Monday, January 30, 2012

April 26-May 2, 1940

Swindon received firsthand experience of how it would cope in an air raid when an imaginary air blitzkrieg was staged across the town on Sunday April 28.

In more than 20 incidents, volunteers were engaged in rescuing those trapped beneath wreckage and in burning buildings, attending the injured and decontaminating roads and properties affected by gas.

With more than 400 casualties, as many as 70 ambulances were at one time running between incident points and the Victoria, GWR Medical Fund and Stratton Hospitals.

At the GWR ground off the Wootton Bassett road a railway coach was over turned and 20 passengers trapped. The coach itself had to be levered up and huge obstacles moved to rescue the ‘dummy’ casualties.

More than 1,000 part time and voluntary workers were called upon from not only Swindon but Bristol, Gloucester, Oxford, Salisbury and Bath in this ARP regional reinforcement exercise.

‘The whole thing has been most ingeniously devised,’ Sir Geoffrey Peto, Regional Commissioner for Civil Defence, told the Advertiser.

More than 6,000 Great Western railway men were serving with the Forces, it was announced in the company magazine, as a special Comforts Fund was launched with a generous contribution from GWR directors.

With wives busy knitting, appeals were issued to all departmental heads for periodical voluntary contributions. ‘Men on overseas service and those recovering from wounds and injuries will rank first for distribution,’ reported the Advertiser, ‘ and will be followed by men in this country, particularly where their stations are remote and their lives lonely.’

The scheme was intended to be much more than a formal organisation of goods and it was hoped each parcel would include a greetings card with a message and news from colleagues.


Engine Room Artificer William E.H. Evans, only son of Mr & Mrs W.H.H. Evans of 81 Birch Street was reported missing when the submarine Sterlet was lost. The Sterlet had been on patrol in the Skagerrak, south of Narvik, Norway when it was believed to have been struck by German anti submarine trawlers on April 18.

A former pupil at Westcott Place School, Artificer Evans had completed his engineering studies at the College Evening Classes before beginning an apprenticeship in the GWR Works. Twenty six year old Evans was engaged to Miss Violet Smith, daughter of Engineer Lieut. Commander S.G. and Mrs Smith of Portsmouth. The couple had planned to marry in June.

Barbara Stephens, aged six, (pictured below) was crowned May Queen at Gorse Hill Infants’ School, Swindon. Her train bearers were Marie Barrett and Margaret Price.

April 19-25, 1940

The Ashton Keynes Bruderhof community made the news this week in 1940. First established in the village in 1936 the Bruderhof was an Anabaptist group founded in Germany in the 1920s.

The brotherhood, whose aim was to overcome self seeking,competition and strife among men, came in for criticism when they bought two milk rounds in Swindon.

The Society of Brothers, whose members received no wages, sold milk, garden produce and other commodities daily in Swindon where tradesmen declared they could not compete with them, reported the Advertiser.

Mr g. Sweetlove, chairman of the association, told an Evening Advertiser reporter that the Bruderhof had acquired two milk rounds because the previous owners had been so badly hit by the war that they could not carry on.

"We feel that by producing all the foodstuffs which we are able, and by distributing them to our neighbours, we are rendering the best service which we can to England and the British people at this time," E.C.H. Arnold and Arnold Mason of the Cotswold Bruderhof said in reponse to the accusation of 'unfair trading.'

"Our farm work and our sales organisation has been developed and encouraged by all the authorities, both at the Ministry of Agriculture and the local county authorities, and we are surprised that anyone should not recognise the importance of food production of this nature."


Described as 'Swindon's oldest woman,' 98 year old Caroline Sharps died at the Falcon Inn, Westcott Place where her son William was the licensee. Prior to moving in with her son in 1939 Mrs Sharps had lived in the Almshouses near the parish church for nearly thirty years.

And Swindon lost a colourful and romantic personality according to the Advertiser, with the death of Angelo Vitti, another well known local resident. Mr Vitti, who was a provision merchant and proprietor of a lodging house in Albert Street, died just a few weeks before his 79th birthday. Originally from Settefrati in a province of Frosinone just south of Rome, Mr Vitti had lived in Swindon for more than fifty years.


