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© John Taylor. 2007.

‘If you are interested in helping to alleviate some of the suffering of Jewish Refugees and want to give hospitality, make and adapt clothes, or donate to a relief fund which is being operated by a local committee that is being formed, contact Miss E. Workman, 68 Eaton Avenue.’ So read an appeal which had been placed in the local press, and for Miss Workman, a local teacher, it was perhaps of particular relevance since, from 1935, her counterparts in Germany had been placed directly under the control of the Nazi Party, with the ‘Jewish Problem’ then becoming a focus of classroom lessons. However, on the international scene the plight of Jewish refugees was just one manifestation of an increasingly hostile situation, but, not least through inadequate military preparations, for the moment political gesturing took the place of aggressive action. Nevertheless, perhaps it could be said that Bletchley’s first military ‘casualty’ was Gunner H. Jenkins, of the Royal Artillery Depot, Woolwich, who, one Sunday evening in January, had to be taken off the Wolverton to Euston express and rushed by ambulance from Bletchley to Northampton hospital, as a consequence of having some days before sustained injuries to his ribs in a skating accident.

In 1936 Britain had started mass-producing gas masks, and as early as 1937 the passing of the Air Raid Precautions Act had laid down the basis for civil protection, with the Government allocating £200,000 in December 1938 for the building of air raid shelters. In other means of defence, with an order being placed for 1,000 Spitfires in March 1938 it had been announced that £11 million was to be spent on new airfields for the R.A.F., and plans for local measures were now set up in the form of Air Raid General Precaution schemes, and Air Raid Fire Precaution schemes. At Bletchley, a new school clinic had recently been opened in Bletchley Road and, should the need arise, as part of the town’s contingency operations plans were advanced to convert these premises into a first aid post for air raid casualties. In fact few people now had any doubts that the need would quite probably soon arise, especially since during January 1939 the Government published a National Service Handbook, which informed the population of the qualifications that would be necessary for service in the armed forces, as well as for other organisations.

In January Mr. J. Symons, the A.R.P. officer to Aylesbury R.D.C., had been appointed as the Deputy Council Executive Officer for Bucks., and in a further measure to cope with a possible crisis the Government’s ‘National Emergency Survey’ now intended to survey the number of schoolchildren who, in towns and villages of the Rural Districts, could be accommodated nationally. The Minister of Health had accordingly drawn up a scheme to determine the accommodation available in local households, and on a voluntary basis ‘visitors’ would be appointed in every town and village. Persons willing to carry out such duties were invited to contact the R.D.C. Offices at 7, Station Road, Newport Pagnell, and, in connection with the National Evacuation Scheme, official notices were duly received by Bletchley Urban District Council. Householders would then shortly receive a letter asking for their co-operation, and with canvassers duly appointed to visit every home, the A.R.P. Committee subsequently approved the list. The complete report had to be sent to the Ministry by February 28th, and in Bletchley 60 lady enumerators were eventually tasked to investigate available billets with, if evacuation became necessary, Buckinghamshire to then be designated as a ‘receiving area.’

Mr. Reginald Leuty Sherwood, Clerk to the Council, had been appointed as Chief Officer to oversee the evacuation scheme, and during February the Chief Constable then agreed to accept County responsibility for the air raid warden services - on condition that extra staff were appointed. In fact B.U.D.C. estimated that 156 A.R.P. volunteers would ideally be required in wartime, although as a minimum reserve 47 could suffice. During the following month the evacuation census then revealed that 10,174 habitable homes were available within the Urban District, plus additional ‘housing’ for 360 persons, and it was decided that 1,601 unaccompanied children could thereby be accommodated, plus 156 teachers, helpers and others. Consequently it would be necessary to supply 165 double mattresses, 176 single mattresses, 202 double blankets and 194 single blankets, and in a conclusion of the exercise a letter of thanks would be sent to each enumerator. By now appropriate plans were being made for the urban rescue and decontamination and demolition services, and in addition the County Council proposed to erect a ‘cleansing station’ - to deal with the effects of a gas attack - near to the Destructor Works in Western Road. Local residents were also mindful of the national concerns, and in March the Council received an offer from the owners of both 81, Bletchley Road, and Ropley House, to lease their premises for A.R.P. purposes, although in the absence of an immediate need the offers were politely declined.

Victoria Road, No. 11 is now K.P. News

Jack Parriss

On April 5th the Government announced plans for the immediate evacuation of 2½ million children in the event of war, and for those destined for Bletchley perhaps there was some consolation that Jack Parriss had now applied to retail ice cream from his shop at 11, Victoria Road! Under the Evacuation Scheme, 2,000 places had been locally allocated for billeting, although B.U.D.C. had pleasingly received voluntary offers for an additional 3,172. A letter from the Ministry of Health to the Council then confirmed that in the event of an evacuation from London 2,000 people would be accommodated in Bletchley. However, a total of 4,500 would be de-trained at Bletchley L.M.S. station for subsequent transport to adjacent rural districts, and being authorised to appoint volunteers as necessary, Mr. E. Cook, headmaster of the Bletchley Road Senior School, was appointed as the Chief Evacuation and Reception Officer. By a Home Office directive, during April two separate telephone lines were approved for the sole use of the A.R.P. Headquarters, with the actual Control Centre for the area of North Bucks. being located at Newport Pagnell. Under the County Scheme further measures were also then made for the control of the decontamination services, and the Bletchley squads would assume responsibility for the urban district and the parishes of Tattenhoe, Shenley Brook End and Newton Longville. There was also to be a joint decontamination depot at the police station in Simpson Road, whilst as for the staff needed for these emergency organisations, appeals were placed in the local press for volunteers. Aged 30 or over, 20 men would be required as air raid wardens, with 17 vacancies for women, 10 men, aged 25 years or over, as auxiliary firemen and 10 men or women as first aid volunteers. Applicants were asked to contact the A.R.P. officer at the Council Offices, Bletchley, and evening training would then be arranged. As equally important as the A.R.P. measures was the need for food production, and since the country produced less than a third of the amount required, the Government now announced a policy to pay farmers £2 an acre to plough up and reseed pastures.

A decision to conscript men aged 20 for military service was endorsed by the Government on April 27th, and a compulsory national register of youths aged under 21 was nearing completion. Conscripts would then face six months of intensive training, before being transferred to the special reserve or Territorials. As for the military personnel in Bletchley, at a strength now above 60, the 393rd Royal Bucks. Yeomanry Field Battery, Royal Artillery, (T.A.), actually exceeded the war requirement, but in early April the Bletchley section nevertheless acquired a further 20 recruits, who were enlisted as signallers and gunners. A few vacancies still remained for drivers, and those wishing to apply for these positions were asked to contact Sergeant Dickinson, the N.C.O. in charge of the Drill Station, at the Yeomanry Hall, Old Bletchley. The drill nights were held each Monday and Thursday, and on these occasions all the members travelled to Aylesbury for training on the 4.5 howitzers, which equipped the unit. Historically, the contingent had been formed about nine years ago by Major Whiteley, M.P. of The Grange, Bletchley, and had then been solely comprised of signallers. During May the Bletchley Territorial ‘double establishment strength’ of 100 men was achieved, although there was also the potential for about 50 others who were awaiting enlistment. The ‘Receiving Centre’ was situated at the Social Centre, (St. Martin’s Hall), and here to encourage additional interest demonstrations in the car park were being given in a Territorial wireless car. The eventual aim was for Bletchley to have a troop of four guns and a battalion staff, and this seemed a wise ambition when on May 22nd the ‘Pact of Steel’ was signed, binding Germany and Italy in mutual support if war was declared. Meanwhile, on civilian matters the Urban Council had now taken special precautions to protect the waterworks and with spares having been laid in, a squad of waterworks’ employees were being especially trained to defend and repair the water fittings. They could operate even in the presence of gas and explosives, and another squad had also been trained to repair the sewers and other public services.

By May, in conjunction with the County Council a comprehensive scheme for road repair, rescue and demolition had been organised for the north of the county. In Bletchley a specially trained staff was accordingly on hand to deal with any such situations in the town, whilst in the event of a more widespread emergency, as part of a provision for large scale reinforcements they would also help out in other areas when necessary. As for the Auxiliary Fire Service, despite a need for 12 more recruits training was proceeding well, and much of the necessary equipment had already been obtained from the Home Office. Additional wardens, especially women, were also required, but at least the adapting and manning of the Bletchley Road Clinic as a First Aid Post had now been arranged, with The Hatch, at Old Bletchley, having also been selected as a First Aid point. In the event of air raids the Council Offices would become a ‘Report Centre’, where additional equipment could be installed at short notice, and in association with the brickworks of Fletton’s Ltd., at Water Eaton, an extra warning siren had also been provided since, in certain winds, tests had proved that it was difficult to hear the warnings provided by the siren affixed to the Council Offices, as well as those at Vaughan’s and Cowley & Wilson’s garages. In fact the air raid warning would consist of a two-minute signal, of fluctuating pitch, and residents on hearing the sound were to proceed at once to a gas-proof room, garden trench, outdoor shelter or cellar, and remain there until the all clear was given. As for the protection of buildings, 22,000 sandbags had now been delivered to the Council Offices, and special precautions were taken at the police station which, in the event of an emergency, would become a vital centre.

At Bletchley station the office windows on no. 8 platform had been painted blue, to comply with the blackout regulations, and, in addition to the sirens in the town, the station would also receive a warning direct from Luton. Roofed over with heavy timbers, upon which the excavated earth and clay was piled, near the goods yard large, well-drained trenches had been dug, lined with seats and with timber lining the steps, and for additional protection the subway under the station could be opened if necessary. As well as those from the loco depot, 30 men had been trained in anti-gas measures and special equipment could be employed for dealing with incendiary bombs. Elsewhere, a schedule for first aid and fire fighting duties had been prepared at the Post Office, and amongst their measures for fire fighting Beacon Brushes now planned to utilise a hydrant, with a small squad being specially trained for this purpose. Near the works a number of large concrete bins, formerly used for storing gravel, could be swiftly covered with beams, corrugated iron and sand bags, to provide the work force with an adequate shelter, whilst in Denbigh Road for the accommodation of the female workers reinforced concrete air raid shelters would be erected at the rear of the W. O. Peake’s factory. Placed near the glass roofs, wire netting would then afford protection to any workers still left in the factory. As for their 70 employees, Premier Press, in Buckingham Road, had arranged for a strong room and an adjacent room to be converted into a shelter, and the scheme also proposed the building of a reinforced wall outside the present wall, to be protected by layers of sandbags. Brick partitions would break up any air concussion, and placed over the factory windows would be wooden frames covered with brown paper. This would prevent any light from escaping, and blinds fitted to the girders of the glass roof would perform a similar function. Elsewhere, further protective measures were in hand at the Root’s Brush Works in Tavistock Street, whilst arrangements at the brushworks in Victoria Road of M. A. Cook & Sons also complied with the Home Office regulations. As for the Fletton’s brickworks, the precautions involved making convenient use ‘of the works’ natural resources.’

Yet it seemed that the sense of national urgency was not apparent to everyone, since the Bletchley branch of the N.U.R. passed a resolution protesting against peacetime conscription. However, others appeared more mindful of their duties and in May Dr. A. Critchley, as the Medical Officer, was granted 14 days leave for military training. Also on the military scene, with the expansion of the Bletchley detachment of the 393rd Royal Bucks. Yeomanry Field Battery, R.A., promotions during the month included those of Sergeant A. Dickinson to the rank of Troop Sergeant Major, and Lance Sergeant R. Dickinson to Sergeant. In future, the battery’s ‘A’ Troop and some specialists would be based at Aylesbury, whilst ‘B’ Troop signallers, plus some drivers at Bletchley, and ‘C’ Troop, would be centred at Buckingham and Wotton. With two, or sometimes four, guns being available, the N.C.O.s carrying out the duties of Number 1 on the guns were now Sergeant Cutler, Sergeant Dickinson, Bombardier Simcox and Bombardier Hall, and with the training proceeding well, an attendance of around 80 members could usually be expected at the drills, which took place on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays. Under the instruction of Sergeant Dowsett the drivers were also making good progress, and the combined skills of the battery would be made apparent at a parade on Sunday, June 4th, when a field day took place at Wotton. In addition, night operations were also scheduled for July 1st and 2nd.

According to the initial letter of their surname, with some flexibility being allowed for ‘personal circumstances’ 76 young men were enrolled at Bletchley Employment Exchange on the afternoon and evening of June 3rd. Between the hours of 1.30p.m. and 8.30p.m., in seven groups each man was handed a leaflet and also a card, which although they had to sign would only be returned in the event of a change of address. During June, with the final equipment now received mock air raid tests were conducted, and in preparation for a real situation members of the St. John Ambulance Brigade had not only been given talks on A.R.P. matters by Mr. A. Bates, the Surveyor, but had also undergone the emergency gas test. In fact the first course of A.R.P. First Aid Work had begun in September 1938, and the third course was now presently in progress. With the increasing likelihood of air raids, the enforcement of the blackout would become of extreme importance, and especially perhaps for the newly elated residents of Railway Terrace, who, by courtesy of a recently approved plan from the Northampton Electric Light Co., would shortly enjoy the novelty of electricity. In fact this was a benefit to be also bestowed on the inhabitants of Beechcroft Road, for a letter from the St. Georges Building Works had been received stating that the building work was now complete. However, perhaps unsurprisingly an application by the residents of Church Green Road for additional street lighting would be deferred.

As a spectacular culmination of the various training schemes, on the evening of June 9th hundreds of people watched the local National Service parade and demonstration which, to be inspected by the Chief Constable, Colonel T. Warren, had assembled in Bletchley Park. A quarter of a mile long, it was headed by an R.A.F. pipe band, and set off along Buckingham Road and Bletchley Road. Also included were the Territorials, with a gun and trailer and two wireless cars, the St. John Ambulance workers and nursing sisters with two ambulances, (regular and auxiliary), the firemen, (with a fire engine and equipment), and A.R.P. wardens, and upon reaching the Council Offices an air raid warning was then sounded. Indeed, for the purpose of the exercise it was announced that from a formation of enemy aircraft, which had supposedly been intercepted over Great Yarmouth, three had breached the home defence and were now heading for Bletchley. From the aerodrome at Cranfield a trio of bombers consequently swept overhead, and in the grounds of the Bletchley Road Schools Sergeant Boyes simultaneously exploded two ‘bombs.’ The nursing sisters immediately gave medical attention to the ‘casualties’ lying on the footpaths, and the ‘injured’ were then taken away on stretchers to the waiting ambulances. Meanwhile, the ‘raiders’ made a second approach, and during this attack ‘gas bombs’ were set off. With ‘fire’ breaking out on the balcony and the roof of the County Council offices, led by Captain Brooks the fire brigade swiftly manned the necessary equipment and skilfully dealt with the crisis. Soon the decontamination squad and lorry arrived via Western Road, and at the Victoria Road corner the contaminated section was marked off, whilst men working in full kit and gas masks dealt with the hazard. At the sound of the ‘All Clear’ the parade then re-formed and marched via Vicarage Road, Aylesbury Street, High Street and Victoria Road back to the Council Offices, where they then dispersed. However, as if for an added emphasis it seemed appropriate that the film ‘The Warning’ was being currently shown at the County Cinema!

