Thursday, May 16, 2013

April 26 - May 2, 1941

Housewives were encouraged to shop early as 26,000 cases of oranges arrived at Covent Garden, London for distribution nationwide.  But in Swindon complaints about food vultures made the news with tourist or snap shoppers causing resentment among the general public.
People with time on their hands proved they were prepared to queue indefinitely to get their hands on unrationed, hard to get food items.  Although not illegal, this practise was condemned as unpatriotic and was unpopular with Advertiser readers.
“I am far too busy looking after my household of four children, including two evacuees and putting in a weekly round of voluntary work,” wrote one Swindon housewife who signed herself ‘disgusted.’
“Is it not possible to discourage this queuing up and to introduce a more complete system of control so that everyone will have equal opportunity of sharing all the ‘extras’ that are made available,” she asked.
And Lord Woolton, Minister of Food, boasted a pie named in his honour and let housewives in on the secret. Take 1lb each of diced potatoes, cauliflower, Swedes and carrots, 3 or 4 spring onions if possible, one teaspoon of vegetable extract and one teaspoonful of oatmeal.  Cook all together for ten minutes with just enough water to cover.  Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking.  Allow to cool, put in a pie dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley and cover with a crust of potato or wheat meal pastry.  Bake in a moderate oven until the pastry is nicely browned and serve hot with a brown gravy.

The Swindon Education Committee confirmed that several designated Swindon schools would be used as gas decontamination centres in the event of an emergency.
Only schools with a domestic hot water supply would be considered for use.  The Air Raid Precautions Committee agreed to foot the bill for any subsequent repairs arising out of the fixing of curtains and the erection of stripping sheds on playgrounds, the Advertiser reported, and no structural alterations were to take place without the consent of the Education Committee.
Meanwhile shortage of accommodation was causing concern at Lethbridge Road Infants School.  The Education Committee announced there would be no further admissions of children under five years of age and if the situation became worse five year olds already at the school might have to be excluded.
A review of the situation at Even Swindon and Ferndale Road schools was addressed at this week’s meeting of the Education Committee and additional classes with the appointment of extra staff was referred to the Teaching Staff sub-committee.


Sergt Wireless Operator Air Gunner Leslie Joseph George Lockwood, elder son of Mr & Mrs J.W. Lockwood of Tugela Road, Chippenham was reported killed while flying on active service.
Sergt Lockwood, 24 volunteered for the RAF at the outbreak of war.  He qualified as a gunner in July 1940 and was posted to the Coastal Command.
In Swindon the family of Able Seaman Leonard Wilkins received the news that he was safe after his ship Bonaventure was torpedoed by the Italian submarine Ambra while escorting Convoy GA-8 from Greece to Alexandria.  Leonard was one of 310 survivors; 139 members of the crew were lost. This was the second time Leonard 19, had escaped unhurt during the war at sea.  He had been onboard HMS Exeter during the Battle of the River Plate in December 1939.



Olive Monica Quirk, a clerk at the Swindon branch of the Inland Revenue, married Leading Aircraftman Eric Hughesdon at Christ Church, Swindon this week in 1941.  The couple left for a honeymoon in Cornwall following a reception at the Park View Hotel.  Christ Church was also the setting for the wedding of Doris Margaret Smith of 14 Wootton Bassett Road and William Edward Mann from Bexley Heath, Kent.  And Jack George Besant of 50 Salisbury Street married Phyllis May Southall of 15 Liddington Street at St. Barnabas’ Church.


The death of one of Swindon’s early Mayors took place this week in 1941 when Francis Stook Coleman, 79, Mayor in 1906-7 died at his home 39 Devizes Road.
Originally from Bridgwater, Somerset, Mr Coleman moved to Swindon in 1880 where he worked as a clerk for Townsend Solicitors. 
A former deputy clerk to the Old Swindon Urban District Council he was later elected representative of the South Ward.
Mr Coleman was a member of the Royal Sussex Lodge of Emulation and the Gooch Lodge.

Two Swindon mothers were congratulated for their actions in Swindon’s Juvenile Court this week. When their sons came home with new electric torches and refused to say how they had acquired them, the mothers took them to the police station where the boys confessed to having stolen them from Woolworths.
The two lads were given a serious warning but their mother’s received praise from Mr F.E. Eyres, chairman of the bench.  “If all mothers would act in that way our work would be much lighter,” he said.

Fire watcher Joseph Cox of Hawthorn Road, Chippenham was fined £1 for falling asleep on the job.
Seventy three year old Mr Cox was found fast asleep during an alert in a malthouse adjoining the Avon Vale Laundry where he was paid 8s a night to fire watch.
Mr Cox told Chippenham Police Court that he went into the malthouse to have some food.  The fire was very warm and he went to sleep.  He had been in the garden all day digging for victory, he said.

Nearly 29,000 people had been killed and 40,000 injured nationwide during bombing raids up to the end of March 1941, Ernest Brown, Minister of Health announced.
While several hospitals had been bombed during recent raids, Mr Brown was quick to reassure the public that going to hospital did not place them at any greater risk.

Detective Sergeant H.G. Toop of the Swindon Division announced his promotion to Detective Inspector following eighteen years in the Wiltshire Constabulary.
D.I. Toop joined the police force in Trowbridge and moved to Swindon in 1928.  He became the first officer to hold the rank of Inspector in the Swindon CID.

The King and Queen visited the East End of London to see recent raid damage and talk to people whose homes had suffered.
“We can still smile, your Majesty,” said the old lady holding a flag bearing the words “God Save the King,” a picture which tells the spirit of the people, reported the Advertiser.


Do you recognise any faces among these two classes of ’41 – pictured are pupils at the electrical instrument mounting and inspection classes and the bench fitting classes held at the Ministry of Labour training courses ‘Somewhere in England.’


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.’