IT WILL be tin hats on and gas masks at the ready when historian Andrew Lound brings ‘When the Lights Went Out’ to Studley parish centre.
Subtitled ‘Birmingham at War’ it will feature plenty of tales including the time when Walsall factories signed contracts to supply Hitler’s Germany with leather coats for the Gestapo.
Published author Andrew, the former curator of the Avery Museum at the Soho Foundry in Winson Green, describes his talk as a ‘living documentary’ and promises to lift the lid on the Second City’s role in the Second World War.
Kitted out in full ARP Warden uniform, he says he will look at the role of Birmingham in the build up to the war – Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was a city MP – as well as during, and as the conflict came to a close. The centrepiece of his talk will be a description of the 12-hour bomber raid on the city on December 11, 1940.
“I have a lot of photographs showing the damage it caused plus pictures of when local ‘celebrities’ like Gracie Fields came to visit,” said Andrew.
The evening also promises to be packed full of stories, including the one about the former Avery worker taken prisoner of war.
Just short of his final exams, the German camp and the Red Cross contacted Avery and asked for his textbooks to be sent out, which they duly did.
He then sat – and passed – his exams in the camp while a qualified German engineer acted as invigilator and marker!
Andrew’s talk has been organised by Studley Local History Group and is on Tuesday, August 15 at the parish centre in Needle Close.
Entry is £3 for visitors, £2 for members at it starts at 8.15pm.