On a more pacifist theme, for a mass protest against conscription permission was later given for the Bletchley Branch of the N.U.R. to use the Leon Recreation Ground, but this was only on the understanding that the gathering remained orderly. On more potent matters, on the evening of Monday, June 10th, the Bletchley A.R.P. Report Centre took part in a county report centre test. With all the personnel at their posts trial messages were sent and received, and at an evening ceremony at the Bletchley Senior School Hall, on Friday, July 14th, Major Whiteley then presented nearly 200 A.R.P. badges to the Bletchley volunteers. By now the arrival of evacuees in the town seemed an increasing possibility, and therefore amongst the necessary preparations a course of four lectures on Home Nursing was arranged for mothers, and other women, who in the event of an emergency would be tasked to receive the refugee children.

After the Munich Crisis a massive publicity drive had taken place to recruit A.R.P. wardens and other personnel, and the Bletchley Surveyor, Arthur Bates, had been appointed as A.R.P. organiser for the Bletchley district. However, in July 1939, despite the urgency of the situation, emphasised by the issue to every household of Public Information Leaflet No. 2, which recommended the measures to comply with the potential blackout, he tendered his resignation. This was because of a significant increase in the responsibilities of the post, and no doubt the work load of the Clerk of the Council had also significantly increased, since a new typewriter had now been ordered for his office. As for Mr. Bates, he felt that he would no longer be able to offer a full commitment, since in his usual duties he was not only the Council’s surveyor, but also the engineer and water engineer, having therefore to deal with the duties for decontamination, rescue and demolition, road and sewer repairs, and also the protection of the waterworks, the reservoir and many miles of associated mains and appliances. Yet understandably reluctant to sanction his resignation, the Council nevertheless sympathised with his reasons.

By now there were 59 A.R.P. wardens, 27 auxiliary firemen, 83 first aid and ambulance workers, six report centre workers and 14 messengers, and the Council had agreed that an additional seven wardens, two H.Q. staff and one first aid post worker would also be needed as full-time personnel. As for the protection of the residents in the town, the Council had deliberately chosen not to pursue a policy of building shelters or digging trenches, with the reason being to so lessen the vulnerability of the population by avoiding a concentration in specific areas. During July, in the event of evacuees being received in the town the Ministry of Health had asked the Council to accept the first instalment of blankets, but, since no suitable storage was as yet available, the request for the time being was deferred. Meanwhile school life continued as normal, and on July 6th the Bletchley Road Senior School was closed on the occasion of the school journey to Southampton. Accompanied by all the staff the 150 pupils in the party enjoyed a full day and although this included a cruise on Southampton Water and an inspection of the liner Aquitania, it could not be known that in just a few months time on this very vessel a small code breaking contingent from America would cross the Atlantic, to join the code breakers at Bletchley Park.

In August, performed under the direction of Dr. Critchley, Dr. W. Carter and Mr. W. Brown, B.U.D.C. announced via the local press that, as part of Home Defence exercises, an A.R.P. blackout would take place on the night of August 9/10th. With London and 26 other counties to be affected, householders were consequently asked to extinguish, or ‘black out’, their lamps between 11.30p.m. on Wednesday night, August 9th, until 4a.m. on the morning of August 10th, and about 45 Bletchley wardens would patrol their areas from 11.30p.m. until 1a.m. As the first aid centre, the Clinic became the assembly point for around 40 workers, some wearing decontamination clothing, and at ‘The Hatch’, Old Bletchley, the A.R.P. post remained fully manned. Then for an added realism, at 12.02a.m. ‘gas cases’ were treated by special squads of workers, and ‘casualties’ were tended at both Water Eaton and the back of the Bletchley Road schools. However, since the new ambulance was required elsewhere, on this occasion the old one had to suffice instead. Police and Special Constables were briefed to not only patrol the district, but also exercise traffic control at the crossroads on the Watling Street, although as a concession to motorists and pedestrians at the most important road junctions all the kerbs had been painted white. As for Bletchley station, to allow the railway work to continue the most important lights remained on. The exercise certainly emphasised the need for, and the scale of, A.R.P. activities, and, with office accommodation provided, not surprisingly B.U.D.C. advertised in August for an A.R.P. officer at a salary of £200p.a. Ideally possessing administrative and organisational experience, and being fully prepared to devote the whole of their time to these duties, interested persons were to apply by August 31st, a date which in fact seemed entirely significant, since by then Germany and the Soviet Union would have signed a Non Aggression Pact, and Poland and France would be calling up reservists.

With ‘B’ Troop and the Signal Section consisting of Warrant Officers, N.C.O.s and ordinary members, in other ongoing preparations the Territorials now underwent training at their annual camp in Chiseldon, near Swindon, but having been washed out by a severe storm, they were hurriedly obliged to transfer from tents into huts. Commanded by Colonel F. Watson, with Major Whiteley as second in command, the 95 men from the Bletchley district then returned to the town on the morning of Sunday, August 13th. In fact some weeks earlier the 99th Regiment (Field), comprising the Berks. & Bucks. Yeomanry, had been divided and, whilst the Bucks. unit remained as the 99th, the Berks. ‘component’ then became the 145th Regiment. The Council, by hiring temporary accommodation in a building near the Lantern Café, at 38, Bletchley Road, had now resolved the problems of storage for the blankets and mattresses, provided under the Evacuation Scheme, and the fee of 5s would be inclusive of the necessary heating and lighting. Then on Wednesday, August 23rd, preparations began to bring the Bletchley precautionary measures into immediate readiness, and, in the absence of a replacement, Mr. A. Bates, the Surveyor, had rescinded his resignation as the A.R.P. organiser, and agreed to resume the work. This had been at the specific request of the Council chairman, the A.R.P. and the police, and regarding other appointments in August the Clerk of the Council reported that because of the international situation nominations would be considered for a local Food Control Committee, to be formed whenever the need arose. Candidates included the Senior School headmaster, Mr. E.C. Cook, of ‘Draycot’, Church Walk, Mr. H. Baker, of Rhondda House and Mr. E. Callaway M.B.E., of 143, Bletchley Road, and nominations were also sought for a Fuel and Light Committee, to be activated by the Government if necessary.

In the event of a national emergency, together with the U.D.C. Squads and the necessary equipment the County Council Decontamination and Road Repair Squads were now concentrated at the Urban Council Depot, behind the Council Offices. By night and day specialist staff manned the Report Centre, at the Council Offices, and telephone links had been extended to all the wardens’ posts. On the evening of Friday, August 25th, the A.R.P. wardens then met to receive their equipment, and for the ‘blacking out’ of the helmets Messrs. M. A. Cook & Son had placed their paint spraying plant at the disposal of the A.R.P. organiser. All necessary equipment and emergency lighting was now being urgently installed at the wardens’ posts, and these were situated at (1) Simpson House, tel. 149; (2) Staple Lodge, tel. 146; (3) Council Offices, tel. 27 & 270; (4) Wigley & Johnson offices, tel. 53; (5) The Sned, Buckingham Road, tel. 151; (6) Manor Farm, Old Bletchley, tel. 240 and (7) Maudanclair, Stoke Road, tel. 219. Meanwhile, applications for respirators were being directed to the District Warden, and not Central Office, and in other measures, Mr. A. Hancox, the local Scoutmaster, had organised messengers for immediate service. It was therefore just as well that although the Bletchley Scouts had planned to camp at Salcombe, Devon, in view of the worsening situation their parents had asked that instead they should now stay within the district. August witnessed the increasing need for additional rescue and demolition squads, to be recruited from amongst the local builders, and, if aged above 30, potential candidates were asked to apply to the Central Offices. With the imposition of a blackout being increasingly likely, with the advent of screened headlights a large ‘P’ was to be painted near every pedestrian crossing in the town, and as a further assistance for road users Council workmen were also painting a dotted white line along the centre of Bletchley Road.

In the event of war, rationing would be inevitably introduced, and Mr. R. Sherwood had made arrangements under the Food Defence department to bring a control scheme into operation. When the need arose, the public would then be supplied with a ration card form, to be filled in and returned to the Council Offices as soon as possible. With international tensions now heightened, the Bletchley Observer Post became manned night and day and, as Captain of the Bletchley Fire Brigade, Mr. J. Brooks was appointed to direct both the Brigade and Auxiliary Fire Services, the latter of which currently comprised 27 members with four modern auxiliary fire fighting units. As for the control of the ambulances, on his return from holiday these, and the first aid sections, became the responsibility of Dr. Critchley, whilst in other measures Mr. W. Brown, and Mr. A. Bates, arranged the necessary fitting of blinds for the Central First Aid Post at the Clinic. In further preparations the auxiliary ambulances, lent by Ramsbotham & Co., and the Bletchley Co-op, had been fitted with stretchers, and from Aylesbury a Co-op van was detailed to collect the full medical supplies for Bletchley on August 28th.

The employees at W. O. Peake’s were now taking their gas masks to work, to rehearse for a real emergency, and at the Northampton Electric Light Co. a man was kept on duty at the power station, with his task being to switch off the town’s street lighting as soon as an air raid warning was received. Bletchley provision traders had been asked to carry as large a stock as possible, this being a preliminary to the anticipated arrival of evacuees in the town, and at the end of August Mr. E. Cook, the Chief Evacuation Officer for the B.U.D.C. scheme, duly gave a full report to the Council. Carrying 822 children, and scheduled to arrive at Bletchley station each day at 1.43p.m., the evacuation train would be met by the Chief Evacuation Officer, amongst others, and on the first day the entire contingent would de-train at Bletchley. On the second day, however, they would go to the Winslow Rural area and, on the third day, 174 would come to Bletchley with the remainder being sent to Winslow. At least that was the initial arrangement, although following a recent visit by a Ministry of Health Inspector, Mr. Sherwood had now been informed that a further 1,500 might also be sent to the town.

For the distribution of the children to their billets, the town would be divided into zones, with each zone coming under the control of a marshal. They had responsibility for the billeting books, and would await the arrival of their charge at the rationing centre. Once the issue of rations was complete they would then march the children off to their zone where assistants, each holding charge of a street or streets, would be handed the billeting books before taking the evacuees to their new homes. Should for any reason accommodation not be available, then they were to go with a guide to the Bletchley Road Senior School and await further instructions. In order to ensure that the evacuees were safely settled in, the helpers had organised themselves into a welfare group, and if necessary Mr. Cook, under the Emergency Powers Act, had the right to requisition any billet or property that he felt might be additionally needed. In the event of any objections, these would then be dealt with by a tribunal. According to the evacuation plans, on the first day no buses would be required, but on the second day six would be waiting in Oliver Road, to undertake at least two journeys to the Winslow area. Thus initially the plans seemed well prepared until, on receipt of the rations, it was discovered that the biscuit quota was 317lb. short. On investigation it then transpired that some of the tins marked as 7lb. had in fact contained 12½lb., and this thankfully then left only a shortfall of 95lb! That the plans were well prepared was indeed fortuitous for, with war now seemingly inevitable, on August 31st at 5.30a.m. the evacuation of 1½ million children began. The following day German troops crossed the Polish frontier, and on September 3rd Britain and France were once again at war with Germany.




From 1969 Linda Robson was a pupil of Ecclesbourne Road School.
Becoming an actress, she found fame in the television series 'Birds of a Feather', and has more lately starred in West End theatre productions.

As the evacuation to the countryside began, in scenes repeated during the following two days, on Friday, September 1st, 1939, the mainline stations of the nation were swamped by not only thousands of children, but also a lesser number of mothers, helpers and teachers. However, the story of those evacuees arriving at Bletchley station, (and the subsequent arrangements for billeting), is told elsewhere, in the chapter ‘Far from Home.’ Under the overall charge of Mr. Taylor the new arrivals comprised 300 children and 31 adults, (under the charge of Mr. Lewis), from St. Paul’s School, Islington, seven children and two adults, (under Miss Mills), from Beresford School, Islington, five children and two adults, (under Miss Fulford), from Arundel House School, and the largest contingent, 407 children and 47 adults, from Ecclesbourne Road School, Islington. Then known as the Ecclesbourne Road Elementary School the premises had opened on May 3rd, 1886, with a capacity for 1,209 pupils, but initially only 350 attended. However, by 1895 the school had become so popular that an extension had to be built, and during World War Two to prevent children from wandering the streets it continued in education as an Emergency School. After the war Ecclesbourne became a primary school, divided into infants and juniors, and from 1965 until 1969 one famous pupil would be Linda Robson, star of the recent television series ‘Birds of a Feather.’ Due to the age of the buildings, and the limited number of pupils, at the closure in 2004 the school was then combined with the nearby Charles Lamb Primary to become The New North Community School. As for the story of the London wartime evacuation from Ecclesbourne, this belongs elsewhere, and all the log books and other documents have now been lodged with the Joint Archive Service of the Corporation of London. As for the wartime children from Islington aged under five, they were sent to Gloucestershire, to the residential Pro Patria Nursery at Dyrham Park, ‘a grand 17th century mansion now owned by the National Trust.’
The Bletchley Road Council Schools
In 1926, at a meeting of the managers of the Bletchley Road Council Schools a proposal was made to establish Junior and Senior Mixed Schools, in place of the existing Girls and Boys Departments. This would be considered by the Education Committee at its next meeting, and in due course by March 1937 work had begun on the new Senior School. As the 'Bletchley Senior Councul Mixed Department' this opened on June 13th, 1938, and at the beginning of the war after the arrival of the evacuees the schools became the centre of the evacuation organisation, re-opening for education - for both local and evacuee schoolchildren - on Friday, September 26th, 1939. (In fact the cost of cleaning the schools after the arrival of the evacuees amounted to £3 10s!) By March 31st, 1940, as evacuees there were 339 unaccompanied children, 16 mothers, 23 accompanied children, and 27 teachers in the 'reception' area, and at one time the Cjief Billeting Officer and his four assistants were using thier cars to not only tranfer children and mothers from one billet to another in the urban area, but for also transferring other evacuees to other areas or institutes, as well as for conveying, as and when required, blankets, mattresses, and camp beds from the Central Stores to billets - 'the Urban district of Bletchley is a very scatered one'! In 1966 the Bletchley County Secondary School was then renamed Leon school. - B.C.H.I.

At Bletchley, ‘Owing to the War Emergency’ the local schools were in use as the centre of the evacuation organisation, and with the premises - at least ‘until further instructions have been received’ - being closed for the purpose of tuition, at Bletchley Road Senior School the Evacuation Office staff were consequently kept busy with any problems that arose. The Senior School reopened on September 22nd, and by September 26th the schools of the town were again receiving local and evacuee children. However, the following day a conference took place between the heads of the Bletchley schools and the London schools to discuss the problems that arose from working in double sessions, and this was a need brought about because, taught by local staff, the local children were now attending between 9a.m. and 12.30p.m., whilst evacuees attended from 1p.m. until 4.30p.m., taught by the staff of the London schools. With boys and girls split into groups, the evacuated schools were allocated different sections of the local school, and to distinguish between the schools some scholars wore improvised badges. At the two entrances to the Senior School two large boards had been erected, on which notices were placed for the evacuees to study, and, with no fixed schedules as yet planned, apart from a mix of lessons the pupils were occupied with a course of nature study walks. Nevertheless, matters seemed under control and when the chairman of the managers visited the Senior School on September 29th he found a satisfactory situation, ‘bearing in mind the difficulties through which the staff are passing, which reflects great credit on the Head Master and his whole staff.’ Then on October 2nd Miss E. Ford, H.M.I., signed the Emergency Time Table, by which it was intended to preserve a balance of subjects by devoting less time to each, with organised outdoor activities arranged for the afternoons. The evacuated Senior School children now attended the local Senior School, and with Mr. Taylor being the headmaster Miss Stearns was the headmistress. A lady of great belief in the benefit of rest for her pupils, at her London school she had even placed beds on the roof such that, especially for those girls aged 10 and above, ‘the scholars could thus thoroughly relax in the open air and in comparative quiet.’

