The Friese-Greene early warning system.
The recent BBC TV series of the early cinema pioneer Claude Friese-Greene, and his travels through England, has brought my attention to this remarkable family. I recall that during the second world war, one of the Friese-Greene's (I forget how he fitted into the family) lived in Leicester Forest East. I think he was a civilian scientist attached to the RAF. The children of the family were of similar ages to me and my sister and I used to play with them in Kirloe Avenue, c.1940-45.
The myth is that the Friese-Greene's possessed one of the two telephones installed on our road (We had the other). A neighbour across the road, an RAF officer stationed at Desford, didn't have his own phone. So it was arranged that when an air raid was expected, the RAF would ring Mr. Friese-Greene, and ask him to pass the message to his neighbour. This he did without getting out of his bed, by rigging up a tin can on a string across the road, to clatter against the pilot's bedroom.
The sophistication of Britain's defences must have amazed the Germans at times.
Another story about the Friese-Greene's. Like many midland families, they went to North Wales for their holidays (as did we). I remember discussing this at home once, and being a keen little strategist like most little boys at the time, I remarked that even if the Germans did invade, the British would hold out in Snowdonia. At which my dad (a soldier of the first World War - 2 Lt 7th Leicesters) remarked that he could just imagine the Friese-Greene family holding off the Panzer divisions with little Valerie on the Bren Gun and Terry throwing grenades.
21st May 2006