News: “Over the graves of the Druids and under the wreck of Rome,
Rudely but surely they bedded the plinth of the days to come.
Behind the feet of the Legions and before the Norseman’s ire
Rudely but greatly begat they the framing of State and Shire
Rudely but deeply they laboured, and their labour stand till now.
If we trace on ancient headlands the twist of their eight-ox plough.”

-Rudyard Kipling
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Topic Summary

Posted by: Ted H
« on: July 07, 2014, 19:53:42 »

I was evacuated, together with most of Chatham Tech., from the Medway Towns to Faversham in 1939, we certainly did NOT have a medical. Came home at the end of '39 when the schools re-opend in the Medway Towns. We shared what was then the Arts College at Rochester (by the museum). Attendance was "as and when" they could find someone to teach us - a lot of the younger men had been drafted into the armed forces. Later they got some retired teachers to take on the job and full time schooling restarted.
Posted by: peterchall
« on: July 07, 2014, 12:53:47 »

Adapted from the Daily Telegraph of Friday 7th July 1944:

It ws announced by Mr Churchill in the House of Commons yesterday that the evacuation from London of vulnerable people has begun. Notices were served to schools on Saturday (1st July) and the first parties began leaving on Monday (3rd July).

The Ministry of Health announced yesterday that the scheme was being extended to those other areas most vulnerable to attack (Kent, Surrey, Sussex, etc)

As well as schoolchildren the scheme applies to children under five and their mothers, expectant mothers, and the aged and infirm. The facilities available are being made known through information centres, schools and official posters. Most of the evacuees are going to the North Midlands and the North, with extra trains being run where necessary.

Registration and a medical examination are required for schoolchildren, as in the early days of the war, and evacuated children who have seeped back home since then must re-register and pass another medical.

Facilities for mothers and children in London who wish to go to friends or relatives in safer areas have been available since the start of the flying-bomb attacks, and facilites are now being extended to the new areas.

I was never evacuated, so cannot comment from first hand experience, but this is the first I remember of hearing of the need for a medical. My wife, who was evacuated in 1940, can’t remember having one. Has anyone any further details? - PC
Posted by: peterchall
« on: June 19, 2014, 17:50:48 »

So it was 70 years ago the night before last that I was kept awake all night by that first major V1 attack, as this article shows:

It seems that the common name ‘Doodle-bug’ had not then been coined, but interestingly 5 different names for the V1 was used in one article:
‘Raiders’, implying that they made an attack then went home: ‘Pilotless Planes’ and ‘Robot Planes’, implying that they could manoeuvre and carried a weapon rather than being the weapon: ‘Flying Bomb’, the description of what it actually was. The name ‘Bumble Bomb’ is new to me and I don’t recall seeing or hearing of it before.

Also interesting is the statement that it was believed that ‘much larger types', were in production. I remember an Aircraft Identification Poster produced soon after their advent showing several different types – I’m not sure about sizes, but the main difference seemed to be in their wing shape, varying from the actual parallel one with square-cut tips, to tapered ones, and even a crescent shaped one. In reality, of course, there was only one V! – the Fieseler Fi103.
Posted by: Barry 5X
« on: April 05, 2013, 15:40:15 »

Doodlebugs V1s and V2s.

The following information I noted on the internet whilst carrying out a non-related search.

At a presentation for the Wadhurst History Society, Bob Ogley stated that:

The first doodlebug landed at Swanscombe in Kent, on open farmland in the early morning of June 13th 1944.

The last V2 fell in Orpington on March 27th 1945 and the last V1 landed at Iwade in Kent on March 29th of that year.

“Doodlebugs and Rockets” a book by Bob Ogley.

Note 1: Wadhurst is a market town in East Sussex, England.
Note 2: Reply 47 refers to the V1 event at Swanscombe on 13 June 1944
Posted by: peterchall
« on: February 20, 2013, 16:22:39 »

For my part I am pleased when a reply is posted in a thread I'm interested in - it could mean the start of another line of discussion. Please share with us any particular points of interest.
Posted by: YonderYomper
« on: February 20, 2013, 15:56:55 »

Well, thank you,

...It's just that it feels like walking into someone else's conversation, but glad you like them.

