Wednesday, April 17, 2013

March 29 - April 4, 1941

Letters to the editor this week included a ‘sausage grumble’ and a tip on how to carry babies’ gas masks while Swindon’s air raid shelters were causing a bit of a stink.
‘I wonder when one is going to get a decent sausage,’ wrote a housewife of Medgbury Road.  ‘No matter where you get them they are all the same – simply soaked bread and fat.  It is disgusting.’
The resourceful Mrs B. Bates of Redcliffe Street had a DIY tip for the mum trying to juggle baby, pram and gas mask.
‘Fix two pieces of wood on the framework under the back of the perambulator.  Have them long enough so that they project far enough out to hold the box safely, then nail two small pieces of wood upright on the wood already fixed, to hold the box in place. This has already been carried out successfully,’ she wrote, ‘and does not interfere with the baby’s comfort.’
And Lionel Howse of 12 Wells Street wished he’d had his gas mask with him when he decided to have a quick look round one of Swindon’s street shelters.
‘Incidentally it is only a small shelter, but before I had explored all of it I was very glad to emerge,’ he wrote.  ‘The condensed effluvia of a sewer, pigsty, cow yard and dung heap would be as the pure essence of violets compared with the noxious emanation I found therein and one dreads to think what would happen should a blitz occur and people rushed there for shelter.’

Mr J. G. Mason
Following on from the success of the first Air Training Corps squadron, a second was officially sanctioned in Swindon this week in 1941 and would be known as No 1,244 Squadron.  Mr J.G. Mason, headmaster of Pinehurst Modern School was confirmed as Squadron Leader.
Although up and running for just a few weeks, the cadets in Swindon’s first squadron were already receiving coaching in specialised technical subjects, physical training, foot drill and general efficiency and discipline.  A plane had also been offered to the two squadrons for ground demonstrations.
Six flights had so far been formed with headquarters at Pinehurst Modern, Ferndale Road, Sanford Street, Commonweal and Euclid Street Schools.
The Rev C.F. Harman, Vicar of St Paul’s and the Rev Nigel Porter, Pastor of Immanuel Congregational Church, Upham Road were the honorary chaplains and Dr D.A. Cameron the honorary medical officer.
“It is hoped that before very long it will be found necessary to make application for consent to form a third squadron,” reported the Advertiser, “as with its wide sphere of activities, presents youths with just the opportunity they have been longing for to prepare themselves technically and physical for service in the RAF.”

The passing of the traditional English Sunday will be a calamity the nature and extent of which future history will reveal, wrote the Rev C.F. Harman, Vicar at St Paul’s, as the country prepared for a working Easter in 1941.
He questioned the government decision to order National Days of Prayer while at the same time making this year’s Good Friday an ordinary working day. 
Rev Harman criticised the motion to allow theatres and music halls to open on Sundays and felt that men in the services were being pandered to.  The drift towards the secularisation of Sunday cannot be concealed, he said.
And Swindon Town Council employees heard that they would not receive a day’s holiday in lieu of a Bank Holiday cancelled by the government.  However it wasn’t all bad news.
The question of compensation for cancelled Bank Holidays was the subject of debate at this week’s council meeting.  The finding was that council employees already enjoyed a generous holiday allowance compare to other workers, therefore they would receive a day’s pay plus any agreed special rate normally due in respect of work done on a Bank Holiday.

Nearly 2000 young men in the GWR Works were among those railway apprentices set to gain from a pay rise as negotiations continued on the national pay scale.
A cut made during the slump in the 1930s had seen apprentices wages remain at the revised lower rate.  This along with a rise in the cost of living and the likelihood of female workers being brought into railway workshops were factors in support of the claim to raise the apprentice’s rate of pay.
“This is the first time in the history of the railway trade union movement that apprentices, as such, have made any move of this nature,” reported the Advertiser.  “The AEU apprentices have since put their case to all their local branches and secured complete support.”

fire bomb snatcher
Mr A.J. Porter, travelling salesman and spare time member of the Auxiliary Fire Service turned inventor when he came up with an idea to help deal with fire bombs.
The 9ft long piece of cast iron tubing with a double prong at the end and a cast iron rod running inside with another prong, worked like a grab.  The bomb could be picked up between the two sets of prongs and carried to safety.
‘The implement has been seen by the Swindon Fire brigade, and confidence expressed in its being of use,’ reported the Advertiser.  ‘The only trouble at the moment is that the thing is rather weighty, but perhaps Mr Porter will be able to find a lighter metal soon with the same heat resisting properties.’

