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BOYS OF THE BULLDOG BREED

First episode, taken from Adventure issue: 1068 November 21st 1942.

Complete Stories of the Fighting Boys of Britain!

THE WARDEN JIMMY DIDN’T LIKE

There were two episodes in Jimmy Watson’s life that he would always remember. The first concerned Mike Stubbins. Jimmy, going on an errand, had entered a quiet street to find an exciting game of lamp-post cricket in progress. Naturally he had stopped to watch. Suddenly a red-headed batsman had opened his shoulders and had clouted the ball for all he was worth. Across the street if sped and—

Crack! A mighty hole appeared in a nearby window. Instantly there were yells of alarm. “Beat it!” was the yell. “Beat it! That’s old Stubbins’ house.” The cricketers promptly bolted out of sight. And Jimmy Watson, not having been concerned in the game, remembered his errand and resumed his saunter down the street. He had only taken a few paces when a door burst open and a huge figure of a man hurtled out. “You little demon!” he yelled. “I’ll teach you to smash my windows!” And the astonished Jimmy received a box on the ears that made him see stars. “Lay off!” he gasped. “I—I—” Mike Stubbins grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him until his teeth rattled in his head. “I’ll teach you!” he kept yelling. “I’ll teach you!” Before Jimmy could get any chance to explain a policeman was on the scene. “You’ll have to take him in charge,” shouted Mike Stubbins. “You’ll have to make an example of him. I insist!” Jimmy managed to get a word in then. “I didn’t have anything to do with it,” he cried angrily. “He’s not right to knock me about. I was only walking down the street.” “I saw him with my own eyes,” declared Mike Stubbins. “This is the young hooligan who smashed my window.” It seemed he was so angry he was blind to all sense of justice. All he cared about was that someone should suffer for the broken window. Despite Jimmy’s protests he was dragged off to the police station. When they heard the charge against him the police got in touch with his mother. Luckily Mrs Watson made inquires on her own account, and she turned up with a couple of Mike Stubbins’ neighbours, who witnessed the whole incident. Both these swore that Jimmy had taken no part in the game at all, that he’d only just turned into the street when the window was broken. Stubbins had to confess then that he might have been mistaken, and he was severely ticked off for wasting the time of the police. Shortly after this meeting with Mike Stubbins Jimmy came into contact with Mr Twink. And this time Jimmy was definitely in the wrong. He’d been returning from school when someone had bounced a football towards him. Jimmy had taken a running kick at it, intending to send it back to its owner. Unluckily the ball sliced off his boot and shot over a garden wall. And then came the sound of smashing glass. The owner of the ball came running up. “You’ll have to go and ask for it back,” he said. “It’s a new ball, and I only received it as a birthday present this morning.” Jimmy didn’t fancy the idea of tackling an irate householder. But it had been his fault and it wasn’t fair that the owner of the ball should suffer. So Jimmy went round to the front door and knocked. A rather undersized, mild-looking man appeared. “It was an accident, sir,” mumbled Jimmy, “about the ball, I mean. I didn’t mean to kick it over the wall.” “It’s broken the biggest window at the back of the house,” said Mr Twink severely. Jimmy described exactly how he had misjudged his kick. “I—I’ll try and pay for the window,” he said. “But—but I don’t get much money. I—I could pay you a little every week.” Somewhat to his surprise, but greatly to his relief, the other smiled. “When I was a boy,” he said. “I broke a window, too. That was an accident and it took me months to pay for it. I’ve thought since it was very unjust.” He went indoors to come back with the ball. “I can tell you’ve told me the truth,” he said, “so we’ll say no more about it. It was just an accident that might have happened to anyone. And it won’t cost me much if I mend the window myself.”