At Bletchley, due to the increased number of pupils it was now perhaps of little surprise that Miss Mead, the school caretaker, would shortly apply for an increase in her wage, especially since an additional 50 evacuees were expected to arrive within the next fortnight. On October 30th the Senior School then began using the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Chapel Sunday School in the afternoons, and in fact this facility was alternated each week with the Juniors, who were now being taught by Mr. Lewis as headmaster, and Miss Hawkins as headmistress. As for the infants, they attended the Infants’ School under Miss Eden, and with the further introduction of gardening on ground near the schools, games and walks were to be arranged in the mornings. Elsewhere, with the idea being to guide the children in school discipline, and to teach them to look after themselves, 32 pupils aged between three and five attended the Bletchley Nursery Class which, this being the first full term, occupied a separate building opposite the Bletchley Road Infants’ School. As for adults, they could further their education through the reading material available at the now relocated local library for, in February, a letter proposing to transfer the amenity from the Temperance Hall to the Bletchley Road schools had been sent to the County Council. This had been at the instigation of the Buckinghamshire County Education Committee, and, with the work now to be taken over by a Voluntary Committee, the position of part-time paid librarian was in consequence abolished. The employment of the paid librarian, Mr. J. Fennell, thus came to an end on September 30th, and a letter of thanks was sent in appreciation of his past service. Following this rearrangement, from October 21st books were then issued from Bletchley Road Junior School on Saturday afternoons from 2p.m. until 4.30p.m., and at this new centre the County Librarian asked that, with £27 as the balance in hand from the County Council Library Fund, the money should now be expended on providing shelves and other necessities.

With the weather proving inclement, no outdoor activities could be carried out on the afternoon of November 6th, which thereby provided the first opportunity for the school teaching staff to meet together since the evacuation. Held in the headmaster’s room at the Senior School the occasion ‘was all very refreshing and inspiring’, and these were perhaps also the sentiments aroused for a member of the teaching staff, Winifred Burnham, when three days later she obtained leave of absence to attend her sister’s wedding. A member of staff since June 13th, 1938, her home was at 16, Victoria Street, Wolverton. (In fact she would remain a member of the staff until her retirement in July, 1967, on the occasion of which she was presented with a watch). As for adult education, with the enrolment at Bletchley Road Senior School taking place on Tuesday, November 14th, the Bletchley Evening Institute would reopen on Monday, November 20th, with ‘Technical, Commercial and English Appreciation’ being amongst the courses. The Bletchley Parents’ Association then held a social evening at the schools on Saturday, November 18th, and this was the first time since the beginning of the war that the large hall had been used at night. Indeed, only a small area remained for dancing, since the event proved so popular that the hall was crowded with soldiers, local people and evacuees! Also increasing the local population were the many personnel employed at Bletchley Park, where, apart from the activities which are now well known, boys from the Senior School were busily engaged in building pig sties, in connection with the school farm which was accommodated in the grounds! Also in the vicinity was Elmers Grammar School, and since this had now been taken over by the code breakers it no longer remained available for the purposes of education. Therefore, as an alternative a limited number of pupils were being received at The Rectory and, with the next term due to commence on Thursday, January 18th, particulars could be obtained from the headmaster at ‘Highfield’, Manor Road. School accommodation for the evacuated children also remained a problem, and on November 21st the L.C.C. Inspector, Mr. Waite, in the company of the Senior School headmaster, Mr. E.C. Cook, inspected several halls in the town, in fact an exercise that was followed up on November 27th by Mr. Higg, when amongst several locations he investigated the possibilities of the Wesleyan Hut, St. Martin’s Hall, the Temperance Hall and Water Eaton Hall. On December 4th Mr. E.C. Cook attended a teachers meeting in Aylesbury. This was to discuss the Christmas arrangements for evacuated children, and of the seasonal school entertainments which were now rounding off the year, those given by the children of the Bletchley Road Junior School in the Senior School hall formed a prelude to the forthcoming Christmas party. The pupils of the Senior School then staged an impressive production of Dickens’ ‘Christmas Carol’ - which duly ‘proved that the school was going to be a force in giving pleasure and enjoyment to others’ - and after this the London teachers gave an entertainment for all the evacuee children at the Bletchley schools. Following a tea a concert suitably concluded the festive events, with the schools then closing for the Christmas break on December 22nd.



The Board School plaque.
Due primarily to the demands of an increasingly industrialised society, the Government had recognised the need for formal education, and in 1870 'school boards' were accordingly established. At a meeting of the local School Board in November 1887 it was agreed to rename the National School in the High Street as the Fenny Stratford High Street Board School, as required by the Education Department, and the school was duly transferred to the School Board by the vicar and churchwardens. Discussions then took place regarding a suitable site for the building of new schools, and in consequence the parents of 219 children, who lived at the Bletchley end of the parish, sent a petition stating that a Fenny Stratford location would be too inconvenient. However, since it was thought that half of the signatures had been signed by women on behalf of their husbands, 'who were ignorant of the content', (plus the fact that only 13 people had attended the original meeting), it was asked how to deal with the petition. 'Throw it in the fire', suggested one gentleman, and although this was not complied with the sentiment remained for, on the grounds of expense, the Board School was built in 1890 in Bletchley Road, now known as Queensway. - J. Taylor.

Due to the war, at the beginning of 1940 it had not been possible to hold the London Brick Company’s children’s party. Instead, a New Year party was organised by the London Brick Company’s Ladies’ Social Club, and this thereby augmented the efforts to raise money for a distribution of gifts, to those children of school age whose fathers were presently on active service. The Bletchley Road schools reopened on January 10th, and Mr. E.C. Cook had received information at the end of the previous year that the Ecclesbourne Road Senior Girls’ School would now be accommodated in the Temperance Hall, and the Ecclesbourne Road Senior Boys’ School in the Pavilion, at Bletchley Park. As for the Bletchley Road Senior School, the full timetable would now be worked with - due to the blackout - the only deviation being that the afternoon session was scheduled from 1.30p.m. to 3.30p.m. Yet the school day would perhaps seem longer for the many children who had to travel from the outlying villages, being conveyed back and forth in some eight or nine school coaches. With German measles prevalent, and flu ‘spreading rapidly’, there would now be numerous absences, and with the ongoing call up there would also be several absences of the male teaching staff. In fact as one instance on February 27th Mr. Kenneth Davies, of the Bletchley Road Senior School, was summoned to an interview for military service. A history graduate, (with honours), of Swansea University, he had joined the Senior School on September 4th, 1939, and would begin his military duties on June 27th.

The Bletchley Road schools now carried on a local education successive to that of the original ‘Board School’, built in 1890, which, administered by a ‘School Board’ - composed of locally elected worthies - was then part of a national policy to impart a general education to all children, as demanded by an increasingly industrialised society. In fact the plaque of the ‘Board School’ may still be seen on the original building, which initially accommodated girls and infants. However, by 1898 a boys’ school had also been constructed and in 1902, the year in which Board Schools were abolished, (their duties to be taken over by the County Council), a girls’ school as well, which bordered the Leon Recreation Ground. On Speech Day in 1934 the presiding Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, Mr. H. Ramsbotham, then forecast an impending reorganisation of the Bletchley schools, and indeed in 1937 a new building for the Senior School was constructed. The Infants’ School thereby became a primary school and the girls’ school an infants’ school, where Miss M. Brown held sway at the infants’ nursery class. Indeed, this would be a role in which she continued until the end of the war, when appointed to a similar position at Slough. Having been a soldier in Germany at the end of World War One, in the years before World War Two Mr. William Crisp had been headmaster at Stewkley village school. Described as ‘a tall man, dark hair, with half a smile on his face’, he was now the headmaster of the Bletchley Junior Mixed Department, (remaining in this appointment until 1953, when appointed headmaster at the new Water Eaton Junior School), and amongst the other teaching staff who were now reporting for duty were Miss Amy Milsom, who had been teaching in local schools for over 20 years, Mr. Harold Harding, Mrs. J. Ounsworth, Mr. A. Richards, Miss C. Fowler, and, to commence Student Teacher training, Miss E. Clark, Miss Ida Capell and Miss Elsie Wing. Before the war Miss Wing had arrived in Bletchley from Luton, and she would teach local children aged from seven to eleven for nearly 40 years, indeed remaining at the Bletchley Road school until 1953, when she moved to the newly built Water Eaton school as deputy head. Accounting music and country dancing amongst her interests, at her retirement in 1965 she was then appropriately presented with a record player. As for Miss Capell, she had trained at Bishops Stortford Teachers’ Training College and, following the re-organisation of the Bletchley Road schools, in 1946 became deputy head of the Junior School.

Bletchley Modern Secondary School.
Built in 1937, the new premises opened on July 13th, 1938. J. Taylor.

Thus allowing the Junior School to revert to the usual times and sessions of 9a.m.-12 noon and 1.30p.m.-3.30p.m., St. Paul’s School, (evacuated from Islington), had recently been transferred from the Bletchley Road Junior School to St. Martin’s Hall where, with his living accommodation being in the east wing, Mr. Arthur Rogers had been appointed as the caretaker in 1939. Since the building would not only be used for school purposes but also for social activities, he was thereby kept fully occupied throughout the war. Originally from Dunstable, he had been employed for a while by the Colonial Office, helping to lay 200 miles of railway track on the Gold Coast of Africa, but when invalided out because of blackwater fever he came to Bletchley, and ran the Navigation Inn. When this was eventually replaced by the Bridge Hotel he and his wife then began a fish business which, after World War One, they sold to Mr. Thurlow. As indicated by the date plaque on the present building, the enlarged Bletchley Road Senior School was built in 1937 and, (more correctly known as the Bletchley Modern Secondary School), opened on June 13th, 1938, ‘with a view to providing for the comfort and ease of working, to giving space for the freedom of movement, to providing special rooms for special work, and to having excellent facilities for the social side of school life.’ The headmaster, Mr. E.C. Cook, was a Yorkshireman, and at the age of 12 had gained an early introduction to his future career when told by his headmaster ‘On Monday you will be a teacher, Cook, and this will be your class.’ So it was to be, and educated at St. John’s College, York, Mr. Cook had originally arrived as the headmaster of the Bletchley Senior School in 1924 in succession to Mr. Melton, who, in 1920, had succeeded Joseph ‘Boss’ Shardlow. In fact Mr. Shardlow had previously been the headmaster of the Bletchley boys school since 1897, and on retiring to Clacton would name his bungalow ‘Bletchley.’ However, when this was destroyed during the war by a German air raid he then moved to Norton, near Stourbridge.

Upon entry to the Bletchley Modern Secondary School the pupils were streamed according to practical or academic ability. Equipped with a short and frequently carried cane, Mr. Cook maintained a firm discipline - ‘Just looking at him made you decide never to argue’ - and, when walking along the lengthy corridors, (which induced ‘a glorious temptation to run’), pupils had to obey the rules and maintain an orderly progression along the sides. For any misdemeanour, at his whistle everyone would immediately stand still, and the cane effected the necessary punishment! Another cane wielding teacher was Bill Puryer, art master and assistant head, and his means of maintaining discipline was by the use of a white stick with a silver tip! Mr. Bennett taught handicrafts and metalwork/woodwork, and prominently displayed on the wall of his workshop was the ‘motto’ ‘Plane one surface and one edge true (Before beginning any piece of woodwork).’ Hailing from Wales, (as did several of the teachers, who were escaping the poverty and industrial gloom of their homeland), he was a well respected but ‘feared’ master, and was in a good position to keep an eye on his son, Cledwyn, who also attended the school! Regarding the other masters, during the war Mr. Baker and Mr. Cross variously took rural studies, Mr. Harris, biology, Mr. A. Richards, geography and Mr. William Moss, an ex World War One sergeant, maths. In fact, resident at ‘Parkway’, Woburn Sands, he would join the staff on November 6th, 1941. As for the female staff, introducing a romantic interest Miss Ellen Hope married the science master, ‘Jotter’ Jones, Mrs. Evans, of 69, Eaton Avenue, took the cookery classes, Miss W. Burnham taught arts and needlework, and amongst the other lady members of the Bletchley schools were Miss Capell, Miss Wing and Mrs. Edwards, who played the piano. At the front of the school the lawns, which had been first laid to turf in September, 1890, were mown and maintained by the boys, and employed from April 5th, 1943, as the groundsman and gardener George Cheshire was rarely seen attired without a hat, woolly jumper and jacket, ‘and for all the world he looked like an ordinary householder.’ With air raid precautions now of national concern, on January 19th the Junior School received 29 yards of blackout curtain material, and despite very heavy snow on January 26th Mr. J. Haynes, the Assistant Secretary for Education, brought the blackout material for the Senior School. Indeed, for the schoolchildren life in 1940 must have seemed a very strange affair for, firstly contained in a cardboard box, and later in tin canisters, gasmasks had to be carried at all times, and the children were given instructions on wearing them by the teachers; ‘Get your chin in first and then pull it up.’ In fact further reminding of the prevailing perils the Central War Memorial was situated outside the boys’ school, on a site which had been first approved in 1920. At that time the Council had given permission for a captured German field gun to be displayed on the lawn of the Infants’ School but being regarded as somewhat unsuitable the offer, from the Lord Lieutenant of the County, would be subsequently declined.

At first perhaps invariably there had been a fair degree of animosity between the local lads, many of whom came from a rural background, and the new evacuees, who predominantly came from an impoverished urban environment. Fights would occasionally break out although, unless matters got out of hand, these were generally tolerated to thus allow a gradual integration and a mutual respect to develop. As for bullies the solution was simple. They were paired off in the boxing ring, where their egos soon became lessened, and their aggressions expended. As the result of a meeting of parents, held under the chairmanship of Mr. C. Flack, chairman of B.U.D.C., just before the opening of the Senior School in 1937 the Parents’ Association had come into being, With a working committee formed the officers were then duly appointed, and in the formulation of the objectives it was decided;

1/ To promote the right kind of co-operation between parents and teachers and to establish a spirit of good fellowship between all concerned with the upbringing and education of children.

2/ To make contact with those who have expert knowledge on all educational matters.

3/ To organise Lectures, Classes, Social Gatherings, Visits to Places of Interest, and Outings for Pleasure.

4/ To stimulate interest in the Physical, Mental and Moral Development of Children.

