Heroes of Wartime Black-out - Unseen & Unsung

The War Illustrated, Volume 1, No. 20, Page 623, January 19, 1940.

In broad terms their name is legion, not forgetting the newsvendor who still stands shivering at his wintry pitch, lustily shouting "the latest" when you can only discern him dimly by the glow of his cigarette. But chief of the unknown heroes to whom town dwellers are so indebted when the pall of blackness enfolds the city and suburbs are the bus drivers and the taxi-men; all of them. Few men would willingly become drivers of either cabs or omnibuses under the nerve-racking conditions that prevail in the many thousand miles of Metropolitan highways and byways after night falls on the unillumined thoroughfares. For even the new .00024 lights seem only to make the darkness more profound.

But War caught these essential transport toilers at their job, and in the good British spirit they not perhaps without an excusable grumble felt they could but "carry on". And nobly have most of them done so. To be stopped on your taxi in the Strand and asked to drive to Streatham Hill or Wimbledon in the inky night, with no more than a hooded headlight and the tiniest of twinkling signals at the cross roads, is a job to daunt even the stoutest heart. Yet the taxi drivers are rarely known to refuse even so distant a fare, except when restricted petrol supply might fail them.

Terrifying as their job may be, it is even less formidable than that of the heroes who pilot the mighty omnibuses, those veritable overland cruisers, on their long and frequent-stopping journeys from ten to twenty miles at a stretch. The success with which they are carrying on is one more evidence of the astonishing capacity of the human being quickly to adapt himself to new, strange and frightening conditions of activity.