World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

Roger Marsh

 The Award Presentation at Sheffield Town Hall, 10th of November, 2005. Left to right are: Margaret Walker (BBC), Andy kershaw (BBC), Roger Marsh (Story Editor), The Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Jo Thomas (Volunteer Co-ordinator) and Bill Ross, (Story Editor).

                   Above - award of medal for sterling work on the People's war project.

Pre-school memories of WWII in the East End of Sheffield

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Roger Marsh, Hilda Julia Marsh, Frederick Marsh, Harriet Glesthorpe, Fred Hanson, Phyllis Hopkins, Patricia Hopkins, Tom Hopkins
Location of story: Darnall, Sheffield
Background to story: Civilian

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Roger Marsh.
Pre-school memories of WWII in the East End of Sheffield.
By
Roger Marsh

I was only four years old when the Second World War ended, so for me it is difficult to separate what are my real memories from what is information that I have picked up listening to my family recalling those times. Since I was there and lived through that period I do not suppose that it matters too much either way since memories are re-enforced by there repeated telling. This can sometimes result in the accuracy varying with time.

I was born on April 28, 1941, at 18 Fearnehough Street, Darnall, Sheffield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. However, my story starts four and a half months earlier during the main Blitz on Sheffield that took place in December 12 & 15, 1940.

Fearnehough Street was the home of my parents Hilda Julia and Frederick Marsh and my maternal grandmother Harriet Glesthorpe. My mother’s maiden name was Hanson not Glesthorpe, her father Fred had been killed in the First World War on July 01, 1916 during the first attack on the Somme, and her mother had later married again. My mother had been only seven years of age when her father was killed so there was no love lost on the Germans in our house.

My father’s occupation was Tool Hardener and he worked for Firth Brown Tools Limited a division of Thomas Firth and John Brown Ltd. This company, during the period of the war, produced over one million tons of high quality alloy steel and at the peak of production made a quarter of a million individual tools each week for the war effort. For this reason my father, in common with many steel workers, engineers and miners in the Sheffield area, was considered to have a reserved occupation vital to the war effort and so was not required to join the armed forces for active service.

I do not believe that he was happy in the job of Tool Hardener, that he continued until he eventually retired, because prior to the Second World War he had been a skilled Silversmith working for Walker and Hall. The requirement for Silversmiths between the wars had been greatly reduced by the introduction of Inheritance Tax and with it there was less demand for silverware for the tables of the rich and famous.

Our house at Fearnehough Street had been bombed in the blitz. My mother and father together with my grandmother, Harriet Glesthorpe with whom they lived were trapped in the cellar in which they had been sheltering. My grandmother, an imposing woman of 19 stones, had been the first to escape from the cellar and on reaching ground level she had found that there were three incendiary bombs in the house one of which it was alleged had entered by way of the chimney. She used a long steel rake to drag them out of the house. My mother, pregnant with me at the time, and father then escaped from the cellar. If the bombs had been high explosive and not incendiaries it is doubtful that they would have survived and I would never have been born to tell this story.

Phyllis Hopkins, my father’s youngest sister, who was living in Walkley at the time, had heard of the heavy bombing in the East End of Sheffield. Phyllis together with her daughter Patricia decided to see if her brothers and his family had suffered in the bombing and set off on a harrowing journey across the City. The electric tramcars were not running so were given a lift on the back of a lorry.

Because the house was left uninhabitable my mother and father together with Harriet Glesthorpe went to live with Phyllis and Tom Hopkins.

The family knew my grandmother by the pet name “Aunt Hetty”, Pat Hopkins was frightened of her. On one occasion Pat had cause the cat to get chewing gum on its tail. When Pat returned from school see was told of the chewing gum incident and Aunt Hetty told her that she had had to cut off the cat’s tail, which thankfully was not true.

The worst of the bombing was over and the house at Fearnehough Street had been made inhabitable again so the family returned home where I was born. I weighed in to the world at 13lbs and 8 ozs. (6kg) and if I had weighed half a pound more I would have weighed a Stone. I have been told that the doctor attending the birth was heard to make the statement, “This baby has not grown to this birth weight on rations”. I cried incessantly because my mother’s milk could not satisfy my hunger, so breast-feeding stopped and I was bottle-fed. If I still continued to cry after being fed my grandmother would cure this by giving me a drink in my bottle, which would be made up of whisky diluted with warm water.

