World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

Longstone Local History Group

Longstone Local History Group – Introduction

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Liz Greenfield
Location of story: Longstone
Background to story: Civilian Force

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Longstone Local History Group.
Longstone Local History Group – Introduction

Longstone Local History Group
Memories of the Second World War
Autumn 2002
Newsletter No. 13
a special edition of the newsletter

Introduction
The annual newsletter of Longstone Local History Group has a section called Memories. This year, we decided to encourage anybody who remembered the second world war and its effects on Longstone to share their memories with us. The entire newsletter is devoted to their responses.

We are grateful to all those who have shared their memories with us and to Hilary Clarke and Sheila Hurst who have encouraged and cajoled our contributors. This collection is the result of their hard work.

Each memory is under the name of the contributor. Some memories are fragments, others tell a story. Some are repeated. Together they build an impression of life in the village. Some statements are simple but convey so much. `We had a quiet war didn't we?’ 'I saw the devastation in Sheffield', `All the youngsters seemed to have left the village', `I went through to Lubeck.' `I was a dispatch rider at the Khyber Pass'

This is a picture of a village working hard for the war effort, of children having fun, of the disruption of people's lives and of tragedy when servicemen did not return. This is a village, which sheltered evacuees, and was comparatively unaffected by air attack. But the night sky in Longstone was lit by the fires of the Sheffield blitz.

For those who experienced the war, this newsletter will bring back memories both happy and sad. Those who are too young to remember may understand a little more.

If anyone can add to these memories we will be happy to print a supplement.

I am grateful to my husband, Tony, for his many hours of hard labour in preparing this document for the printer.

Liz Greenfield editor.


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Longstone Local History Group - `I was dropping supplies and paratroops into Burma',

Servicemen remember

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Ivan Franks
Location of story: Little Longstone, Tideswell, Trincomalee, Ceylon, Baxtehude, Hamburg,Londonderry, Boston (Mass). Halifax, Nova Scotia,
Background to story: Civilian Force

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Ivan Franks
Location of story: Little Longstone, Tideswell, Trincomalee, Ceylon, Baxtehude, Hamburg,Londonderry, Boston (Mass). Halifax, Nova Scotia,
Background to story: Civilian Force

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Ivan Franks.

These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group - `I was dropping supplies and paratroops into Burma', Servicemen remember

by
Ivan Franks

I was at Lady Manners School when war broke out and I was living in Little Longstone. I sang in St. Giles’ Church choir and was a member of Great Longstone Boy Scouts' troop led by the vicar, Mr. Reeves. Mr. Reeves was a very nice man and it was a great tragedy for the whole village when he died in a terrible accident.

I left school at 16 and started work, as a trainee statistician, with the Columbia Picture Corporation at Cressbrook Hall. It had moved there from London to escape the blitz; staff members were billeted in the surrounding villages and there we had great social evenings, particularly at the Monsal Head Hotel and al the Bull’s Head, Tideswell. All the staff took turns fire-watching on the roof of the hall. After a while Columbia Pictures moved back to London and I went with them. I joined the naval cadets in Croydon, as I wanted to be in the navy when I was called up. I had already been in the Air Training Corps but I wasn't keen on this branch of the forces.

On the day I was 18, I was called up and went to Butlin's Holiday Camp at Skegness. Here they concentrated on getting you fit; a typical day consisted of a large cup of cocoa at six in the morning, breaking the ice on the swimming pool and jumping in, PT, gunnery and bayonet practice, route marches, unarmed combat, hair cuts and tooth extraction and fillings. In the evenings we had tombola and beer. I trained as a signalman here and then went to Holy Loch, Scotland, the present day submarine base, for further training. From there I was posted to the Second Submarine Flotilla, HMS Wolfe, in the Far Eastern Fleet based at Trincomalee in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.

After the war with Japan was over, I was posted to a German naval base at Baxtehude, near Hamburg, where I worked on teleprinters. This was the headquarters of the Flag Officer Western Germany. The Black Watch was based here too. My demob date was coming up and the navy wanted volunteers to sail Lease-Lend ships back to America. I volunteered and my first ship was a frigate-type destroyer, HMS Bahamas. We sailed from Londonderry to Boston (Mass) where the Americans welcomed us with open arms. It was the end of the blackout too; with wonderful colourful neon signs lighting up the skyscrapers.

From Boston it was a four-day train journey to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and from here I sailed back to England on one of the passenger liners, which had brought GI brides to America.
When I was demobbed I came back to live in Little Longstone and met and married Irene, an Ashford girl. We now have six children and 12 grandchildren.


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Longstone Local History Group - `We watched the flames of Sheffield' Evacuees remember

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Reg Smith, Ken Smith, Joan Smith, Percy Buggins, Eileen Arning
Location of story: Sheffield, Longstone, Bakewell
Background to story: Civilian Force

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Joan Smith.

These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group – ‘We watched the flames of Sheffield' Evacuees remember
by
Joan Smith

Joan was nine years old when war broke out. She lived with her parents and two older brothers, Reg and Ken, in Sheffield. Both her brothers joined the RAF during the war. Her father was works manager for Pickfords, a large garage in Ecclesall Road, which had a Ministry of Defence contract for the repair of army vehicles. Several of our memories refer to the Sheffield blitz Joan experienced it before being evacuated to Great Longstone. Joan's memories start with the air raid on Sheffield, which made her homeless.

We had to use the shelter on several occasions, although not for long periods, until one evening in December 1940. The sirens went very early, we heard planes droning overhead and my father decided this was the real thing. He stood in the garden and saw us all to the shelter, but as I raced across the lawn, a bomb whistled overhead and landed with an almighty bang some distance away. The blitz went on all night. An anti-aircraft gun was being used at the top of our road and a stick of bombs was dropped in the road, demolishing a house just above ours, and several more further down. The target was apparently Laycock Engineering in Archer Road, which was engaged in war work.

I sat in the shelter for 11 hours with my fingers in my ears, whilst my now sister in law, Nora, spent the whole time writing a letter to Reg, describing everything that was happening. When we emerged next morning the house was in a terrible state. All the inside door panels were blown out and all the windows were broken. The front bay had been blown across the room into the piano, which happened to be open. We were finding glass in the piano for many years afterwards. The warden came to tell us that we had to move out because there was an unexploded bomb in the front garden across the road, so we stayed with some friends for a couple of nights. My brother Ken had been at work when the blitz started and had spent the night helping to fight fires, so there was great rejoicing when he eventually arrived home, even though he looked like a chimney sweep.

Mr. E C B Farmer, who lived at The Croft, was the owner of Pickfords and my father's boss. He was a colonel in the army and was serving in India at the time, but two days later, Mrs. Farmer came to the garage to see how things were. She asked my father if we were all right and when he told her we were homeless, she immediately invited us to Longstone for the time being, and gave us rooms at The Croft. Shortly afterwards, we moved in permanently and occupied what is now the restaurant at The Croft Hotel, with a small kitchen next to it, two bedrooms and a bathroom halfway up the front staircase. That is how we came to live in Longstone.

I attended Longstone School from January to July 1941. I remember that on my first morning there seemed to be a shortage of writing implements and Percy Buggins, the headmaster, lent me his fountain pen to do my sums. Another vivid memory is of Mr. Buggins disappearing into the cloakroom every morning, clutching his blue milk of magnesia bottle and a teaspoon, to skim some of the cream off the milk churn for his own use before we had our school milk.

