UXB was written on pieces of paper, and two or three men went out before us and put them anywhere. We had to find them.
I was a miner and was in St John’s Ambulance. About a year before the war they wrote and asked me if, in the event of war, which they knew was coming – would I consider being a regular Ambulance Man plus ARP Warden. So I said alright. I got the job. The pay was £3 a week.
When I got this job we had to go off practising. We had to find UXBs – that’s unexploded bombs. “UXB” was written on pieces of paper, and two or three men went out before us and put them anywhere. We had to go and find them – up gas lamps – all over the shop.
Anyway, me and a mate were working on West Percy Street, and we had to find “bombs” and pretend that we were ambulance men, and we’d got an ambulance waiting. It was all pretend. There was a chap there and I says, “We’re practising for ARP in case there’s a war”, and I told him what we were doing. I says, “Will you be a casualty for us?” Anyway, he says “Aye, go on”.
So, he fetched a chair out of his house, and put it against a wall, and sat down. We went off logging where all the UXBs were – down cellar grates, up chimneys and so on. That done, we went back to HQ – back to the school and reported what we’d done.
“Oh my God we’ve done it now”, I said – “Oooh aye” my mate said, “I know what we’ve done. We’ve left the ‘casualty’ behind!”
We dashed back. The chair was still there – but we couldn’t see anybody. When we got to it there was a card on it – and do you know what it said? It said “Bled to death. Gone home!”