Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 1941

In the final days of 1940, London received yet another pounding from the Luftwaffe during which serious damage was caused by fire in the historic City area.

“An army of firemen, wardens, workers and civilian volunteers battled with the thousands of incendiaries showered on the district,” reported the Advertiser.

Several incendiary bombs were dropped on St. Paul’s but Cathedral staff managed to prevent any serious damage.

“At one time the Cathedral was ringed with fire,” the report continued.  Cheapside was badly damaged with building after building reduced to a scarred and blackened shell.

Back home in Swindon things were much quieter. Brides who walked down the aisle on the last Saturday in 1940 included Ida Muriel Green of 73 Rodbourne Road, who married Engine Room Artificer Reginald Rouse at St. Augustine’s Church.  Annie Seward Stratton of 7 Buller Street married L/Cpl Frederick Charles Monk at St. Barnabas’ Church while Margaret Louise Avery of 7 Quarry Road married Pte Albert Victor Speller at Christ Church..  

And the great and the good sent New Year messages to Advertiser readers.  Sir Noel Arkell declared that he was proud to be born a Briton, adding ‘we strive for self preservation, but we also strive to save the world from barbarism, and God will not forget us.’

The Mayor of Swindon, Alderman F.E. Allen sent greetings to both long time and more recent residents evacuated to the town.  He urged the people of Swindon ‘to face the coming year with fortitude in the knowledge that the ultimate victory will bring with it not only peace for ourselves but the return of their countries to the peoples of the occupied territories.’

Rev W.H. Willetts, Rector at St Mary’s Church, Lydiard Tregoze looked back on the events of 1940 and the tragic days of June last, when France surrendered, but went on to remind readers of the amazing exploits of the RAF and the recent good news received from the Forces in Africa.

“So although it may be a grim time in the year 1941 please God we may still remember that God is our Hope and Strength.  A very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear.”

Swindon based servicemen celebrated the New Year with an afternoon tea party at the Prospect Drill Hall.  The ladies of the Cricklade Street Servicemen’s Club and Canteen headed by Mrs C.S. Dean, organised the event which was attended by about 400 soldiers and their officers.

The cost of the food, which amounted to £15, included a pig, turkeys, mince pies, sausages, cakes and jellies was met by the canteen funds and from outside contributions.  The entertainment was provided by Mr Fred Senior and his Gipsy Serenaders.

Santa Claus paid a New Year’s Day visit to children and mothers at the Great Western Sports Club pavilion where he handed out presents from the Christmas tree.  Miss Yvonne Sutton and her Kent Girls performed a cabaret show with Mr Raymond Sutton at the piano.  Miss Hedges contributed a fairy dance and C Gibbs songs and step dances.

The only thing remaining of this London church, damaged during air raids at the end of 1940, recording the destruction of the old church in the Great Fire of London 1666.

A tablet on one of the walls of Lincolns Inn, London where hundreds of windows were broken during air raids in December 1940.

Annie Seward Stratton and L/Cpl Frederick Charles Monk

Margaret Louise Avery and Pt. Albert Victor Speller

Ida Muriel Green and Engine Room Artificer Reginald Rouse

Yvonne Sutton and her Kent Girls with Raymond Sutton at the piano.

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