I was very disappointed not to be able to go to Lady Manners School, but I had missed the 11-plus in both Sheffield and Longstone. My mother tried to get me a place as a private pupil but there were a lot of evacuees in the area and the school was full to overflowing, so I had to be content with Bakewell School. We did all sorts of things for the war effort. We gathered foxgloves in the woods for digitalis, rose hips for rose hip syrup and nettles for what reason I do not know except that the boys used to swipe our legs with bunches of them. In our last year we did a bit of farming, thinning marigolds in rows across a field, which seemed to us to stretch to eternity.

I really enjoyed living in Longstone. I had a huge area in which to play. There were ponies and horses and I kept rabbits, but best of all I joined the girl guides. Eileen Arning was a dream guide captain. She was not the most glamorous of ladies, but what she lacked in looks she made up for in personality. My father rather naughtily christened her stirrup pump. The guides took part in a Remembrance Day parade and the captain walked in front of the guides with an S P notice in her hand; he rather thought it suited her. I learned so much as a guide, that has stood me in good stead ever since.

My mother and I regularly attended the Methodist church. I had piano lessons with Mrs. Ward. I never became a great pianist, but later I did play for some church services.
As the war ended we moved into Heath Bank. Mr. Farmer returned home, but the marriage had broken up and Mrs. Farmer moved to a farm in Sussex. The children were sent to boarding school and Mr. Farmer went with his new wife to live in South Africa.
I attended Wright’s Offices in Buxton in 1944 to learn shorthand and typing and in 1946. I too started work at Pickford’s, travelling in each day with my father.

My father loved Longstone and never wanted to go back to Sheffield. We stayed there until he died suddenly from a heart attack in 1957. My mother and I decided we had to move to be near my brother and we moved to the East Riding of Yorkshire in December 1957, near to where Reg lived in Hull. My mother died in 1984 at the age of 92, and both she and my father are buried in Longstone Churchyard.

I have lived in several places and therefore have never put down roots, but I remember Longstone with great affection and regard it as my home and that's why I come back to visit.


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Longstone Local History Group - Frank, Adeline and Sheila Hurst

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Frank Hurst, Adeline Hurst, Sheila Hurst, Mona Rothery, Miss Kathleen Noton, Miss Townsend, Mr. Trendell, Miss. Arning, Molly Skidmore, Isaac Shimwell, Martin Simons, Mrs. Warner Benn
Location of story: Great Longstone, Bakewell, Monsal Head, Stoney Middleton Dale
Background to story: Civilian Force

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Sheila Hurst.


These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group - Frank, Adeline and Sheila Hurst
by Sheila Hurst

The outbreak of the Second World War brought evacuees to Great Longstone. We had a girl, from Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Manchester, called Mona Rothery. She seemed to have lived on chips and didn't know that milk did not always come out of a bottle! She loved the apples from the garden, which upset her and gave her a terrible stomachache because she ate them before they were ripe. Mother would find apple cores under her bed! At school in order to accommodate the influx of extra children, we had a part time system. The village children went to school in the mornings and the evacuees in the afternoons. Later the barn of The Elms (now Churchlady House) was used for classes. A visiting local doctor, Dr. Bagot, also used it, as did the Girls’ Friendly Society for the performances of plays under the guidance of Miss Kathleen Noton and Miss Townsend. When we had rehearsals there at night, particularly in the winter with no lights because of the blackout, the vicar Mr. Trendell escorted us home. At that time there were troops from the Rifle Brigade camped out on Longstone Moor!

It must have been very uncomfortable for them and Frank remembered that one day, a soldier came to the door and asked if he could have a bath. He was invited in and had a hot bath. Soldiers from the RASC (Royal Army Service Corps) were also billeted in the villages around Bakewell and they learnt to drive round here. Many people thought what a nuisance they were. I remember going to Monsal Head with my brothers to watch as they tried to drive up to the Headstones. We thought it was very funny when they slipped backwards because they couldn't change gear quickly enough.

It wasn't long before many of the evacuees returned home. There was a period called the phoney war when nothing much seemed to be happening. Mona was home by Christmas but those who stayed on fitted into the school. One upset occurred when all the scholarships went to the evacuees. Many of the local children were far in advance of them and there was quite a furore in the village. As well as the Manchester children, an orphanage from London was housed on the top floor of the hall. The girls all wore a grey and yellow uniform and attended the local schools. The matron and her helper ran a needlework and craft working party where many of the young people learnt to sew, making articles for sale. The proceeds from this went to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. We also knitted scarves, gloves and balaclavas for the troops and squares for blankets. The girl guides with their captain Miss Arning, gathered rose hips for making into syrup, wild plums and berries for jam making and even nettles for making beer and using as a vegetable in the spring.

As well as these evacuees, members of the Columbia Film Company were evacuated to Cressbrook Hall. They staged entertainments, plays and socials in the school at Cressbrook. My sister lived there and her husband was a manager of the school, so we were always invited to the shows and very good fun they were too.

As time went on, the air raid sirens wailed. We had to be able to get home within four minutes from the sound of the siren. Those children who couldn't reach home in time were invited to go to the house of a friend who lived nearer to school. I had to go with my friend Molly Skidmore who lived at a farm on the main road (where Mrs Kendal now lives). A national savings scheme was introduced at school and whatever we could afford, after spending our pocket money on our meagre sweet ration of two ounces a week, went into the savings account. If the school reached a certain target, £100, £500, or a fantastic £1000 in a year, there was usually a half-day holiday.

We were able to buy Horlicks tablets at school; I think they were very cheap, something like four for a penny. I loved them and always had some. We had competitions too. One I particularly remember was for handwriting because I won the prize. Ovaltine gave it and the prize was a whole box of bars of chocolate, a fantastic gift when we had so little sweets or chocolate. My excitement was dimmed when I got home and my mother opened up the box to find that there were several bars missing. We had milk at morning playtime, a third of a pint in little bottles. Later during the war, our milk came from Cox's farm in a churn and we had a choice of hot or cold. The hot milk was heated up on the old boiler in the boys’ cloakroom. When we had milk in the churn Mr. Buggins, the head teacher, used to skim off all the cream to take home!

We had days when we went from school to local farms to help with the harvest or to do routine work connected with growing crops. We helped with the potato picking at Thornhill’s. We also went up to Long Roods Farm, thinning turnips; the rows seemed to stretch forever. Good workers who stuck at it would find that Mr. Isaac Shimwell, the farmer, had put a little extra pay in their packets! Adeline remembers that when we were at Lady Manner’s School, we went to Hassop Farm to help with the potato picking. We also had a holiday in October to go and help the farmers. We went up to Bretton Clough working alongside Italian prisoners of war. A man, who lived at Holly Bank and worked for the Ministry of Agriculture, gave lifts to the potato field to anyone living in Longstone.

The pig club in the village was very popular. When the day arrived for the pig to be slaughtered, by the aptly named Mr. Bacon from Little Longstone, the children were all sent off for walks until the deed was done! People used to save their scraps and swill to feed the pigs. There was a ration of pig food for all members of the club. My father kept two pigs, one which was for the family, was allowed to reach 20 stones in weight. The other was for Mr. Frank Nelson, the pork butcher in Bakewell, who only wanted a 14 stone pig. Friends and neighbours shared in the bounty and there was much hard work to be done rendering the fat, cutting up the joints, salting the hams and bacon and making the black puddings and brawn. Mr. Bacon would say we could use everything and would tell us to catch the squeal in a bottle. We also kept rabbits and hens to add to our meat rations. We were sent out to gather from the hedgerows and fields: mushrooms, wild fruits and berries, anything to add to our diet. Nothing was wasted if it could be turned into something to eat or drink. We also went wooding, bringing back sacks of kindling wood and even quite big branches to be cut up to keep the home fires burning.