Been thumbing through (gently- very fragile now), real detail on growing things on shoestring budget and wartime conditions.

Re-prints are available on Amazon I see.
Posted by: peterchall
« on: February 20, 2013, 12:53:24 »

Sorry for intruding on your thread,.....
Why? Anything relevant is not intrusion and is welcome.
Thanks for the post :) :)
Posted by: YonderYomper
« on: February 20, 2013, 12:27:58 »

Sorry for intruding on your thread, but found these in the shed.  They were my grandad's from the 1943, and the second from 44, and part of the "Dig for Victory" campaign, and, as he told it, everyone in his neighbourhood had them... thought they might be of interest to you:
Posted by: peterchall
« on: June 26, 2012, 17:13:50 »

I understood enough to know that some obscure MP named Churchill had been speaking in Parliament about the dangers of Nazism, and that there had been fights in Chatham High Street between the Fascist and Socialist Parties, and that Socialist = good, and Fascist = bad. I knew about the Spanish Civil War and had seen enough newsreels to know that war was something to be avoided. We had heard of concentration camps but thought they were merely places were they kept people who disagreed with the government. We knew of the Hitler Youth and believed that German kids were encouraged to report on their parents' political views. We knew about the Jewish refugees (as I've said earlier, one came to work in Chatham Gun Wharf) and had heard of 'Kristalnacht' in Germany, when Jewish businesses were wrecked. Yep, Fascism/Nazism was bad but, apart from a few extremists led by Sir Oswald Moseley, it was nothing to do with us.
That was the post in full from which I based my previous entry, and I think we are both saying the same thing. The point I was making is that we as a nation did as much, if not more, than any other to recognise the situation and give such help as we could without actually going to war, which we did in the end, of course. I don’t know how many other nations did so, but we also gave refuge to victims of the Spanish Civil War.

We were probably in the position of the guy that knows the man next door is knocking his kids about but, because he is bigger, not much can be done about it. There was no ‘police’ (United Nations) to report it to.
Posted by: seafordpete
« on: June 26, 2012, 15:04:22 »

The Time regulary reported from 1933 on of various politicos being imprisoned and then committing suicide or dying by unknown causes and the ashes being returned to the families.. In his 1936 visit Christopher Sidgwick asked outright if executions took place and was told "not now, but in the early days torture and death happened".  By 1936 The Times is talking of trains from Austria carrying 700 Jews at a time to Dachau. Probably a number of causes why little concern - it was only 15 years after WW1 an feelings were that a German was a german even if a Communist or Jew. It's overseas and nothing to do with us. The class system being what it was the ordinary man only had what the papers & BBC radio chose to tell him (if he was interested) and it wasn't his place to query it
Posted by: peterchall
« on: June 26, 2012, 14:52:51 »

We certainly knew of the existence of concentration camps – which at that time were not ‘death camps’ - and of the pre-war persecution of the Jews, and gave refuge to thousands of them. It was one of the factors in the decision to go to war, and ignored by everyone else except the UK (and Commonwealth) and France.

In 1943 I was only 13 so didn’t really have adult interests and that’s probably why I can’t remember the general reaction to that report, which was about a vast escalation from general persecution to genocide. However, I think there was later criticism that, while there was little of a practical nature we could do, we could have made more of it from an international propaganda point of view.

