Thursday, March 29, 2012

August 29 - September 4, 1940

The Swindon Spitfire Fund topped the £1,000 mark with donations of more than £300 from Swindon’s fire fighters.

At the Town Hall collectors did brisk business and a trailer pump and tender drew a crowd outside the Victoria Road Post Office. Eye catching slogans included ‘Help to put the fire into Spitfire’ and ‘All For Spitfires.’

The workers of Southern Laundry also contributed £100 to the Spitfire Fund while the Swindon ARP casualty services donated £30.

With the issue of collection boxes to ‘responsible’ people, Swindonians were reminded they still had a long way to go to achieve their target.

The Air Ministry announced that a Hurricane pilot was killed by Messerschmitt fighter pilots after he had baled out.

“The British pilot had jumped by parachute from 15,000 ft,” reported the Advertiser. “As he was floating down three Messerschmitts swooped on him and opened fire on his swaying figure. His body was riddled with bullets.”

The pilot was later identified as Swindon born Squadron Leader Harold Morley Starr.

Looking back on a year of war the Advertiser celebrated “a magnificent story of abounding determination and grit in the face of almost incredible and repeated reverses.” Now it was time to ‘Go Foward.’

And an editorial on September 4 promised readers “Hitler is assured of defeat. The Britzkrieg has failed.” With the Battle of Britain still raging, “the fortitude of the civil population under the ordeal of air attack has never wavered,” wrote the editor, who called upon parliament to address its financial and economic policies to ensure a properly equipped fighting force.

“Victory must be seized,” he said, “It cannot be ours merely by beating off the invaders and waiting.”

Heavily censored, covered in swastikas and written in German, postcards from serving men taken prisoners of war, made their way home to relieved families in Swindon.

Private Dennis Vickery of 17 King William Street, reported missing since May 20 signed a card written in German. Translated it read “I am in good health - a prisoner of war in Germany, and getting on well.”

Private Vickery was taken prisoner in Belgium during the German invasion. His parents, Mr & Mrs W.V. Vickery said they had never given up hope.

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