We saved all the cream from the top of the milk to make into butter. We poured the cream into a Woodpecker's cider bottle and shook it vigorously until it turned into butter. Surplus fruit and vegetables were bottled and canned. The canning took place at the institute and also at the vicarage. Much preserving was also done at home; eggs were pickled in isinglass and beans were salted. Jams and jellies were made with the saved sugar rations. We drank our tea and bottled coffee without sugar. Dried egg was used for cake making and omelettes; we had Spam and other rather dubious tinned meat.

When the blitz was on in Sheffield, we could see the city burning from our house; the sky was lit up and we could hear the bombs. We had to turn off all the lights and make sure that not a chink showed through the blackout curtains. In school, the windows were criss-crossed with sticky tape so that if the glass was broken, it would not shatter and cut the children. A bomb, dropped at Lakeside, Bakewell, left a huge crater. Some people still remember bombs dropping in other villages and the German aircraft, which flew over Longstone. Only a few years ago, an unexploded bomb was discovered in Stoney Middleton Dale. Martin Simons, who was evacuated to Eyam from Sheffield, remembers the details of the plane that dropped this bomb.

Lady Manners School shared their building with Manchester Grammar School. One week Lady Manners pupils went to school in the morning (including Saturday morning), and Manchester Grammar pupils in the afternoon. The next week, the procedure was reversed. Also at Bakewell a Roman Catholic school from Manchester used the Brigade Hall for their lessons.

Later in the war, at Lady Manners School, there were after school classes in drama, games and make do and mend Mrs. Benn, the language teacher, taught us how to make new garments from old ones often inserting a piece of new material to make a longer skirt, or to widen a garment that was getting; too small. We knitted jumpers and cardigans from odd scraps of wool and we made brooches from wire with wool twined around leaf shapes. Beech nut cases dried and painted bright colours made flowers, as did odd scraps of leather.

Lampshades were made of paper and the new plastic material, but never of human skin, which we were told was happening in Germany. We also made soft toys. I used to use cotton flour bags, which were washed and dried and then dyed a flesh colour, to make the body of a doll. The face was embroidered and kapok was used for the stuffing. Very realistic hair could be bought and all the clothes were made by hand. I once entered a doll I had made in a local craft exhibition held in Bakewell Town Hall. It didn't win a prize but written on the comments card was a back handed compliment, which read, `This doll does not appear to be hand made!' Mrs. Benn's husband was a German who had been interned on the outbreak of war. Their name was really Bender and we were told one morning in assembly that she would now be known as Mrs. Warner Benn.

We were asked at school to make posters for various events including National Savings and Dig for Victory Week. I made a poster showing a spade and two big worms crawling out of the soil. I called it ‘Dig and disturb the worms’. When my brother Frank saw it he told me to draw the faces of Hitler and Mussolini on the worms. I did so and won a prize for my efforts!

We listened to the radio a lot and we had to take the dry batteries to be recharged. Mr. Webster, who had Casey's shop then, would do this for us, using his car battery. Mr. Horn kept a grocery shop on the main street and Pashley's was next to the post office where Mr. Rowland was the postmaster. Mrs. Wager, whose shop was on the corner opposite the cross, made lovely teacakes and buns. Mrs. Fearn had a small haberdashery shop at Ash House and Mr. Dawson kept the butcher's shop. He used to come and help us with the curing of the pigs.

When it became known that an atomic bomb was to be dropped on Hiroshima, everyone at school thought that the end of the world would be the result and we were all rather scared. I remember my father telling us not to be so daft; it was too far away to have any effect on us, but it was still a very frightening thought.

The school plays in those days were nearly always works by Shakespeare, which were set books for the school certificate and higher school certificate: Usually the house plays were scenes from one of his plays. Later, there was a performance of a complete Shakespearian play in the Town Hall in Bakewell. L du Garde Peach, a playwright and author from Foolow, usually adjudicated at the house competition. Sometimes Dickens was the choice as well as Sheridan. I think L du Garde Peach took the opportunity to do a bit of talent spotting for his famous Great Hucklow Players, who performed two or three plays during the winter months at his theatre in Great Hucklow. There were some wonderful productions often billed to take place during the full moon so that people could see their way. There were no streetlights because of the blackout. On more than one occasion, when the lighting failed due to power cuts, the audience lit the stage. Everyone turned on their torches so that the show could go on! Mrs. Edna Raworth who lived at Holme Hall was a leading lady in many of the plays. She was RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) trained and helped us when we gave nativity and passion plays in the church. I learnt a lot about acting from her. Getting to and from Bakewell was a problem because of lack of transport. During the blackout, it was especially difficult after evening performances at the Town Hall. We often had to walk to the cinema or come out early to catch the last bus home.

News of the death of a member of the forces from the village was always a sad time, not only for the family but for the whole village. When the news of my brother Dick's death came through, my mother refused at first to believe it. Much correspondence took place between the family and the war office, as well as with the commanding officer of Dick's battalion and his friends. All of them spoke so well of him and his close friend Sam Allen from army days came to see us when he came home. Many of the men who were not called up for the forces joined the Local Defence Volunteers, the Home Guard, often called the Look, Duck and Vanish Brigade. My brother Cyril was a stretcher-bearer in the Baslow company and he did some courses in first aid. A lot of the training was done on the moors above Baslow. The pretend casualties were invaluable for the training of the volunteer girls who grew proficient at bandaging all types of wounds. There were also the ARP (Air Raid Patrols), who made sure that no lights were showing during air raids and manned the stirrup pumps ready to deal with incendiary bombs. They also traced enemy aircraft. A lot of bombs were stored on the roadside verges up above Sheldon. There was also a searchlight battery positioned at Wheel Farm, Taddington.

We all had to carry our gas masks wherever we went and we were taught that we had to be careful about what we said when strangers were around, in case they were spies! There were posters everywhere, which said `Careless talk costs lives'. All the signposts were taken down throughout the country in case of invasion. Frank remembered that when there was an air raid in progress in Sheffield or elsewhere, steam trains had to wait in local tunnels or in the cutting by Longstone bridge. The glow from the fire gave a good positional indication. The AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) headquarters were in the hut at the bottom of Flaxdale; they kept all their equipment there. My brother Tom, along with the Holmes twins, was a member. Later the girl guides used it.

We joined the Red Cross and had first aid and home nursing classes in the school, usually taken by Mrs. Barnes who lived at the Red House near Monsal Head. We had to pass certificates both for the Red Cross and for the guides. We also went to the vicarage where the vicar's wife, Mrs. Trendell, helped us with training and tests.

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Longstone Local History Group - Martin Simons’ Story


By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Martin Simons, Sheila Hurst, Lucy Longden
Location of story: Eyam, Sheffield, Great Hucklow, Middleton Dale
Background to story: Civilian Force

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Martin Simons.

These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group - Martin Simons’ Story
by
Martin Simons

Martin, an expert on aircraft, was evacuated to Eyam from Sheffield. He is a friend of Sheila Hurst's and now lives in Australia. Sheila asked him if he could tell us more about the German aircraft that dropped bombs in the area. This is his reply:

I can recall three incidents apart from the Sheffield bombing which we heard but did not see. The first was one night when a stick of small bombs fell near Great Hucklow, close to the Foolow-Hucklow road, where there is still a small isolated bungalow. I always suspected that the people in the house were accidentally showing a light and that the aircrew, being lost, thought they would aim at this target for want of anything better. Anyway it certainly scared the people and, I think, blew out a window or two. The boys were looking for shrapnel but it was all gone by the time I got there.