After I was born we were provided with a Morrison Shelter, which was a steel table that had wire mesh around the legs that was used as an air raid shelter to protect me as a baby. Also a gas masks in which I could be laid. Later these were sent to London because it was said that they had more need of them.

During the war, following the registration of the birth, two very important documents were issued. One was your identity card; the number on this card indicated where you lived. If you moved house during the war you had to have a new identity card complete with a new number to show where you live, even if you moved to the next road. The authorities knew the codes on the card so could place you from this number. When the NHS started it was simple matter to use the identity card numbers as a medical card with the exception that these remain the same forever rather than changing the numbers when moving house.
The other document being the Rationing Book which contained the ration coupons or “Points” for food, sweets, and eventually clothes.

In 1942-43 the Ministry of Food allocated weekly rations as follows:
Bacon & Ham – 4oz
Meat – Approximately 1lb
Butter – 4oz
Cheese – 2oz - 8oz
Tea – 2oz
Sugar – 12oz
Margarine – 2oz
Milk 2 – 3 pints
Eggs – 1 small egg every 4 weeks
Dried Eggs – 1 packet every 4 weeks
Sweets – 12 oz every 4 weeks

Both my mother and grandmother were excellent cooks and could produce a good meal from anything. Because of the food shortage my grandmother use to say that it was unpatriotic not to eat all your food at meal times and not leave a “saucy plate” as she called it. To this day I find it difficult to leave food on my plate and feel bad about it if I do. To anyone that filled their plates and then could not consume all the food my grandmother would have said, “Your eyes are bigger than your belly”.

I do not know if it was because of the bombing at Fearnehough Street but we moved to 68 Station Road, Darnall, shortly after I was born. The house was in a block of four red brick built houses numbered 62, 64, 66 and 68, with grey slate roofs, very small gardens to the front and larger gardens to the rear, number 68 being at the top end of the block.

A wall divided numbers 64 and 66 running from the back of the houses along the back gardens to the block of four outside toilets (Water Closets) at the top of the gardens, a paraffin lamp was used in the winter to stop the water cistern from freezing.

Access to number 66 and 68 was through the wooden front gate of number 68 up the passageway at the side. The small front garden had a low red brick wall at the front to which the sneak of the wooden gate was fixed. This wall had coping stones into which holes had been drilled in the top for fixing ornamental steel railings. The railings were fixed in place with lead. However during the war these railings were sawn off close to the wall and donated to the scrap metal collection for the production of steel for the war effort.

It had a single story kitchen, a living/dining room with its Yorkshire range/coal fire, front room that was heated by a gas fire and was only used on Sundays or when visitors arrived, my mother and father slept in the front bedroom, my maternal grandmother slept in the back bedroom, I slept in the attic, we did not have a bathroom or piped hot water.

We entered the house through the kitchen door which had a device on the back that broke the electric circuit to the light bulb so that it went out when the door was opened this together with the black out curtain draped over the door was intended to prevent a light showing to the outside during the black out. We did not use the side door so that was not a problem. Every window in the house was fitted with black out curtains and the sky light in the attic roof was painted with thick black paint.

All the families gas masks, when not being carried, which was compulsory if you left the house, were stored on hooks on the back of the door that lead from the living room to the cellar head. The cellar head was a small area at the top of the stone steps that lead down into the cellar. The cellar head had shelves for storage and meat safe. The meat safe was a metal frame with wire mesh screening to stop files from getting to the meat. The cellar was located directly below the front room, and was primarily used for the storage of coal.

I had been provided with a Mickey Mouse gas mask and had to join the rest of the family in the Anderson air raid shelter when the Sirens gave the air raid warning. I can remember my grandmother telling me when I heard the siren that I had not to worry, as it is only the “all-clear”.

The Anderson shelter was constructed from straight and curved sheets of corrugated metal. These sheets were known as corrugated iron but were actually made from steel.
The way that the shelter would be built was by first digging a hole large enough to place the shelter in and deep enough to bury it to half its height. This hole was usually dug in the back garden of the house in which you lived, as ours was, but any piece of spare ground would do. The sheets were then bolted together in the hole to make the hut shaped shelter with its curved roof. The soil from the hole would then be thrown over the hut roof to bury and to provide added protection from shrapnel and the blast of the bombs, but it could not withstand a direct hit. A pathway was dug down to the door of the shelter and placing sandbags around it further protected this doorway, which served as the entrance to the shelter. The shelter would have a wooden floor with bunks to sleep on but these conditions were not conducive to sleep.