The Duke of Windsor (ex Edward VIII) was accused of having Nazi sympathies and, whether true or not, he was definitely kept out of the way during the war, by being made Governor of the Bahamas.
Posted by: seafordpete
« on: June 26, 2012, 13:11:36 »

Chose to ignore is probably more accurate. Searching "Dachau" in The Times for 1933 onwards gives numerous references to Jews being ill treated and sent there, references to Juliuis Striecher as "Jew Baiter" etc
I have read elsewhere that Edward V111 had no particular liking of or sympathy for the Jews
At least 2 Britons wrote of visits there in 1933 &36 and of the conditions. By 1934 there were 65 camps holding some 45k prisoners under "protective custody"
A Catholic Priest Fr Muhler was arrested Nov 1933 for spreading stories about atrocities and conditions in Dachau, Imprisoned there by the following November he was reported dead , killed during "clean up operation" After the Battle 27 has an article about Dachau and its history.
Posted by: peterchall
« on: June 26, 2012, 11:52:11 »

Today being Holocaust Memorial Day has set me thinking of what we knew of such things during the war.
After D-Day we got news of French villages being destroyed by the SS, and the inhabitants slaughtered, because the French resistance had been active in the area. Then we heard of conditions in the occupied countries generally, and the ultimate horror was the discovery of the real conditions in the concentration camps, as seen on TV in today's news. We now finally had confirmation that all we had been through over the past six years had been for a very good reason.
An article in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 25 June 1942 gave details of a report that had just been smuggled out of Poland to the Polish National Council in London. It gave details for the first time of the systematic extermination of Jews that had begun in November 1941, with figures and locations, and gruesome details.

So it seems that we did have some idea of what was happening, well before the war ended, although I don’t remember it, nor what the national reaction was.
Posted by: peterchall
« on: May 23, 2012, 15:22:24 »

Some of the things I hear from my family who lived in Dover during the war, leave me dumb-struck.
Here is a summary of a snippet I've just found in 'Frontline County': Mr William Harris and Mr Reginald Blunt became the first people in the county to receive the George Medal. For nine weeks they worked from dawn to dusk on farms near Deal at the height of the Battle of Britain. They operated their threshing machine within range of guns in France and while enemy aircraft were constantly over the area.
It seems there were others. From the Daily Telegraph of 23 May 1942:
I wonder why Mr Mitchell got the George Medal and the ladies got the British Empire Medal, they all seemed to be taking the same risks - any ideas?
(Apologies for small size. Press 'CTRL' and '+' to enlarge)
Posted by: peterchall
« on: March 20, 2012, 16:43:58 »

For an insight into daily life in WW2, Rodney Foster’s ‘The Real Dad’s Army’ takes some beating, the more so because it is set on the Kent coast and more subject to warlike activities than further inland. Its great merit is that it is a contemporary account and not dependant on memories many years old.

Even so, much of it is still an account of his interpretation of incidents which, with wartime conditions and the primitive communication of the times preventing verification, may not be quite accurate. It is my belief that the more hectic the action the less reliable are accounts of it, so apart from indisputable incidents such as “bombs fell on Xyz Street last night”, it is best regarded as an account of attitudes of the times.

However, another merit is that, where appropriate, he usually qualifies his writing with “I hear that….” or “So-and-so says….” and does not present doubtful stories as fact. Thus we are left with a fascinating account of the uncontroversial events of everyday life written at the time of their occurrence – all the more so because it happened almost within sight of the enemy. They still went shopping and had social events, his wife still ran a Girl Guide unit, and so on.

Also interesting are the mid-war entries about the conduct of the war – how we were leaving Russia to do all the fighting, that our defeats in the Middle East and Far East were a disgrace, how our armies should be landing in Europe. That accords with my own memories of graffiti stating “Start the 2nd front now”. It was never that the enemy was fighting well, but always that our leaders were incompetent!

The following article on the subject of army commanders appeared in the ‘Daily Mirror’ in March 1942:
“[All they need to be chosen is to] be brass-buttoned boneheads, socially prejudiced, arrogant and fussy. A tendency to heart disease, apoplexy, diabetes and high blood pressure is desirable in the highest posts”. Was the editor taken out and shot? No – he received a warning from the Home Secretary that, if they hindered the war effort, further articles of that sort might result in the paper being banned!