Much later in the war, I was in our tiny garden at Orchard Cottage in Eyam, which was the end of the row where Lucy Longden lived and close to the Royal Oak pub. I saw two aircraft flying very low from west to east, over Middleton Dale. I had no idea they were German and didn't see any markings at all. All my (supposed) skills at aircraft recognition were useless. As they flew on there were several loud explosions and a plume of smoke rose from the quarry close to the junction of the Eyam Dale road and the Stoney Middleton Road. Some damage was done but no one was injured. A large chunk of the quarry face was brought down, so saving the men some work I suppose. The two Junkers 88 bombers continued down the valley and machine-gunned Chatsworth House, where there was an evacuated girls' school. The bullets did some damage and nearly hit some of the rare paintings in the library. We were told this by the librarian (was it Mr Thompson?) when the school organised a visit to the house, several years later. The bombers were shot down over Lincolnshire by a Polish spitfire squadron. This is all written up in one of the aviation war history books. I used to sit on the cliffs opposite the place where the bombs fell, and even did some sketching from there. It was a favourite place for me.

Thirdly, one night I was woken by two doodle bugs which (as we later discovered) had been launched from Heinkel bombers over the North Sea and aimed at Manchester. We were living at Millhaven in upper Tideswell Lane by this time, on higher ground than the main village. I don't know the altitude of the bugs but they seemed very close and directly overhead. The noise was extremely loud. We heard later that they fell in New Mills. The thing that astonished me most about this was that my father refused to admit that what we had heard and seen that night were flying bombs. Later his excuse was, `Of course I knew that but didn't want to frighten the family.' As if we couldn't work it out for ourselves! This was an isolated attack, of course, but we didn't know that at the time.

Otherwise we had a very quiet war didn't we? I remember that a Wellington bomber came down on Eyam Moor and there was one that crashed in Lathkill Dale, I think, but I'm not sure what that was. There was also one occasion when a couple of Mosquitos did a spectacular ‘beat up' over the school. I was told one of the pilots was an old boy, who thought he would show off a bit. It was certainly a lot of fun for us! We used to see masses of vapour trails created by the American Flying Fortresses as they manoeuvred into their huge formations before setting off on their daylight raids. But they were so high and remote that this had little impact on us.


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Longstone Local History Group - Molly Thornhill’s Story

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Molly Thornhill
Location of story: Great Longstone, Hassop
Background to story: Civilian Force

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Molly Thornhill.

These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group - Molly Thornhill’s Story
by
Molly Thornhill.

I came to Great Longstone from South Wales in 1940 with my mother, to escape the blitz. My father could not come with us as he was an inspector in the police force, responsible for the special constables. He visited us from time to time, travelling by train or, when he could get some petrol, by car.

I had sinus problems and as there were no antibiotics then, I was often in bed with a fever, Getting up night after night to go to the air-raid shelter did not help. So the doctor advised my parents to get me away if they could, and my Uncle Frank, who lived at Hassop, found us accommodation in part of Beech House. I went to St Elphin's as a day girl and, later in the war, when the threat of invasion was over, to boarding school in Somerset.

My Uncle Frank was billeting officer at Hassop for the evacuees and when two coach loads of them arrived from Birmingham, my mother and I went to help, making sandwiches and looking after the children, while the billeting arrangements were sorted out. The boys were quickly taken, as all the farmers wanted them to help on their farms.

At the end of the day, we were left with two young mothers, each with a baby and a toddler. In desperation, my uncle phoned the agent at Chatsworth, who told him to bring them over and he'd see what they could do. So we set off by car in the dark with only very narrow slits of light from our headlights because of blackout restrictions. When we arrived, the housekeeper welcomed us and gave the evacuees a nice hot meal and put them in the orangery. The Duchess had got out some of Lady Ann's toys for the children to play with. When we called the next day for their forms, the mothers could not find their way back to their bedrooms! They were used to living in a terraced house with all amenities close by. They must have been overwhelmed by Chatsworth. I don't think they stayed very long.

Mr. and Mrs. Thornhill, who lived next door to us, reared a pig each year. After it was slaughtered, I imagine in the old slaughterhouse at the bottom of Moor Road, Mr. Dawson, the village butcher, came and salted it down in our cellar. I think he used brown sugar and saltpetre. The carcass was laid on benches which are still there today. At some stage it was hung up and when it was ready, Mr. Thornhill gave us some of the ham and bacon, and all the liver, which they didn't like.

As a young girl, I don't think I realised the seriousness of the war, but when someone I knew was killed in action, it brought home to me the gravity of the events.

I remember well the harvest time of the two summers I spent in Beech House. First there was haymaking, when I loved to be on the dray, helping to load it, and then the grain harvest. A lot of corn was grown on the farm. One year Mr. Thornhill even grew some corn on Scratter, in a field above Wardlow right on the top. I have a photograph of the field with the stooks waiting to be collected.

There was a wonderful camaraderie in those days; everyone came to help each other. Mr. Dawson came and helped us and we helped him get in his fields in turn. I was often sent to help Mrs. Thornhill (my future mother-in-law) to make the tea and bring it to the field where we were working. Mr. Thornhill always paid us young ones. I well remember, as they were the first wages I ever earned!


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Longstone Local History Group - Molly Thornhill’s Story

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Molly Thornhill
Location of story: Great Longstone, Hassop
Background to story: Civilian Force

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Molly Thornhill.

These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group - Molly Thornhill’s Story
by
Molly Thornhill.

I came to Great Longstone from South Wales in 1940 with my mother, to escape the blitz. My father could not come with us as he was an inspector in the police force, responsible for the special constables. He visited us from time to time, travelling by train or, when he could get some petrol, by car.

I had sinus problems and as there were no antibiotics then, I was often in bed with a fever, Getting up night after night to go to the air-raid shelter did not help. So the doctor advised my parents to get me away if they could, and my Uncle Frank, who lived at Hassop, found us accommodation in part of Beech House. I went to St Elphin's as a day girl and, later in the war, when the threat of invasion was over, to boarding school in Somerset.

My Uncle Frank was billeting officer at Hassop for the evacuees and when two coach loads of them arrived from Birmingham, my mother and I went to help, making sandwiches and looking after the children, while the billeting arrangements were sorted out. The boys were quickly taken, as all the farmers wanted them to help on their farms.

At the end of the day, we were left with two young mothers, each with a baby and a toddler. In desperation, my uncle phoned the agent at Chatsworth, who told him to bring them over and he'd see what they could do. So we set off by car in the dark with only very narrow slits of light from our headlights because of blackout restrictions. When we arrived, the housekeeper welcomed us and gave the evacuees a nice hot meal and put them in the orangery. The Duchess had got out some of Lady Ann's toys for the children to play with. When we called the next day for their forms, the mothers could not find their way back to their bedrooms! They were used to living in a terraced house with all amenities close by. They must have been overwhelmed by Chatsworth. I don't think they stayed very long.

Mr. and Mrs. Thornhill, who lived next door to us, reared a pig each year. After it was slaughtered, I imagine in the old slaughterhouse at the bottom of Moor Road, Mr. Dawson, the village butcher, came and salted it down in our cellar. I think he used brown sugar and saltpetre. The carcass was laid on benches which are still there today. At some stage it was hung up and when it was ready, Mr. Thornhill gave us some of the ham and bacon, and all the liver, which they didn't like.