Images - top - children from the Bruderhof Community and bottom - Angelo Vitti and Caroline Sharps

Friday, January 27, 2012

April 12-18, 1940

Swindon men serving in the Armed Forces were both celebrated and commemorated in this week's editions of the Advertiser.

Details of one serving family were submitted by Mr A. Jordan of 22 Eastern Avenue. Brothers Frank and Wally Jordan, former Swindon Corporation bus drivers were in the Royal Army Service Corps and the Royal Engineers while another brother Harry was with the RAF. Eldest brother Albert had joined the Flying Corps during the Great War. But this wasn't the complete extent of this Swindon family's patriotic contribution.

The men's two sisters had also responded to the country's call during two world wars. An elder sister had served in France with the Voluntary Aid Detachment during the First World War and both women had joined the NAAFI in the second.

A service of commemoration was held at St. Paul's Church, Swindon for Flying Officer D.C. Maybury, (pictured below right) second son of Mr and Mrs A.P. Maybury of 240 Marlborough Road, whose aircraft was brought down in the sea during the night of Friday, April 12.

Described as making brilliant progress in his career, D.C. Maybury had joined the RAF in 1933 and was awarded a King's cadetship while training at the RAF College at Cranwell.

And former Grand National winning jockey, Tommy Cullinan, (pictured below left) son of Mrs Cullian of the Lawn Lodge, Swindon, died as a result of an accident while serving as a gunner in the Anti Aircraft Section of the RAF.

But one relieved local family welcomed back their serving son. Able Seaman Ralph Briganshaw, a member of the HMS Hardy crew, returned to his home at Green Road, Upper Stratton, to recover from wounds received during the battle of Narvik.


Vandals caused 30 worth of damage to a council rest hut on the Pinehurst allotments. Every window was smashed, sashes taken out and locks and doors removed along with tables, forms and seats. The Allotment Committee announced that the damage to the hut, built with £100 raised by Marlborough College boys, meant they may have to move it to a different site.

And sandbags proved a life saver when a lorry carrying 15 tons of potatoes ploughed into the GWR Medical Fund building in Faringdon Road. Having skidded across the road to avoid another vehicle, the lorry finished up on its side, trapping the driver in his cab.

"There is little doubt that had the sandbags not been there to take the first shock of the impact, the whole place would have been brought down," reported the Advertiser.

A large crowd gathered to watch the rescue operations as men from the Swindon Fire Brigade arrived on the scene following fears that a fire might break out. Police, firemen and others assisted in clearing the road of potatoes, which for a time held up all traffic.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

April 5-11, 1940

Since the outbreak of war, Walter Grey 72 year old Highworth Rural District Councillor, has knitted one cardigan, one jumper, two Balaclava helmets, three hoods, one scarf, eight pairs of mittens and 15 pairs of socks.

"No woman can whack me at knitting," declared Mr Grey who donated the items he had made to the Comforts for Soldiers campaign.

Mr Grey learned to knit during his Army career, serving with the Wiltshire Regiment in India in the 1880s, and had knitted many hundreds of items for his family.

Generally he spends seven hours a day with the needles and wool and has amazed all women expert knitters.

An estimated 300,000 25 year olds registered for military service as it was announced there would be a second call up later in the month, the first time this had happened since the outbreak of war. Registration for men who had reached the age of 26 during 1939 would bring the total of those who had responded under the Military Training and National Service Acts to about 1,850,000.

Jack Tod of Avenue Road, Swindon is pictured putting the finishing touches to a model of the Duke of Monmouth Hotel, Bridgewater, which he made from used matches glued together. Mr Tod, a compositor by trade, used about 5,000 matches to make the model.


While Lois Smith of 326 Cricklade Road, Swindon is pictured with the 16 inch high rhubarb plant which she grew in a bucket in a cupboard in her kitchen.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

March 29-April 4, 1940

Among the weddings that took place in Swindon this week in 1940 were those of William Harding and his bride Dorothy White and Henry Reeves to Phyllis Vines. But while romance was in the Swindon air, sadly a staff reported on the Advertiser took a rather sour view of the whole matrimonial mania.