Yet even Rodney Foster’s private diary entries would have had dire consequences elsewhere in Europe, had they been discovered.
Posted by: peterchall
« on: March 14, 2012, 16:40:41 »

Faced with posters like these, perhaps we didn't travel any more than necessary. Plus a couple to show why, even today, we oldies are reluctant to waste anything:

Posted by: peterchall
« on: March 14, 2012, 12:53:32 »

On 13th March 1942 the Government announced that the basic petrol ration was to be abolished from 1st July for cars and 1st October for motor cycles; while it didn’t concern the average family it was another nail in the coffin of optimism for the future.

At the time the ration was 2 gallons/month for cars up to 10hp, then on a sliding scale up to 3.5 gallons/month for cars of 20hp and over, enough for about 60 miles/month. I don’t know if the ration could be saved for later use (food coupons could be used only at the specified time), but it must have been tricky to judge just how far you could go and still be able to get home. The Supplementary Ration for essential use was cut by10%.

At the same time new restrictions on horse and dog racing and similar gatherings were introduced to reduce demand for public transport. With bus services stopping at 9pm, late night travel was a nightmare, although it was possible to hire buses for factory social events. I remember going to a dance with mum and dad at the Ordnance Depot where he worked at Darland, and one of the buses took us home to Rochester; it went via Military Road to drop people off and there was a fracas as some men tried to ‘gatecrash’ the bus – I think it was my first experience of violence outside of the school playground.

I don’t know what train travel for leisure purposes was like. The line was electrified as far as Gillingham and the service to London was similar to what it is now. While people obviously didn’t go to London during the blitz, they must have done later because the theatres etc stayed open. My first ever visit to London was to the exhibition for ‘Salute the Soldier Week’ in 1944, held on a bomb site somewhere in central London. But that was during the day – I wonder what the late night train services were like for getting home from the theatre. But there was a Government slogan: "Is your journey really necessary?"  

Entertainment for most working class families was the wireless, the pictures, and the pub, plus the ‘Empire’ theatre and the ‘Theatre Royal’ in the Medway towns, and the dance hall (and blacked out streets!) for those of the right age.
Posted by: peterchall
« on: March 08, 2012, 12:13:49 »

An indication of the severity of wartime regulations is ‘Regulation 84 of the Defence(General) Regulations', summarised:

The order automatically comes into effect when any district is declared an ‘operational area’, which will happen if there is any actual or immediately expected enemy action on land in the UK. Declaration that an area is ‘operational’ will be made by a Regional Commisioner in consultation with the military authorities. All men and women may be called on, except members of the forces, police, civil defence etc, and will come under the orders of the armed forces, a public authority, or a public utility.

They may be called upon to perform any work short of actual combatant duties, and will be paid at a rate appropriate for the district. Penalties for disobeying the Regulation is up to 10 years penal servitude and/or a £500 fine (about 2 years working class wages!!!). The Trade Unions were consulted and agreed.

I don't know if this regulation was ever invoked - certainly the code word 'Cromwell' was issued in the south of England on 7th September 1940, indicating 'Invasion Imminent' - but thus were we prepared to lose our freedom in order to fight for it!
Posted by: peterchall
« on: March 05, 2012, 16:37:55 »

Reading 'The Real Dad's Army' by Rodney Foster, I've been reminded of another bane of wartime life - from sometime in late 1942 the buses stopped running at 9pm each evening, and didn't start until 1pm on Sundays. It would have been to save fuel and not for public safety, because cinemas, pubs, and dance halls, etc stayed open.

Belonging to the Scouts in the Medway Towns was one thing, but for the Girl Guides to keep going in Hythe and Folkestone (and presumably other places round the south coast), as I learn from the book that they did, was a vastly different thing. Scouts were restricted to indoor meetings - there were no camps or outdoor activities (unless there were and I didn't go), and with clothes rationing there were no uniforms that I can remember.   
Posted by: peterchall
« on: September 13, 2011, 13:08:10 »

Just found this on a google search and joined to comment on this - hope no-one minds.
Of course no-one minds – the object of the forum is to share information, and you have answered some of my questions. So many thanks and welcome to the forum :).