Long after the war was over the sheets from old Anderson shelters would be advertised for sale second hand in the Sheffield Star for use in building outhouses or garden huts.

Coal was delivered by the coalman who transported the coal on the back of a horse drawn wagon; this mode of transport later gave way to motorised lorries.

The one hundredweight sacks of coal were carried from the wagon, on the backs of the coalmen and then the sacks of coal were emptied into the cellar through the coalhole, which was located in the passageway at the side of the house. The coalhole was normally covered by a cast iron or steel cellar grate, which was secured into position by a chain that was looped around the grate and fixed onto the wall of the cellar by a hook.

We would buy one ton of coal, which was delivered in sacks. Each sack would contain one hundredweight of coal and 20 sacks making up one ton. It was important to count each sack as it was emptied into the cellar through the cellar grate. This was to avoid the trick sometimes used by the coal deliverymen to give short measure. What they would do, if the householder was busy and did not watch them carefully, was to deliver the coal and as each sack was emptied they would lay them in a pile to be counted at the time that they were paid for the coal. The trick was that one of the sacks in the middle of the pile would be folded in half then when they were counted it would appear that they had delivered one more sack than they actually had.

It was my job to count the number of sacks of coal delivered, I do not know how good I was at that age at counting to twenty but at least I could look out for the folded sack. I do not know if the coalman thought that I could count or not but my presence was supposed to keep him honest.

The fruit and vegetables that my father and mother grew in our back garden supplemented our rations. The wonderful flavours that came from this food cannot be found in the food purchased from today’s supermarkets.

Another way of supplementing the rations was through the “Black Market”. The black market was the illegal underground economy that was prevalent throughout the war and almost everyone was involved in one way or another though this would be denied. This market was based on barter and cash. The currency that we used was hen’s eggs.

At the top of our garden at Station Road my father built two large pens for the hens. The largest consisted of an enclosed wooden hut that was a lean-to on to the red brick wall that separated our back garden from the gennel that ran parallel with Station Road. The hut had a wooden floor and tarpaulin on the roof to make it water proof. This hut contained the nesting boxes where the hens laid their eggs and the perches, on which they roosted to sleep at night, a door allowed access to the nesting boxes so that we could collect the eggs. The wooden wall opposite to the brick wall had glass windows that could be opened for ventilation. This wall also contained two bob holes, which allowed the hens to go out side into the run made from a wooden frame over which chicken wire mesh was stretched, including the roof. There was also a door for access into the run. The steel shortages meant that my father made all the hinges for the doors from leather cut from old boots and shoes. The knife that he used was made from a broken saw blade with string wrapped round it for a handle.

The outside run had an earth floor and was where the hens would exercise, drink and eat. I believe that during the war people were allowed to keep 12 hens, to help feed the population, and were allowed a ration of meal to feed them. The meal was bought from an animal feed shop near the railway bridge at the bottom of Prince of Wales Road.

The wood for the construction of the pens came from the wood yard located at the bottom of Staniforth Road at the railway bridge by the side of the Darnall Curve of the railway line. The wood had to be transported by tram from the wood yard to Station Road providing that the wood would fit under the stairs that gave access to the upper deck of the tram.

Most of the nails and screws that my father used were second-hand and had been recovered from one place or another. One of my jobs was to straighten the nails if they were bent. I do not suppose that I was very good at it, but it would have kept me entertained. We had to use special ‘U’ shaped nails to secure the chicken wire.

The hens that my father believed to be the best layers of eggs were a cross between Rhode Island Red and White Leghorn. These he bought as 12 one-day-old chicks and was raised in boxes in our house. They were fed on crumbs from slices of bread that had been baked hard in the oven of the Yorkshire Range and then rolled with a rolling pin until it was ground down into very small crumbs. They thrived on this and were soon large enough to be put in the pen to live.

Having built the first pen and installed the first dozen chickens my father moved on to build the second pen that was of a similar design to the first.

So far the operation had been legitimate but when the first chickens had matured and started to lay eggs my father bought a further 12 one-day-old chicks. I loved to go with him to by the chickens; he would check them to see that he was not being given any cock birds. Cock birds presented two problems the first being that they did not lay eggs and the second was that they would crow early in the morning and annoy the neighbors who would then complain. Complaining neighbors was not a good idea because they were a source of food for the birds and we did not want to attract the attention of the authorities.