Jimmy didn’t know how to express his thanks. But he didn’t forget Mr Twink, and every time they passed in the street he always made a point of lifting his cap. When war broke out Jimmy Watson had just started work. He was setting out for an evening’s enjoyment one day when he ran into Mr Twink. The latter stopped him to talk. “What sort of war service are you doing, Jimmy?” he inquired. “None at all,” answered Jimmy in some surprise, “but—but we’re on war work at the factory.” “But what about A.R.P?” demanded Mr Twink. “That’s something you could do in your spare time. You’d like a job to do, wouldn’t you, if ever the air blitz starts?” Jimmy looked more doubtful still. “I’m an A.R.P. warden,” went on Mr Twink, “that’s the reason I’m asking you these questions. You see, we need a couple of boy messengers at my post, and a course of lectures for messengers starts tonight. What about it, Jimmy? If you attend the lectures I’ll see that you get attached to my post.” Jimmy reflected. He wasn’t too keen on lectures, he’d thought he’d finished with them when he’d left school. And besides, he’d been paid only that afternoon, and he’d picked up quite a lot of overtime. Never before had he had so much money to spend. And the gang would be waiting for him, too. And yet there was something in Mr Twink’s suggestion. He didn’t want to skulk all the time in a shelter if a blitz was on. It would be far better to have a job of work to do. “All right, Mr Twink, I’ll go to the lectures.” And so in due course Jimmy Watson became one of the messengers attached to Warden’s Post No. 15. Straightaway he received a shock. For the big noise at Post No. 15, the Senior Post Warden, was none other than Mike Stubbins. And the boy soon began to dislike Mike Stubbins more than ever. This was because of the way he treated little Mr Twink. He was always taking it out of the quiet little man. And then Jimmy was called out on his first spell of air-raid duty. It was after midnight when the siren went, and he found it mighty cold getting out of bed. But he dressed in record time, and wearing his steel helmet and with gas mask at the ready, he was soon out of doors. The bitter wind made him shiver again, but he forgot the cold when he heard the sound of an aeroplane overhead. It sounded like a German. The wardens as they arrived at the post divided themselves up into pairs in order to patrol their own particular sector. Mike Stubbins was in his element as he issued orders. Suddenly he turned on Mr Twink. “What are you waiting for?” he demanded. “You should be out.” “Mr Carter hasn’t turned up,” returned Mr Twink. “Your orders were we should always work in pairs.” “Can’t wait for Carter,” snapped Mike Stubbins. “The blitz may start ta any moment. I’ll send him out to you as soon as he turns up.”

Mr Twink went out to his sector. Several enemy planes went over but nothing was dropped on the town. Evidently the raiders’ objective was somewhere beyond. Presently one by one, the wardens began to return to the post for a short stand-easy. Here hot tea was waiting for them, and because of the cold they needed it. But Mr Twink didn’t come back. Word had been sent that Mr Carter was ill in bed, and no one had been sent out to relieve Mr Twink was one of the last to return to the post. He looked absolutely frozen. “Here you are,” said one of the wardens. “I’ve kept the last cup of tea for you. You look as if you need it.” Mike Stubbins guffawed. “A little cold won’t hurt Twink,” he cried. “It’s just the thing to toughen him up. We’ll make a man of you yet one of these days. So saying he thumped Mr Twink heartily on the back, so heavily that the cup of tea was shot right out of his hands. So Mr Twink didn’t get his cup of tea after all. Jimmy clenched his fists. “If I were Mr Twink,” he thought, “I’d punch Stubbins on the nose!” When Jimmy got home he just had time for a wash and brush up and his breakfast before starting out for work. That night the blitz had side-tracked Wintonley, but it was good to know that if anything had happened he had been ready and prepared for it.

JIMMY’S FIRST BLITZ!

It was only four days later that Jimmy Watson went to the pictures. He was on his way home when he heard the sound of a plane high above him.

