The Battle for Liverpool

The following image was taken from the docks in Birkenhead by an ARP Warden during a winters evening in 1942.  The gentleman, now deceased, wished to remain anonymous.

He said the air was clear and cold as he and his fellow wardens brewed up a cup of tea to stave off the chill for the long night ahead, looking out for Mr Hitler’s Luftwaffe.  At around 22:30 hours, Mr X claimed he and his colleagues felt a rush of warm air over their heads accompanied by an electrical, tingling feeling all around them.  Small sparks appeared to hover around all metallic objects.

Mr X pulled out the Kodak Brownie six-16 camera from his bag (he was a keen amateur photographer and always carried his camera whenever on patrol), as “… you never know when something may happen!”.  From an interview in 1976 Mr X claimed the following…

“Looking in a North Easterly direction towards Liverpool, a large, glowing, egg shaped object appeared in the sky.  It was difficult to gauge how big it was but it looked pretty big.  There was a faint humming sound which we could hear all the way over in Birkenhead.  We saw the search lights appear over the water and I decided to take a snap as it was something we hadn’t seen before.  We all heard the ack ack guns going off, but it didn’t look like they hit the object at all, even though we saw tracer fire appear to hit it directly”

He went onto to say the egg hovered for around 30 seconds further, then drifted slowly upward and away, before shooting off  “… very fast like…”, in a Northerly direction.

Several days later, Mr X was visited by two military policemen and two gentleman ‘…from Whitehall’.  He was quite suspicious but told the gentleman what he had seen in detail.  When asked if he had taken any pictures he denied this, several times, even though he could have got into serious trouble.  They thanked him for his time and left.  He heard nothing further about it and was surprised nothing had appeared in the papers as to him, it clearly was not a part of Mr Hitler’s air force.

He spoke to several people who had been on duty in Liverpool that evening, and all had seen the egg and experienced the warm air and tingling sensation.  One fellow got a very nasty shock from his tin cup and lost a crown.  All had been visited by the gentlemen ‘…from Whitehall’ and heard nothing.  Mr X decided to keep quiet about what he had witnessed and it was put to the back of his mind.

Almost a year after the egg incident, Mr X was visited by two other gentlemen, who, most certainly were not ‘…from Whitehall’.  They even brought their own tea and biscuits which they happily shared with Mr X and his wife.  He was most cheered by this as, being a time of war, tea and biscuits were not always easy to come by.  The gentlemen spoke to Mr X regarding the events he had witnessed the previous year.  He believed these gentlemen knew exactly what the egg was and where it had originated.  They did not admit this as such, but by their manner alone, these people were not to be trifled with no matter how much they put Mr X at ease.

“They knew I’d taken the photograph.  They even knew what type of camera I had and everything.  They asked me for all photographs, negatives or plates I had with the egg on it.  I was paid a more than generous sum of money for my trouble and the gentlemen left.  They drove off in a very fancy car, very fancy. I think there was a third person in the car as when the gent’s got in, I heard someone say something like ‘…all for a bloody carburetter’, which I thought a bit odd”

Mr X did mention the incident to several people in the years that followed, but the thing he remembered most where the lovely biscuits.  A box of which arrived in the post, once a year, until he died in 1987.

The photographs, negatives and plates have been in the Zaus collection ever since.



Posted in Archive Imagery, Historical Notes, The Collection

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