The Ringing of Church Bells



It was the worst raid of the war. In the lull of the guns we heard the church bells ringing, sweet with overtones of Sunday morning and Christmas. But that was long ago. Now bells meant…invasion.Robert Westall: The Machine Gunners: p152


Ringing of Church Bells
Archive Reference: TWAS PA/NC/4/36

Clarification of when church bells are to be rung. Issued during the late summer of 1940 – the period after Dunkirk when the Battle of Britain was at its height.

church bells

transcript of full message

SUBJECT: Ringing of Church Bells
TO: Chief Constable, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Chief Constable, Gosforth, Chief Constable, Gateshead-on-Tyne
Dear Sir,
The following instructions have now been received regarding the ringing of church bells.
G.H.Q. Home Forces have ordered that Church Bells will NOT be rung as a general alarm for the turning out of personnel of the H.G. in the case of invasion.
Church Bells will only be rung as a local alarm to indicate that an actual invasion by sea or by air is taking place in that particular locality.
The ringing of the bells of one Church will NOT be repeated by the bells of another Church unless a landing is also taking place in that locality.
In consequence of the above order from G.H.Q. Home Forces all previous orders regarding ringing of Church Bells are hereby cancelled and the attached orders substituted.
Fortress Commander, Newcastle
Fenham Barracks,
12th September, 1940

Ringing of Church Bells Instructions (PDF)