'If figures were available I expect that the number of weddings in this district, in churches, chapels and register offices, during the last few months (and particularly during Easter) must constitute a record,' he writes. 'What surprises me is the money spent on weddings by people who can ill afford it. Still I suppose I shouldn't grudge women the show they love on what, perhaps, is the biggest day of their lives,' he concludes.


Revised fares on Swindon Corporation buses saw the removal of an anomaly by which passengers were charged as much for travelling from Coate to Bath Road as they were for the Coat to Town Hall journey. The new Coate to Bath road fare was fixed at two and a half pence.


Recently released figures revealed the February death toll in Swindon numbered 150, almost double the number of births. Fifty cases of pneumonia were notified with six cases of Cerebro Spinal fever, six of diphtheria and 11 cases of scarlet fever. There had been 49 births in the maternity home at Kingshill.

Trained by Ivor Anthony at Wroughton, the well fancied Quartier-Maitre gave champion jockey Gordon Richards his first Lincolnshire Handicap win.

March 22-28, 1940


"We are all very proud of the River Plate Battle and I am sure that there must be hundreds of our people eager to join in honouring those from our midst who went through the battle," Swindon Mayor, Councillor H.R. Hustings told an Advertiser reporter as he launched an appeal fund for three local heroes.

Home on leave with his wife and child, Leading Seaman Eric Steward of 19 Langford Grove, Swindon, was on HMS Ajax in the River Plate Battle.

"I was asleep when the battle began," Mr Steward told the Advertiser, "but I was soon up and straight on with the job.

George Mapson, 23, the son of Mr and Mrs W.T. Mapson, of 170 Marlborough Road was another Swindonian crew member on the HMS Ajax.

Able Seaman Leonard Wilkins (pictured) the 18 year old son of Mr and Mrs W.I. Wilkins of 10 Laburnum Road was on board HMS Exeter when the German pocket battleship the Graf Spee was forced into harbour at Monte Video with a loss of thirty-nine crew members.

Swindon reported a surprisingly large number of visitors during the Easter holidays. Despite petrol rationing, Rimes' garage were able to run short trips and evening tours as well as special day excursions to Southsea and Bournemouth. Hardy folk tried the boating at Coate where on Easter Sunday, March 24, there was an attendance of about 300, reported the Advertiser.

The marriage of Roy Edward Lea and Sylvia Irene Walters was the first to take place at the Cambria Baptist Chapel during its 74 year history.

Built for the Welsh workers who settled in Swindon when the GWR Rolling Mills opened in the 1860s, the chapel had only recently been licensed for marriages when Sylvia walked down the aisle.

It was appropriate that this wedding should be the first at the chapel as the bride had been a regular member of the congregation since childhood and was a teacher at the Sunday school.

Wearing a white figured satin dress with tulle veil, the bride was given away by her father, Mr H. Walters. She was attended by two bridesmaids, Miss Maisie Lea, the groom' sister and Miss Phyllis Hewer, a friend of the bride.

Following a reception in the chapel schoolroom the couple left for a honeymoon in Slough.

Monday, January 23, 2012

March 15-21, 1940

Sergt-Pilot Norman James Price of 139 Squadron, only son of Mr James Price of 3 Deansway, Chippenham, was killed when his plane crashed in the sea off Argeles sur Mer during a training flight.

A former pupil at Chippenham Secondary School, Sergt Pilot Price, 25, had previously taken part in the air raid on the Kiel canal during the first week of the war.

Sergt Price appeared in the RAF advertising campaign and was the airman seen swinging the propeller of an aircraft on one of the recruitment posters.


Five Londoners appeared in the dock at Swindon Borough Police Court this week in 1940 charged with breaking and entering Duck Son & Pinker's music shop on Fleet Street on March 5-6.

John James Seatory, Frederick Edward Coombes and Sidney Charles Coombes all from the Holloway and Islington area of North London were charged with stealing eight piano accordions and four wireless sets to the value of £165.