As a young girl, I don't think I realised the seriousness of the war, but when someone I knew was killed in action, it brought home to me the gravity of the events.

I remember well the harvest time of the two summers I spent in Beech House. First there was haymaking, when I loved to be on the dray, helping to load it, and then the grain harvest. A lot of corn was grown on the farm. One year Mr. Thornhill even grew some corn on Scratter, in a field above Wardlow right on the top. I have a photograph of the field with the stooks waiting to be collected.

There was a wonderful camaraderie in those days; everyone came to help each other. Mr. Dawson came and helped us and we helped him get in his fields in turn. I was often sent to help Mrs. Thornhill (my future mother-in-law) to make the tea and bring it to the field where we were working. Mr. Thornhill always paid us young ones. I well remember, as they were the first wages I ever earned!


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Longstone Local History Group - Norman Hassall’s Story

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Norman Hassall, Peter Furniss
Location of story: Lubeck, Bakewell
Unit name: 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment
Background to story: Army

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Norman Hassall.

These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group - Norman Hassall’s Story
By
Norman Hassall

(Furniss and Hassall, the local building firm) This extract is from a recording made in 1988

Naturally, during the war, all building work ceased. I joined up in the 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment. I went through to Lubeck. I was in charge of maintenance on all vehicles. I had some hair-raising experiences, but was never wounded. Peter Furniss wasn't called up but kept the firm going with a contract for making boxes for submarine batteries for the DP Battery Company at Bakewell.

Of course after the war there was plenty of building work and we got the contract for building the council houses on Glebe Avenue and carried on from there!


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Longstone Local History Group - Norman Hoare’s Story

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Norman Hoare, Bill Pheasey
Location of story: Ashford, Bakewell, Mansfield, Sheffield, Padgate, Warrington, Weeton, Blackpool, Madley, Hereford, Risalpur, India,Bahmrouli, Allahabad, Calcutta, Burma
Background to story: Royal Air Force

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Norman Hoare and has been added to the site with the author’s permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group - Norman Hoare’s Story
by
Norman Hoare

in 1939 I was working as a plumber's apprentice, first at Hailwood of Ashford, then for Broomhead's of Bakewell, who then had a base on Buxton Road, down the side of Granby Garments. Early in 1941, as all building work was practically at a standstill, I left and went to work for Pheasey's of Ashford as a mechanic. Eventually Bill Pheasey taught me to drive a heavy goods vehicle and I moved on to milk collection from farms and delivery to the dairies in Mansfield and Sheffield.

I was in the old air training corps squadron at Lady Manners School. I had a 400 cc BSA motorcycle and a black Labrador dog. It was on a motorcycle trip through Matlock Bath that I met a young lady from Cromford who was to become my wife after the war.

In mid-1943, I was called up into the Royal Air Force and did my initial training at Padgate, near Warrington. I passed an exam and interview for aircrew. I was told that I would be sent on a flight engineer course but as I would have to wait almost a year for the next one, I could choose another course meantime. I chose a despatch rider course, and was sent to Weeton, near Blackpool, for the six weeks training. After that, I was retained as an instructor and promoted to corporal. I also got engaged.

After five months, a request for an experienced despatch rider came through from Hereford. I volunteered and was posted to Madley, near Hereford. Every morning, at 4 am, I called at two RAF stations and carried despatches to operational HQ and the record office in Gloucester, a journey of 36 miles. On the return journey, I carried despatches to both RAF stations and an SAS unit. I went training with this unit over the Brecon Beacons.
In mid 1944 I was posted to India and was stationed at Risalpur on the northwest frontier, near the Khyber Pass to Afghanistan. I was training in American Liberator bombers and Dakota troop and supply carriers, morning and nights, and escorting convoys and carrying despatches to Divisional HQ in Peshawar most afternoons.

Early in 1945 I was posted to Bahmrouli airfield, near Allahabad for a few weeks and then I joined the combined operations base near Calcutta. I was dropping supplies and paratroops into Burma from Dakota aircraft, and bombing Japanese airfields with Liberator aircraft. I was also involved in some ground operations with the 14th Army.

When the far east war ended with the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I heard that the National Fire Service in England was in need of new recruits, so I applied and went before a selection board in Delhi. I was accepted and, a few weeks later, flew back to England in a Dakota. I was stationed at Bruntingthorpe airfield for a further period until I was demobilised in June 1946.

In July 1946, after three weeks leave, I went to the National Fire Service Regional HQ at Nottingham. I had further training, then I was posted to Louth fire station in Lincolnshire. I married in April 1947.


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Longstone Local History Group - One family's war

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Sheila Hurst, Phoebe Hurst, Frank Hurst, Richard Henry Hurst, Harry Hurst, Gerald Hurst
Location of story: Longstone
Unit name: King's Own Light Infantry,Welsh Regiment, Monmouthshire Regiment, Royal Engineers
Background to story: Army



The harsh announcement of death: A telegram received 16 days after Dick’s death.


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Sheila Hurst.

These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group - One family's war Part 1
by
Sheila Hurst

Frank and Sheila Hurst, two of the younger members of the Hurst family, still live in Longstone and have provided photographs and documents. We are using their story to show the effect of the war, not only on their own family, but on others in the village.

Four Hursts served in the forces at some stage in the war, including Dick who was killed in northern France shortly after D-day. They left behind their father, Harry, who had been blinded in the First World War.

Phoebe was a mill worker at Cressbrook and later a domestic servant at The Grange, Longstone and at Portsmouth for Commander Eaveley. She joined the WAAF as a cook and was based at Bottesford in Nottinghamshire.

Richard Henry (Dick) was a gardener apprentice at the Grange and then a gardener at Thornbridge. He was in the Welsh Regiment and the Monmouthshire regiment, serving in the Hebrides, in Ireland and in France. He was killed on 5 August 1944 near Tilly-sur-Seulles, soon after the allied landings in Normandy.

Gerald was a mineral extractor for Athertons on Longstone moor and a timber worker at Smiths Sawmills, Bakewell. After joining the army he was a timber worker in the Forest of Dean and, with the Royal Engineers, a tunneller on the Rock of Gibraltar.

Frank was a gardener at Thornbridge before joining the King's Own Light Infantry. He was based at Lincoln, Berwick-on-Tweed and Alnwick. He later served in India: at Doollalie, the Kola Goldfields, the Mysore Jungle, and the Chindit training camp in Central Provinces.

Documents provided by Sheila Hurst help to convey the shock and horror of death in war and its devastating effect on the families involved.


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These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group - One family's war - Part 2
by
Sheila Hurst.

Longstone Local History Group - Roy Finney’s Story

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Roy Finney, Mr. Buggins, Miss. Lomas, Miss. Robinson, Miss. Charlesworth, Mrs Herrington, Mrs. Hambleton
Location of story: Longstone, Buxton, Bakewell, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Leek, Holmfirth, Penistone, Chester, Macclesfield
Background to story: Civilian Force

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Roy Finney.

These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group - Roy Finney’s Story

I was at Longstone School when the war broke out. Mr. Buggins was headmaster. Other teachers I remember were Miss. Lomas, Miss. Robinson and Miss. Charlesworth. I moved to the boys' school in Bath Street, Bakewell, which we boys knew as The Academy. During the 1940s, evacuees from Manchester arrived by train. Some girls stayed with Mrs Herrington (Mick Goodison's grandma) and the boys with Mrs. Hambleton on Sunny Bank. It took them a while to settle to country life but they were soon joining us, raiding Thornbridge and Dr Skinner's orchard at The Manor and going up on Longstone Moor (caving we called it). We would crawl in the workings of the old lead mines and one day, we took one of the evacuees, Stan Laverty, but he got very, very dirty, so we persuaded him to jump in a pond and clean himself up. Next minute my mate slipped and fell right in; all us lads were rolling about with laughter but he was scared to go home. `My dad'll kill me,' he said, but luckily when we got home his dad was out.