In fact through the Parents’ Association the school would be variously provided with an encyclopaedia, The Cambridge History of Literature, many other reference works, a complete P.T. outfit - both dress and equipment - for girls, tennis courts, a putting green, croquet and other games equipment, and in addition the ‘Talkie Film Apparatus’ was overhauled. Entertainments were also provided, and on Saturday, January 27th the Association held a popular Sausage & Mash Supper and social evening in the Senior School hall. Some 200 people attended, and music for dancing was provided by Mr. T. Papworth. As for membership of the Parents’ Association, this was open to all married persons who lived within the area served by the schools, which from February 1st would close at 4p.m. Attendance by the schoolchildren was now severely affected by heavy snowfalls, yet nevertheless on February 5th the Medical Officer for Health arrived in the afternoon to carry out his ‘Routine Inspection’ of the Juniors. On the following day Nurse Plant then undertook an examination for lice which, if discovered, were dealt with by a treatment containing coal tar, with the smell being allegedly not dissimilar to that of creosote! Far more unnerving were visits to the school dentist, Dr. Blumenau, although his kindly manner, and the promise of a silver sixpence for tooth extractions, helped to allay any initial fears. He was born and bred in Germany, where he practised in the medical and dental professions, but in 1938 friends in the Nazi party then warned him that, because of his Jewish origins, his name was on a list of those persons destined for a concentration camp. Thus pre-warned he managed to flee just three days before the Gestapo came to arrest him and, aged in his 50s, and scarcely speaking the language, he arrived in England with only 10 marks and a few possessions. However, since these included his dental equipment he duly set up as a dentist in premises at Clarence Parade, Portsmouth, overlooking the harbour, although this situation, plus the fact that as a keen photographer he always travelled with his Leica camera, ‘in all innocence, could hardly have made himself more suspect.’ - especially since he soon gained the friendship of a retired admiral, with whom he often played chess! At the outbreak of war, having passed through a transit camp at Liverpool he was then interned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man where, with the camp run by the military authorities, the inmates were courteously treated and the conditions generally good. During this incarceration Dr. Blumenau was given violin lessons by one of the inmates, and in fact he would feel almost ashamed to be living ‘so pleasantly and safe’ whilst London, where his brother and family were accommodated, was the subject of heavy air raids. Yet his conscience was amply redeemed, for being the only dentist in the somewhat overcrowded camp he employed his skills looking after the teeth of the inmates, although with no one to look after his own teeth he lost all of them.

By September, 1939, there had been around 75,000 people of Germanic origin in Britain, some 60,000 of whom were Jewish refugees seeking asylum, and despite having to report to the police, they were otherwise free to seek work and accommodation. However, on the outbreak of war it was decided that all Germans and Austrians were to appear before Enemy Alien Tribunals and thereby be initially categorised into three classes; ‘A’ - those who were overtly hostile, ‘B’ - those who seemed to pose no immediate threat, although their movements were restricted and a curfew imposed, and ‘C’ - German or Austrian nationals who had been resident in the country for at least six years, and political or racial refugees from the Continent. Yet in preparation for long term internment in January, 1940, the Home Secretary, Sir John Anderson, reported that no place in the British Isles was sufficiently remote from areas of military significance, and indeed this scenario was soon compounded by the tensions following the German breakthrough in Europe in May, 1940. Those aliens in the ‘A’ category were immediately imprisoned, those of the ‘B’ class, of German or Austrian descent, rounded up, and the majority of the ‘C’ class sent, during the next few weeks, to various camps. With the entry of Italy into the war on June 11th, 1940, large numbers of Italians, many of whom had lived in Britain for several years, were also reclassified from aliens to enemy aliens and, although Churchill instructed Anderson to immediately detain all Italian males, the overall process of internment proved disappointingly slow, a situation not greatly helped when the Home Policy Committee of the Cabinet decided to immediately intern all male enemy aliens aged between 16 and 60. The roundup began on June 25th, and to help solve the problem of providing suitable accommodation facilities would be used on the Isle of Man where, during World War One, wooden huts erected at Knockaloe had been used as an internment camp. However, for World War Two it was initially decided that 30 houses, suitably guarded, should now be requisitioned for the purpose, and regarding the Isle of Man, in other measures to assist the war effort the Isle of Man steam packet, ‘Mona’s Queen’, had evacuated 1,420 men from Dunkirk, but was sunk three days later.

In the continuing blitz on British cities by the Luftwaffe, the Portsmouth premises of Dr. Blumenau had been bombed and, with all his equipment destroyed he was directed to North Buckinghamshire. Arriving at Bletchley on September 26th, 1941, he subsequently lodged with the local headmaster, Mr. E.C. Cook, in Church Walk, and beginning regular work as a dentist on October 15th was appointed as the school dentist for North Buckinghamshire, with responsibility for some 40 schools. He had brought with him ‘a most fascinating huge baroque wardrobe’, decorated with colourful angels and cherubs, and this Mrs. Cook was proud to display in the hall, as part of the effects presumably sent over by his first wife, following his arrival in England. In his study in the front bedroom stood an equally ornate desk, and amongst his other possessions were several fine impressionist paintings, book cases, a music stand and, (he being a keen musician, with a large collection of records), his ‘very fine viola’. In fact becoming friends with many people at Bletchley Park, (especially ‘two delightful Irish women’, Doreen Henderson and Dorothy Atkinson), he would be warmly invited to join their music societies. Air raid alerts and mock gas attack alarms were a continuing feature of daily school life, yet educational standards were still being upheld despite the war and, followed by a visit from the Assistant Secretary for Education, Mr. Haynes, the qualifying test of the Secondary School Examination took place at 10p.m. on February 9th. As for the recent arrivals in the town, appropriately on St. Paul’s Day the evacuated children of St. Paul’s School enjoyed a day’s holiday, which included a morning service in St. Martin’s Church. However, although many of the evacuees had settled into their new surroundings a few seemed somewhat unsettled by their unfamiliar environment, and one Tuesday morning in February five homesick children from an Islington family left their Bletchley billets and began to walk home! They were eventually found at 7p.m. 29 miles away at South Mimms, and were brought home in a police car. Two of the evacuees had been billeted with Mr. & Mrs. Collyer of 19, Osborne Street, whilst another, a boy aged 12, had been staying with Mr. & Mrs. Battams, at no. 39. Two other boys were in the care of Mr. & Mrs. Essam, of 20, North Street, and with all the children having gone to school as normal that day, even when they did not return this initially raised little concern, since it was assumed that they had stayed for dinner.

Understandably, school attendance was now closely monitored. However, school standards were also kept under regular scrutiny and on February 23rd the report was received on Needlework Instruction. This followed a visit by the Organiser of Needlework in the county on June 9th the previous year, and pleasingly the comments proved favourable; ‘The tuition given in each group is effective and neatness encouraged. Processes are introduced progressively and are pleasingly carried out by the children.’ As for the report on Physical Training, following a visit on December 18th by the County Organiser for P.T., this was also encouraging and ‘Although this school is working double sessions it has been found possible to keep to the daily physical training period.’ With ‘Standard 1’ in the charge of an L.C.C. teacher, he ‘most sensibly kept the class very active’, and, rounding off a general praise, the visit on February 28th by Mrs. Helen Reynolds reported that ‘The classes have been inspected and everything found in order. The children appear very happy. Many absent due to sickness.’ Yet also through illness the headmaster, Mr. William Crisp, would also be shortly absent for a week. For some while St. Martin’s Hall had now been established as a school for evacuees, but the Secretary of the St. Martin’s Hall Committee, Mrs. McLeod, seemed far from happy. In fact she reported that this was ‘not a good thing for them at the moment’, since the Committee was spending £1 7s 6d per week just on coke. When the Vicar then enquired how often the Education Authority paid for the use of the Hall, Mrs. McLeod replied that in response to her request for an agreement and money, no answer had as yet been received. On a brighter note, with Mr. J. Crouch having now joined the Junior School as ‘Unattached Staff’, a colourful and cultural occasion took place one Saturday evening at the beginning of March, with the staging of a Welsh night in the Bletchley Senior School hall. Attracting an audience of 200 the event had been arranged by five Welsh teachers on the Bletchley and London school staffs, and the designs inside the school included the appropriate combination of red dragons and leeks. Then in a continuing emphasis of this theme in addition to the National Anthem at the conclusion of the evening the Welsh national anthem was also sung - in Welsh! No doubt this all proved rather emotional for Mr. Benjamin Davies who, as a master at the Bletchley Road Senior School since January 31st, 1938, was now shortly to leave for a teaching position in North Wales, at Penygoddfa Council school, in Newtown. Nicknamed ‘Big Ben’, on account of his popularity, in fact this was his home town, and heightening the sentiments in April the ladies of the Bletchley Parents’ Association Committee gave him a farewell dinner. At his departure in May the schoolchildren and staff would then present him with a gold wristlet watch and a propelling pencil, and perhaps the farewell celebrations would include renditions on the new school piano, which on March 11th had been received from the makers, Barratt and Robinson Ltd., of 288/310 York Road, Kings Cross, N7. At the Bletchley Road Senior School evacuation matters were still occupying the attention of the headmaster, Mr. E.C. Cook, for on March 4th he had attended an afternoon conference at Aylesbury. Then the following day, in order to discuss evacuation matters, and also the establishment of a sick bay, he met both an Inspector from the Ministry of Health and one of their medical officers, and concluding his travels on March 18th he attended another afternoon conference which, with Aylesbury again as the venue, had been convened by Miss E. Ford to discuss the ‘Leisure of Evacuated Children.’

The schools closed for the Easter Holiday on March 20th and, as a further bonus, from April 1st arrangements were begun to supply free milk ‘to necessitous, undernourished children’ in the town. On April 2nd the schools then reopened at 9a.m., and Mrs. E. Jones now joined the staff of the Juniors as a supply teacher. She would replace Mrs. Martin who, being a London County Council teacher, had received instructions to return to London. As for the school activities, a quantity of needlework material had been received from Messrs. Leighton and Baldwin Ltd., and from April 9th the timetable of Std. 2a (Class 5) was modified to allow work in connection with a ‘Centre of Interest’ on farms and farming. Pastures new were now also in sight for Miss Capell, for she had been deputed to take charge of Drayton Parslow School from April 15th until Friday, April 19th. Meanwhile, at the Bletchley Road Senior School, from the 15th Mr. E.C. Cook and Miss E. Hope were off to a ‘Special Course for Senior Schools’, held at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, and in their absence Mr. E. Jones would take charge. However, this timing proved rather unfortunate since, late on the night of Friday, April 19th, the school was burgled. Forced entry had been attempted at several locations, and with a window broken in the Men’s Staff Room and the Lady Teachers’ Room several rooms were entered, including that of the headmaster, where milk money to the value of 1s 10d was stolen. The break in had been discovered by the caretaker early on Saturday morning, and the matter was swiftly reported to the police. As for the school at St. Martin’s, in early May Sir Sydney Nicholson, Director of the School of English Church Music, paid a visit as part of a tour of affiliated choirs, and also during April the Council agreed that children on holiday could use the local tennis courts at half price. This would be during the mornings whilst, regarding other recreations, speaking in May at the A.G.M. of the Bletchley Schools Sports Association, (which had been started the previous year), Mr. E. Cook now affirmed the decision to carry on with the organisation. Being open to all members of the teaching staff membership included not just the Senior School ‘but also of its contributing Junior partners’ and in addition the Evening Institute, children under the age of 16 and the Parents’ Association, which had so far paid out £59 5s 2½d for sports club equipment, principally concerned with tennis and cricket. Their wish was to now have the Club run separately, but it would be another wish that was more immediately granted when permission was given for cricket to be played in Bletchley Park by the Bletchley and London schoolchildren. In fact it was also hoped that matches would be arranged for the men employed at Bletchley Park.

On May 10th instructions were received that, due to the ‘International Situation’, the arrangements for the Whitsun holiday were cancelled. However, because of the late arrival of the message Mr. Kenneth Davies had already left for his home in South Wales, and had to be recalled by telegram. The instructions for cancellation had been relayed by the School Correspondent, Mr. Ernest Marchant, who, having served during World War One in the 18th Royal Fusiliers - the Public Schools Fusiliers, was a man of considerable military experience. Later in the war he had joined the Middlesex Regiment as an officer, and on being wounded was taken prisoner during an unsuccessful attack on Friday, November 13th, 1916. However, his view of the Germans became slightly softened when a German corporal, on his way to the trenches, took out a bottle of cognac and shared it with him and a couple of other prisoners. During his captivity Ernest made two unsuccessful attempts at escape, and after the war, having been admitted to the roll of solicitors in 1913 he joined a firm in Ramsgate before acquiring, in 1924, the ‘relics’ of a former practice in Bletchley. He then made his home at Woburn Sands, and during World War Two would make the Woburn Sands platoon of the Home Guard his special responsibility. There had been much confusion over the cancellation of the Whitsun holiday but the children were now to report on Monday, May 13th, at 9a.m., whilst should a second evacuation from London take place then Mr. Crisp was to report to Wolverton Secondary School. However, on May 13th a radio broadcast to schools then announced that those premises within neutral and reception areas should be closed that day, and in view of this only 50% of the Junior children turned up. Yet all the staff attended, except Mrs. Ounsworth, Mr. Richards and Mr. Crouch, who explained that they had acted in accordance with the broadcast. Clarifying the confusion, after consultation the Managers then issued instructions that the school should indeed be closed for the day! The tensions of war were now beginning to heighten. Accordingly the staff and children of the Junior School received A.R.P. instruction on May 22nd, and those at the Senior School on May 24th, but thankfully the schoolwork appeared to not suffer unduly, and following a visit on May 27th the Managers reported themselves ‘pleased with work done and pleased that Mr. Crisp and staff work so well together which makes for best results.’

Due to the international situation, on May 31st as a result of instructions received from the Superintendent of Police came the postponement of the Bletchley Road Senior School sports day, and also the cancellation of the second annual sports day of the Junior School, which had been scheduled to take place on Tuesday, June 4th. However, away from sporting pursuits in the quest for academic excellence four Senior and four Junior School boys were awarded places at the end of May in a ‘Central School.’ This followed the recommendation of their headmasters, Mr. Taylor and Mr. Lewis, and now billeted in the town the boys had all arrived from London schools. They would now be able to remain at school until the age of 16, although since the nearest evacuated London Central School was the relocated Marylebone School, the boys were to be consequently re-billeted in Buckingham. By early June, at the Bletchley Road Senior School ‘every precaution possible has been taken with regard to air raids in a practical way’, but the schools now received an official instruction to close until further notice at the end of the afternoon session on Wednesday, June 12th. This was by terms of Circular Letter 471/1940 although the staff would still be required to report for duty since, to provide occupation for the children, the building would remain open during normal hours, and in addition parties of boys at the Senior School were organised for farm work. However, the school registers would not be marked, and also on the question of paperwork on June 14th the Junior School took proud delivery of a ‘Rotary Hand Feed Duplicator.’ During June, emphasising the national crisis it was decided to close the schools if continuous air raids took place on the country, and not surprisingly the threat of air attack lead to an acceleration of the protective precautions that were now being taken. In fact as a further inconvenience a shortage of staff was the result of the continuing call up of teachers into the Forces, and just one example was that of a former Bletchley Road Junior School master, Mr. Cyril Evans. Having recently taken a teaching appointment in Shrewsbury, he had now opted to join the R.A.F. as a P.T. instructor.

Yet despite the tensions of the time morale remained high and, encouraged by the Government’s Cog Scheme, during the war children would be asked to collect salvage. Even a special song was composed - ‘There’ll always be a Dustbin’ - and, with books for the troops also required, an opportunity for publications to be collected was presented by the Empire Day festivities at the Bletchley Road Infants’ School. The pupils were asked to collect printed matter of any description, and with a certain amount collected the child would then receive a cardboard ‘Corporal’ badge. In fact the more books they collected the higher their elevation in rank, and as one former pupil recalled; ‘although very timid at that age, I knocked on all the houses in the street where I lived and also asked family and friends if they would turn out their bookshelves and everyone obligingly gave me their books. I collected more than 100 and was elevated, I believe, to Colonel and also received a certificate.’ Continuing the theme of Empire Day, read by the headmaster, Mr. Cook, the Bletchley Senior scholars were assembled to hear an especial Empire Day message from Viscount Bledisloe, President of the Empire Day Movement, and a similar message was delivered to the Junior children. Meanwhile, for the celebrations at the Ecclesbourne Road Infants’ School decorations adorned the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Hall, and all the children took part in hymns, songs and recitals. Other activities also helped to promote a general optimism, and in June several foster mothers attended a Friday afternoon entertainment, given by the Senior boys and girls of the London schools in the Temperance Hall. However, sadly tempering the mood the death occurred at the end of the month of Mrs. Harriet Lewis, the wife of Mr. J. Lewis, headmaster of the evacuated St. Paul’s School. Since November she had lived at the home of Mr. & Mrs. H. Thomas, in Aylesbury Street.