Appearing alongside them were Wallace Graham Walker and John Crossman who were charged with receiving seven piano accordions, knowing them to be stolen. All five were committed to the Quarter Sessions to be held at Salisbury on April 2.

Waste paper Will Help To Win the War - recycling gets underway in Swindon at the John Hill Depot in Bay's Yard, Devizes Road, Swindon. The London based reclamation firm collected newspapers, magazines and cardboard with maximum controller prices paid.

March 8-14, 1940

Two Ashbury brothers were honoured for the part they played in the River Plate Battle of December 1939. Gunner William John Day and Signaller Percival George Day, both of the Royal Marines, were each presented with a leather writing case by the Rev E.G.Mortimer, Vicar of Ashbury.


"I was look out at the time, and I was there when she was first spotted," said Signaller Day, describing his first sighting of the Graf Spee from HMS Exeter. "I saw the battle from start of finish."

"We were pleased to get back to the Falkland Islands, where we were made at home," he said. "They treated us very kindly, and they threw their houses open to us."

Another local hero, Petty Officer Cue, was presented with a travelling clock in recognition of his service on board the Exeter during the battle.


Petty Officer Cue, of Charlbury, Station Road, Stratton, was received an inscribed clock presented by about 70 people from Lower Stratton.

Sanford Street pupils were pictured hard at work as Swindon's Council of Social Service reported a marked interest in the take up of allotments during recent weeks.

"Even so, we still have about 30 ten lug plots of land at Pinehurst waiting to be taken up, and I believe the town council has a lot of allotment land still unlet," secretary Mr T.H. Fessey told an Advertiser reporter.

He anticipated they would soon have as much land under cultivation as in the days when Swindon had 4,000 unemployed men.

Allotments were available at Gorse Hill, Blunsdon Road, Mannington and Rodbourne Farm. Most plots consisted of rough land which had not been cultivated before.

But a shortage of potato seeds was forecast following severe frosts earlier in the year. Gardeners, who had stored their seed in clumps, found the frost had penetrated to a depth of 12 ins of soil and ruined their stock.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

March 1-7, 1940

Jacqueline Rosemary Otter, the eldest daughter of Company Commander Mrs Jagger ATS of Blunsdon House and the late Capt. R.J.C. Otter was married to Mr Richard Clement Frazer Aston at St Leonard's Church, in what was described as one of the biggest weddings in Blunsdon for many years.

The bride had been serving in the 44th Wiltshire VAD Detachment. Among the guests who thronged the picturesque church were fellow members of the VADs, officer friends of the bridegroom and members of the ATS. The couple left the church beneath a guard of honour formed by members of the military police.

Following a reception at Blunsdon House, the newly married Mr and Mrs Aston left by car for a honeymoon in Wales.


The death of a popular Swindon doctor made the news this week in 1940 when Dr J.W. Darling collapsed while on a house call in Croft Road, and died shortly afterwards.

Dr Darling was described as a man of great energy and large heartedness who had not spared himself in furthering the welfare of the community in which he lived and worked. Overwork was thought to have contributed to the doctor's sudden and premature death at the age of 48.

During the Great War Dr Darling had served as a Medical Officer with the Scots Guards and had been awarded the Military Cross for gallentry on the field.


The funeral took place of Mrs Maria Matthews who died at her home aged 97 years old and who was believed to be the oldest woman in Swindon.

The widow of Jesse Matthews, who ran a newsagent's shop in Regent Street, Mrs Matthews was one of the first four woman elected in 1894 to sit on the Poor Law Board of Guardians.

Described as a remarkably active woman, Mrs Matthews had celebrated her 97th birthday by 'tidying up' at her home at 72 Kent Road.

The Rev Joseph Coombes conducted the service at Mrs Matthews' former home and afterwards at Radnor Street Cemetery.

Mrs Matthews left a family eight daughters, two of whom lived in Canada, and a son.