We had double summer time during the war, so we played outside till quite late, boating on Thornbridge lakes until Mr. Boot's staff moved us off. In the winter, Rowdale pond was a favourite spot for ice-skating.

I lived with my grandparents during the war, and one night, when there was an air raid in Sheffield, Granddad said, `Come on, we'll go for a walk up Stansal Dale.' It was pitch black, but when we got there, we could see lots of flashing lights on the horizon. I thought it was very exciting but frightening. Granddad used to play pop about the searchlights in Coplow Dale: `Showing them the way, they are!'
When a stick of bombs was dropped in Great Hucklow, we lads were off on our bikes collecting shrapnel. One Saturday they dropped bombs near Stoney Middleton and machine gunned Chatsworth House. When the news came on the radio, we had to sit very quietly, particularly when the Prime Minister was speaking.

The railway station was our main connection to Derby and Manchester. We were on one of the main freight lines to the north west docks from the east midlands area. Sometimes I stayed at Woodlands with my Auntie Myra (Saunders) and late at night, we could hear the trains coming, fully loaded with we knew not what and could not see. Their wheels were slipping on the lines due to the excess weight they were pulling; engines on the front pulling, engines on the back pushing. As the train went past we could see the fireman shovelling coal at great speed. The next day we would see five or six light engines, coupled to each other, returning to Rowsley, back to base ready to go to work again.

All the boys and girls from school were sent, in groups of 10 or 12, to do light work on the farms. This would be hoeing potato rows, singling turnips in the fallow fields, and potato picking. We didn't care for stone picking, clearing the fields before seeding. I recall 22 farms in the area but now there are only five left.

When I left school I started work with my uncle, Sam Gillot. His wife Millicent and my mother were sisters. My first job was to fetch water from the pump; there was a standpipe situated some 80 yards down the village. I thought he'd said pub, so I knocked on the pub door and asked the landlady if she could fill my buckets. She said, `You are the first customer I've had in years young man. Would you like mild or bitter?' She then told me the pump was down the road, this being the only supply in the village for washing and drinking. I learnt my lesson. ‘Listen before you walk off.’

My uncle was a cattle dealer and I went with him to all the local markets, Buxton, Bakewell, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Leek, Holmfirth, Penistone, Chester and Macclesfield, which was special because my uncle always bought me a silk neck tie; I had a drawer full. One day, later in the war, when we were stooking corn sheaves on Seedlow, behind Longstone Moor, there was the most strange deafening noise. We looked up and the sky was full of planes, maybe 40 or 50. They were so low we could see the markings on the aircraft. They were American Flying Fortress B17s and B52s, going east, but we could only guess where. `Careless talk costs lives', `Put that light out,' `Shut that door'. How many million times was that shouted at us during the war?

It was brought home to me what the war was all about when I went to Sheffield with my uncle, Bill Pheasey from Ashford. We delivered the milk we had collected from local farmers and I saw all the devastation. And when the lads from the village didn't come back from the war it made you ponder.


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Longstone Local History Group - Stella Holmes’ Story

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Stella Holmes, Miss Bullock, Mrs. Thrower, Mary Ward, Bill Bowers, Mr Herrington, Mr Pickford, Arthur Slater, Tom Hurst, Scotney Birkhead, Edgar Bradwell
Location of story: Ashford, Longstone, Tideswell, Bakewell, Cressbrook, Monsal Head
Background to story: Civilian Force

 

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Stella Holmes 

These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group - Stella Holmes’ Story
by
Stella Holmes

In 1941 when I left school, I was living with my family at the Red House in Ashford Lane. I started to work for the Columbia Film Company, which had been evacuated to Cressbrook Hall. Mr. Bramwell was president and the London members of staff were lodged in several villages including Longstone, Tideswell and Ashford.

The stables at Cressbrook stored all the films and a Miss Bullock was in charge of distribution. Lorries would come and collect the films for distribution nation-wide as in those days three films a week were showing at the cinemas. Buckley's bus from Tideswell used to pick up the staff at 8 am and return them at 7 pm. Those in billets only had bed and breakfast, so lunch and evening meals were provided by the company. Mrs. Thrower was in charge of the kitchens and her husband was in charge of the gardens. I was in the mail department. We dealt with all outgoing, incoming and inter-office mail. Outgoing mail was sorted into counties and stamped by our own franking machine. It was then put into mailbags and the bags were sealed. The mail van would then pick up the bags and take them directly to a main post office. We also had in our department, a telephone exchange with 12 extensions and three outside lines. We had to call London for the heads of departments in Cressbrook, to speak to their opposite numbers in London every morning and again in the afternoon.

If we wanted to go to the Bakewell pictures at 6 pm we would go to the canteen and get two slices of toast with a slice of Spam between and eat these as we walked to Monsal Head to catch the bus.

In 1943, the company went back to London and I went to work at Thornhills office from 1943 to 1948. There were six of us in the office and, as petrol was rationed, we had to keep a record of all journeys to enable us to get the next lot of petrol coupons. My main job was dealing with orders coming in for limestone, poultry and chicken grit, which we ordered from Longcliffe quarries at Brassington. They despatched our orders by rail from there.

On the egg collection side, we had Mr. Sammy Lees who only stayed a week; he lost his collection sheets one day then he lost the pay packets for the farmers' eggs for the previous week. Another time, all the boxes of eggs he had collected fell over in the van and cracked, so the warehouse staff had to break them into suitable containers. They were then sent out as liquid eggs to the various cafes and catering establishments.

Villagers who worked at Thornhills included Mary Ward, Bill Bowers, Mr Herrington, Mr Pickford, Arthur Slater, Tom Hurst, Scotney Birkhead, Edgar Bradwell and Ernie and his brother George before they were called up. They also tried market gardening and some drivers took flowers on their delivery rounds into Sheffield. Scotney left a lot of white flowers at one of the hospitals but had to fetch them back when they told him they never had white flowers in the place. So he went into a café and tried to sell them there but was told he couldn't do that.

My mother, Mrs. Barnes, was in the Red Cross and, together with Mr. Robert Thornhill and Mrs. Goodwin, started the first aid point in the Coach House at Longstone Hall. She took first aid and home nursing classes. They asked her to be commandant at Bakewell but with a big family, she hadn't the time, so Miss Foulkes, from what is now the Nat West Bank, took it on.


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Longstone Local History Group - Tony Greenfield’s Story

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Tony Greenfield, John Roberts, Charlie Boot
Location of story: Sheffield, Longstone, Thornbridge, Hassop
Background to story: Civilian Force

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Tony Greenfield.

These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group - Tony Greenfield’s Story
by
Tony Greenfield

Small boys don't relate easily to big wars, but it was the big war that brought me to Longstone in 1940. Anticipation of the war had already disturbed my life as we moved up and down the country. I was born in Sheffield but when the family moved, I hardly understood. I was only six when we went to London in 1937, where Father worked at government laboratories.

Among other things, he was asked to develop a way to destroy dams by aerial attack. He worked on this problem for several months before confessing that he couldn't do it so the problem was handed to Barnes Wallis. He told me that the idea of doing it had been that of some ministry man but Barnes Wallis deserved great credit for working out how to do it. He also worked on the development of the explosive called RDX.

