Father Christmas arrived at McIlroys, Regent Street this week but sadly without the spectacular procession of previous years. However McIlroys maintained the “Fairyland” grotto tradition with working models of Cinderella cleaning the hearth and Dick Whittington with his cat.
Although Christmas 1940 saw a scarcity of metal and wooden toys there was no shortage of indoor games and cuddly toys. Juvenile size uniforms representative of the fighting forces, the Auxiliary Fire Service and the ARP wardens also proved a big success.
Meanwhile as Swindon’s postal service geared up for the Christmas rush, Mr A.T. Warren, Swindon’s Postmaster, announced temporary job opportunities. With many postal workers on active service there was a shortage of postmen, sorters and porters. In some parts of the town, women have already been enrolled and assist in the delivery of mails and in sorting, reported the Advertiser.
Monday’s proceedings at Swindon Borough Police Court involved the attendance of five magistrates, the magistrates’ clerk and his clerk, two probation officers, a police inspector, a sergeant and 16 constables. However, just three of the 22 defendants managed to put in an appearance.
“I’ve been rationed all my life,” 78 year old Mrs Sarah Ann Hunt told an Advertiser reporter who interviewed an elderly Stratton St Margaret couple when they celebrated their Diamond Wedding anniversary this week in 1940. Married on November 20, 1880 the couple had raised their eight children in Hunter’s Grove.
“I can’t say we’ve had a particularly eventful life, but we’ve known happiness and that counts for a lot,” said Henry Hunt who started work at the age of eight minding the cows on a Wootton Bassett farm for one shilling a week. Aged fourteen he took a job in Swindon as a horse driver before starting work on the railways on the construction of the Highworth branch line and after that on the Swindon to Marlborough line. He later moved ‘inside’ and spent 43 years in the GWR Works boilershop.
A keen gardener, Mr Hunt, 80, was described by his wife as never happier than when he’s on that allotment.
“I should think something was wrong if I couldn’t grow enough potatoes and greenstuff to last us the year round,” he declared.
Mrs Hunt, 78, who was born in a thatched cottage at Stratton Green said she was unimpressed by the modern girl who smokes and ‘makes up’ and admitted she was a bit old fashioned. “Please don’t say I’m running them down,” she told the Advertiser. “That would never do.”
Aircraftman Sidney Frank Garraway, a volunteer attached to the Balloon Barrage Section was killed during an air raid. A former messenger at the GWR Works Aircraftman Garraway of 71 Prospect Place, was given a military funeral at Christ Church. He left a widow and two young sons.
A local member of the Salvation Army was doing her bit in London’s bombed out East End. Lieut Doris Draper, the daughter of Mr & Mrs. A Draper of 23 Gordon Road, left Swindon to enter the William Booth Memorial Training College, Denmark Hill, London in 1939. Since receiving her commission Lieut Draper had worked as a slum officer in the East End.
During her first air raid it was reported that Lieut Draper had been one of the first on the scene, before the ARP workers, and had helped remove four bombed out people to the officer’s home.
Having taken part in several dangerous rescues, Lieut Draper was described as being under medical care for nerves and waited another appointment.