February 22-28, 1940


Photographs of the five fighting Page brothers appeared in the Saturday edition of the Advertiser. The sons of Sidney and Beatrice Page of 146 Croft Road were serving on two continents. Sidney 30, Joseph 27 and youngest brother Ernest 20, were serving in France while Albert 25 was in Egypt. Eldest brother William 31 was also pictured although no details of where he was serving was given. The boys' father Sidney had served during the last war.

The funeral took place on Monday, February 26 of Lady Bolingbroke, following her death on Friday at Lydiard Park. The former Mary Howard was buried alongside her husband Henry, the 5th Viscount Bolingbroke in the St John family vault at St Mary's Church, Lydiard Tregoze.

The couple had married in 1893 following a ten year long clandestine relationship that had produced two illegitimate sons. Their third son, Vernon Henry, born in 1896 following their marriage, went on to succeed to his father's titles and estate.

The funeral was attended by family, friends, tenant farmers and workers on the Lydiard Park estate. Lady Bolingbroke's last years had been blighted by ill health and financial difficulties.



The Drove Road School for Senior Girls and Infants (picture) under construction during the early months of 1940.

Meanwhile,a long-running dispute between parents, the local authority and the Board of Education finally came to an end this week in 1940 when the Highworth "strike school" was forced to close.

Local parents had boycotted the new Senior School at Kingsdown which opened in 1937, arguing that it should have been built in Highworth.

"War and the weather have thus achieved what the whole power and knowledge of the Wilts County Council and even the Board of Education could not," reported the Advertiser.

"We were overpowered," Vernon Hicks, the chairman of the strike committee told the newspaper. "We were bound to lose in the end, like Russia and Finland," he said.

Monday, January 16, 2012

February 15-21, 1940

Two local men were involved in the daring rescue of captured merchant seamen from the German supply ship Altmark.

Alec Williams (pictured right) only son of Mr & Mrs Tom Williams of 42 Eastcott Road and E. Head, 24 son of Mrs Head of Bristol Street (left), both Engine Room Artificers, were on board HMS Cossack when the Tribal class destroyer controversially sailed into Jossinfjord, Norway during the night of February 16.
Acting on orders from First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, Captain Vian sent a boarding party of three officers led by Lieutenant Commander Bradwell Talbot Turner and thirty ratings on to the Altmark. They discovered battened below hatches 299 British seamen captured from ships sunk by the German battleship the Graff Spee.

This week in February saw three more Swindon schoolteachers join up for military service. Mr L.W.H. Long, Mr A.C. Bye and Mr I.H. Richards all obtained war service appointments under the Air Ministry. Permission was also granted to Mr R.S.T. Cook to apply for an appointment as a physical training instructor in the RAF.

Miss Gwendolen L. Fenn and Miss Margaret E. Staniforth were both appointed temporary assistant mistresses at the higher education staff to replace assistant masters released for war service.

Fines of £5 each were imposed by Swindon Borough Magistrates on two local firms for failing to keep records of the hours worked by their young employees.

I. Ward Ltd., 38 Regent Street was fined £2 10s on two counts of failure to keep records concerning Joan Vincent aged 17 or 33 Walcot Road who was employed as a clerk.

Gold (Gowns) Ltd., 59 Regent Street were also fined £5 when they were unable to produce records for the number of hours worked by fourteen year old errand boy Colin William McLeod.

"What, be reported for a trivial thing like this? the manager complained when told he would be up before the magistrates.

"It is not a trivial thing. it is in the interest of young people," Mr A.E. Withy, Magistrates Clerk reminded him.

The relocation of London staffs to Swindon saw a rent rise in Old Town and a scarcity of available properties to let. A small bungalow without gas or electricity was advertised at 22s 6d a week while rent on a house off Marlborough Road was £80 per annum plus rates.

February 8-14, 1940

Photographs of two more brothers serving in the armed forces appeared in the popular Advertiser feature, sent in by their father Mr W.J. Hancock of 67 Cricklade road, Swindon. Ernest 19, a former GWR employee, had served in both the Wiltshire Yeomanry and the Royal Artillery, while his elder brother Frederick 30 was in the Navy, having joined as a 15 year old.