“Gosh,” he murmured, “that’s a Jerry. At any moment now the siren will go.” And then—he felt himself go cold. For a terrifying whine had come to his ears. It was a sound such as he had never heard before. But he knew instinctively that it was a falling bomb. And then—the ground heaved underneath his feet, an explosion seemed to shatter his eardrums, and he knew that the bomb had fallen unpleasantly near. Even as the sound of it died away the air raid siren started to wail. Jimmy pulled himself together. “The blitz had started,” he gasped. “I’ve got to get to the post as quickly as I possibly can.” Luckily he was quite close to his home. He was angry when he found his mother waiting for him. “You should be in the shelter, mother,” he said. “I’ll be all right.” He saw his mother into the nearest shelter before dashing for the post. Already most of the wardens were on duty. And then—came the whine of another falling bomb. “That was pretty near,” said Mike Stubbins. “If it came down in our sector we’ll be hearing about it within a few minutes. Another warden entered the post. “The lower half of the town’s been smothered with incendiary bombs,” he said. “It’s the most frightening sight I’ve ever seen in the whole of my life. But, so far, this section seems to be clear.” Within a few minutes Mike Stubbins, the two boy messengers, and the telephonist were left alone in the post. Jimmy Watson was conscious of a queer, crackling noise in the air. “Those will be incendiaries,” said Mike Stubbins. “Looks as though they’re trying to burn up the whole town.” It was perhaps ten minutes later that a warden hurled himself into the post. “That big tenement building in Marlborough Street is on fire,” he said. “It’s a case for the fire service as soon as you can get them.” Briefly and clearly he gave full particulars. The telephonist twirled the dial of her phone, she jammed the receiver rest down after while, and then tried again. “There’s no ringing noise at all,” she told them. “Some of the telephone wires must have been destroyed. I can’t get through to the fire service.” Mike Stubbins grabbed a pad and wrote quickly upon it. “Here you are youngster,” he said handing the form to Jimmy. “It’s up to you now. Get this note to the fire station as quickly as you possibly can.” Jimmy tucked the note into one of his pockets, and then settled his helmet more firmly over his head. At last he was going to do a real job. Thank goodness he had taken on A.R.P. work. Out of the post he dashed to seize his bicycle. He saw then that one half of the town was lit by a strange, greenish light. Evidently many incendiaries were still burning. But north of the town a terrible red glow filled the sky. That must be the blazing tenement. He realised, too, that many anti-aircraft guns were in action and that the sky was being pitted by streaks of flame. And over and above the noise of the guns he could still hear the sound of the German planes. Leaping astride his cycle, he flogged the pedals as he’d never flogged them before.

He was getting to the fire station in record time. He turned into North Street, and then—his front wheel crashed into some unseen obstruction. One moment he was in the saddle—the next he was flying through the air. He hit the ground with a terrible crash, and for a moment everything went dark. When he came to, someone was bending over him. “Are you all right, Jimmy?” demanded a voice. He recognised it as belonging to Mr Twink. “Lucky I saw you fall,” said Mr Twink then. “A lot of masonry has come down in this street, and you ran into some of it. I’m afraid your cycle is of no further use, for the front wheel is buckled beyond repair.” Jimmy remembered the note in his pocket then. “I must get to the fire station,” he gasped. “Something’s wrong with the telephone wire and they can’t get through. I—I’m quite all right. He came to his feet. “If you’re sure you’re all right,” said Mr Twink, “the best thing you can do is to wade up the stream that runs past the fire station. All the roads are blocked, and it would mean you would have to go a long way round to get to the fire station.” “Gosh,” gasped Jimmy, “that’s an idea. It’s quite shallow, and it would save any amount of time and trouble.” He doubled back round the corner of North Street and then climbed the low brick wall at the side of the stream that ran through this part of the town. Sliding down the bank, he splashed into the water, and then he went stumbling forward. Twice he placed a foot in a pothole and twice he fell, but each time he managed to scramble up again. Finally going under the town bridge, he scrambled up the bank and raced the last fifty yards to the fire station. Only one fire engine was standing by, but the moment the firemen realised that there was a fire in Marlborough Street that engine was under way. Jimmy, conscious that he’d done a good job of work, made his way back to the stream. He wanted, if possible, to recover the wreckage of the bicycle. As he entered North Street a figure loomed up in front of him, and he recognised Mr Twink. “I got the message through,” gasped Jimmy. “I—I want to pick up my bike. I—” At that moment Mr Twink caught him by the shoulders and flung him heavily to the ground. Next moment and the warden was lying across him. Again Jimmy heard the terrifying whine of a falling bomb. It seemed to him that it was coming directly at him. Then—once again the ground heaved underneath him and he felt as though his ear drums had been ruined for all time. And over and above the sound of the explosion he heard the sound of falling masonry.

