Monday, January 2, 2012

January 18-24, 1940

As numerous Swindon families came to terms with the call up of their husbands and sons, others continued to suffer the painful consequences of the previous war.

William James Collins, (pictured left) a former private in the Somerset Light Infantry, died at his home in Stratton St Margaret this week, twenty two years after being invalided home during fighting in the last months of the Great War.

Aged 18, Private 40576 Collins sustained wounds to his right arm and both legs which left him severely handicapped and contributed to his premature death at the age of just 40 years old.

His funeral was described as being 'of a semi military character,' attended by local representatives of the British Legion with the coffin covered by the Union flag.

Mr Collins left a widow and one child. Among the mourners were his five sisters, an aunt and his grandmother.

Despite the outbreak of war in September, Swindon Borough Treasurer Mr L.F. Cheyney reported that 1939 had been a prosperous year for the town.

New building projects saw the number of properties rise to 19,079 and the electricity works reported 740 new customers bringing their total to a record 17,324 consumers.

"Swindon buses carried 8,791,823 passengers, which represents yet another record, and the gross profit of £12,866 was the highest in the history of this undertaking," reported the Advertiser.

With the town's debt reduced to £1,924,709 and a stead decrease in the interest rate payable on loans, Swindon finances were looking healthy.

"The outbreak of hostilities will, undoubtedly, have a considerable effect on interest rates," the report continued. "It is hoped, however, that we may not return to the high levels experienced up to the year 1932."

"Every bone in my body aches," Swindon Town Manager Neil Harris (pictured right) told an Advertiser reporter after turning out for the team's game against Bristol Rovers at Kingswood on Saturday January 20.

Harris, aged 43 and weighing in at thirteen and a half stone, stepped into the breach when Welsh left back Thomas Emmanuel failed to put in an appearance.

"I hadn't played a match since I was player manager at Burton nine years ago," said Harris. "The only boots I could borrow were a size too small, and the studs were far too long. And, to make matters worse, I had smoked at least 15 cigarettes before I stripped out!"

Asked if he would do it again, Harris said he probably would, "but I sincerely hope I shall be spared the agony."

To add insult to injury, Swindon lost 4-2.

Proceedings at Swindon Borough Police Court were cut short this week in 1940 when fourteen members of the local police force were reported to be 'down with influenza.'

The Swindon & District Bakers' Association along with the New Swindon Kingshill and Swindon Co-operative Societies responded to the Ministry of Transport's appeal to conserve petrol supplies by suspending the baking and delivery of bread each Wednesday. 'In order that this alteration shall bear equally on all traders, it has been agreed that the restriction shall apply also to horse drawn vehicles,' the announcement read.

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