Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 12 - 18, 1941


London suffered its heaviest raid yet when several hundred German bombers attacked the British capital dropping thousands of incendiaries and hundreds of high explosive bombs.
“Seen from the roof of a high City building the whole of London appeared involved in the raid,” wrote a Pres Association reporter.
The raid took place with good ground visibility and was directed, in the first instance, against harbour installations, reported the Advertiser.  Tilbury Docks and Chatham on the Thames Estuary were also extremely badly hit.
A Special German High Command communiqué stated that the raid on London was a reprisal for those made on Berlin and Potsdam on April 9 and 10.

And an elderly couple killed in a Bristol air raid were buried in Chippenham this week in 1941.  William John Rose and his wife Mary Ann, originally from Chippenham, had lived in Bristol for 50 years. 
Their home at 21 Birch Road was demolished during a raid on Good Friday, April 11.  The bodies of Mr and Mrs Rose were found, clasped in each other’s arms, in the wreckage of their kitchen the following day.

Swindon farmers braced themselves as the age of reservation for agricultural workers was raised to 25.
Farmers employing men aged 19-26 were instructed to apply at once to the county war agricultural executive committees for their retention.  However, it was anticipated that the great majority of the men concerned would be allowed to stay on the land, at least until after harvest.
While a warning was issued that no one would be allowed to ‘shelter’ in agriculture as an escape from military service, an assurance was given that key men with expertise would remain on the farms.
Most recruits for the Army would be found from among nurserymen, poultry and pig keepers and fruit farmers whose places would be filled by women as the demand for agricultural workers was being met by volunteers entering the Women’s Land Army.

“The Germans are using the same ruthless tactics in Greece as they employed in the Battle of France,” a British United Press war correspondent reported from Athens, this week in 1941.  “But they have the British Forces to reckon with now, and I know from my experience that these will not be daunted by their terrorist warfare,” the report continued.
Town and villages were razed by dive bombing Nazi planes before tanks and fast mechanised units moved in.  But the British Forces were ahead of the game and had already moved in columns of tanks, lorries, big guns and munitions.
“Rarely have I seen men so eager to get to grips with the enemy,” reported the correspondent.  “They smashed my home – I’ve got an account to settle,” one soldier newly arrived from London was quoted as saying.

Harry Higginson
Harry Higginson, sports editor of the Evening Advertiser and editor of the Football Pink for many years, died suddenly this week. Mr Higginson, 54, who was at his desk in the afternoon, collapsed in the works as he was about to leave at the end of shift.  He died later that night at his home in Marlborough Road.
Originally form Kendal in Westmorland, Harry Higginson had come to Swindon thirty years previously to a job on the North Wilts Herald.
During the First World War he served in the Royal Garrison Artillery in France but was invalided out with dysentery. An accomplished journalist, Harry joined the Advertiser in 1921, writing under a number of pen names.  He regularly reported on the fortunes of the Swindon Town Football Club and gave daily racing forecasts.

The audience at the popular Sunday afternoon series of concerts at the Savoy Cinema were entertained by the Southern Command Variety Orchestra at a Stag Party this week in 1941.
The 25 member strong orchestra opened the concert with an arrangement of potted overtures.  The highlight of the programme was, according to the Advertiser reviewer, ‘their rousing and colourful interpretation of music from the film King of Jazz’ which featured Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.
The Swindon audience was entertained by comedy duo Dump Harris and his partner, described as the British Army’s Laurel and Hardy, and Canadian Herschel Henlere , billed as a popular pianist with a sense of humour.
Proceeds from the concert went to the Mayoress of Swindon’s fund for comforts for the troops.

Reports from Germany reveal that morale amongst the working class people was at an all time low.  At a time of national shortages, corruption and profiteering was rife with the Nazi party enjoying a monopoly on illegal products which they supplied to the rich.
Coffee sold for £2 a pound on the black market with butter costing £1 a pound.  However nobody dared say anything about it for fear of ending up in a concentration camp, the report continued.
“Germany has been drained almost dry by the war effort,” a factory manager told a British United Press journalist.  “There is a shortage of everything, but appearances are being kept up at all costs.”

About 20,000 parcels of comforts have been sent by Great Western Railway employees to their colleagues in the Forces.
Despatched by hundreds of volunteers from 24 packing centres at principal parts of the company’s system, the comforts ranged from pullovers and socks knitted by members of the staff to packs of cards and mouth organs.
Some 200,000 cigarettes, 40,000 safety razor blades, 21,000 packets of chewing gum, 15,000 handkerchiefs, 10,000 books and 8,000 sticks of shaving soap had also been despatched to former GWR employees.
Each parcel had been sent to a named colleague to maintain a personal link with the station or depot where the serviceman had worked before joining up.

Caroline Dewe and William Hillman
Caroline Ellen Dewe, one of the singing Four Harmony Sisters, married William Edward Hillman at the Wesleyan Church, Faringdon Road this week in 1941.  And Marjorie Langford married Arthur William Dowdeswell at Christ Church, Swindon.  The bride wore a white satin gown with a veil surmounted by orange blossom and was attended by six bridesmaids attired in pink and mauve.  Marjorie was the elder daughter of First World War hero Leonard Langford of the Royal Garrison Artillery who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for devotion to duty during the period October to November 1918.

Marjorie Langford and Arthur Dowdeswell

A memorial service was held at the parish church Clyffe Pypard for two young boys who died at sea during enemy action in March.
Naval Officer Lieutenant Commander Thomas Nevil Masterman showed incredible bravery when a ship on which he and his family were travelling was bombed.
In an attack which killed his two young sons, Patrick Nevil 9 and Anthony Maskelyne St John 6, Lt. Commander Masterman saw the lifeboats safely launched, rallied the crew and took over from the shell shocked captain to bring the damaged ship safely into harbour several days later.


The funeral took place this week of Special Constable Dennis George Constable who died suddenly outside his home at 29 Upham Road. A chargeman machinist in the GWR Works and secretary of the Wilts Working Men’s Conservative Benefit Society, Mr Constable was just 37 years old. Swindon policemen under Supt. W.T. Brooks, Deputy Chief Constable of Wiltshire, formed a guard of honour at Christ Church, Swindon. Mr Constable left a widow and a ten year old son.


Three tons of seed potato for the Swindon Council of Social Service’s allotment scheme arrived in the town and secretary Mr T.H. Fessey was anxious that members collected their quotas as quickly as possible.
It was pointed out that unless members took up their supplies without delay, the Council would have to foot the bill for demurrage – storage beyond a scheduled time – or railway truck rental.

Part of the Ashton Keynes Bruderhof community settlement looked likely to be taken over by the Home Office for the purpose of an Approved School for juvenile delinquents. The residence and portions of the farm have been the subject of negotiations which had reached a very advanced stage, reported the Advertiser.


A householder in Winifred Street placed his fire fighting appliances in his front garden for the use of anyone in need.

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