Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 21-27, 1939

Warfare took to the skies with the first reported sightings of enemy aircraft over Britain. Sounds of gunfire were heard when a plane passed over a Suffolk coastal town. Residents flocked into the streets but no air raid warning was sounded.

And across the estuary at the Firth of Forth, a Heinkel 111, a Luftwaffe aircraft capable of carrying 1700 kg of bombs, was intercepted on Friday, December 22. 'On being engaged, the Heinkel dived into clouds, the enemy was re-engaged and after a further attack by a fighter, continued its dive and was lost in the lower cloud level,' reported the Advertiser.

More than 70 aircraft were involved in a major air battle fought over the North Sea, west of Karmoey, Norway while the German High Command announced that reconnaissance flights had been made over Northern France and Southern England.

The week before Christmas 1939 saw 20,000 Australian troops prepare to leave for Europe. In a radio broadcast from Sydney, Australian Minister for External Affairs, Sir Henry Gullett told listeners that the second Australian Expeditionary Force consisted in the majority of the sons and nephews of men who fought in the Great War.

Miss Phyllis Joan Leonard, a member of Garrard's girls' cricket team, and her new husband Mr Sydney Frank Nicholls, left St. Paul's Church beneath an archway of cricket bats and stumps after their Boxing Day wedding.

For another couple, their wedding day was only their sixth time of meeting during a four and a half year courtship. They first met in the summer of 1935 when Corporal Walter Wallace, on leave before sailing for Palestine, met Marie Coughlin, a nurse at a Cardiff hospital, during a day trip to Barry Island.

Herbert Parker, 64, of Springfield Road, Swindon, retired after 50 years service in the Great Western Railway Works. Born in Handsworth, Staffordshire, Mr Parker entered the Works as an apprentice smith in 1889. He became a foreman in 1907 and later foreman-in-charge of the blacksmith forge and stamping shops.

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