Preparing for bombs
in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45
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French civil defence measures were far from complete when war broke out. This chapter covers pre-war shelter preparations and the situation when war broke out; later evolutions in shelter provision. War was folded into daily life and began to play an active role for children as they blacked out their homes, learnt about bomb shelters and were issued gas masks. Three main types of shelter were planned. Domestic cellars could be reinforced with wood or steel, which was fiddly and expensive; deep, concrete shelters could be built, but were hugely expensive; or trenches could be dug, requiring plenty of open space. If sticky paper on window panes suggested that home was no longer safe, shelters confirmed it. Pre-war shelter planning in the suburbs of Paris depended on cellars. Bombing blurred the boundary between public and private, involving children in war on an unprecedented scale.

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