When the second dozen chicks had matured and were placed in the second pen we had 24 birds to feed. This meant that we had twice as many birds as we had rations to feed them. The way that we overcame this was to supplement their feed in various ways. The ration of meal was cooked in a pan with water, to this was added all the potato peelings that we could get our hands on. The birds would also peck at and eat leaves from cabbages and cauliflowers. The flower of the cauliflower would be removed and the leaves still attached to the stalk would be hung upside down in the run for them to peck at. They would scratch in the earth in the run and eat any worms, insects and minerals that they could find. They were also fed grit to help with the forming of the shells of their eggs.

With 24 hens each laying one egg per day we soon had a good supply of eggs, which we could use for barter.

Very soon our neighbors, including some that we were not that friendly with, started arriving at our door with potato peelings, cabbage and cauliflower leaves wrapped in newspaper, in the hope that they would sometimes receive an egg in exchange.

In the cellar of our house was a very large earthenware jar, which was much bigger than me. It was filled with a mixture of isinglass and water. Isinglass is a gelatinous substance prepared from the swimming bladders of the sturgeon, cod, and other fish.
This fluid would prevent air passing through the porous shell of the hen’s eggs. We would store many eggs in this jar and an egg that was stored in this way would be as good as a fresh new laid egg when it was removed from the jar and cooked.

At some time we acquired a full grown Rhode Island Red hen, which was to become my pet, she had a circular hole in the web between two of her toes that looked as if it had been made by some kind of punch. She was duly named “Hole-in-the-Foot”. This bird became the matriarch of our chickens. If any other bird stopped laying it would be quickly dispatched, plucked, drawn and cooked in the pot with a new chicken taking its place. This would not happen to “Hole-in-the-Foot” because she would go broody very quickly. So when we needed new one-day-old chicks we would place “Hole-in-the-Foot” in a special hutch that had been made for her. When she laid an egg it would be removed and a pot egg put in its place. She would then go broody, as a result of this clutch of pot eggs, and we would buy the new chicks. We would remove a pot egg one at a time and replace each one with a chick until she was sitting on the full batch, which she would then raise as if they were her own. Needless to say “Hole-in-the-Foot” eventually died of old age and was buried with great ceremony in the back garden.

Another spin off of keeping chickens was that the mature manure from the runs would be used in the garden for fertilizer, a valuable commodity in wartime.
Trains transported parcels around the rail network these also included baskets full of racing pigeons. Railway drayman would collect and deliver the parcels at Darnall railway station located at the top of Station Road. The dray was a low horse drawn cart used for delivery of goods; the bed was at chest height to allow for easy loading and unloading.

The manure from the horses that pulled the drays up and down our street was another rich source of fertilizer, for the garden. I was always on stand by with a bucket and hand shovel to collect the horse manure before some other kid off the street got to it first. Other horse drawn drays that could be seen on Station Road during the war were those used by the milkman, coalman and rag and bone man.
We would also pick up any lumps of coal that may have fallen from the coalman’s dray nothing was left to go to waste.

Another black market activity took place when a pig from the allotments adjacent to High Hazels Park Darnall was taken to the cellar of a local building on the corner between Prince of Wales Road and Handsworth Road where it was slaughtered and butchered. The meat was shared up and the evidence was eaten within 24 hours.

My maternal grandmother had two jobs. In the morning and at night she would clean the offices in the works of Davy and United Engineering Co. Ltd. at the bottom of Prince of Wales Road and in the day she was a sales assistant in a dress shop called Linda Lee’s across the road from Darnall Church of England.

My grandmother had a friend at the dress shop called Joan Pollard who had been a very attractive woman she had driven ambulances during the Sheffield Blitz; and this had resulted in her suffering disfiguring burns to her body and face. One day she had given to me the wristwatch that she had used when driving the ambulance, it was the first time that I had seen a watch with an illumines face. It was most impressive under the bedclothes and I kept that watch for many years.

I was very proud on one occasion when Joan Pollard took me into the center of Sheffield for lunch at The British Restaurant. The Ministry of Food had set up communal kitchens known as British Restaurant that were run by local food committees on a non-profit making basis. The idea was for people to have a good quality wholesome meal without using the coupons from their ration book. The British Restaurant was more like the inside of a works canteen with very large queues. To a child the inside the restaurant was tremendously loud with the noise of cutlery being scraping on plates, chairs scraping on the floor and the many conversations. All this added to the excitement of being taken on a day out in town. The main meal would cost around one shilling and six pence (7 ½ p). All of the food that was not used would be used as pigswill so that there was no waste at all.