TRAPPED IN THE WRECKAGE

Mr Twink was the first to get to his feet. As Jimmy scrambled up he saw that the warden was pointing up the street. “It fell at the end,” cried Mr Twink. “It’s hit the big tenement. We’ve got work to do, Jimmy. Come on!”

They raced up the street, but soon they had to pick their way amongst fallen debris. And where once had stood an enormous building was now little more than a heap of rubble. “And there were six people down in the cellar,” gasped Mr Twink. “If they’re still alive they’re hopelessly trapped.” Taking hold of Jimmy’s arm, he dragged him forward. In front of the building was a great pile of fallen masonry. “I’m going to see what I can do, Jimmy,” said Mr Twink. “You’d better get back to the post with a message. We’re going to need a rescue squad and a couple of ambulances on this job.” Jimmy marvelled at the little man’s coolness. Actually it was Mr Twink’s coolness that stilled his own panic. By the light of his shielded torch Mr Twink wrote rapidly on a report pad and then he tore off the page. “Back to the post as quickly as you can, Jimmy,” he said. “Every moment is precious.” When Jimmy arrived at Post No. 15 he saw that Mr Carter was with Mike Stubbins. The former had evidently got up from his sick bed in order to do his bit. As soon as Mike Stubbins had read Mr Twink’s note he turned to the other warden. “Here’s a job for you, Carter,” he said. “The telephone’s out of action, but you can get this message through to the report centre as quickly as possible.” The warden took the message and hurried away. Mike Stubbins pulled on his steel helmet. “Come on, youngster,” he said. “There’s a building down in North Street, and I’m going to take charge. It’s too responsible a job for Twink to manage on his own.” Jimmy could have kicked him. North Street was still deserted when they reached it. They only discovered afterwards that nearly all the main approaches to the street had been blocked. And presently they came upon Mr Twink. He was on his hands and knees, and he appeared to be trying to burrow through the great heap of fallen masonry. “What’re you trying to do?” demanded Mr Stubbins. “I’m trying to get through to the front door,” answered Mr Twink. “There are six people inside, and I heard one of them shouting just now. As far as I can make out they’re still alive, and they’ve come up from the cellar into the hallway. There’s a weakness here, and I think I can get through.” Mike Stubbins shouted, but he received no reply. And then the big man spotted a fallen girder. “You’re wasting your time messing about down there,” he snapped. “If we shift this girder we’ll soon get to the front door.” Mr Twink jumped to his feet in alarm. “Be careful!” he cried. “Don’t touch that girder. If you do—” “I know what I’m doing,” snapped Mike Stubbins. “I don’t believe in wasting time.”

He pulled upon the girder as he spoke. Immediately two blocks of masonry shifted and one of them crashed down and hit him a glancing blow on the head. Mike Stubbins went down as though he’d been poleaxed. “I tried to warn him,” gasped Mr Twink. “I’ve been in the building trade all my life. If he’d brought that girder down it would have taken us days to get through to the front of the house. Mr Twink dragged Mike Stubbins to one side, and he showed a strength that amazed Jimmy Watson. “He’s all right,” said the little warden then. “He’s suffered no more than a crack on the head. He’ll soon come round if we leave him alone. But you can give me a hand, Jimmy. Jimmy went down on his hands and knees, and then he hauled at the blocks of masonry indicated by Mr Twink. Finally the warden flashed his torch on the hole they had made. “O K, Jimmy,” he said. “The hole’s big enough for me to go through, and I can see the doorway beyond.

