Friday, May 3, 2013

April 19 - 25, 1941

The Advertiser included the stories of five servicemen lost and killed on active service this week in 1941.
Pilot Officer Peter Hogarth, 26, was reported killed during air operations in Greece.  A former bank clerk in the High Street branch of Lloyds, Pilot Officer Hogarth was the son of Mrs G.D. Hogarth of 13 Devizes Road and her late husband.

Mr Hogarth volunteered for the RAF in June 1939 and went to the Middle East in September 1940.

Edward Herbert Henly, aged 19, was the son of Albert Henly of Derry Hill, Chippenham.  A young despatch rider in the London Auxiliary Fire Service he was killed during Saturday night’s air raids on the capital.

Bombed out of their London home at Christmas, Albert and his wife had moved in with relatives at Derry Hill.  Edward remained in London because he was ‘keen on his job’ as a motorcycle despatch rider.

‘He had been in a number of raids and had been commended for his services,’ reported the Advertiser.

In Wootton Bassett the funeral took place of 26 year old Herbert Charles Page who died in Yorkshire as a result of enemy action.

The third son of Mr & Mrs J.T. Page of 15 Springfield Crescent, Wootton Bassett, Mr Page had been in the Pioneer Corps for nearly twelve months.

And Able Seaman Francis Townsend aged 22, was reported missing after his ship HMS Rajputana was torpedoed and sunk off Iceland after escorting a convoy across the North Atlantic.

A former milkman with Balch’s dairies, Able Seaman Townsend lived at 17 South Street. ‘Francis was a good swimmer,’ reported the Advertiser, ‘and his friends have every hope that they will shortly have news of his safety.’

Engineroom Artificer J.T. Singer of 30 St Margaret’s Road was among those reported missing following the loss of the destroyer Mohawk.  The destroyer was torpedoed during an attack on an Italian convoy on April 16 near the Kerkennah Islands off the Tunisian coast. 


Able Seaman Francis Townsend

Swindon courts were busy this week with magistrates looking kindly on some minor offences.
“I couldn’t find my way in the black out, so I laid down,” Edward Crossley, a labourer of no fixed abode told the court.  “I hope you will give me a chance.”
Charged with being drunk and disorderly, the magistrates freed him without fine or cost as he had been kept in custody for several days.
Albert George Ayres of Wharf Farm, Uffington wasn’t quite so lucky when he was stopped by the mobile police for driving a motor lorry at speeds varying between 40 and 43 mph.
“I have to milk 30 cows when I get back home, and feed 100 head of cattle,” he told magistrates who fined him £2 for speeding and a further 10s for failing to produce a record of his driving hours.  Farmer Ayres also had his driving licence endorsed.
And John Myland of 1 Cambria Cottages went back to prison just six weeks after being released following a six months sentence.
Arrested for being drunk and disorderly and smashing a pane of glass in a telephone kiosk, Myland was said to be ‘shouting and waving his arms about.’  He fell down in the road and bumped into pedestrians.
Myland pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly and went back to prison for another three months.


“With British and Imperial Forces beating off waves of German infantry and hitting back hard on land, on sea and in the air, the titanic battle of Greece is raging non stop,” reported the Advertiser this week in 1941.
Violent assaults on the 150 mile front held by Empire and Greek forces saw the Allies under extreme pressure in a situation described as serious.

The Nazi army continued to advance despite very heavy losses attributed to the brilliant delaying actions fought by Australian and New Zealand troops.

As the Imperial Forces were forced to withdraw the Greek Epirus Forces buckled under the Nazi onslaught and capitulated to the Germans on April 21.

And in the US Bishop Henry Hobson, Chairman of the Southern Ohio ‘Fight for Freedom Committee’ sent a strongly worded ‘Wake up Call’ telegram to members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

“Unless we throw our full support into the fight the present war will be lost, and a more serious and more devastating war will have to be fought in the future,” he warned.

Deanna Durbin, star of Three Smart Girls married film director Vaughn Paul in Hollywood on April 18.  But there were no big stars among the 800 guests as the invitations went mostly to studio workers.
The 19 year old actress wore an ivory duchess satin gown with long sleeves and a wide sweeping train.
And showing at the Regent this week was the teenage actresses’ latest film, Spring Parade in which she starred alongside Robert Cummings.
Joan Blondel and Dick Powell were the stars of ‘I Want a Divorce,’ at the Empire while Wallace Beery was the ‘Bad Man of Wyoming’ screened at the Savoy.
For those who preferred to stay at home radio programmes on the Home Service included ‘The Old Familiar Things’ with Jack Melford and Betty Astell as the young couple who recalled ‘some of the things we did before the war.’




Deanna Durbin


Two London evacuees who were married at Islington Register Office in 1881, celebrated their Diamond Jubilee in Swindon this week.
A former labourer in the East India Docks, Mr Ward took an active role in the six week long London Dock Strike of 1889 alongside Labour leaders Jack Burns, Ben Tillett and Tom Mann which led to the establishment of a trade union presence on the docks.

The couple from Bow, billeted with Mrs Sinclair at 15 Jennings Street, had just learned that their home of 45 years had been severely damaged in recent raids on London.

“Well it can’t be helped,” Mr Ward told an Advertiser reporter.  “We’ll keep smiling.  We are going to win.”

Mr and Mrs Ward lost two sons in the Great War.

Mr and Mrs Ward

Plymouth suffered a third successive night of air raids as Nazi bombers dropped large flares and incendiaries followed by a wave of high explosives.
Two enemy planes were shot down in a fierce antic aircraft barrage but the attack was described as not on the scale of previous ones.

Earlier raids had seen a communal shelter receive a direct hit and in another part of the city a shopping centre was destroyed.


Weddings at Christ Church, Swindon this week included that of Donald Stanley George Smith of 25 Buller Street, Swindon who married Daisy May Barnes of 89 Shrivenham Road.
And Private Douglas Ivor Webb of 4 King John Street married Eveleen Grace Bristow of 31 Cambria Place.  Private Webb had been a compositor at Newspaper House before he enlisted with the Somerset Light Infantry.



Private Webb and Eveleen Bristow


More than 300,000 young women were expected to sign up for war work this week as those born in 1920 were required to register at Labour Exchanges.
“Many of them were already doing important work, but, unless they were in one of the Services open to women, they had to sign on the dotted line,” reported the Advertiser.


“It is now no uncommon sight to find public houses with their doors closed during permitted hours and bearing a notice sold out,” reported the Advertiser as Swindon pubs recorded a shortage of beer.
With supplies of alcohol as plentiful as ever it appeared that demand had increased out of all proportion 

In the Advertiser’s ‘Today’s Smile’ feature a schoolteacher who was taking a class in literature quoted the well known line ‘Oh to be in England now that April’s there.’  ‘Who said that?’ he asked.  The small boy who was questioned thought it over carefully for a moment, and then replied ‘Hitler, sir.’

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