Mr. William Crisp.
The headmaster of the Junior Mixed Department at the Bletchley Road Schools.

From Monday, June 24th, the schools again opened for normal attendance, and eight children evacuated from areas other than London now joined the Bletchley Road Senior School where, with A.R.P. drill regularly undertaken, Warren Dawson, the vice chairman of the managers, thought the arrangements ‘efficient, simple, and expeditious.’ Under the supervision of Mr. Bennett, the Handicraft Instructor, the protective wiring of the windows in the Junior School was then commenced on July 1st by the Senior School boys, and with the windows taped to guard against the effects of blast, by now parts of the buildings had also been reinforced with 14 inch brick walls. These would form a safe refuge against everything except a direct hit, and low brick built blast walls were also later constructed. As additional protection the windows were sandbagged and, with the danger of air attacks ever present, children were asked to take a cushion to school. Thus when the air raid sirens sounded the pupils trooped into the corridor and sat on the cushions, with their backs to the wall. In fact in training for such an occurrence, on July 3rd the children from the evacuated school in the Social Centre were marched into the Senior School to take up ‘safe’ positions, although unfortunately about 12 of the pupils had left their gas masks at home. As for real alerts, community singing proved an ideal means to lessen the apprehension and, as a headmaster recalled, there was no panic ‘and I was delighted with the whole demeanour of the children.’ In further measures the children were taught to use stirrup pumps, and the teachers were given instruction in first aid. Meanwhile, as a means to assist the war effort the Bletchley Road schools had now formed a National Savings Group, a concept of which they had early experience from the setting up of a savings scheme in 1892, when a ‘Savings Bank’ was held on successive Mondays to receive deposits of a penny plus. After the First World War children could then buy savings stamps to stick on a coupon and, once they had collected a certain number, the coupon could be cashed.

Old Bletchley Church of England School.
In 1838 the school held in Rectory Cottages was discontinued and became united to the National Society, which encouraged education based on church principals. Through a grant provided by the Society, on a site previously known as Long Croft a school complete with a teacher's house was then constructed in Church Green Road in 1840, the land having been purchased for a nominal 5s. A rebuilding occurred in 1864, an enlargement in 1885, and in
1892 the school was converted into two private houses.B.C.H.I.
Despite A.R.P. and gas mask drills now being part of the school routine, as normally as possible education continued, and 16 new desks were received for the Junior School on July 5th. As for examinations, as a result of those for entrance to the County Secondary Schools 16 pupils received special awards, and 10 candidates qualified for admission as fee payers to Wolverton Secondary School, and The Cedars School at Leighton Buzzard. As for other academic achievements, during July as a pupil of Miss Sybil Keymer, Miss Betty Metcalfe of 10, Water Eaton Road, passed the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Grade 7 (advanced) for violin playing. With the ceremony taking place at Holy Trinity Church, Wolverton, (which was the home town of his bride), another cause for celebration then occurred at the end of the month with the marriage of Mr. Eric Jones, who for several years had been a popular master at Bletchley Senior School. Marriage was also pending for another local teacher, Miss Ivy Le Min, who had been on the staff of the Old Bletchley Church of England School since September, 1937. On becoming Mrs. J.S. Harrington she then resigned to join her husband, (an Australian, from Sydney), in Rugby, and subsequently Mrs. Zilpah Bailey, an assistant teacher at the Tonman Mosley School, of Slough, would be appointed as the replacement headmistress. In fact for the pupils of the school extra accommodation had now been sought at the Yeomanry Hall and with Mrs. Bailey commencing her duties at the beginning of December, one of her first activities would be to set up a Cigarette Fund for local men serving in the Forces. As a child, when aged five Zilpah had to walk 3½ miles each day to attend her school in Huntingdonshire, but she eventually won a scholarship to Ramsey Grammar School and there she stayed until the age of 16½. She next became a student teacher at her village school, and then at the age of 18 trained at Homerton College, Cambridge, with her grandmother paying the fees. Having taught senior school children in Hertfordshire she left the profession for six years to bring up her daughter, but in 1934 came to Buckinghamshire and resumed her career, firstly at Chesham and then at Slough. Bletchley was to be her next teaching appointment, and she would eventually retire as the headmistress of the Old Bletchley Church of England School after 20 years. As for others of the local teaching staff the prospect of being ‘called up’ now loomed, and on July 30th Mr. J. Crouch, an unattached assistant teacher at the Junior School, attended an interview at the War Office. This was by permission of the Managers and also absent was a fellow colleague, Mr. A. Richards, who was to join his R.A.F. unit the following day.

For two weeks holiday, on August 2nd at 4p.m. the Bletchley schools closed until August 19th and no doubt this proved an ideal opportunity for 15 year old Joe Birtle, of 22, Water Eaton Road, to make his aeroplane models of two Spitfires, two Fairey Battles, a Westland Lysander and a Messerschmitt 109, all of which were subsequently displayed at the Water Eaton Co-op. Also taking advantage of the holiday was Helen Reynolds, who on a visit to the Bletchley Road Junior School on August 9th had found that ‘every possible precaution seems to be taken, in the event of an air raid, to ensure the protection of the children.’ Nevertheless, during the course of the war the town would be threatened by other aerial perils, and not only is a Lancaster bomber said to have crash-landed on Talbot’s Farm, near the Denbigh playing fields, but a Hawker Tempest allegedly nosedived into the ground just past the Blue Lagoon, with the engine penetrating 10 feet into the earth. As for the proceeds from Master Birtle’s models, these were now appropriately applied to the Spitfire Fund, and, regarding another local collection, towards the end of the month a Saturday social evening, held by the Parents’ Association in the Bletchley Road Schools, raised £1 6s 2d for the refugees’ charity.

On August 21st the report on Physical Instruction was received at the Bletchley Road Junior School, following a visit on July 12th. Regarding Standards III - IV Boys, ‘The teacher was keen and with vigorous encouragement and teaching gave the boys plenty of exercise of the right type.’ As for Standard 1, ‘This class was taken by a student teacher who, considering her limited experience, did satisfactory work. A demonstration was given to assist this teacher.’ Also in need of physical prowess was another member of staff, Mr. Crouch, who towards the end of the month gained leave of absence when called before the Army Medical Board. In view of the satisfactory results he would then receive his call up papers, and on leaving the school on September 27th his place would be taken by Mrs. B. Swain. The Junior School closed at 12 noon on August 30th for an occasional holiday, awarded for good attendance, whilst as for more permanent matters, on the same day Mrs. Joyce Ounsworth left the employment of the Education Authority. However, on September 2nd Miss K. Bonham, a Certificated Assistant from Newton Longville, commenced her duties at 9a.m., and regarding other staff movements, having completed her student teaching course on August 30th Miss E. Clark began her career by taking the place of Mr. Richards. Just before 11a.m., on September 3rd the sounding of a public air raid alarm coincidently marked the anniversary of the London schoolchildren’s arrival in the town, and during a tea at the Bletchley Road Infants’ School Mr. E. Jones, who had performed a great deal of work for the benefit of the evacuees, received a barometer in celebration of his endeavours. The gift was presented by the headmistress, Miss Workman, who with her staff had been responsible for arranging the event. In fact Miss Workman had been the headmistress at the Bletchley Infants’ School since 1927, and she would remain in the position until 1947 when, being replaced by Mrs. W. Simpson, she resigned due to her impending marriage.

Air raid precautions were now increasingly important and, with A.R.P. practice having been taken in the playground on September 4th, on September 11th the air raid sirens sounded just after noon. Being supervised by members of staff 20 children returned to the Junior School, whilst in the Senior School children staying to canteen dinner continued their meal in the protected part of the building. The ‘all clear’ then sounded at 12.30 but the next day the sirens again sounded at 10.55a.m., with the children assuming their A.R.P. positions until the all clear was given at 11.15a.m. On September 16th the sirens heralded a possible raid at 2.40p.m. and again at 4.05p.m., and under the supervision of the staff all the children and parents in the vicinity took shelter in the school, until the all clear was given at 4.25p.m. Yet still the danger continued and on September 25th the sirens sounded at 11.10a.m. - ‘A.R.P. positions as usual’ - and although the all clear came at 11.25a.m., the following day witnessed warnings at 11.55a.m. and 3.45p.m., with the all clear on these occasions being given at 12.25p.m. and 4.15p.m. Indeed, a need to be aware of the dangers was tragically emphasised during the later period of the war, when a schoolboy in the town picked up a butterfly bomb in a local field. He lost several fingers as a result of his curiosity.

On September 27th the schools closed at 4p.m. for a week’s vacation. Yet for the Evacuation Secretary, at the end of the month he found his workload increased by the need to assist the billeting officer, Mr. E. Cook, headmaster of Bletchley Senior School, when accommodation had to be found for another 660 London schoolchildren and helpers. As told in the chapter ‘Far from Home’ they arrived from many parts of London on the evening of Sunday, September 29th, and at Bletchley were met by a fleet of vehicles, many of which had been lent to the evacuation committee by residents of the town. Including Miss Robinson and Miss Townsend, two London teachers who were allocated to the Bletchley Road Senior School, on October 9th the new arrivals soon began to settle into their unfamiliar surroundings, and in early November the children of St. Paul’s L.C.C. school, who were now working in St. Martin’s Hall, even donated £4 to the Spitfire Fund. Confirming the wisdom of the evacuation policy, throughout October frequent air raid alarms were sounded but on October 23rd Miss Workman, headmistress of the Infants’ Department, said that in future she would not allow the Junior School class to take up their positions in the Infants’ cloakroom. During an alert another location would have to be found but the alleged reason for this was strongly refuted by the teacher in charge, Miss Fowler, who denied that certain children had misbehaved. In any case, their antics could have been hardly more mischievous than those of some German schoolchildren who, by blowing down the spouts of watering cans, were imitating the sound of air raid sirens. However, one of the Senior School teachers, Mr. W. Hinton, would shortly be helping to sound the enemy sirens for real for, having been a specialist teacher in agriculture and horticulture, he had now volunteered for the R.A.F. as a wireless operator. When called for attestation by the Air Ministry he was consequently absent during October on Monday 21st, Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd, and after attending at Reading and Cardington he had now been accepted. A teacher at the school since April 24th, 1939, he would leave for the Forces on December 19th.

As a reward for the excellent results in the Secondary Schools Entrance Examination, the Managers granted the Junior School a holiday on November 1st, and on November 8th the school closed for a two day half term holiday, perhaps thereby providing a welcome interlude from the now almost regular routine of air raid alerts. Disruptions to school life were also being caused by the action of some of the pupils, and in December a boy of 12 was sent to an approved school for stealing two diaries from W. H. Smith & Co. Also stolen had been two packets of cigarettes and a box of matches from the premises of Doris Perrin, but when the charge of stealing was denied an assistant at the shop, Miss Gladys Bess, of 11, Duncombe Street, subsequently testified that she had noticed the cigarettes to be missing on November 23rd, after the boy had entered the shop several times in the company of some other lads. His defence was then hardly helped by his mother’s declaration that the boy ‘did not seem to have the sense he ought to have’! A frequent truant he led others astray and, although ‘domestic troubles’ were offered in mitigation, his parents were still ordered to pay 2s 6d per week for his maintenance. As for another 11 year old, having admitted the charge of theft he was sternly told to keep away from the other boys. He was said to be otherwise of good character, but his mother was probably less than good humoured when ordered to pay costs of 15s. On more law abiding matters a collection by Form 3a, at the Senior School, raised £1 18s 6d for the Spitfire Fund, which now stood at £475 5s 9d. Just before Christmas donations were then further encouraged when, over the course of a weekend, a captured German Messerschmitt 109 was displayed in the grounds of Bletchley Road Senior School. Admission cost 6d, or 3d for children, but for an extra 3d it was possible to sit in the cockpit. In order to transfer her household belongings from London, on December 12th Miss Townsend was granted leave of absence from her teaching position at the Senior School and, with the approach of the Christmas festivities, the schools were now beginning to hold their various break-up parties. That for the Bletchley Road Junior School took place on the afternoon of December 18th, held in the classrooms, and the previous Friday the corridor had been decorated in green and white, being further adorned by two tableaux, one of the Nativity and one of a snow scene. Over a period of two months, by bringing in small monetary amounts the children had helped to fund the parties, and the Parents’ Association had given £3 7s 6d. Each child then received a bag containing a roll, bun and mince pie, and with money left over from the previous Christmas in the Evacuation Fund having paid for these, this source now also provided the finance for a visit by the children to the Studio, at 10.30a.m. on December 20th. As for the celebrations at St. Paul’s Junior Mixed, the headmaster, Mr. J. Lewis, gave an impromptu concert in St. Martin’s Hall, whilst the Ecclesbourne Road Infants’ School, (which had been evacuated to the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church Hall), enjoyed their event on a Wednesday. Further enhancing the entertainments was the gift of a Christmas tree from the Duke of Bedford, and to close the year on Boxing Day a Christmas party took place in St. Martin’s Hall, where over 400 evacuees thoroughly enjoyed a good tea, dances and games.

St. Martin's Hall.
During World War One a hut known as the Saint Martin's Soldiers Institute was employed for the use of the many soldiers billeted around the immediate district. Then in May 1919 a decision was made to build a permanent social centre and hall on a site in the Vicarage Paddock. 15 people voted for the name Saint Martin's Hall and 12 for Saint Martin's House, and thus during August plans were submitted to the Council for building the proposed 'Saint Martin's Hall and Social Centre.' This would be at the lower end of the paddock on a site adjoining the Council Schools, and since it had not been possible to secure the large entertainment hut, which had recently been put up for sale at the Royal Engineers Depot, Staple Hall, a larger hut 'at a smaller price' was obtained from Rugely, Staffordshire. This would then suffice until sufficient funds were available to construct a permanent building. Soon a small hut had been erected as the caretaker's quarters, and by November the 'Church Army Social Centre' neared completion, including the provision of a reading room and a billiard club - with full size tables. Captain Sturdy of the local Church Army had the responsibility not only for the building, but also for those who used it, and he duly moved into the caretaker's quarters with his family. The final cost had totalled £3,488, and despite a prior use the official opening ceremony performed by the Bishop of Buckingham took place on the last Saturday of April 1921. Accessed by a separate entrance the premises included a brick built room which served as the Fenny Stratford Parish Room, and with the floor space divided into four classrooms, separated by moveable plywood partitions, the Hall housed an evacuated school during World War Two. With one of the teachers being Mrs. Whitehouse, two classes were held on the stage, and the Hall also often sufficed as an entertainments venue. Now much extended and modernised, St. Martin's Hall still continues to fulfil an important role in the activities of the community. - J. Taylor.


