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Albert Evacuated

by Stanley Holloway (1940)


Air Raid Precautions (A.R.P.) wardens were unpaid volunteers tasked with protecting civilians from the danger of air-raids.

They had wide powers and could order people to evacuate to shelters, and at night, to seal their windows with blackout material. The wardens tended to be men not called up to fight due to their age, health, etc.

Regular police officers also took on the role and because of this, some civilian A.R.P. wardens believed they themselves were de facto police officers and assumed an air of superiority which got up people's noses.

Hence poems such as this, where Mrs Ramsbottom shows scant respect to the warden. This leads to the warden complaining "They take no bloody notice of me", modified to "They take no blooming notice of me" for BBC radio broadcast.

But behind all the banter, there is no doubt that these men saved many lives during WWII, risking their own lives in the process. Trained in first aid and fire fighting, they were usually first on the scene of any incident.

Have you heard how young Albert Ramsbottom
Was evacuated from home
With his mother, clean socks and a toothbrush,
Some Syrup of Figs and a comb.

The stick with the 'orse's 'ead 'andle,
They decided that they'd leave behind
To keep safe with the things they weren't wanting,
Like their gasmasks, and things of that kind.

Pa saw them off at the station,
And shed a few crocodile's tears
As he waved them goodbye from the platform -
T'was the best break he'd had in ten years.

Ma got corner seat for young Albert,
Who amused all the rest of the team
By breathing hot breaths on the window,
And writing some swear words in steam.

They arrived at last somewhere in England,
And straight to their billet were shown;
There was one room for mother
But Albert was in a small room of his own.

The very first night in the blackout,
Young Albert performed quite a feat
By hanging head first from the window,
And shining his torch down the street.

It flashed on an A.R.P. warden
Patrolling with leisurely gait;
"Good Heavens," said he, "it's Tarzan,
I'd better go investigate."

So reading his book of instructions
To make himself doubly sure,
Then in an official manner
Proceeded to knock on the door.

It was opened by Mrs Ramsbottom
"Now then," said she, "what's to do?"
And in stern air-warden manner, he said
"I'm going to interrogate you."

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This fair upset Mrs Ramsbottom,
Her face was a picture to see;
"I'll have you know you'll do nowt of the sort,
I'm a respectable woman," said she.

"Has your son been evacuated?"
Said the A.R.P. man at the door.
"He'd all them things done as a baby," said Mother,
"He's not being done any more.

"Be off, now," said Mrs Ramsbottom
As she bustled him out of the porch;
And the A.R.P. man patted Albert,
And then confiscated his torch.

Now that were unlucky for Albert,
He had no torch to see him to bed;
But being a bright little fellow
He switched on the hall light instead.

"Put out that light," a voice shouted.
"Where's the men of our A.R.P.?"
"I've told them already," the warden replied,
"They take no bloody notice of me."

Soon Mrs Ramsbottom and Albert
Were feeling quite homesick and sad;
So they thanked the landlady most kindly,
And prepared to go back home to Dad.

When at last they reached home to Father
They were fed up and had quite enough;
But in the front parlour they found six young women,
And Father were doing his stuff.

"Hello, Mother," said Mr Ramsbottom,
"Come right on in, don't be afraid,
When you went away I joined Ambulance Corps -
I'm instructing the girls in first aid."

"First aid?" said Mrs Ramsbottom
With a horrible look on her brow.
"If ever you wanted first aid in your life,
By gum, you'll be wanting it now."

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