While the Topic is open, here are some proposals that the Ministry for War Transport made in September 1941. I've shown to the best of my memory which ones were put into effect, but don't know for sure about them all. However, it gives more background as to what was expected of us in WW2:

1.   Travel Permits for workers and reductions in workmen’s rail fares to relieve pressure on public road transport. (There were no Travel Permits in Medway Towns when I started work in 1944 - PC)
2.   Extending the staggering of working hours. (I think that partially happened in large factories like the Dockyard, Short's, etc - PC)
3.   Manufacture of more buses. (There were new buses with utility bodies and wooden seats - PC)
4.   Release by the army of 700 requisitioned civilian buses.
5.   Early closing of shops and closure of cinemas during peak hours in certain areas, to relieve pressure on public transport.
6.   Institution of minimum bus fares to discourage using buses for short journeys. (It happened on some parts of long distance routes where there was a 'local' route over the same stretch of road, and this still existed post-war - PC)

Efforts were being made to encourage the use of trains instead of buses where possible by raising bus fares to equal train fares, and by employers paying the difference between bus and train fares where the train journey was longer  (some employers were already doing this).
From reproduction of Daily Telegraph of 12/9/1941
Posted by: chenab
« on: September 13, 2011, 10:41:53 »

Some questions are answered here.

The first one shown, with the double eyepieces, was issued to the Civil Defence. The others are all labelled. The one the lady is wearing is not the basic civvy one - that didn't have a separate 'flap' for breathing out - that was done as described above the picture. I think the second of the Army Gas Masks was German - British ones had a separate canister. I wonder if the one in the link is British, and I can't see how it was closed at the bottom.
Gas was the WW2 equivalent of the nuclear deterrent, neither side used it for fear of retaliation.

Just found this on a google search and joined to comment on this - hope no-one minds.

The second Army Mask is a UK one - it is the later type which were a lot lighter and was initially used by paratroops and other forces before becoming more widely available after the war.

There was a type of civilian one with the same outlet valve as the Civil Defence ones (which is what the lady is wearing) but these were for people with breathing problems - such as Asthma and are very scarce. To be honest I don't think I've ever seen a wartime picture of one.

Posted by: ashwood
« on: August 06, 2011, 16:36:21 »

I lived in Sandwich throughout the war years, being eight years old in 1939. My father a veteran of WW1 scoffed at any idea of shelter, spent the air raids sitting in the garden, oblivious to the bits falling around.  I remember on one occasion a red hot chunk of shrapnel landed less than two feet away from him.  We had several cannon shell holes in the roof from frustrated German pilots.  One evening four bombs landed 100yds up the road. laid on top of the ground like empty bottles.. The plane dropping them flying about 100ft, they didn't have time to land on their nose. Also happy memories of playing with Sten Guns etc at the army camp over the road, (no health and safety thank goodness).Princes Golf Club was used as a training area with live Ammunition,much to the horror of my mother they used to bring me back Thunderflashes, marvelous effect when put under a bucket. Also 303 cartridges, the cordite in them like thin sticks of pasta, at ten years of age I could breakdown a bren gun and put together again. great days.   
Posted by: peterchall
« on: August 05, 2011, 21:27:04 »

70 years ago Chatham Council published a leaflet advising people to make arrangements in advance to stay with friends or relatives if they were made homeless by an air raid. It suggested that they should leave a spare set of indoor and outdoor clothing at the friend's or family address. Report in this week's Medway News, and seems to have been a local initiative of Chatham Council. I wonder how the advice to deposit clothes was received, because clothes rationing had started a couple of monts earlier.
Posted by: peterchall
« on: April 23, 2011, 11:29:22 »

From the 'Daily Telegraph' of 22 April 1941 (Press CTRL & + to enlarge);
The majority of working class people were tenants, so wouldn't have been concerned with this, but it gives a bit more insight into the background of home life in WW2.
Posted by: peterchall
« on: March 24, 2011, 11:58:34 »

There are lots of complaints about commuting today. I wonder what it was like then.

From the 'Daily Telegraph' of 24 March 1941:
Posted by: peterchall
« on: March 17, 2011, 12:13:46 »

Extracts from Daily Telegraph of 17 March 1941:

“From today there will be a total allowance of 1/2lb a month for jam, marmalade, syrup, and treacle.

