Cecil Woodland describes his first gas mask.

They were packed in small square cardboard boxes and each had a letter L, M or S pencilled on the side of the box. This indicated whether they were Large Medium or Small. I remember one boy saying ‘ They are Mens and these are Ladies, but I don’t know what the ‘S’ stands for?!!'

Cecil Woodland describing car blackouts.

All vehicles that were used at night had the now familiar head light masks. The most frequently seen mask on civilian vehicles was a round tin like black cover about 4 inches deep with three cut-out slots that had the lips raised horizontal to let the light out of the front, but not upward. Over the top of the slots was a small oval section of clouded celluloid which showed a dim light. This type of mask fitted over the front (in most cases) of the headlamp glass. Side lights, brake lights trafficators and rear lights were reduced in size and dimmed by a clouded section. Number plate lights were completely blacked out. Dark coloured wings had a 2 inch wide white edge down to the side, and over the wheels which in most cases ran the full length of a car with a running board. A larger area of white extended over the front edge of the wings, and a similar area to the tail of rear wings.

An extract from his diary of Autumn 1939, Cecil Woodland waxes lyrical about the blackout.

The Blackout was so complete - that on moonless cloudy nights, it was impossible to see anything outside. I remember going with Mavis one evening to meet Mum home from a whist-drive at the YMCA village hall. We had a dimmed torch, but followed the way up Station Road more by force of habit. Even the outlines of the trees and builings were not visible against the blackness of the sky.

However on clear Autumn nights- when there was no competition from the moon - this lack of man made light gave the stars a brilliance rarely seen during the 20th century. The heavens glowed with a phosphorescence, revealing the true exquisite splendour of the Milky Way and the myriads of varied stars.