Sunday, March 25, 2012

August 15-21, 1940

An elderly couple had a lucky escape when a retreating enemy aircraft jettisoned its bombs whilst under attack from a Spitfire.

“Polly, the blue pencil Jerries have blown a piece off our house,” the indignant 80 year old hurdle maker told his daughter.

The man and his 84 year old wife took the whole incident in their stride as did cows in a field half a mile away where a heavy calibre bomb exploded close to a farmhouse.

“Not even a window was broken in the farm,” reported the Advertiser, “and even the grazing cattle soon calmed down after a mild stampede, though it is said that in the neighbourhood some cows jumped the fences into adjacent fields.”

In response to popular demand, Swindon Mayor (Coun H.R. Hustings) launched the town’s own Spitfire Fund.

‘Swindon home of world famous railway engines, kings of the iron road, is now going to strain every nerve to provide a monarch of the skies – A SPITFIRE,’ reported the Advertiser.

With a £5,000 target to aim for, the Mayor was confident that generous Swindonians would rush to support this fund.

And just a day later the Swindon Works announced that it would attempt to make the biggest contribution to the GWR All-Line Spitfire Club.

The GWR venture was set rolling with a £500 donation made by the directors as collections began at not only the Swindon works but at stations and railway works across the system.

‘Employees of the company are enthusiastic about the prospect of buying a fighter plane, which will be named Great Western,’ the report continued. ‘They hope soon to have sufficient money to buy the first. Later they intend to buy a second fighter – or perhaps a bomber if funds permit!’

Relieved parents, Mr & Mrs D.T. Sinnett of 55 Corby Avenue received the news they had waited to hear for more than ten weeks when the War Office confirmed their son was a prisoner of war in Germany. Rifleman Sidney David Sinnett, engaged in the defence of Calais, was reported missing on June 7.

In Lechlade, Kelmscott Manor, the former home of socialist, textile designer and leading member of the Arts and Crafts Movement William Morris, was up for rent on a seven year lease.

Bequeathed to Oxford University, the house contained furniture and artefacts of literary and artistic importance. Prospective tenants were reminded that a condition of the lease was that visitors would be allowed inside to inspect the house and its contents.

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