(Compiled by Alex Taylor)

Alarm sounded All clear
3rd September. 11:00am. 11:20am.
11th September. 12:05pm. 12:30pm.
12th September. 10:55am. 11:15pm.
16th September. 2:40pm. 3:20pm.
16th September 4:05pm. 4:24pm.
25th September. 11:10am. 11:25am.
26th September. 11:55am. 12:25pm.
26th September. 3:45pm. 4:15pm.
8th October. 11:00am. 11:35am.
10th October. 11:10am. 11:40am.
10th October. 3:05pm. 3:35pm.
14th October. 10:45am. 11:15am.
14th October. 11:25am. 12:45pm.
14th October. 2:45pm. 3:35pm.
17th October. 9:30am. 10:05am.
18th October. 3:10pm. 4:40pm.
21st October. 11:35am. 12:55pm.
21st October, 2:25pm. 3:10pm.
22nd October. 11:45am. 12:30pm.
24th October. 12:20pm. 12:35pm.
25th October. 2:15pm. 2:35pm.
28th October. 11:00am. 11:25am.
31st October. 1:00pm. 3:15pm.
31st October. 3:45pm. 4:50pm.
4th November. 11:15am. 11:45pm.
6th November. 9:30am. 9:40am.
6th November. 2:25pm. 3:15pm.
13th November. 3:40pm. 4:10pm.
15th November. 3:45pm. 4:20pm.
21st November. 2:25pm. 2:45pm.
3rd December. 11:30am. 11:55am.
3rd December. 2:07pm. 2:27pm.
5th December. 1:45pm. 2:11pm.
6th December. 11:07am. 11:21am.
12th December. 2:18pm. 2:41pm.
15th December. 12:45pm. 1:10pm.



Freeman Memorial Church. J. Taylor

In the Senior School hall the Parents’ Association held their social evening on Saturday, January 4th, but apart from a concern about attendance, caused by the heavy falls of snow, there was also concern about the shortage of staff, caused by men leaving for military service. Nevertheless, with lessons being punctuated, (as on several following days), by frequent air raid alerts, the Bletchley Road schools re-opened on January 7th, whilst at the Freeman Memorial Church with the benefit of an experienced teacher classes for Bletchley children and evacuees, aged from five to 11, were now being held during school hours - excepting Wednesday afternoons. On January 20th at the Bletchley Road Senior School Miss Edna Webb now began her duties in place of Mr. Hinton, who had left to join the Forces, and towards the end of January a master at the evacuated St. Paul’s Road Junior School, Mr. H. Rees, (who had often played football for the Fenny Juniors), also left the staff for service with the R.A.F. In fact military discipline seemed also in need for some of the local pupils, especially three 13 year old Bletchley boys who, at the end of the month, were sentenced to each receive six strokes of the birch by order of the Bletchley Juvenile Court. Smashing the padlock with hammers they had broken into an L.M.S. railway store on December 19th, and duly owned up to having ‘pinched off the railway’ a yellow flag, valued at 2s. Two of the boys, and two accomplices, then also admitted stealing between December 15th and 18th a pair of binoculars, cooking utensils and cutlery from a caravan owned by Captain Edgar at Old Bletchley. The goods were valued at £15, and since all the boys had been in trouble before by the verdict of the court they were not only a disgrace to their parents, but also to the town. On February 6th the Secondary School Entrance Exam Practice Test took place and the following day pupils from the Bletchley Road Senior School, and also St. Paul’s evacuated school, took the Preliminary Qualifying Exam at 10a.m. Yet the necessary concentration was always threatened by the continuing air raid alerts, although at a visit to the Junior School on February 28th Mrs. Reynolds, in the company of Mr. F. Bates, nevertheless expressed herself ‘impressed by the atmosphere of cheerfulness and the efforts made by the staff to make school life a thing of joy.’ However, for two of the staff life was presently now anything but a joy, for Miss Clark remained absent with yellow jaundice, and Miss Garrett with ‘flu’. Hopefully both had been eating healthily, on which subject it had now been decided by the Ministry of Food, and the Board of Education, that the special meat allowance to school canteens should be reduced, and would subsequently be 1s 2d worth per seven dinners served.

From March 3rd until further notice the Junior School would now commence at 9a.m., and close at 4p.m. However, this routine could well be interrupted by the continuing air raid alerts, although in as normal a manner as possible school life continued and on March 12th the L.C.C. Secondary School Exam was taken, with the sealed papers for the Secondary Schools’ Entrance Exam being received on March 17th. As for another type of examination, on March 24th and 25th the routine medical inspection was conducted by Dr. Stones, the Local Medical Officer. At the Bletchley Road Senior School, on March 24th the headmaster, Mr. E.C. Cook, received instructions to prepare a lunch for 100 evacuee children, who would be arriving on Tuesday, and the following day a special lunch was accordingly prepared. This consisted of vegetable stew, potatoes and jam tart, although in the event only 68 evacuees turned up, accompanied by six helpers. On April 1st, having been arranged by Mr. Higg, the Board of Education Inspector of Schools, the famous B.B.C. violinist, Arthur Catterall, then paid a visit to the Bletchley Road Junior School where, in the school hall, he not only listened attentively to the school percussion band, but also watched puppet shows. He then accompanied the various piano solos of his daughter, Yvonne, herself a talented musician, and following the visit Mr. Higg sent an appreciative letter to the headmaster, Mr. Crisp, proclaiming that ‘I need hardly say we were really thrilled by the warm and cordial reception you and your children gave us.’ In fact this seemed well in keeping with the character of Mr. Crisp for, being a ‘genial, smiling, exuberant teacher’, ‘his enthusiasm for his job bubbles over and flows right through the school.’ Mr. Crisp had begun his teaching career in North London and then, as a sports master and general subjects teacher, moved to a senior boys’ school in the Black Country town of Smethwick. In 1927 he then became Deputy Superintendent of the Smethwick Schools Campaign, (situated near the River Severn at Bewdley, Worcs.), which was an experiment to enable pupils from a highly industrialised area to receive a general education, but whilst camping in the country. In 1935 he then moved to Buckinghamshire and became headmaster at Stewkley school, being three years later appointed as headmaster at Bletchley Road Junior School.

The month of May witnessed a tide of rising morale when, through the Ship Adoption Society, the Bletchley Senior Schools claimed as their own the vessel S.S. Chelwood, commanded by Captain J.W. Wright. In consequence, on May 6th he paid a visit to the school and was entertained to lunch by the headmaster, Mr. E.C. Cook, and the staff. Elsewhere, perhaps of little surprise considering the traumas of wartime the Medical Officer had been in correspondence with Dr. Ethel Dukes, of the Institute of Child Psychology, about the need to provide appropriate treatment for ‘difficult’ children. The Council decided to accordingly establish a child psychology clinic in the town, and - with this also being the view of the A.R.P. Committee - an approach would be made to the County Health Department about using two of the rooms at the Bletchley Welfare Clinic. If the Ministry of Health granted the necessary approval then the arrangement would be continued until the end of the war, and it was hoped that the Evacuation Account would pay for Dr. Dukes’ travelling expenses, as well as Mrs. Hay’s fee of 10s 6d per visit as ‘play therapist’, with £5 being the sum needed for the play material. However, the news that they were not to bring small bottles of lemonade to school, and instead would have to use the tap in the recreation ground, where ‘there is no receptacle to drink from and a flood of water to stand in’, must hardly have helped the therapy of the evacuated children. In need of some rather different therapy was Mr. E.C. Cook, the headmaster of Bletchley Road Senior School, when at the end of the month he suffered several injuries and shock when involved in a motor accident. Whilst he was driving between Bicester and Oxford his car skidded into a ditch when he was forced to brake suddenly, but this misfortune seems not to have interfered with the running of the school for on May 29th a manager’s visit ‘found everything most satisfactory and a carrying out of gas mask drill enforced at proper intervals.’ At the end of May, for the town’s War Weapons Week the sums were raised by the children of the Bletchley Road schools of £18 10s from the Infants, £204 1s from the Juniors, (Group No. 1/9G/7), and £221 7s from the Seniors. Then also on school fiscal affairs, as recently discussed with Mr. Leonard, the Deputy Secretary for Education, the shower baths at the Bletchley Road schools were now being used by troops, a facility for which the Buckinghamshire Education Committee had decided to charge £5 for the water used in the past, and 10s per month for that to be used in the future. Music perhaps to an accountant’s ears, and also melodious to the ears was a rehearsal for the Junior School concert, held in the school hall at 2.30p.m. on May 23rd. The concert took place on May 26th, May 27th and May 28th at 7.15p.m., with the school then closing at 4.30p.m. on the following day for the Whitsun holiday. With all the staff present the premises would reopen on June 3rd, although Mr. Harding, a teacher at the school since 1937, was soon to attend an interview for the R.A.F. From 100 applicants, after the war he would then find a new employment at the new Holne Chase school, when appointed in 1951 as the headmaster. However, this status had already been achieved at a London Selective Central School by Mr. J. Reeve, who on June 12th, 1941, paid a visit to the Bletchley Road Senior School, where he interviewed several L.C.C. children selected for admission.

The caretaker's house, Bletchley Road Council Schools.
In 1941 this would cost the caretaker 7s 6d per week, excluding rates, to be paid from his salary of £12 10s per month, plus 6% war bonus. J. Taylor

As part of the tapestry of school life, on June 19th, (the same day that the marking out of the playground was completed), Miss Parris, Needlework Organiser, visited the Junior School to inspect handicraft and needlework, and such skills were certainly relevant for, with the prevailing poverty, the clothes of many of the schoolchildren were subject to frequent repairs. In fact the continual replacing of items was financially impossible and when Cyril Gurnett, who drove the school bus from Mursley, noticed that a child passenger did not have a coat he supplied one that belonged to his own child. A noble gesture, as was that of an evening concert given on June 24th by the children of the school in Stewkley village hall. The event aimed to raise funds for the installation of water at the local school, and 100 children were accordingly conveyed in three buses to a concert of percussions and puppetry. With the continuing call up, on June 24th Mr. W. Puryer, of the Bletchley Road Senior School, attended a medical examination for military service, being placed in Grade I, and on June 26th one of the Junior School teachers, Mr. Harding, then attended his R.A.F. interview. As for a means of keeping updated on the progress of the war, the school wireless set now underwent timely repairs, and as a way to perhaps forget for a while the troubles of wartime, on July 3rd the Bletchley Road Senior School sports were held in the afternoon at Bletchley Park. The four houses competed as a whole - not as boys and girls - and in the final results Thurlow came first, Hampden, second, Cowper, third and Penn, fourth. Then the following day, on a hot and sunny afternoon the Junior School Parents’ Open Day attracted an attendance of about 250. The programme commenced with P.T. in the playground at 2.30p.m., and this was followed by percussion and puppetry in the hall from 3.05p.m. - 4.15p.m.

From the beginning of July the vacancy for a full-time caretaker at the Bletchley Road Council School was advertised at a salary of £12 10s per month, plus 6% war bonus. With a caretaker’s house available at 7s 6d per week, (excluding rates), applicants were to contact Mr. Ernest Marchant, at ‘The Elms’, and the position of assistant part-time caretaker was also offered. Food for thought, on which topic on Wednesday, July 8th, having been sponsored by the Ministry of Food, and arranged by the Buckinghamshire Education Committee, Miss W. Evans, the domestic instructor, then gave as the second of six lectures an interesting cookery demonstration at the Bletchley Road Schools. This was on the theme of ‘Packed Lunches’, and in fact the pupils at the Senior School were helping to produce their own food by cultivating a school garden. However, whilst working on this patch a few days earlier one boy had been accidentally speared through the foot with a fork, when he inadvertently stepped into the way of another pupil. After medical attention he was then taken to his home at 38, Newton Road. Medical attention - to sore bottoms - was possibly also in need on June 26th when, without permission, several boys left the Senior School and ventured to the gravel pits, ‘one of the most dangerous places in the area.’ Two of the boys almost drowned when they fell in, and after assembling the school to warn against such folly the headmaster administered suitable punishment. For those pupils who had taken the Secondary School Entrance Examination, the results were received on July 10th, and 12 scholars had gained Special Places, with 15 candidates qualifying as fee paying pupils. In fact in recognition of this achievement on September 9th the School Correspondent, Mr. Ernest Marchant, wrote a congratulatory letter to Mr. Crisp, headmaster of the Junior School; ‘Dear Mr. Crisp, Your school’s most excellent record of successes in the recent Secondary Schools Entrance Examination was brought to the attention of the Managers at the meeting yesterday.’ Congratulations were to be conveyed on this ‘splendid performance’, and in a continuing exhibition of scholastic talent articles made by the classes were available for sale at the Bletchley Junior School annual Open Day, held on July 25th. A sale of needlework took place from 2.30p.m. until 4.30p.m., and with a microphone concert given from 3.10p.m. to 3.35p.m. country dancing was featured on the lawn from 3.40p.m. to 4.15p.m. However, some of the schoolchildren seemed possessed of a less constructive aptitude, and the teachers were subsequently asked to prevent them from swinging on the shop blinds! Presided over by Mr. W. Brown, chairman of the school managers, on July 29th the Bletchley Senior School speech day and prize distribution took place and Mr. E. Cook, the headmaster, said that this was the second speech day since the school had opened in 1938. As for Mr. W. Leonard, the Deputy Secretary of Education, he made it known to the gathered assembly that ‘The building of good character, the ability to think and the ability to acquire knowledge’ were the chief attributes of life.

Celia Cook, with her much loved pram. Celia is pictured here at an early age.
She was the daughter of the local headmaster, Mr. E.C. Cook.

At the end of July the Bletchley schools began their long month of summer holidays, and would not reopen until September 1st. Therefore, sanctioned by the Secretary for Education some of the children were organised into helping out on local farms whilst as for the younger pupils, since many of the evacuees would otherwise have no one to care for them the teachers took it in turns to arrange special lessons in their school, the Ecclesbourne Road Infants.’ Consequently at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church Hall about 40 to 60 infants attended every day and including Miss B. Eden, the headmistress, the teachers - Miss D. Wilson, Miss R. Gray, Miss W. Davies and Miss M. Filer - provided a much welcomed entertainment of games and outings. In fact Miss Eden had now agreed that any evacuated mothers with children between the ages of three and five could bring them to the school. Resident in Eaton Avenue, apart from her school duties Miss Eden also regularly attended the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church for worship, and when she died a few years after the war a legacy that she had left enabled the old church railings to be taken down and a brick wall built. As for her wartime involvement, the summer activities for the children would ensure they were ‘happily employed in occupations and musical games with periods for rest’, and rest was probably also a priority for Stanley Thurlow, Bettine Hanks and Celia Cook, (the daughter of the local headmaster, Mr. E.C. Cook, of ‘Draycott’, Church Walk), for, as the three Bletchley pupils from Wolverton County Secondary School, they had all been successful in the June Higher Oxford Exam, with Celia obtaining an A grade in the English Distinction Paper. After the war Celia would then pursue an educational career in Bletchley, firstly teaching history at Wilton school for several years before moving, after Easter 1964, to Bletchley Grammar School, where she would teach general subjects.

Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church.
By 1891 the Baptist chapel, in Aylesbury Street, had fallen into a ruinous condition, and the tender of Mr. Fathers, of Bedford, was accepted to build a new church. This was designed by Mr. Sloan, of Leighton Buzzard, and excluding his fees the costs totalled £3,050. Since the new building would overlie the existing vaults, these had to be opened and the bodies re-interred in an external vault, and as a further reminder of the segregations when, in 1962, Mr. Golding's adjoining shop was about to be demolished, it was decided to remove the paving of aged gravestones and lay concrete instead. The gravestones had probably once stood in a small graveyard behind the previous chapel, being removed when the Sunday School was built, and in order to make a garden path Mr. Golding asked the workmen if he could make use of them. Amongst the inscriptions was included the name of William Souster, who died in 1836, aged 50, and also included was that of Edward Wells. He had died in 1836, aged 88, and in fact the Wells family had once been landlords of the George Inn, at Water Eaton. Despite his withdrawal in 1887 from the Union, (on theological grounds), the new building recalled the name of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834 - 1892, who had first begun to give 'religious addresses' in 1849, in fact the year before he became associated with the Baptists. As for the faithful at Fenny Stratford, they truly saw the light on February 5th, 1928, when the premises were first lit by electricity - although enquiries to light the town by this means had been as early as 1896. As another illuminating experience, on March 5th, 1930, 70 Bletchley women came to the Baptist school room to hear an on the work of the Baptists Women's League, and they seemed sufficiently impressed to there and then begin a Bletchley branch, with 50 immediately enrolled. During World War Two the premises accommodated an evacuated school, and also 'Sunday at 7.30' concerts for and during the war it perhaps seemed fitting that a friend of the late Mr. Spurgeon would make the acquaintance of the town, when from London. On the site of the Church retirement homes have been recently built, and the development will be appropriately known as Court, so commemorating Bertha Eden, who was the headmistress at the evacuated school during the war. - B.C.H.I. J. Taylor.

