Sunday, June 24, 2012

January 4-10, 1941

The first week of 1941 saw Swindon couples keen to tie the knot.  Velvet dresses, muffs and bonnets were worn by the bridesmaids of Annie Amelia Lawrence at her marriage to Gunner William John Cole.  A reception at the bridegroom’s home in Pinehurst Road followed the wedding at St. Barnabas’ Church. 

Meanwhile Barbara Jones had four bridesmaids and two page boys in attendance when she married Gunner Albert Edgington at Christ Church, Swindon.

As the Food Ministry announced a rise in the price of chocolate, women and children queued outside an Old Town sweetshop for twopenny bars of chocolate while retailers warned they might be forced to close if they were denied supplies of sweets.

Mr J.G. Mathieson, president of the Manufacturing Confectionery Alliance reported that the demands of the Services were often in excess of their needs with stock remaining on NAAFI shelves for weeks.  He demanded a more equitable distribution of available supplies between priority orders and the demands of the public.

And Swindonians were advised to dig deep and get their gardens in order for 1941 as the ‘Food is a Munition of War’ campaign continued.

Lord Woolton reminded the British public that half their food supplies came from overseas on ships under attack by German U boats.

“Now, here is your part in the fight for Victory.  When a particular food is not available, cheerfully accept something else – home produced if possible.  Keep loyally to the rationing regulations,” advised the Minister of Food.  “Above all – whether you are shopping, cooking or eating – remember food is a munition of war.  Don’t waste it.”

With home grown veg set to play an increasingly important role on the menu, the Advertiser published tips for a better yield.  Success was all in the preparation, as gardeners were told to dig at least to the full depth of the spade and to make good use of their compost heap to ensure productive soil.  Householders were encouraged to plant fewer potatoes in 1941 and to concentrate on root crops, onions, leeks and particularly winter greens.  One third of a plot planted to potatoes should be the maximum, was the general advice.

“Efficient cultivation, combined with economy in the use of seed, will greatly assist in the national welfare and in the campaign for a greater quantity and better quality of home produced food,” reported the Advertiser with readers advised to visit a demonstration plot to see how it should be done and to pick up tips.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Information addressed the gardening topic in their regular cut out and keep newspaper item ‘What do I do…’

“I dig now and leave the ground rough so that the frost may act on it.  If I cannot get manure I dig in leaves or any vegetable or animal matter.   I give up any ground I can spare for the purpose, including flower beds and lawns.  If I have no land I can apply to my Local Authority for an allotment.  I do all I can now to make a start for the early spring campaign."

Signalman K.R. Bradford, only son of Mr & Mrs E. Bradford of 93 Lansdown Road, Swindon, was granted a commission as Second Lieutenant in the RAOC with the designation of Ordnance Mechanical Engineer following a course at an Officer Cadet Training Union.

A former student at Commonweal Secondary School and The College, Swindon, Signalman Bradford had also won the Little Fund Scholarship for an engineering degree at the City and Guilds College, London.

A GWR apprentice engineer, Mr Bradford had joined the Army on November 1, 1939 and had been posted to the Royal Corps of Signals.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

December 27 - January 3, 1941

The great and the good of Swindon sent New Year messages to Advertiser readers.  Sir Noel Arkell declared that he was proud to be born a Briton, adding ‘we strive for self preservation, but we also strive to save the world from barbarism, and God will not forget us.’

The Mayor of Swindon, Alderman F.E. Allen sent greetings to both long time and more recent residents evacuated to the town.  He urged the people of Swindon ‘to face the coming year with fortitude in the knowledge that the ultimate victory will bring with it not only peace for ourselves but the return of their countries to the peoples of the occupied territories.’

While rationed Swindon housewives struggled to feed their families, food wastage in British Army camps was attributed to the soldiers excessive meat allowance.

“At present the Army meat ration is about 4½lb a week, much more than the civilian can buy for his weekly allowances of 1s 10d,” reported the Advertiser.

Under increased criticism the War Office agreed that if a reduction in the civilian meat ration became necessary, the Army would accept a cut as well.

“The soldier in this country today is not working more strenuously nor under going greater hardship and danger than are hundreds of civilian war workers,” the report concluded.

Lord Woolton, wartime Minister for Food, appealed to the public to cut down on their meat consumption and eat more potatoes. 

In a radio broadcast Lord Woolton urged listeners to avoid imported foodstuffs in favour of home grown produce.

“We English people have given up making porridge, and have all sorts of imported breakfast foods instead,” he said.  “We cannot afford shipping space for breakfast foods when we have ample supplies of good oats in this country.”

Swindon’s MP Mr W.W. Wakefield handed over a cheque for £5,300 to Col J.J. Llewellin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aircraft Production, Swindon’s contribution to the Spitfire Fund started by the late Mayor Harry Hustings.

Children and friends, pictured at a Christmas tea at Olive House held at the end of December.

December 20-26, 1940

Swindon celebrated a low key Christmas following a year in which the war had bit hard.  But the town and district made sure that the most vulnerable citizens were catered for, especially the evacuees, so far from home for the festive period.

Frank Leigh produced and starred in Jack and the Beanstalk, this year’s pantomime at the Playhouse.  Leigh scored a personal triumph in his role as Dame Durden according to the Advertiser reviewer who also commented on the ‘several pleasing specialities.’

And at Lethbridge Road School, children from the infant class put on a production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for their mothers with Jean Hawkins in the lead role of Snow White.

But not everyone had the Christmas spirit and sadly some mean minded thieves were accused of pilfering parcels sent to troops in camp in the West of England.

“Many parcels are being delivered with wrappers torn open, string removed, boxes broken, and some of the contents missing,” reported the Advertiser.  One camp post orderly told a reporter that the parcels were received in such a bad condition that it was impossible to tell to which parcel the loose items belonged.

“They have obviously been pilfered,” he said.

Weddings during the Christmas period included two Boxing Day matches at Christ Church between PC Alfred Stephens and Iris Jones (pictured above) and Albert Edgington and Barbara Jones.

And one local resident received a nasty surprise this week when her wardrobe burst into flames.
“Mrs Maundrell of 42 Whiteman Street, Swindon had a shock this morning when entering a bedroom, she found the wardrobe on fire,” reported the Advertiser.  The fire brigade was called but members of the household managed to extinguish the blaze before their arrival.