Thursday, February 16, 2012

July 5-11, 1940

Private Joseph Henry Page (pictured left) of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry was reported drowned during the Dunkirk evacuation. A reservist with seven years service, Private Page had been recalled to the colours on the outbreak of war.

Pte. Page, the son of Mrs Beatrice Page of 146 Croft Road, was one of 17 children, three of whom were also serving in the Forces.

Another local man reported missing this week was Private E. Garnham of 106 Tydeman Street. Pte. Garnham, a reservist at the beginning of the War, was recalled to the Suffolk Regiment.

Derek Middleton, the son of Advertiser cartoonist, was also reported missing. Flying Officer Middleton specialised in flying boats and had been on constant patrol since the outbreak of war. No details were known of the engagement from which he failed to return.

Britain’s favourite beverage came under attack this week in 1940 as Lord Woolton, Minister of Food, announced that tea would join the list of rationed foodstuffs.

And according to Charles E. Hecht, Honorary Secretary of the Food Education Society, tea should not be taken more than twice daily, and never late in the evening. It should be freshly made, never strong and preferably China, according to Mr Hecht, who advised against the ‘hot’ cuppa, and stated that tea should never be given to children.

Don’t panic! Advertiser readers were reminded of a few basic air raid precautions as reports of German bombing missions continued to make the news.

“Streets, thoroughfares and open spaces must be kept clear for military and civilian defence services,” reported the Advertiser. “People caught in the streets and who are more than five minutes walk from their homes should at once take cover in public shelters and remain there until the ‘raiders passed’ signal.”

Those at home should go immediately to their pre-arranged place of shelter and were reminded not to stand at the window watching. Every household should have a bucket of water or sand in the porch to assist the AFS and the Wardens’ in dealing promptly with incendiary bombs.

“Remember, that in the event of enemy action it is the duty of every member of the public to ‘stay put’ unless ordered to act different by someone in authority,” the report continued.

Schoolchildren were also told to remain where they were in a statement released by the Board of Education. “Schoolchildren are to take up the safest positions in the building if the enemy drop bombs near a school without warning. If necessary they should lie on the floor,” said the Education Board. “They must not be allowed to leave the school building to go into shelters.”

With supplies of hot water, tea and blankets for those suffering from shock and bandages for the injured, housewives across the country proved they were pulling their weight as they co-ordinated their efforts with the ARP services to deal with the after effects of air raids.

A small leather case proved a piece of life saving equipment for one lucky sailor. Dai Hughes had an astonishing escape from death when a case containing a hair brush and shaving equipment took the full impact of a stray bullet.

Swindon boxer Dai was part of a naval landing party at Narvik when he was hit by a British weapon. The bullet penetrated the leather case and split the hairbrush in which it became lodged, saving the young sailor’s life.

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