As for the schools in Bletchley Road, after 31 years of service Mr. William Clarke, of 16, Oxford Street, would now retire as caretaker, and receive a superannuation allowance of £92 a year. He had been due to retire in April but the Education Authority offered him the opportunity to stay on until August 31st. A native of Bow Brickhill, (the last of four sons, of a well respected family who lived in the Chapel House), he had started the job on November 1st, 1910, in succession to the late Mr. T. Green, who had been the caretaker for 20 years. Before the introduction in 1927 of central heating, as part of his duties each day in the winter he had to attend to 26 fireplaces, and in appreciation of his long service he was now presented with two cheques, (one from the Infants’ and one from the Seniors’ departments), an electric clock from the Juniors’, and a pair of slippers from the Nursery School. Eventually becoming Captain, for 29 years he had been a member of the local fire brigade, and before taking the position of caretaker for 13½ years he had worked as a blacksmith for James Garner, at the Old Foundry, Denmark Street. (In fact this was also the area that accommodated Manyweathers, the wheelwright and Bevis the farrier). Despite the continuing risk of air raids Mr. Clarke, who would die aged 77 in 1953, would now live for a while at the home of his daughter at Wembley, with his previous caretaking duties to be undertaken by a retired Metropolitan Police Constable, Mr. W. Andrews. Until recently Mr. Andrews had been stationed in the dockyard at Portsmouth, unsurprisingly a target for intense enemy air raids, and with such attention also a possibility for Bletchley, as part of the ongoing precautionary measures gas mask drill was held at the Bletchley Road schools during the morning on September 18th. Then the following day Miss J. Martin, the prospective headmistress of Halesowen Infants’ School, Birmingham, arrived to observe percussion band and puppetry work at the Junior School which, as an ‘occasional holiday, closed on September 26th. The holiday had been granted by the Managers as a reward for the Secondary Schools Exam. success and, also enjoying examination success was the aforementioned Miss Celia Cook, who had now been awarded a vacancy offered by the Society of Oxford Home Students, (now St. Anne’s College), at Oxford University.

Celia was the daughter of Mr. E. Cook, the headmaster of Bletchley Road Senior School, and apart from his educational role during the war he was associated with Bletchley Park, not only as Food Officer, tasked to provide their entire provisions, but also as a messenger. Driving a camouflaged car, in which a small metal tube had been fitted in the engine compartment, he would take secret messages to Bomber Command Headquarters on Salisbury Plain, and returning from one such occasion one Friday evening he collected Celia for the weekend from her Oxford lodgings. Having to deliver a message to Bletchley Park, because it was late he suggested that since Celia did not have security clearance she should crouch down on the back seat of the vehicle and, covered by a rug, keep ‘mousy quiet.’ With the ruse proving effective, at the whisper of the codeword of the day, ‘candelabra’, the guards unsuspectingly waved the vehicle through, and Mr. Cook parked his car in front of the main entrance. As Celia would recall; “I waited an interminable time for him to come out of the building - it got to past midnight and I was terrified some duty officer would come and investigate the car.” However, at last Mr. Cook completed his duties and on the journey home Celia quite understandably vowed that “never again will I be a party to such subterfuge!” Indeed, the incident proved quite an education for all concerned. Also on educational matters the senior master of the Senior School, Mr. E. C. Jones, had now been appointed as housemaster at Water Stratford, and specialising in music, English and gardening he would then shortly move to the position of headmaster at Yardley Gobion school. He would then hold this position for six years, before returning to Bletchley. Having been involved with teaching at Bletchley for the past 14 years, he had not only begun the Book Lovers’ Circle and Old Scholars’ Literary and Debating Society, but also afforded much help when the Bletchley evacuees arrived. He had been the commander of the local 456 Squadron A.T.C. since its formation, and having the previous July married Frances Throssell, of Wolverton, would now continue to live at Old Stratford.

As headmistress of the Bletchley Road Infants’ School, in early October Miss Workman thanked the parents for those goods which had recently been sold by the children. Applied to the P.O.W. Fund the money raised came to more than £4 5s, and further assisting the war effort the Council now met to discuss a requirement for additional day nurseries. The underlying intention was to allow more married women to undertake work ‘of national importance’, and the need arose because the present Day Nursery was fully booked, and did not take children under the age of three. In early November a romance that had begun in 1939, at Swansea University College, culminated in the marriage of two of the graduates, Mr. Ken Davies and Miss Dilys Jenkins, a P.T. mistress at Fishguard. As the son of Mr. Martin Davies, of Lon Dan-y-Coed, Swansea, until joining the Forces Mr. Davies had been a games and history master at Bletchley Senior School whilst as for another of the Senior School teachers, Miss D. Browning B.A. now left for a position as headmistress at Frieth. The appointment would begin from the start of the New Year, and at Bletchley she had been an English mistress for the past five years. A visit was made on November 12th by Mr. Higg, the Board of Education Inspector, in connection with a visit of C.E.M.A., (the Council for the Encouragement of Music and Arts), and the following day at the Junior School the artists watched a programme of percussion and puppetry. Then during the afternoon Class 1 - in the charge of Miss Milsom and Miss Wing - made a visit to the Senior School, where they heard a reciprocal programme of music, given by the C.E.M.A. artists. Having previously been revived in 1925, mainly through the efforts of the president, Mr. A. Morris, the Workers’ Education Authority had been reformed in Bletchley during 1938. The aim was to provide the opportunity for further education, and in fact the origins dated from a public meeting held in the Bletchley Road schools during May, 1920, when, despite an attendance of only some 20 persons, a vote was duly taken, and a decision made to begin the branch. Classes were now being held for members of the Forces, and with a commendable dedication the lecturers even ventured to lonely searchlight and A.A. posts. Amongst the subjects, at the Bletchley Road schools a course in social psychology had been set up at the beginning of the year by Mr. A. Gordon Mackay, although the academic progress suffered a stumble when he injured his foot whilst taking a class. Unusual matters of a stranger kind were also afoot in the schools, for with these having supposedly been built on the site of the burial pits from the Great Plague, there always seemed a creepy feeling in the premises at night, and in fact on the evenings of the Institute classes whilst working late in his office the Senior School headmaster, Mr. Cook, would often hear knocks on the door, only to find that no one was there! Since the start of their National Savings Group, (in April, 1940), children of the Bletchley Road Junior School had by November, 1941, already invested the sum of £650 in the scheme. As for their own welfare, at the end of November the milk supplier had proved unable to supply the full quantity of milk for the school, and thus this was a matter which would now be reported to the local Food Controller. However, despite increased difficulties the sale ‘at privileged prices’ of food and other necessities for children had been satisfactorily carried out at the Bletchley Infant Welfare Centre where, with Nurse Plant and others holding charge, the Medical Officer paid a visit every first and third Tuesday in the month.

At the end of November the staff of the Church of England School, in Church Green Road - Mrs. Bailey, headmistress, Mrs. M. Edwards, Miss C. Gascoigne, Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Matson - thanked everyone for their gifts, and also for the combined donation of £20 towards the formation of a band. In fact on December 12th Mrs. Bailey then paid a visit to the Bletchley Road Junior School to watch the Percussion Band, and no doubt some of the budding musicians would eventually aspire to join such well known groups in the district as the Rhythm Dance Band which, in aid of Dr. Barnardo’s Homes, provided the music for Cynthia Dell’s cabaret, held at 8p.m. on Friday, December 12th in the Senior School hall. Also in a fund raising mood were the parents of the children attending Bletchley Road Infants’ School, for on Wednesday, December 3rd they had been invited to a display of their offspring’s’ handiwork, needle and written work. £2 was thereby raised for the P.O.W. Fund by selling teas. By now the nursery school, recently opened in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist School Hall, was well established, providing care for infants under the age of five who had been evacuated from bombed cities. As part of the children’s routine emphasis was placed on ‘Clean habits, an afternoon sleep, body-building and mentally-exercising games’, and, with two upstairs rooms having been converted to make the nursery school, the main room contained beds and toys, with the smaller room fitted out such that each child had their own place for a toothbrush, comb and towels. A little picture, each different, identified each place and the same picture then appeared by the child’s clothes peg. The teachers had been busily painting the children’s chairs bright pink and green, and by using the spare paint they then brightened up the rooms. In fact as confirmation of the nursery arrangement, during the middle of the month the Clerk of the Council reported on the reply received to his letter regarding the facility. Sent from the County Medical Officer this duly confirmed that the Spurgeon Hall had now been assigned for the care of children under five and when fully equipped would officially open on January 6th! On December 18th the Bletchley Road Junior School Christmas parties took place during the afternoon, somewhat ironic since this was also the date that the school dentist had completed his routine inspection. With the Reverend and Mrs. Wheeler amongst the guests, Mrs. Mercer and Mrs. Barden represented the Parents’ Association, (which had granted the Party Fund 3d per head), and in respect of the 15 evacuated children the L.C.C. had donated 15s, with other monies provided from the school funds. Then having been arranged by the Parents’ Association, towards the end of the month Christmas entertainments for the amusement of the children of the Bletchley Road Senior School included the illusionist ‘Guillaume’, of no less than the Magic Circle, whilst for the three to five year olds at Bletchley Road Nursery School their room, complete with a large fairy doll, had been partly decorated to represent the cave of Father Christmas. A puppet show added to the festivities and at the Junior School, where a record 1,100 cards had been posted in the school post box, children living in the villages brought in bunches of holly for decoration. Meanwhile, in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist School Hall the evacuated children from St. Mary’s Church of England Infants’ School joined with the Ecclesbourne Infants’ School for carol singing, conducted by the headmistress, Miss B. Eden, and elsewhere, dressed as Father Christmas the former caretaker, Mr. W. Clarke, paid a timely visit to the Bletchley Road Infants’ School Christmas party. With about 140 children attending, the evacuated senior schools then gave a mixed party in the Temperance Hall, where entertainments included a conjuror and a selection of ‘comic songs’ from Mr. Duffield. As for St. Paul’s L.C.C. Junior School, they staged an entertainment in St. Martin’s Hall, and as well as singing carols also performed a play, the ‘Three Roses’. A London conjuror, a ventriloquist and a Punch & Judy man added to the entertainment, and with ‘heaps of pastries, buns, cakes and sweets for tea’ a jolly time was had by all.


(compiled by Alex Taylor)

Date. Alarm sounded. All clear.
January 7th. 9.20a.m. 9.40a.m.
  12.05p.m. 12.15p.m.
  2.10p.m. 2.40p.m.
January 9th. 12.10p.m. 12.35p.m.
  11.10a.m. 11.30a.m.
January 21st. 10.23a.m. 10.47a.m.
  11.37a.m. 12.20p.m.
  1.43p.m. 2.08p.m.
  3.35p.m. 4.15p.m.
  10.40a.m. 10.50a.m.
January 28th. 11.10a.m. 11.35a.m.
  2.55p.m. 3.19p.m.
  11.58a.m. 12.15p.m.
  12.58p.m. 3.34p.m.
January 31st. 12.58p.m. 3.34p.m.
February 3rd. 11.50a.m. 12.03p.m.
February 5th. 2.38p.m. 3.10p.m.
February 18th. 2.58p.m. 3.28p.m.
February 26th. 2.05p.m. 2.15p.m.
February 27th. 10.34a.m. 11.25a.m.
  12.10p.m. 1.10p.m.
March 5th. 11.25a.m. 11.45a.m.
March 7th. 3.45p.m. 4.32p.m.
March 21st. 3.45p.m. 3.55p.m.




Mr. C. Jarman
Mr. D. A. Pacy

With the uncertainties following the declaration of war, the Bletchley & District Co-op duly informed their members that, since the authorities had as yet announced no definite rationing schemes for groceries, milk and coal, customers were to ‘Wait for the official instructions.’ As for local arrangements, having the use of a room at the Council Offices Mr. H. Dimmock had been appointed chairman of the Food Control Committee, with Mr. E. Cook as his deputy and Mr. R. L. Sherwood as the Food Executive Officer. As detailed in the chapter ‘Don’t Panic’, in the event of an air raid most of the factories in Bletchley had now arranged some form of protection for their workforce, and due to the blackout the night shift had been stopped at the brickworks, contributing to the local unemployment figures for the month of 45 men, two young men, 33 women and four young women). However, wartime production was now of paramount importance and with the Ministry of Labour having requisitioned a part of the Peake’s clothing factory, the W.I.C.O.s Electrical Company and Pacy and Co. were now occupying this accommodation. Primarily an American firm, the W.I.C.O. Electric Company, of Springfield, had begun in business manufacturing magnetos, and with Mr. Charles Jarman as the manager had later established a presence in London to look after the European market. Meanwhile, Mr. Douglas Pacy was in charge of a spark plug manufacturing subsidiary of the American Ever Ready Co., from which Mr. Jarman bought various parts and assemblies, but with the outbreak of war the Americans decided to sell the British operation. Mr. Jarman then duly purchased the interest, (which eventually became known as the Industrial Magneto Co. Ltd.), and when the premises became a victim of the German bombing, at the instigation of the Government operations were moved to Bletchley where, with a staff of 40, the business developed into the Wico-Pacy Sales Corporation Ltd. Not surprisingly the demand for their products soon became such that, in order to house the machinery sent down from London, a new factory was eventually built further along Denbigh Hall Road. One of the Company’s employees would be the accomplished pianist Miss Vera Stapleton, of 69, Duncombe Street, and throughout the war became very well known because of the local entertainments that she staged in the town. As for the sales director, Mr. Pacy, he would remain with the firm until 1956, when he left to concentrate on another company in which he had a financial interest, Ritchie and Holdom, of 87 - 89 Bletchley Road.