We moved to West Hartlepool because the government asked Father to build and commission a plant for extracting magnesium from seawater. Since magnesium was a strategic material, the project was secret, so Father was instructed to let it be known that he was managing a babies' shoe factory: a very silly alias for a leading chemical engineer.

The war began while I was staying with grandparents in a village near Durham. Worried that Hartlepool might be attacked, my parents left me to stay with my grandparents and I went to a village school for two terms. This wasn't as safe as they expected. Grandpa was manager of coke ovens that supplied coke to blast furnaces and the Germans were intent on destroying his works. There were several air raids but, at that time, the bombs landed in the field and I collected shrapnel from the craters. I remember watching a dog fight over the works between Hurricanes and Dorniers.

We returned to Sheffield and, still concerned about enemy attacks, Father learned that Birkdale School, then just a small prep school, had moved to Longstone. We drove there in the summer of 1940, first to Hassop where we left my 13 year old brother, and then to the farm at Thornbridge where my parents left me. The first and second forms, aged seven to nine, were at the farm. The third to sixth forms, aged up to 13, were in the stables at Hassop. Three weeks later, the headmaster John Roberts drove me to Hassop where he said I would find the work more challenging. We had porridge and black treacle for breakfast, naked crowds in bathrooms, and after lights out I was made to stand with outstretched arms, a slipper on each arm, as a punishment for talking.

The next term we all moved to Thornbridge Hall. A few small dormitories were in the main hall but 30 of us slept in the huge garage which Charlie Boot had hung with great artistic works. Wide windows faced north-east and from these we watched the flames of Sheffield as it burned in the blitz. In my mind I saw, through the flames, Mother serving soup and sandwiches to soldiers in the SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) canteen near Hunters Bar, and Father, with a bucket of sand and a stirrup pump, fire-watching on the roof of a city centre store.

I had been to Cockayne's in the holidays to buy a new doormat. The next holidays, Father showed me what remained of the store: a jungle of rubble and twisted girders. We were cosy in Longstone, enjoying fresh air, beautiful countryside and farm produce. The war would have stayed unreal, had it not been for those flames and holiday visits to Sheffield, and the sight of its devastation.

But I was still very young. I didn't realise how close we were to being conquered. I was on holiday in Sheffield when the doodle bugs came over. I fired at one with my Diana airgun and the engine stopped. We ran for cover. Mother giggled.

We all had bicycles and were taken for rides at weekends to distant places, like Tideswell and Youlgreave, in the evening racing round the grounds of the hall and playing bike polo on the tennis court. I cycled weekly to Bakewell for a piano lesson. Gardeners, at Charlie's command, did magic, moving trees, repairing great classic statues (Atlas, with the world on his shoulders, had lost his nose), and even creating over night, just to surprise us, a new shrubbery bed. We walked to church on Sunday mornings, alternately to Longstone and Ashford. The duke read the lesson at Ashford and his daughters arrived by pony-and-trap.

We walked on Sunday afternoons, often to Monsal Head and Dale. The rocky castle was magic to our imaginative minds. So were the trains that roared across the viaduct and into the tunnel. On the way back, we chased cows into the path of matron who cried with fear and was later furious. We walked to Hassop, through the small green gate into the woodland and to the little lake, where we swam. Look at it now: it's muddy and very dirty. It was just as dirty then but we swam and had fun. There was a small jetty with a rowing boat that we took to the middle and dived off.

I learned to play rugby which I loved. In the classroom, I learned nothing of any use to me in the rest of my life, except for geometry. Most of life focused on religion and I believed that we would win the war because God was on our side. But chocolate was rationed. My brother and I crept out late one night to empty the last load of one penny Nestle bars from the chocolate machine on the station platform. One boy proudly returned from the post office with a two pound pot of marmalade the day before jam rationing started. We contributed though by growing vegetables, rising at six to cycle to the allotment and singing as we went:
`When we were young we used to scratch Mr Heeley's cabbage patch, so early in the morning, so early in the morning, before the break of day.'

Mother sent me food parcels which I stored in my tuck box: Virol and hard boiled eggs. One day I found a box of corona cigars in my tuck box. My brother took them to Charlie Boot thinking they must be his. He was right. We surmised that some other boy had pilfered them from the hall table and fearfully disposed of the evidence in my tuck box.

In 1943, just before my 12th birthday, Father said, “It's about time you did something for the war effort.”

This was apart from picking potatoes, stooking corn, making hay and mucking out byres alongside Italian and German POWs on a farm near Longstone, I can't remember where, and on summer farming camps.

He took me to Sheffield Town Hall and signed me up as salvage steward for the very long road we lived in. I was equipped with a badge, a special identity card, posters and leaflets. Three sets of four dustbins were put in the road: one set at each end and a set in the middle. One bin was for paper and card, another for metal, another for bones (I understood that an extract was used to make explosives), and the fourth for ash and any other rubbish. I repeatedly visited every house in the street and easily persuaded the householders to separate their waste.
After two years at Thornbridge, the school split: half returned to Sheffield as Birkdale and the rest of us moved to Brocksford Hall near Doveridge. There was a bit of a scandal because Charlie Boot started his own prep school to replace us and he wrote to all the parents asking them to leave us at Thornbridge. This was considered to be wrong. The war was still raging and I was moved again.


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Longstone Local History Group - Longstone Women’s Institute during the Second World War

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Hilary Clarke
Location of story: Longstone
Unit name: Women’s Institute
Background to story: Civilian Force

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Hilary Clarke.

These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter, kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Longstone Local History Group - Longstone Women’s Institute during the Second World War
By
Hilary Clarke

Hilary Clarke has been studying the history of Longstone W.I. using their minute books She has written this account of their contribution to the war effort.

The war proved how resourceful members of the W.I. could be. By October 1939, they had acquired an allotment and organised meetings to advise on the importance of homegrown vegetables. A jumble sale was held to raise money for blackout curtains for the school. Members helped with the collection of waste paper scrap iron and aluminium, and knitting groups were formed to knit socks, balaclavas and mittens for the troops. The W.I. helped with the evacuees and organised a joint Christmas party for them and the village children.
As the war progressed and food became scarce, a canning system was organised in the grounds of Longstone Hall. Members brought along surplus plums, damsons and apples to be canned.

The W.I. monthly meetings took on a practical nature with demonstrations of wartime cookery, hay-box cooking, the re-footing of lisle stockings and dress renovation. Ministry of Information films were shown including 'The Danger Of Invasion' and 'The necessity Of Saving For the War Effort'.

W.I. members diligently gave of their best to help the war effort by any means at their disposal.


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Ann Mallinson's war memories

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Ann Mallinson (nee Holmes)
Location of story: Longstone, Derbyshire
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Louise Treloar of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team from Mrs Hilary Clarke on behalf of the Longstone Local History Group.

The memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

At the outbreak of war, I was just starting at Bakewell School on Bath St. I remember the cookery centre in some cottages next to the school. We learnt all kinds of cookery there as well as housecraft and we had our school dinner there too. I left school at 14 and went to work at Granby Garments (now Aitch’s Wine Bar). I was a seamstress on piece work. We made ‘rat traps’ for the ATS girls; they were bloomers, elastic top and bottom.

We also made the bindings for parachutes; some girls put their names and addresses in the binding hoping a handsome RAF man would contact them. Auntie Myra (Saunders) was our supervisor. I sometimes cycled to work, and sometimes caught the bus, 7d (3p) return. We used to go to dances in Longstone Institute and soldiers from the Rifle Brigade lodging down in Monsal Dale would come.


