This is a WWII-era Air Ministry “Scramble Bell,” bells like this were used at RAF airfields to call pilots to their aircraft to intercept incoming Nazi bomber raids.
This bell is stamped “AM” for Air Ministry and “1941” for its year of manufacture, 1941 was the third year of World War II in Europe. This date puts it into the right time period for The Blitz, a series of brutal large-scale night attacks launched by the Luftwaffe’s bombers on cities and infrastructure sites across Britain.
The sound of a vigorously rung scramble bell was burned deeply into the minds of all who heard them, and it was the sound that called many to their deaths.
The rate of attrition among aircrews during the Second World War was horrific. For example, of the 125,000 Aircrew who served in Bomber Command, 72% were killed, badly injured, or taken as Prisoners of War – over 44% were killed in the line of duty.
The scramble bell became familiar to many due to appearances in movies like The Battle of Britain and countless other films that covered WWII aircrews.
The ringing of the bell would call pilots from their bunks, showers, card games, and lawn chairs into the cockpits of aircraft like the Hurricane and Spitfire to go intercept the Nazis and shoot down as many as they could – all while hopefully making it back to base themselves.
This is an original scramble bell, it measures in at 32 cm in diameter, or 12.6 inches, and it’s cast in ferrous bronze/nickel “bell metal.” It has a 6 arm bracket and hasp and ring mounting, it’s fitted with inner ring and cast iron clapper (which is detachable), and the outside of the bell shows marks and evidence of having been struck without using clapper.
Above Video: This is the opening scene of the 1969 film “The Battle Of Britain.” It’s considered by many to be one of the best WWII films of all time, and the aircraft and aerial combat scenes were all films using real planes – this was long before the advent of CGI after all.
It’s now due to be sold by Bonhams on the 9th of September at their Goodwood Revival Auction. The price guide is £1,000 – £1,500 or approximately $1,257 – $1,886 USD, which seems like a steal for such a remarkable piece of 20th century history.
If you’d like to read more about this bell or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bonhams
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.