Wednesday, February 15, 2012

June 28 - July 4, 1940

German air attacks dominated the news this week in 1940 as the country entered what would become known as the Battle of Britain.

The Advertiser at first undermined the success of Goering’s mighty Luftwaffe describing a raid on Eastern England as ‘desultory.’ During the last weekend in June other raids resulted in no casualties and only minimal damage.

However, on Monday July 1, twelve people were killed and 18 injured when a lone bomber attacked over north east Scotland while a raid on the Bristol Channel caused little damage but four people were slightly injured.

By the end of the week Nazi bombers were engaged in further daylight raids. Eyewitness accounts in the South West reported a battle between six Spitfires and 20 Nazi bombers.

“In two areas in the South East raiders were chased off by British machines,” reported the Advertiser. “No casualties have been reported.”

Meanwhile in Swindon Lieut Col B.L. Birley made an appeal for more recruits for the Local Defence Volunteer Battalion. Col Birley reminded readers that the LDV, or Home Guard, would be the first line of defence for Swindon and called upon ex-servicemen who were not already engaged upon National Defence Service and young men waiting to be called up.

“Let us fight Hitlerism with all the means in our power,” said Col Birley. “Everyone from 17 upwards who wants a chance to help to kill this the foulest form of government the world has ever known, here is your chance, take it!”

Leading Aircraftman Ronald Wallace Hunter of the RAF (Volunteer Reserve) was reported missing and believed drowned as a result of enemy action at sea on June 17.

A former Euclid Street Secondary School pupil, Hunter had studied at the Colwyn Bay Wireless College before joining the Merchant Service as a wireless operator.

He later returned to Swindon to work in the family furniture business in Regent Street before joining the RAF Volunteer Reserve. He was called up just before the outbreak of war and sent to France.

Leading Aircraftman Hunter, 21, was the only son of Mr & Mrs R Hunter of 87 Marlborough Road, Swindon. It was believed he was on his way home to England when he was killed.

Drunken Charles Bobs Collier told police officers that he suffered from malaria when arrested for being in charge of a car while under the influence of drink.

Collier led police in a brisk walk from the incident in Fleet Street to the Police Station, announcing on his arrival, “I’ve beaten your man all the way.”

When asked his height, joker Collier replied “eight feet seven and three quarter inches.” It was subsequently found that his real height was only 5 feet 6¾ inches.

The justices at the Wiltshire Quarter Sessions heard how in the knee jerk test Collier kicked before he was touched. Although ‘shaking in his legs,’ Collier’s temperature was normal. He was not suffering from malaria.

Fast approaching the £300,000 mark, Swindon war savings had completely dwarfed those of the previous war. “In 26 weeks from 1st January last the amount realised for the sale of savings certificates and defence bonds and in Post Office savings, has more than doubled the figure for the full year in 1916,” reported the Advertiser.

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