 

 

Roger Marsh, This photograph was taken at the studio of Howard Denton, at 4 Church Street, Sheffield

Station Road in Darnall, Sheffield was a cobbled street, the cobbles were fixed in placed by tar, on hot summer days the sun would melt the tar and we would collect the wet tar on a stick and see who could collect the most.

We played marbles using the gaps between the stone paving stones that the pavements on either side of the road were made from.

Although we had moved to Darnall we were still registered for or rations at the shops that my mother and grandmother had used in Attercliffe. So every Friday my mother and I would catch the tramcar in Darnall and go to Attercliffe shopping.
At the bottom of Staniforth Road in Attercliffe was a large derelict piece of land known locally as ‘The Brickfield’, that was later to become the British Road Service depot, that we would pass on the tram. One of my memories was seeing the giant Barrage Balloon flying overhead above ‘The Brickfield’, they were tethered to the ground by strong wire ropes, and I was told that it was there to stop the German airplanes landing there.

‘The Brickfield’ was the location of an incident that could have had devastating consequences for our family. As I have mentioned previously my father did not serve in the armed forces because he had a reserved occupation. After he had finished work he took part in fire-watching and other activities that I am not to sure about. I do know that one day he together with some other men saw what they thought was a German parachutist about to land on ‘The Brickfield’. They set of to take the German parachutist prisoner but it was only when the parachute got lower that they realized that it was in fact a parachute mine. They did a quick about turn and set of at a run in the opposite direction and were lucky to only be blown off their feet and not be badly injured or worst.

The shops that I can remember visiting are North’s butchers, Hurst’s pork butchers, and the tobacconist from which we would buy my father’s weekly ration of 100 cigarettes. The smell of tobacco in the shop, where pipe tobacco would be cut from solid slabs with a small guillotine, was wonderful far better than when it was being burned. My father’s favorite cigarettes were Woodbines, but to get 50 Woodbines we would also have to buy 50 Turf. My father would smoke his Woodbines during the first part of the week and then would only have the Turf, which he disliked intensely, to smoke for the rest of the week and resulted in him being irritable. I put up with his irritability because whilst not being as good as the pre-war cigarette cards, a cigarette card of a type could be cut from the tray of a ten packet Turf cigarettes.

The last air raid, of the Second World War, on Sheffield took place on July 28, 1942; incendiary bombs were dropped on Hunter’s Bar slightly injuring one person.

Cloths rationing had been introduced in June 1941 and a Clothing Book was issued to each person. Adults were allowed 66 coupons per year, which was sufficient to enable them to purchase one complete new outfit. Growing children were allowed 10 extra coupons and smaller sized clothing had lower coupon values than adult size garments.

However, in addition to this the Women’s Volunteer Service (W.V.S.) provided a service of garment exchange for Sheffield children when they had grown out of their clothes. It was conducted from 47, Arundel Street, and proved a great boon to mothers, particularly as coupons were not required. I remember my mother taking advantage of this service that was provided from a mobile van, which parked in the space front of the Darnall Cinema known locally as “The Little Dick”. My mother was very pleased with the quality of the clothes that were provided. I can remember her being particularly pleased when I was provided with a dark blue fisherman style pullover. She would use for exchange clothing that she had knitted for me and that I had grown out of.

Another economic measure was that my father had the skill to repair the family’s shoes. He had a cast iron hobbing foot that had three legs; two with different size soles and the other one had a heel. My mother would purchase sheets of leather, steel ‘segs’ and rubber heels from the local cobbler’s shop. He would draw around the sole of the shoe to be repaired on to the sheet of leather and then cut it out with the knifes that he had made from broken hacksaw blades. The old sole would be pulled from the shoe and the new sole nailed in place. The edge of the new sole would be finally shaped and smoothed with a rasp and finished off with a type of black wax.

My boots would be fitted with steel ‘segs’ to make the soles and heels last longer. When wearing these boots my approach could be heard at quite a distance. The other fun thing about them was that if you took a good run you could then ‘slair’ over the stone pathing slabs the challenge being who could make the most impressive sparks.

Toys were also home made; one Christmas I received a wooden machine gun with a ratchet and spring that when the handle was turned made a noise like a football rattle. I was very proud of this weapon with which I won many a battle. I later found out that it had been made in the pattern shop of Davy United Engineering Company.

As well as attacking the steel and engineering companies during the Blitz the main Sheffield shopping centre ‘The Moor’ had suffered major bomb damage and during any visit to the city centre we would be confronted by a jumble of shattered masonry and tangled steel that had once been a bustling shopping centre.

