Thursday, December 27, 2012

February 22 - 28, 1941

Passengers on Swindon’s buses continued to come under scrutiny following recent bad behaviour at a Regent Circus bus stop.

Dubbed as the most inconsiderate of all travellers, Swindon bus conductors and conductresses gave the ‘fur coated women of Old Town,’ a dressing down.

“They expect to be picked up and put down outside their own homes, regardless of the approved stopping places, take twice as long as the average passenger to leave the bus because they are too busily engaged in a conversation which almost monopolises the vehicle, and invariably need change for a half crown or a note,” reported the Advertiser.

Those who tried to travel without paying or crowded the gangway when there were seats on the top deck also scored high on the list of most annoying commuters.

But it wasn’t all bad news.  “Our job is far easier and more pleasant on the Rodbourne-Gorse Hill route than on the Old Town service,” said one conductor.

 Swindon magistrates heard how a dispute between two members of the Highworth Home Guard resulted in a bayonet attack during which one man was wounded.

The attack occurred following an argument as to who should do duty at a certain place and time.  In the absence of an officer and as the senior in service, Daniel Cobb of Eastrop, Highworth assumed charge.
Following a heated exchange of words, Mark Pope of Coleshill left the building.  When he later returned to collect his gas mask he drew his bayonet, wounding Cobb just below his left arm.

World War One veteran Pope told the court he was very ashamed that he had attacked a fellow countryman and Home Guard and realised he would have to control his temper.

Character references from Pope’s employer and the Platoon Commander persuaded magistrates to take a lenient view.  Pope would bound over for twelve months and fined £2 8s 6d.

 “When the history of 1940 comes to be written it would reveal that the British people have contributed the most glorious chapter in their whole history,” said Mr T. Reid, prospective parliamentary candidate at Swindon Labour Party’s Annual General Meeting.  As to the future, he told the audience, that with a capable Coalition Government, magnificent fighting and home security forces and the support of the British Empire and the United States, victory was assured.  “We should have to work hard and to fight hard, but we should win,” he said.

A resolution was passed at the meeting protesting against the action of the borough Education Committee in increasing Secondary School fees to parents whole wages had been supplemented by a war bonus.

“The resolution pointed out that such bonuses were granted to help meet the increased cost of living in war-time, and were not, in effect, an increase in income,” reported the Advertiser.

Sixteen year old Owen George Skane was the first boy to sign his application form for entry into the Air Training Corps No. 302 (Swindon) Squadron.  With Owen’s elder brother Harold already in the RAF training to be a flight mechanic, Swindon’s Air Cadet No 1 told an Advertiser reporter that he had ambitions to be a pilot.  His chief concern was that he wore glasses and hoped that this would not ‘plough’ him when it came to the pilot’s examination. 

But Owen said he wouldn’t be too disappointed as long as he could get in as a mechanic or on the ground staff.

“There is pluck and initiative for you,” reported the Advertiser.  “He intends to get into the RAF somehow – his heart is set on it.”

The death of two young RAF volunteers was reported in the Advertiser this week.  Sergeant Wireless Operator Air Gunner Alan Lloyd, 20 year old son of Mr and Mrs C. Lloyd of 48 Shrivenham Road, Swindon was killed on active service with 107 Squadron.

A former Commonweal School pupil, Sergeant Lloyd had volunteered for the RAF during the first week of the war and had flown in bombing raids over enemy territory, including the Ruhr area.

And aircraftman 2nd class and popular Swindon boxer Richard John (Jack) Marchant aged 20, was killed in a flying accident.

A butcher by trade, Jack had served his apprenticeship with Norman Thomas at Keylock’s in Wood Street. His last boxing contest in Swindon was an exhibition bout with Gipsy Daniels.

Supplies of national wholemeal flour were slow to reach Swindon shops and neither had the brown loaves made an appearance despite a Government announcement they were on their way.

“Wholemeal flour is very difficult stuff to keep,” a leading Swindon baker told the Advertiser.  “If it is left any length of time on the shelves it is liable to become infested with meal maggots.  The demand is very slow and stocks would have to be kept for some considerable time.”

With a tendency to ‘go dry’ the brown loaves were also less popular and bakers reported a limited demand and a large wastage.

In less than a month a second man with Swindon connections was awarded the George Medal.  Mr Owen Edward Parsloe, Works Superintendent to Bromley Corporation was described as having shown fearless courage on many occasions, and time after time had been the first man inside a wrecked house, regardless of the risk to himself.

The award came after Mr Parsloe was stated officially “to have worked for three hours in a tunnel under the debris of bombed houses rescuing a woman and a boy.”

Mr Parsloe was the eldest son of Mrs and Mrs Edward Parsloe of 143 Westcott Place.

Swansea came under attack by Nazi bombers this week in 1941.  Three successive nights of air raids saw local homes and businesses destroyed.

“High explosives and fire bombs caused severe damage and it is feared there are a number of fatal casualties,” reported the Advertiser.

Meanwhile RAF bombers attacked Wilhelmshaven, Emden and the invasion ports at Brest, the raid on Wilhelmshaven being the 43rd attack on the port.

“Industrial objectives in the Ruhr were also attacked, but bad visibility rendered it impossible to observe details of the results,” the report continued.  “None of our fighters is missing.”

Temporary accommodation for more than 1,400 people was available at various town locations in a scheme devised by Swindon Town Council in close collaboration with the Emergency Committee of the Wiltshire County Council, it was announced.

During November and December 1940, 575 people passed through Wiltshire rest centres including victims of the Southampton raids.

“The rest centre at the Sanford Street Congregational Church, Swindon has been open continuously and the average number of people maintained there has been 40 each day,” reported the Advertiser.

 At a talk to local Rotarians, Mr R.A. Berkeley, of Chesterton, Cirencester, said that about only one in a thousand women looked ‘reasonably nice’ in slacks but the 14 stone woman ‘all hips and side pockets’ was a sight to make the angels weep!  Mr Berkeley emphasised that he made no slanderous insinuations against ‘those splendid women who are working so hard for the national effort,’ but he still thought that women didn’t look their best in trousers.

Swindon’s 19 year olds registered for the armed forces this week with many of them expressing a preference for flying duties in the RAF or for service with the Royal Navy to be trained as pilots and observers of the Fleet Air Arm.

This was the first registration of men liable to be called up under the Royal Proclamation of January 29, which extended the operation of the National Service Acts to men aged 18-40.

The GWR Junction Station prepared to welcome females on the staff as vacancies were advertised for women ticket inspectors and porters.

“The employment of women, however, is regarded by the Stationmaster’s Office as something of an experiment,” reported the Advertiser, "and no statement on the number of women likely to be employed can yet be given.”

 Among those appearing at Corsham police court this week were Viscountess Chetwynd of Ivy House, Corsham who was fined 15s for failing to display a light on a stationery car and the Rev Alfred Antrobus of Hill Crest, Highworth who was fined 10s for ignoring a halt sign.

Able Seaman Charles McBeath from Dunfermline married local girl Elsie Rosa Bowles, eldest daughter of Mr & Mrs L. Bowles, 18 Morris Street, at St. Augustine’s Church.  The bride’s attendants included her three year old sister Mary while her brother John aged 5 was pageboy.

Champion jockey Gordon Richards’ ambition to serve in the RAF was shattered when he received a Grade 3 ranking.  Chest troubles which kept him out of the saddle in 1926 were thought to be the reason he was classified unfit for military service.