World War 2 Stories for Sheffield


                       Frank Vivian

A Scout's War

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Frank Vivian, Dad: Clifford Vivian (deceased), Mum: Florence Vivian (deceased) and twin sister, Jennett Vivian.
Location of story: Bamford, Derbyshire.
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of frank Vivian.

A Scout’s War

For my family, the Second World War started in August 1939. We were at Sunnyvale Holiday camp in Rhyl, North Wales, when over the Tannoy system, was broadcast the numbers of reservists required to report for duty. Uniformed army officers were in evidence, inspecting the facilities, the camp eventually being taken over as a base for training personnel. Families left the camp, holidays were brought to an end and a sombre atmosphere pervaded amongst the grown ups. As a 12 year old, it was not until we returned to our home in Bamford, near Sheffield, did the seriousness of the situation become a reality to me.

The whole family volunteered for duty, Dad became an ARP warden, Mum was active in the WRVS and Comfort Fund, my twin sister was a Guide and I was a Boy Scout. We all wanted to be involved with whatever the community in the village could do for the war effort.

My first experience was as a casualty for the ARP exercise and as a messenger for the local ARP personnel, when two of us, occasionally overnight, manned the telephone at the HQ next to the Derwent Hotel.

The Scout Commissioner for the district was also the chief ARP Warden, and on one hot summer day, she sent me to investigate a white tent that she had spotted up on Ashopton Edge. Having got within a clear sight of the offending ‘tent’, it turned out to be a pile of lime deposited ready to be spread on the land.

Scouts undertook the collection of aluminium and scrap metal, and finding a pram chassis, complete with wheels, resulted in the making of a six-wheeled trolley. My cousin and I used the trolley to gather to a central point, bones deposited in bins around the village for collection, eventually to be made into adhesive, used in the fabrication of the wooden Mosquito planes.

Scouting continued in the villages and some camping was permitted, but only within two or three miles of home base, provided tents were camouflaged and fires carefully managed, though food rationing made catering over a campfire, challenging.

Bamford received a group of young evacuees from Shoeburyness, and scouts attended their arrival at the village school, assisting in their allocation to their new families. Several evacuees became members of the Bamford School Troop, enjoying the freedom of the countryside and learning new skills. Scouts were on hand during many wartime activities to raise money, and helped in packing parcels of comforts to be sent to the troops and the POW’s. One task was the chopping and selling supplies of firewood from old railway sleepers. We were encouraged to wear Scouts’ uniforms as often as possible, so as to become recognised as one who would help on any occasion.

I and many of the older scouts also belong to the ATC and were privileged to have lessons in gliding at Great Hucklow, the home of Derbyshire Gliding Club; one member became a glider pilot in the Parachute Regiment..

The local ATC squadron spent up to ten days a year at operational aerodromes, Finningley and Binbrook being ones that I remember; flights in bombers, such as Wellington, Lancaster and Whitley were arranged. One experience at Finningley was to be taken up in a Tiger Moth by a Polish pilot who was undergoing rehabilitation training and delighted in aerobatics; because I was of small stature and unable to see the ground over the edge of the cockpit, he obligingly flew upside down so that I could get a view over Lincoln Cathedral.

Outside the scouting activities, I attended the New Mills County Secondary school, making a twice daily twenty mile cycle and train journey, until it became necessary to lay on buses to bring Hope Valley pupils home at a reasonable hour. Trips down the hairpin bends on Mam Tor, were an experience to remember, particularly on one occasion having to negotiate passing a broken down Earl’s Cement lorry that had stalled on the way up. At one period, the school was shared with, I believe, Stockport Grammar School, whilst bomb damage was repaired, and attendance became |Monday, Wednesday and Friday one week, and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning, the next.

The train journey to school in carriages, also occupied by tired soldiers, rescued from Dunkirk, was perhaps the nearest I came to being involved with the actual war, but many of the events in the village of Bamford were for a teenager, just as important and relevant to winning the 2nd World War.