the first person to do it.”

Three years later Britain experienced its first bombing on Christmas Eve during The Great War when a bomb fell in the vegetable garden of Tommy Terson in Dover. Days later, in January 1915, further attacks by the Germans in Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn. During the course of the war, zeppelins would drop bombs in numerous raids, fifty to London alone where more than 1,200 civilians would be killed.

However, the psychological impact was just as great as people experienced a new sort of war, one no longer restrained to the battlefield. Germany’s attacks on Liege, Antwerp, and Paris during the first World War exhibited that aerial bombardment came into its own as an integral strategy that would continue into the Second World War and beyond.

The question surfaced: how to warn the populace of the impending attack?

In ancient civilizations, drums were used for both music and as a way to deliver messages, including
Author Photo
messages about invading armies. Bells replaced drums. The earliest evidence of bells is found in 2000 B.C.E. China, but they would not make their way into Western civilization for another millennia and a half. The Middle Ages saw a rise in the use of bells, especially in churches where they were used as an early warning system and general messaging. Several sources indicate that in the mid-1600s, men responding to fires in New York would ring a bell as they approached to alert nearby residents of the danger.

Then came 1799.

First invented by Scottish physicist John Robison in 1799, French engineer Charles Cagniard de la Tour enhanced and named the siren (most scholars say he took the name from Greek mythology). His siren used a bellows apparatus to force air through its rotor. The pitch could be raised or lowered by increasing or decreasing the speed of the rotor. For the first time, scientists could create tones of specific frequencies. At some point, it was realized that sirens could be used to alert citizens of fires and tornadoes.

By the beginning of World War II, thousands of sirens were installed in cities across Europe to warn of air raids. Any other use was prohibited. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, authorities on America’s West Coast realized that Japan’s military capabilities could result in an air strike. Officials feared that chaos would ensue as a result of the air raids and issued strict instructions about what to do. The Air Raid Warden (who came under the Office of Civilian Defense) came into being. Wardens oversaw the education of their assigned blocks and offered regular practice drills which typically lasted for thirty minutes. When the siren sounded, wardens would spring to action, patrolling their streets to ensure no lights were visible. By 1943, nearly six million men and women had volunteered.

After the war, the sirens were used in the initial days of the Cold War, but since then, most have fallen silent with the exception of those to warn of impending tornadoes. It is unknown how many sirens still exist across the nation.


The Mechanic & The MD

All’s fair in love and war. Or so they say.

High school and college were a nightmare for Doris Strealer and being an adult isn’t much better. Men won’t date a woman of her height, and they don’t understand her desire to repair car engines rather than work as a nurse or a teacher. When her father’s garage closes, and no one will hire a female mechanic, she joins the Red Cross Motor Corps, finally feeling at home. Until she comes face to face with her past in the form of Ronald McCann, the most popular boy in school.

On the brink of a successful career as a surgeon, Ron's plans crumble when he’s drafted and assigned to an evacuation hospital in England, the last place he expects to run into a former schoolmate. The gangly tomboy who was four years behind him in high school has transformed into a statuesque beauty, but a broken engagement in college leaves him with no desire to risk his heart ever again.

Will the hazards of war make or break a romance between this unlikely couple?

Purchase Link:

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 today. The origin of the siren is interesting.