Friday, March 30, 2012

September 5-11, 1940

The Advertiser continued to report updates on Servicemen previously believed to be missing. Ending a long, three month wait for news, Mrs Williams of 111 Kingshill Road heard at last that her husband was a prisoner of war in Germany. Gunner Edwin John Williams was serving with the Royal Artillery (Anti Aircraft) in France when he was captured.

GWR employee Private Albert George Henry Pearce of 139 Albion Road was also reported safe as was Sergt John Herbert Allen of 2 Manton Street.

Welsh Guardsman John Gregory Clarke, grandson of Mrs John Gregory, 3 Alms Houses, Cricklade Street, was confirmed a prisoner of war and Mrs Edmonds of Westcott Place received news that her son, George Henry Edmonds, a private in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry was also a prisoner but slightly wounded.

Swindon received a new intake of evacuees as bombed out East Enders began arriving in the town. One young mother told how her baby had been sleeping outside in its pram just minutes before a bomb dropped. Debris was thrown over the house and a street lamp crashed onto the pram, smashing it to pieces.

Moved by the plight of two homeless women, a soldier’s wife from Faringdon took the initiative and approached the Council of Social Service with an offer of accommodation.

Emergency rest centres were set up including one at Sanford Street Congregational Hall and another at Stratton. Mattresses had been provided by Swindon’s Council of Social Service and blankets by the Public Assistance Committee, which had also organised food for the new arrivals.

“There has been a certain amount of confusion and, not being organised, these arrivals have found themselves more or less stranded,” reported the Advertiser.

And two Swindon evacuees were killed in the London bombings this week when their Woolwich home was hit during a raid on September 7.

Doreen Dearsley 10 and her eight year old sister Joan had returned to London for a short holiday. Billeted at Botany Farm, Highworth for a year, their foster mother Mrs James Eddolls told an Advertiser reporter that the children had been removed by their mother against advice.

The children’s’ father, Alfred Dearsley, had expressed misgivings about taking them back to London and the girls themselves didn’t want to go, said Mrs Eddolls.

Describing their return to London as unnecessary, Mrs Eddolls told how the parents had been in the habit of visiting the girls at Highworth every two weeks.

The two sisters and their mother, Rose 33, were killed when their home and family fruiterer’s shop at 96 Albert Road, Woolwich was destroyed.

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