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Child's view of the war

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: George Jackson (father), Doris Jackson (mother), Barbara, Hilary Clarke, Pam (daughters)
Location of story: Hull, East Riding, Yorkshire
Background to story: Civilian

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Louise Treloar of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Mrs Hilary Clarke.

My earliest memory is listening with my parents and sisters to the announcement on the radio of the outbreak of war. I had only been to school about 2 days and the school was closed for a long time, until the air raid shelters were built. When we went back we had gas masks and a little tin with a homemade scone in it as emergency rations. We were taught what to do in the event of an air raid – lying flat on the floor with our hands over the back of our head. At home we had an Anderson shelter. We girls slept in it all night during the summer. My father lined it with cork granules to cope with the condensation and we slept on bunk beds. The air raids were more like firework night to us – I remember seeing the night sky alight when the docks were hit, but we didn’t take in the significance of it. We all had collections of shrapnel. My mother managed the rations very well, although we had to stop having sugar in our tea. She made bread in the side oven. The big treat was tinned fruit for sunday tea and later in the war, tins of spam. When Thornton Varley’s department store was bombed they moved into the museum – I was fascinated by the stuffed bear and other curious objects.

I was in an isolation hospital with scarlet fever during the war – the food was awful – lumpy porridge , bullet sago, and although only 6 years old, I had to look after myself.

In 1943 I moved to Morley, near Leeds, where the war did not impact on our lives in quite the same way – apart from rationing – especially sweets!


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Delivery boy

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Bill Oliver
Location of story: Longstone, Derbyshire
Background to story: Civilian

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Louise Treloar of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team from Mrs Hilary Clarke on behalf of the Longstone Local History Group.

The memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

I was at Bath Street School during the war. It was mixed then and we all went down to the Derbyshire Café, Matlock Street for our school dinners. I remember evacuees coming into the village. We never went hungry but food was basic, toast and dripping for breakfast and bread and butter pudding made out of stale teacakes. Everybody had a bit of a garden where they grew vegetables and kept a few hens. I wasn’t greatly affected by the war. We could see in the night sky when bombs were dropped on Sheffield and I think I heard talk of a bomb being dropped on Bakewell, possibly aimed at the DP Bakewell Company, which made batteries for submarines.

After school and on a Saturday I was a delivery boy for Mansfields, the grocers (now Bay Tree House). I delivered in Great and Little Longstone and one day, I fell off my bike in front of a lot of people by the bus stop; I was so embarrassed. I liked to deliver to Mrs Hambleton up Sunny Bank, because she gave me a homemade teacake. I didn’t get much money but plenty of broken biscuits. I also did a bit of gardening for Lady Stephenson when she lived at the Lodge, Station Road, and she used to give me duck eggs. Then, when I left school, my first job was as a gardener at Hassop Hall, where I was when the war ended.


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Edna Beresford's war memories

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Edna Beresford(nee Unsworth)
Location of story: Longstone, Derbyshire
Background to story: Civilian

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Louise Treloar of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team from Mrs Hilary Clarke on behalf of the Longstone Local History Group.


The memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

(Hilary Clarke talked to Mrs Beresford and wrote this extract)

Edna Beresford was 19 when war broke out. She was working for Mr Dawson, the village butcher. Previously she worked as an overlooker at Miss Frost’s dress factory near Bakewell Station. She learnt to drive and delivered meat with Mr Dawson to the surrounding villages of Eyam, Calver, Litton, Cressbrook, Rowland, Little Longstone and Monsal Head. He often kept her waiting whilst he chatted to the customers. Every Saturday he gave her a butcher’s breakfast, which her dad ate on Sunday mornings. Her father worked on the railway at Rowsley sidings and got there by bicycle. Edna and her pals also used their bikes when they went to the dances or the cinema in Bakewell. If late back from the dances, they crept in so that their parents wouldn’t hear them!

Her father was in the Home Guard and did manoeuvres on the moor.


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Heather Reeves' War Memories

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Heather Reeves
Location of story: Longstone, Derbyshire
Background to story: Civilian

 


These stories were submitted to the People’s War site by Louise Treloar of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team from Mrs Hilary Clarke on behalf of the Longstone Local History Group.


These memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

Heather Reeves:
At the outbreak of war I was on holiday in Bangor with my parents. We came back early and my father, the Vicar of St Giles, announced the commencement of hostilities. Nothing much happened at first, and then I went to boarding school, so I was only here in the holidays. We used to go up to Miss Reece’s cottage on Spring Bank and do country dancing, using an old fashioned wind-up gramophone. My mother, who produced plays for the St Giles Players, organised an entertainment at the end of 1940 for the local spitfire fund. It consisted of recitals, piano solos and four plays, and half the proceeds went to the war weapons fund. Otherwise she helped with all the activities of the WI.


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Herbert Bennett's war memories

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Herbert Bennett
Location of story: Longstone, Derbyshire
Background to story: Civilian

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Louise Treloar of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team from Mrs Hilary Clarke on behalf of the Longstone Local History Group.


The memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

(Hilary Clarke and Sheila Hurst recorded this extract in 1994 when Herbert Benett was 89. He died soon afterwards.)

I was in the APR in the war and took training for mustard gas and all that at Bakewell. An advert came in the paper; they were asking for volunteers up and down the country. We had thorough training, not difficult. I enjoyed it. I remember the bombs dropping on Crowhill Lane. We were out singing with Mrs Goodwin’s choir and she packed up, but I wanted to carry on. There wasn’t much else, a few incendiaries at Youlgrave and a bomb that burnt down Earl Sterndale church. I went to see that. Longstone church was all sand bagged and there were ladders ready to get up on the roof. The village was empty of young ones; a lot went out of Longstone really. I was at Thornhills on the farm, not poultry. We grew crops mainly and didn’t go short of anything in the war. I had a pig up at Thornhills. We grew a lot of our own stuff. All the farmers grew potatoes, corn, cabbage, anything you like to mention.


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Jane Lincoln's War Memories

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Jane Lincoln (nee Davison)
Location of story: Longstone, Derbyshire
Background to story: Civilian

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Louise Treloar of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team from Mrs Hilary Clarke on behalf of the Longstone Local History Group

The memories are taken from a special edition of a newsletter kindly submitted by Longstone Local History Group. It was edited by Liz Greenfield and published in Autumn 2002. Longstone was a village which sheltered evacuees and was comparatively unaffected by air attack, although the night sky was often lit by the fires of the Sheffield Blitz.

I came to live at the Woodlands near Thornbridge Hall with my mother and father at the beginning of the war. Mr Boot was our landlord, and I remember him coming to collect the rent. He had a little goatee beard and he wore tweeds. Some land girls worked at the Hall and my mother got very friendly with them. I had a Mickey Mouse gas mask, which I carried in a brown cardboard box over my shoulder. I hated having it forced over my face when we practised using it. My greatest diversion was watching the trains come in, seeing all the people getting on and off, and the lovely colourful station garden. Our neighbours were the Gilberts and I thought Reg Gilbert looked very dashing in his RAF uniform; he took me sledging down a steep hill nearby and terrified me. I also went haymaking with his father, which I loved, even though I felt sorry for the scuttling rabbits! My father was in the army and when he was home from leave he would take me on rides down the drive on the back of his bike. One day, out of the blue, my Scottish grandmother appeared on the doorstep; she wanted to see her daughter and granddaughter. A day or so later a telegram boy came with the news that my father, who was 33, had died of typhus in North Africa.


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