May 12, 2015

1943. Russian Civilians Train for Air Raids

Preparing For Reprisal Raids
Red Army medics on the Kalinin Front (source)
Bill Downs


April 21, 1943 (rejected by Soviet censors)

Moscow is jacking up its civilian air raid precaution services. It's a common sight to see groups of first aid squads and gas decontamination squads marching through the downtown streets to some nearby park where they go for training.

Moscow has not had a bombing for a year. Quite naturally the city is relaxed. People have forgotten where they put their gas masks. Fire watchers and shelter wardens have been more lax than they should be with Nazi bombers only a half hour's flight from the city.

But now the government has ordered all these civilian air raid services in all Russian cities within range of the German bombers to tighten up. An editorial in Izvestia the other day warned the people that an all-out bombing of Moscow was not only a possibility, but might be considered a probability. The editorial caused a lot of comment here in Moscow. Now people almost expect a bombing and are getting ready for it. They believe that Hitler will be driven to make a reprisal raid on the city as the Russian air force extends its attacks on East Prussia and northeast German cities.

And when these Russian civilians train, they do it realistically. I saw a first aid squad of husky girls training near the American embassy yesterday. They were rushing a "casualty" to their first aid post. The "casualty" was another very fat and very heavy girl who was enjoying the free ride. The girls explained that they had decided to carry the heaviest girl they could find because the figured they might have to carry a full-sized man one of these days, and they wanted to be in training for the job.