The door itself has been blown off its hinges. You stay here and drag out anyone I manage to push through. Mr Twink wriggled into the hole. Jimmy held his breath. If the mass of masonry came down upon him he would die a terrible death. Never had minutes seemed so long. And then Mr Twink’s voice sounded again. Stretch out your arms, Jimmy,” it said. “See if you can haul this man through.” Just for a moment Jimmy flashed his torch, and then he reached out his hands into the darkness. Feeling a man’s shoulders, he grabbed them and slowly he dragged him out into the open. It needed all his strength, for the man was a deadweight. Having got him out at last, he dragged him out to the middle of the roadway. A second man was dragged out, a third man, a fourth, and then a fifth. All were unconscious. When Jimmy dragged the fifth man to the centre of the roadway he felt at his last gasp. He had taken far more out of himself than he had realised. He was swaying about on his feet as Mike Stubbins appeared before him. The post warden had evidently recovered his senses. “What’s happening?” he demanded. “Something—something knocked me on the head.” “We’re dragging them out,” gasped Jimmy, doing his utmost to keep from falling. “We—we—” There was a sudden rush of feet, and half a dozen men appeared upon the scene. “The ambulance is coming up,” said one of them. “How many men have you managed to get out?” Mike Stubbins looked down at the unconscious figures. “We—we’ve got five so far,” he said thickly. “I—I came up here to take charge the moment the bomb fell.” “My word,” cried a voice, “if you got those people out of that tenement you deserve a George Medal.” It was too much for Jimmy Watson. “He’s got nothing to do with it,” he cried. “He’s been lying here unconscious right from the start, he nearly gummed up the works. It’s Mr Twink who made the hole, and it’s Mr Twink who’s dragged these people out. And he—he’s still inside. He should have been out long ago!” Fresh strength seemed to pour itself into his veins, and he darted back to the opening. “Mr Twink!” he called. “Mr Twink!” There was no reply. And then Jimmy had wriggled into the opening himself. He felt the sharp corners of masonry cut the flesh but he fought his way through. And then he was kneeling on the door which had been blown off its hinges. In the darkness something moved before him. “Give me a hand with this man,” came Mr Twink’s voice. “He—he’s the last of them. My—my strength is almost gone, and I—I can’t move him.” Somehow Jimmy took hold of an arm, and then he was dragging a body forward. Afterwards he never remembered how he got back through that hole under the fallen masonry. But he did succeed in getting back, and so did Mr Twink. Moreover, they succeeded in bringing the last of the unconscious men out of the building. And the last thing Jimmy remembered was Mr Twink taking his hand. “You’re a hero, Jimmy,” he said. “Thanks for coming to my rescue.” Jimmy wanted to protest. He wasn’t the hero, Mr Twink was the hero! But somehow he hadn’t sufficient strength to utter a word. And little Mr Twink, the butt of Warden’s Post No.15, received the George Cross, and Jimmy Watson’s name appeared in all the newspapers.

Mike Stubbins resigned the job of Senior Post Warden, and he went to another post as an ordinary warden. There he was content to work as a member of a team, and he made no attempt to shoot off his mouth any more. It seemed that Mike Stubbins had been cured of boasting for all time, and that he was the better man because of it. Mr Twink became the Senior Post Warden of Post No. 15, and Jimmy Watson for one was very proud to work under him.

 

BOYS OF THE BULLDOG BREED 10 Episodes in Adventure issues 1068 – 1077 (1942 - 1943)

© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd 

Vic Whittle 2007