There were two schools of thought regarding the bombing of the shopping centre. The first view being that the Lufwafer had made a mistake and had bombed the shopping centre in error missing their targets of the steel and engineering companies. This is unlikely since there was a full moon during the Main Blitz and it was said that the River Don had shone like a ribbon of silver, reflecting the moonlight of the ‘Bomber’s Moon’, and giving an excellent navigation aid to the Germans. The other and most likely viewpoint was that the bombing of the shopping centre was intended to terrorize the population and reinforce the effort to blockade Britain by destroying food and other supplies for which there were shortages.

As a child I associated the derelict bombsites of Sheffield City Centre with the weed Rosebay Willow Herb. It is a perennial and flowers from July to August, the shapely purple sprays would rise from between the broken brickwork of the bomb sites to a height of between two and four feet. These wild specimens of Rosebay are to be regarded as escapes from cultivation. It looks well in the garden but the vigorous creeping roots make it a nuisance in a confined space. This weed prefers a moist and light soil and the conditions on the bombsites must have suited it very well for it was invasive and was the first plant to take hold in these derelict areas. Looking back it always seemed that the summers were hot and the small parachute like seeds of the Rosebay would blow on the hot summer breeze. When walking through the town centre my mother would keep a tight hold of my hand and with my other hand I would have to ward off these seeds. Inevitably I would get one in my eye and I would try to remove it with my free hand. My mother preoccupied with her shopping would say “stop rubbing your eyes, you will make them sore”. I hated those derelict scars of land that cut through the centre of my home city and the Rosebay Willow Herb that lurked there.

I remember the shock of seeing at the local cinema the documentary film, which was shown in newsreels in theaters around the world, of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by British troops in April 15, 1945. This camp was located near Celle, Lower Saxony, Germany and is the camp where Ann Frank and her sister Margot died of typhus in March 1945. The film showed the survivors of the camp men, women and children in indescribably shocking condition and the burring in mass graves of the 15,000 bodies that had remained unburied at the time of liberation. The British soldiers forced the German camp guards, both men and women, to handle the corpses with their bare hands throwing them on to carts for transportation to the large pits or directly into the pits where they were buried. The black and white film showed the naked broken white skeletal bodies being bulldozed into the large pits, the bulldozers being driven by British soldiers. Some bodies that were clothed were prisoners that could not be saved and had died after the liberation.
This film was so shocking for anyone to watch, let alone a four year old, sandwiched as the newsreel was between the cartoons and the main feature it left a deep impression on me for the rest of my life. I have seen the same film many times since, and more recently it being shown on television to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation, it still has the same effect on me I will never forget the haunting faces of both the living and the dead staring from the screen.

This was in stark contrast to the way in which I saw the treatment of Italian and German prisoners, from the prisoner of war camp at Lodge Moor, walking round Sheffield City Centre in their uniforms with the yellow patch on their backs.

On May 7, 1945 Germany surrendered, and May 8, 1945 was declared VE day but I couldn’t remember anything of these celebrations.

But on August 15, 1945 Japan surrendered and this was declared victory over Japan day.
The neighbours in Station Road decided to through a large VJ day party to celebrate the victory over Japan that had resulted in the end of the Second World War.
A large bonfire was built in the middle of the street towards the top of Station Road at the railway station end. When the bonfire was lit the heat from the fire was so intense that as a result the cobblestones cracked and the tar between them was burned.

An effigy of Tojo was to be burned on the bonfire in the style of Guy Falks. General Hideri Tojo had been the Prime Minister of Japan during World War II and at the end of the war he was indicted as a class ‘A’ war criminal. He was tried for his crimes and hanged in 1948.
The effigy of Tojo was slid on a clothesline from the upstairs bedroom window of an adjacent house in the direction of the bonfire, however the rope was too slack so that the effigy got stuck halfway down. One of the men fetched their clothes prop and used it to take the sag out of the rope and the effigy continued its journey into the bonfire to great cheering.

A large quantity of alcohol had been consumed and some time later an argument broke out between the man who had brought the cloths prop and this wife. The cause of the argument was that someone had used the prop as a poker for the fire; the prop was now only half its original length.

As a very young child of per-school age the enormity of the seriousness of the war was lost on me, after all I had not known anything other than wartime. What I remember for the most part was people trying to carry on with their lives as best they could and trying to create normality out of what was, to say the least, a very difficult situation.