The death of a well travelled Swindonian was announced this week in 1940. When Robert, Fred and Theodore Affleck celebrated reaching a combined age of 245 years their story, published in the Advertiser in January 1939 led to the discovery of their long lost brother Frank.

Frank left Swindon before the Great War and the family had subsequently lost touch with him. The 1939 news item revealed that Frank was then very much alive and well and living at his home in Boundary Road, Vancouver. A year later the family announced that Frank had since died.


Conscripts stood little chance of getting into the RAF it was announced as Swindon men in the 23 age group were called up to register this weekend in February 1940.

Although new recruits could state their preference between the three fighting services, they were unlikely to be accepted into the oversubscribed air force without special qualifications, it was announced.

A verdict of accidental death was returned at the inquest of Wilfred Raymond Massey who fell into an empty oil tank in Swindon's GWR oil and grease works.

The tank had been cleaned out and left empty for inspection. Although surrounded by empty drums to protect it, it was thought poor lighting in the workshop caused by the recent fire contributed to the fatal accident.

Two witnesses saw Massey remove one of the drums before falling to his death and it was suggested he was taking a short cut across to a vacuum machine.

Massey aged 41, of 13 Alfred Street, had been employed in the department for 22 months.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

February 1-7, 1940

William Henry Tydeman, co founder of local building firm Tydeman Bros. & Sons Ltd., died at his home in Downs View Road on Saturday February 3, just days before his 72nd birthday. Mr Tydeman was a prominent member of the Central Mission Hall congregation in Clarence Street, built by the family firm. A keen sportsman, Mr Tydeman was a former member of the County Ground Bowling Club and a lifelong supporter of Swindon Town FC.

One family had a lucky escape when fire broke out at their home in Regent Place during the early hours of Thursday morning.

Mrs Clark and her three year old daughter, who were sleeping downstairs, managed to get to safety through the backway and were found by fire fighters sheltering in an outhouse.

Trapped in a smoke filled bedroom with his retreat cut off by the blazing staircase, Mr. W. Clark leapt to safety from a first floor window.

Flames spread to a neighbouring house but the Fire brigade soon had what was described as a 'major outbreak' under control. The whole of the staircase in the Clarks' home was burnt out, and considerable damage was done to the living room.


A new wartime slogan 'Look Out in the Blackout' was announced as 4,133 deaths on the road during October to January was announced, the majority involving pedestrians. With the speed limit reduced to 20 mph in built up areas, some basic safety precautions were issued including a reminder 'to always pause after leaving a lighted building or vehicle to allow the eyes to become accustomed to the darkness.'

More than one hundred burst water pipes, caused by Arctic weather conditions during January were reported at a meeting of the Highworth District Council on Wednesday February 7. And Mr H. Cook, Swindon's official meteorologist, reported 62 hours of sunshine during January compared to 33 hours in January 1939. However, temperatures were the lowest recorded for many years with 33 degrees of frost on one occasion.

January 25-31, 1940.

Four sets of twins were born at the Swindon Maternity Home this week in January 1940. Mr & Mrs Govier of 52 Dean Street were the proud parents of a son and daughter while Quartermaster Sergeant and Mrs Lonton of 6 Hill Road, Shrivenham, greeted the arrival of twin sons. Mr & Mrs Reynolds of 42 Bruce Street had a son and daughter and Mr & Mrs Fortune of 20 Upham Road had twin sons. Picture holding the babies are Miss Morris, assistant matron, Nurse Aust, Sister Ludlow and Sister Tredell.


The last week in January saw the worse winter weather in forty years and the coldest for more than a century. In sub zero temperatures rain froze as it fell and a snow and ice storm lasted from January 27-30.

Photographs of the extraordinary weather conditions had to first pass the censor before release and were published in the Advertiser a week later.


Hundreds of homes and the GWR factory complex were in danger when fire broke out in the Oil Works Department of the Carriage and Wagon works late Saturday night.

The fire in the office and testing room went undetected because of the building's 'black out' precautions and was only noticed when flames burst through the roof. Mr Comley of 2 Beatrice Street, a GWR employee, raised the alarm and within minutes the company's Fire Brigade were on the scene.