Poultry: To encourage cutting down of stocks, a step made necessary by lack of feeding stuffs, producers’ prices for boiling fowls are raised today by 2d to 1s 6d a lb, and the new retail price is raised to 1s 10d.

Maximum prices for home-reared chickens weighing not more than 1 1/2lb, rough plucked, trussed, and undressed are fixed at 3s each to producer, 3s 2d wholesale, and 3s 6d retail.

After 3 May, maximum producers’ prices for roasting chickens, ducks, and geese will be reduced to 1s 6d a lb with corresponding reductions in wholesale and retail maximum prices.”

It’s interesting that prices were fixed and I wonder how they were enforced. Poultry would have been beyond the means of the average worker (1s 6d would have been about an hour’s wages), but may not have been rationed. To a person rearing chickens in their garden, it would seem to have been a lucrative business.

Normal meat was rationed to about 1s in value per week (it varied from time to time), and the choice was between a little bit of expensive stuff or more of the cheaper stuff, but I don’t know who decided how much you got for your shilling. I think offal was off ration.
Posted by: Dovorian
« on: February 09, 2011, 16:22:51 »

Loved this forum and can relate to all the comments made.
Did all of those things earlier in the 40's whilst dodging the shells, bombs and dive bombers that regularly visited Hell Fire Corner in WW11.
My mates and I did our bit for the war effort (we were 9 & 10 at the time) by targeting Messerschitts and mentally shooting them down from the back of my dads redundant Jowet van that he kept in the back yard for spares.
The old van had a canvas roof through which we poked broom handles and we made the obligatory rat a tat tat sounds as we gleefully took aim at the enemy.
Forget your Playstation these sorties were for real.
Posted by: peterchall
« on: December 30, 2010, 10:32:48 »

I don't think it was the same night. I remember a glow in the sky towards Sittingbourne one night and talking about it with schoolmates the next day at Rochester Tech School, and I didn't start there until September 1941, although it may not be the same incident as Bryn's. As an indication of the increasing effectiveness of our defences, and hence the likelihood of a damaged bomber dumping his bombs, I think the following figures are amazing: Between mid-November 1940 and end February 1941, the Luftwaffe lost 75 aircraft in raids on the UK; in the first half of May 1941, when the Blitz virtually ceased, it lost 127.
Posted by: Bryn Clinch
« on: December 30, 2010, 10:00:47 »

Possibly on the same night as the `second great fire of London` when the skies were red over Medway, the skies over Sittingbourne were ablaze. It is believed that an enemy bomber, with unused incendiary bombs aboard, ditched the whole lot over Sittingbourne  on his way home. They fell on the Methodist Church, where I was baptised, and totally destroyed it. I remember, as a very young child, emerging from the air raid shelter and seeing the crimson skies above and later being told the the Methodist Church had taken a direct hit. My Grandad took me to see the devastation the following morning. The church had disappeared. On second thoughts, I don`t think it could have been the same night as the`second great fire of London`, probably nearer the end of the war. There is a picture of the church on the Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne (HRGS).

Interior 1930s

Rebuilt church on the same site, mid 1950s

Posted by: peterchall
« on: December 29, 2010, 20:13:24 »

I've just been reminded by BBC News that tonight is the 70th anniversary of what came to be called the 'Second Great Fire of London' (not New-Year's Eve as I originally posted). So far as the Medway Towns were concerned it was a 'normal' night of the Blitz, with the occasional enemy plane passing over, and it wasn't until my father went outside and called "come and look at this" that we realised there was anything unusual. The sky in the direction of London, 30 miles away, was brilliant red, which could be seen above the rooftops even from Ross Street, Rochester, in the 'valley' of Troy Town. We thought that somewhere near, like Gravesend, must have 'copped it'; not till next day did we learn that it was London.

Being a Sunday the City was mostly deserted, so many fires went unnoticed until too late, and it was the night that the famous photo of St Paul?'rising above the flames was taken.
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