Mr and Mrs Charles Little 
Mr and Mrs Charles Little of 190 Cheney Manor Road celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary this week in 1941.
The couple were married at Hucclecote Parish Church, Gloucester on March 30, 1891 and moved to Swindon in 1896.  Mr Little worked in the Boiler Shop at the GWR Works for more than 30 years.
‘Mr and Mrs Little have two sons and a daughter living,’ reported the Advertiser. ‘One of the sons, Stanley, is a Quarter Master Sergeant.  He enlisted on his 45th birthday, shortly after the outbreak of hostilities, and is now a prisoner of war.’

John William Jefferies 

John William Jefferies retired this week in 1941 having spent 50 years working in the same GWR Shop.
Mr Jefferies, who moved to Swindon from London as a boy in 1885 told the Advertiser he could remember when there were cowsheds where the Town Hall stands.
He began his work as an errand boy before moving to the GWR Works in 1891 in 15 Shop (wagon side) where he spent the rest of his working life.
Mr Jefferies planned to return to London to work with the London City Mission.

All male British subjects born between December 31, 1897 and before April 6, 1900, including members of the Home Guard, were to register for war work at the Ministry of Labour and National Service, it was announced in the Advertiser.
It was intended that this latest round of registration would reveal exactly what the men were doing and how many could be spared from their jobs for essential war work.

Sidney Andrew Smith
Petty Officer Sidney Andrew Smith aged 21 was reported killed in action when his ship HMS York was attacked by Italian explosive motorboats of the 10th Flotilla MAS at Suda Bay, Crete.  The ship was run aground to prevent her from sinking.
Petty Officer Smith was one of three brothers, sons of Mr and Mrs W.J. Smith of 42 Linslade Street, Swindon.

Swindon housewives learned that yet another staple food would soon be joining the list of rationed items.  From May 5 cheese would be rationed at just 1oz per person per week.
With grocers objecting to cutting cheese into such small amounts it was anticipated that the Ministry of Food would agree to shoppers ordering a month’s ration at a time.

Swindon police were making enquiries to track down those responsible for stamping anti-Semitic slogans on town centre shop fronts.
Phrase such as ‘Help your neighbour, stop this Jews’ war’ and ‘Blame the Jew, not England’ were stamped on the stone work of shop fronts and in other prominent positions on buildings in Regent Street and Regent Circus during the blackout.

Mr and Mrs Ehrmann
Among the weddings at St Mark’s Church this week was that of Rifleman Peter Ehrmann of London who married local girl Janet Harding of 2 Hunt Street. Douglas Mitchell of Whitby Grove, Swindon married Doris Mulraney of Station Road and following a reception at St John’s Church Hall the couple left for a honeymoon in Weymouth. 

Joe Loss
Popular band leader Joe Loss made a return visit to Swindon playing to a full house at the Savoy Cinema.  Vocalists included Monte Rey, a romantic tenor, Paula Green, Bob Arden and Bette Roberts.

1 comment:

  1. Stumbled across the 'Adver's' report of the death of PO Sidney Andrew Smith.
    'Toby', as he was nicknamed, by his family, was my uncle. Unfortunately, I never met him, as I was born long after his death.
    However, he's never been forgotten by his family and that continues, even today, with his great-nieces and nephews.
    As Toby was lost at sea, and has no known grave, his name can be found on the War Memorial on Southsea Common.