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Author Topic: Home Life in WW2  (Read 121069 times)

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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #150 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)
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #149 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.
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #148 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:


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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #147 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.
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #146 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!
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #145 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.   
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #144 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
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chenab

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #143 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.

http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/Homework/war/gasmasks.htm
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.

Tony

Offline ashwood

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #142 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.   

Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #141 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.
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #140 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.
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #139 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:
               
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #138 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.
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Dovorian

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #137 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.

Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #136 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.
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