Weston-super-Mare Museum’s ever-popular Night in the Museum Experience continues, but this time the characters have all escaped around town! With the museum closed for its big Heritage Lottery Fund refurbishment, the characters have awoken for Halloween and found themselves without a place to spend their time. All of this confusion has caused them to wander off into the town to find places that are familiar, but they have lost some things along the way.
Our WW2 journalist ‘Unlucky Ernie’, has a real life story of bravery to tell. He is usually famed amongst his colleagues for his ability to take bad luck with him wherever he goes, but this time he has managed to scoop a story about a man that was both unlucky and lucky at the same time, depending on how you view his tale.
Aircraftsman Cecil Bright’s Story
During the Blitz on Weston, There were many acts of heroism and self sacrifice carried out by ordinary people- your neighbours, your friends or just the chap down the street that you nod to as you pass by. Many of these went unreported and unrecognised. One of these acts deserves bringing to people’s notice, as it was an extra ordinary act of heroism that almost certainly saved countless lives.
On the night of 7 March 1941, Aircraftsman Cecil Bright was on duty, on his own, in the Control Bunker, at the Bleadon Q Station. There were a number of decoy sites erected to deceive German Bombers on their way to major targets and convince them they were in the right location to release their bomb loads.
Bleadon site, away from any built up area, was designed to deceive German Bombers en route to WSM or Avonmouth. The site had a large number of globe lights, incendiary devices and filled oil drums, to act as decoy fires. On notification that enemy bombers were in the area, the on duty operator would throw a switch, which would light the globes and then the incendiaries, giving the impression of a city on fire.
Therefore, on the night of 7th March, Aircraftsman Bright was alerted of an incoming raid. What follows next is a mixture of Heath Robinson, Dad’s Army and Captain Marvel. As required, Cecil threw the switch!! Nothing happened. Cecil threw it again- nothing happened. Now, many of us would have run for the nearest and deepest shelter. Not Cecil…
With total disregard for his own safety, he left the Bunker and went round each of the decoy devices, lighting them by hand!! As can be imagined, once the incoming bombers saw the glow of lights, fire and smoke, they unloaded their bombs on the site. Later reports estimated several hundred bombs and incendiaries landed – if those had landed on Weston or Avonmouth, casualties would have been high. Many residents spent a safe and peaceful night in their beds, thanks to Aircraftsman Cecil Bright.
Amazingly, despite bombs raining down, Cecil Bright escaped unharmed and was awarded the Military Medal for his extraordinary bravery.
For more information about the Night in the Museum Town Trail, click on the ‘Events and Exhibitions’ tab towards the top of the page