Air raid siren

Air raid siren

...sounded to warn local people when enemy aircraft were approaching.

This object is a large air raid siren. It was mounted on the roof of Kingston Police Station in Portsmouth during the Second World War.

It was sounded to warn local people when enemy aircraft were approaching.

Portsmouth suffered many air raids during the war largely due to enemy attempts to target the Dockyard. As a result large parts of the city were devastated.

The siren was kept in place into the 1980s, as part of a nationwide nuclear attack warning system.

Quick Facts

  • Accession number 1994/542
  • Made in England
  • Made during the Second World War
  • In place until the 1980's
  • Used at Kingston Police Station, Portsmouth


  • In the Second World War 930 people in Portsmouth were killed and many more injured in the air raids
  • People were given government literature instructing them what to do in case of an air raid and also what to do in case of a gas attack. Fortunately there were never any gas attacks in Britain during the Second World War.
  • People doing important war work were instructed to ignore the first siren that told them that enemy aircraft were approaching. Instead they could only go to their shelters when the second siren was sounded that indicated that the Luftwaffe were immediately overhead. An ‘All Clear’ siren let people know when it was safe to leave the shelter.

Did you know?

There were also smaller types of mobile air raid sirens which were used indoors in factories.

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