"A series of explosions at one time gave rise to alarming rumours among the crowd which gathered. Later it was learned the reports were due to samples of oil in the testing room, exploding under the intense heat.

A partition had helped to keep the fire concentrated in one place, but flames were beginning to get through to the main building when the firemen arrived," reported the Advertiser.

The Swindon Brigade was summoned by a Gorse Hill policeman but the GWR fire service had the blaze under control before their arrival.

Foul play was not suspected and it was thought the fire was caused by an electrical fault.


Recycling received the thumbs up from the Advertiser correspondent in the 'Around and About Notes' feature, "but when is the Swindon Town Council going to begin to act?" he asked.

The Save Your Waste campaign had been enthusiastically supported by many local schools where pupils collected old newspapers, periodicals and cardboard boxes. However Swindon Town Council was criticised for failing to recognise the importance of waste paper as a valuable raw material.

About 60 local authorities operated salvage schemes but the lack of a national initiative to convert such reusable 'rubbish' into a cash crop was also highlighted.


A whirlwind wartime romance led to the winter wedding at Christ Church of Swindon dance teacher Dorothy Godwin and Army Dental Corps captain John Sherwen.

Dorothy joined the ATS at the outbreak of war and met her future husband when she was drafted to Bulford Camp.

As the couple left the church they passed through a guard of honour formed by members of the ATS.

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 18-24, 1940

As numerous Swindon families came to terms with the call up of their husbands and sons, others continued to suffer the painful consequences of the previous war.

William James Collins, (pictured left) a former private in the Somerset Light Infantry, died at his home in Stratton St Margaret this week, twenty two years after being invalided home during fighting in the last months of the Great War.

Aged 18, Private 40576 Collins sustained wounds to his right arm and both legs which left him severely handicapped and contributed to his premature death at the age of just 40 years old.

His funeral was described as being 'of a semi military character,' attended by local representatives of the British Legion with the coffin covered by the Union flag.

Mr Collins left a widow and one child. Among the mourners were his five sisters, an aunt and his grandmother.

Despite the outbreak of war in September, Swindon Borough Treasurer Mr L.F. Cheyney reported that 1939 had been a prosperous year for the town.

New building projects saw the number of properties rise to 19,079 and the electricity works reported 740 new customers bringing their total to a record 17,324 consumers.

"Swindon buses carried 8,791,823 passengers, which represents yet another record, and the gross profit of £12,866 was the highest in the history of this undertaking," reported the Advertiser.

With the town's debt reduced to £1,924,709 and a stead decrease in the interest rate payable on loans, Swindon finances were looking healthy.

"The outbreak of hostilities will, undoubtedly, have a considerable effect on interest rates," the report continued. "It is hoped, however, that we may not return to the high levels experienced up to the year 1932."


"Every bone in my body aches," Swindon Town Manager Neil Harris (pictured right) told an Advertiser reporter after turning out for the team's game against Bristol Rovers at Kingswood on Saturday January 20.

Harris, aged 43 and weighing in at thirteen and a half stone, stepped into the breach when Welsh left back Thomas Emmanuel failed to put in an appearance.

"I hadn't played a match since I was player manager at Burton nine years ago," said Harris. "The only boots I could borrow were a size too small, and the studs were far too long. And, to make matters worse, I had smoked at least 15 cigarettes before I stripped out!"

Asked if he would do it again, Harris said he probably would, "but I sincerely hope I shall be spared the agony."

To add insult to injury, Swindon lost 4-2.

Proceedings at Swindon Borough Police Court were cut short this week in 1940 when fourteen members of the local police force were reported to be 'down with influenza.'

The Swindon & District Bakers' Association along with the New Swindon Kingshill and Swindon Co-operative Societies responded to the Ministry of Transport's appeal to conserve petrol supplies by suspending the baking and delivery of bread each Wednesday. 'In order that this alteration shall bear equally on all traders, it has been agreed that the restriction shall apply also to horse drawn vehicles,' the announcement read.