In Tavistock Street, J. Root’s, the brush manufacturers, now advertised for ‘Hair-Pan Hands’, (‘for important Government contracts’), whilst from Valentin, Ord and Nagles the Council received a letter seeking approval to restart their maize grinding process, so long as the discharge of effluent did not exceed the agreement. However, pending a samples analysis a decision would be temporarily deferred, although later in the year plans were approved for a new powerhouse. Regarding the smaller traders in the town, during September Mrs. Mary Hodges sadly died at the age of 86. A native of Stoke Goldington she had first arrived in Bletchley on her marriage 64 years ago, and following the death of her husband around 1912 she then opened a tobacconist’s shop, at 28, Bletchley Road. September also witnessed the death of Mrs. Jane Garner, aged 78, at 11, Bletchley Road. She had arrived in Bletchley 14 years ago to take over the general stores in Bletchley Road, and this business was now being carried on by Miss Mapley. As for shop assistants, tired of ‘walking the streets in the black-out’ one young lady now intended to start a ‘shop assistants’ club’, ‘for there isn’t anything really to do except go to the cinema’, and in consequence she suggested renting a hall for three evenings a week, with outdoor games to be played during the summer. With a large attendance, a meeting of traders was held in St. Martin’s Hall on Wednesday, September 27th at 8p.m. This was to discuss earlier closing times during wartime, although the outcome adjourned a decision pending a statement by the Home Secretary. Nevertheless, speaking for the traders Mr. J. Parriss said that they should do business as usual despite the blackout, since most of his trade was done in the evening and ‘they could not afford to pass trade by.’ Moves to begin a Co-op Society in Bletchley had begun in 1883, and it having been publicly announced on December 10th of that year that a meeting would be held, during the first 15 weeks of business trade had totalled £529 19s 4d. By the outbreak of World War Two the Society had considerably expanded, and in consequence at the end of September, 1939, the Co-op grocery department advertised the need for an adult warehouseman, at ‘Trade Union wages.’ In fact this seemed opportunely appropriate, since for the General Federation of Trade Unions plans had been recently approved for additions at Holne Chase, which now provided accommodation as a refuge from London.

Mr. A. Wells, of the well known local outfitters.
The family business was established in 1831, making shoes in permises near the village green at Loughton. Bom in 1881, James Wells went into business with two of his three brothers, and around 1922 established a shop in Aylesbury Street, Fenny Stratford

‘The Food and Drugs Act 1938, Part 1, Sect. 14(2)’ came into force on October 1st, and for the required forms for registration any premises within the Urban District ‘selling, or manufacturing for sale or storage, ice cream, sausages or potted, pressed, pickled or preserved food’ had been required to contact Mr. A. Bates, at the Council Offices, before September 9th. A visit would also be arranged for an inspection of the premises, and in early October the Urban District of Bletchley then issued a Food Control notice, whereby every retailer of the given foods was to apply for a Licence to Trade. Application forms could be obtained from the Food Executive Officer, Mr. R. Sherwood, at the Council Offices. With rationing now destined to become a part of the wartime routine, Charles Franklin Ltd., of both Bletchley Road and the canal wharf, Fenny Stratford, invited the registration of customers for coal, whilst for meat supplies J. Colgrove, Victoria Road, offered ‘plentiful supplies of beef, pork, mutton, lamb, veal and chickens.’ For clothing, Wells, ‘The Man’s Shop’, could be found at 59, Aylesbury Street, with ladies’ wear available from their branch at 65, Aylesbury Street. As for anyone wishing to start a business an opportunity arose during October when, by order of the executors of the late A. Holmes, the sale was to be made of nos. 18 and 20, Buckingham Road. Situated adjoining the George, near the corner of Church Green Road, these, due to the growth of Old Bletchley, were stated to be ‘ideal as business premises’ but in Western Road a timber merchant had less cause for optimism, when regarding his business during the month a receiving order for bankruptcy was issued. Increased competition, compounded by the slump in the building trade since the September crisis were cited as the reasons, and by the instructions of the Official Receiver on Wednesday, October 18th at 2p.m. the stock, including a Hornby oil engine, 24 inch saw bench, planing machine and timber accordingly came up for auction. In fact the sale would be conducted by the well known auctioneer in the district, Wallace A. Foll who having been born at Wood End Farm, Westoning, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Foll.

Bollen's shop, now the L.R.C. Centre - N.B.T.

The family had farmed in Bedfordshire since 1804, but after his education at Bedford Modern School Wallace became articled to a firm of architects and auctioneers at Slough, and was later appointed as managing clerk to an Aldershot auctioneer. Having served in the country department of Knight, Frank and Rutley in London between 1906 and 1909 he began in partnership with W. Stonebridge, architects and auctioneers, and from 1909 then commenced his own business as an auctioneer and surveyor in Woburn Sands and Bletchley. Being also associated with the firm of Foll and Bawden, who were located in Newport Pagnell, he founded the Olney cattle market in 1910 and then sold the business six years later to Mr. P. Gambell. In 1914 Wallace had married Ethel, the daughter of Mr. Edwin Oakley, J.P., C.A., of Luton, and the couple would have two sons and two daughters. In fact locally Wallace built up a very prosperous business and fortunes were now also prospering for the Bletchley Co-op, which, for the period ending October 14th, had witnessed an increase of £58,508 in their cash sales. Trade was also flourishing for Mr. J. Bushell, of a long established business in the High Street. An orphan, he had been early apprenticed to the grocery trade in Reading and, travelling about his duties in a pony and trap, later served for ten years as a manager with a wholesale and retail grocers in Buckingham. Moving to Bletchley in 1912 he then took over a retail shop from Mr. White, and the following year employed his nephew, Len Bushell, in the business. During World War One he was asked by the Ministry of Food to act as a wholesale distributor, and after the war on realising the potential for trade in Bletchley he bought a shop from Tom Brace in 1924, and duly went into partnership with a then employee, Fred Thurlow, as Bushell and Thurlow. Mr. Thurlow died in 1935 but the business continued, and during World War Two Mr. Bushell’s daughter became a nurse, although he tragically lost his only son, a fighter pilot, shortly after the Battle of Britain. As for his own war service Mr. Bushell became involved with the Royal Observer Corps., as also did Brian Bushell, the son of Len Bushell, who undertook duties in France, Germany and Belgium. On demob, he would then join the Diplomatic Wireless Sservice, and in other activities in August, 1951 he succeeded Mrs. E. Phillips as the organist at St. Mary’s Church. For the purpose of food rationing J. D. Bushell, Bushell & Thurlow, of Bletchley Road, and H. Keys, of Buckingham Road, were included amongst the various firms that now locally vied for the registration of consumers, and towards the end of November Bletchley traders then decided to apply to Bucks County Council for an extension of closing hours to 7p.m. on ordinary nights, and 8p.m. for late nights. However, Friday would be the late night for hairdressers!

Mrs. Munday's shop, High Street.
(Front and rear views) - B.C.H.I.

With the approach of Christmas various traders were now competing for seasonal business, and at Norman Green’s Christmas bazaar shoppers could ‘Attack all your present problems’ in the furniture showroom at the rear of the shop, at 16, Bletchley Road. Meanwhile at Bollen’s, (now the L.R.C. Centre), customers were invited to ‘Look in our windows before blackout time’ for Christmas gifts, whilst as for Christmas cards they were only a short walk away, available with a range of ‘gift stationery’ from A. J. Souster, of 23, Windsor Street. ‘ITLER MAZE YOU’ was the promise offered to customers at Thomas’s Toy Fair, at 59, Aylesbury Street, ‘so Russia long’, and with such hair-raising slogans it perhaps seemed a blessing that Dormary, of 53, Bletchley Road, could offer the ‘Wella rapid permanent wave’, with the added comfort of ‘Elizabeth Hats’, whose premises were situated in Bletchley Road, ‘opposite Lloyd’s Bank’. Christmas confectionery was now available from several retailers. A selection of decorations, novelties and cakes could be purchased from the Lantern Café, 38, Bletchley Road, and cakes were also available from Weatherhead’s, at 71, Bletchley Road. Seasonal goods, to include crackers, chocolates and cigarettes were offered by E.C. Weatherhead’s at The Corner Shop, 79, Victoria Road, and in the High Street customers might be enticed by the sweets, chocolates and cigarettes which were on offer at Munday’s. Elsewhere, Cowlishaw’s could offer Christmas shoppers the choice of gifts for men at 7, Bletchley Road, or for ladies at 35, Aylesbury Street, and customers could then always pop into Gammage’s off licence at 22, Park Street for a little Christmas cheer. As for the more expensive gifts there was H. W. Eldred, the watchmaker and jeweller, at 15, Bletchley Road. As a Londoner, Mr. Eldred had spent 20 years with the West End jewellers C.R. Roe Ltd., but after serving in the Army during World War One he moved to Bletchley for the sake of his wife’s health. Nevertheless, for four years he continued to work in the Capital, until opening his own shop in Bletchley on September 1st, 1930. In order to protect against the possibility of bomb blast he installed shutters to protect the shop windows, but since these could be easily lifted out they proved of little use in preventing a smash and grab raid in 1951, when several items were stolen from the window display. One precariously perched on the running board, the assailants made off at high speed in a stolen car!



Bletchley Co-op were now holding a winter sale, during which oddments were ‘to be cleared at ridiculous prices’, and of interest to those people intending to supplement their food reserves they also advertised that this was to be ‘a gardening year’, and therefore urged their customers to ‘order your seeds’. However, one of the keenest gardeners in the town sadly died during the month. Aged 75, he was Mr. Fred Dickens who, having lived at 2, Leon Cottages, had been employed as a gardener on the Leon Estate for about 18 years, before commencing work for Ramsbotham’s nurseries. Apart from garden produce the townspeople were also in need of meat supplies, which could be obtained from shops such as Mr. A. Benford’s, in Station Road, (ie. Simpson Road). Having retired from teaching because of her health, Miss Florence Sear, daughter of the Fenny Stratford blacksmith, was now the cashier, and the business additionally required a young man who would need to be ‘able to drive a van.’ Also steering in the right direction was another local butcher, for at his premises in Victoria Road ‘In spite of difficulties Colgrove’s sausages still pan out well.’ However, for a wireless dealer in Aylesbury Street things hadn’t panned out too well at all, for he went bankrupt. The firm of Wallace A. Foll had now received instructions to sell ‘the commodious timber works in Western Road’, lately occupied by Mr. John Cameron, but since the highest bid for the freehold of the timber workshops was only £177, in the event the interest was withdrawn from sale by private treaty. The adjoining builder’s premises, occupied by French & Son, were also on the market, whilst regarding another well known building firm, during the month Mr. Frank Howard died aged 89 at ‘Howardsville’, Church Street. Born in South Mimms, having come to the town at the age of six he had lived in Bletchley for 83 years, and during his early life worked as a bricklayer for many local firms including Staniford, Hailey Gates, Harry Welch, T. Clark and A. Taylor. In fact the Town Hall, the Swan Hotel, Ropley House and Rhondda House were all amongst the many projects on which he was engaged, and when in 1905 his sons then started their own building business, he duly became an active member. Congratulations were even received from the King and Queen when, in 1932, he and his wife celebrated their diamond wedding.

Employees of Rowland Brothers - B.C.H.I.
A view towards the extensive premises in Simpson Road. - B.C.H.I.

Of the several brush factories in the town, both Beacon Brushes and M.A. Cook now advertised for girl and boy employees, and, founded in 1874, also long established in the timber trade was the firm of Rowland Bros., in Simpson Road. Their London office was situated at 4, Broad Street, and since their business often extended far beyond the local boundaries they also owned portable mills in Sussex and Surrey. Indeed, towards the end of the 19th century the company had even secured an order for 100 wagons from the Corporation of Manchester, in connection with the new works on the Carrington Moss Estate. They were also engaged to manufacture 120 large tip wagons for Bombay, whilst as for their modern trade the firm had now been awarded two contracts for fencing, one from the Air Ministry and another from Bucks. County Council, to fulfil a need for fencing and gates along the abandoned main road at Loughton. During World War One Pilot Officer Francis Tattam, of Simpson Road, had greatly entertained the locals with a display of flying stunts over Fenny Stratford, and indeed his performance merited a communication to be forwarded to his parents ‘expressing the Council’s high appreciation and admiration of the splendid exhibition of flying given to the inhabitants of the District on the 16th July 1918.’ Continuing this tradition, as an R.A.F. fighter pilot one of the Rowland sons now often emphasised the wartime role of the firm by performing loops and rolls over the timber yard in his Spitfire! His further exploits are detailed later, whilst as for Francis Tattam, he also served during World War Two as an R.A.F. officer. Born in Simpson Road, when aged about 14 he worked his passage to Canada, and apart from several jobs in Saskatchewan he also helped to build the Kansas City railway station. He later joined the Mounties but shortly afterwards the First World War broke out and having enlisted in the Army he served in the Canadian Engineers, before gaining his wings as a pilot in the R.F.C. in 1916. Returning to France he was later awarded the Croix de Guerre, and at the end of the war travelled to Russia with the British contingent. However, in 1920 he broke his arms and legs in an air crash, and then returned to Bletchley. Marrying in 1922, he was employed at the Tompkins Moss garage in the High Street until at the age of 51 he joined the R.A.F. when the Second World War broke out. After the war he resumed his former employment, and later became a temporary agent for the Prudential although continuing the family tradition his son would become a Master Pilot in the R.A.F. Francis died at Renny Lodge, Newport Pagnell, in 1966 at the age of 71.

Having worked for Rowland’s for 40 years, the death now sadly occurred of Bletchley’s oldest resident, Joseph Wallis, who died aged 97 at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Endersby, at 77, Victoria Road. In a job that took him all over the country he had been employed for the purpose of measuring timber, and also regarding the Rowland’s firm the year also witnessed the sad death at Rhondda House of Mrs. Rowland, widow of one of the original Rowland brothers. In 450 lots, a few weeks later the furniture was auctioned from a marquee in front of the house, and amongst the items would be included a billiard table ‘by Stevens’, three Worcester and Minton dinner services, a ‘fine tiger skin and mask’ and English coins. In a nursing home at Bath, at the age of 66 another member of the Rowland family had also passed on during the year. The eldest son of the late William Rowland J.P., of Ropley House, he was Mr. William Lailey-Rowland, L.L.D., F.Z.S., of The Heath, Leighton Buzzard, who after education at Bedford became articled to a civil engineer in London. He then became an engineer for the government of Ceylon, and for 19 years would be a member of the Ceylon Mounted Infantry. On his father’s death he returned from public works in India during 1914, and during World War One served in Egypt in a battery of the Hon. Artillery Company. Formerly Deputy Borough Engineer of Cheltenham, until March, 1936, he then remained as a partner in the firm of Rowland Bros., and, at the time of his appointment in 1935 as High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, had just returned from a business trip to Canada, the purpose of which had been to purchase machinery for a forest concession in Yugoslavia. In 1936, with Mr. S. Cook, of Eaton Avenue, as the manager, (a position in which he would remain throughout the war), the Old Bletchley branch of the Co-op Society had first opened, and including members of the Management Committee and friends, during February over 200 employees of Bletchley & District Co-op attended their annual social evening at St. Martin’s Hall. A good trade was reported, (hardly surprising since even when faggots became available ‘a queue would hurriedly form’), and in fact the Committee now announced that for the year ending January 16th cash sales currently stood at £229,241, as compared with £200,199 during the previous period. This had been achieved despite control and rationing, although the good news was unfortunately marred a few weeks later by the death, aged 89, of one of the founder members of the Co-op Society in Bletchley, Mr. Henry Clarke. Having lived at 45, Albert Street, he had come to the town from Derbyshire about 60 years ago to work on the railway, but his career tragically came to an end when he was accidentally crushed between some buffers. Nevertheless, he went on to take an active role in the beginnings of the Bletchley Co-op Society. This was established in a little shop in Park Street, (a premises which would later be used by Mr. W. Gates for boot repairs), and being a member of the original Co-op Committee Mr. Clarke subsequently occupied the position of President for several years. As for the position of general manager, this had been held at Bletchley since 1923 by Mr. W. Billingham, who in one of his previous appointments had been an auditor for the C.W.S. at Northampton.

By the end of February, for anyone seeking employment as a ladies’ hairdresser an opportunity was available at 37, Aylesbury Street with Phyllis Cooper, who plied her trade in competition with the Bletchley Co-op, where at their premises at 29a, Bletchley Road there would shortly be the need for a young lady hairdresser. However, worries to induce a loss of hair were now being experienced by Mr. George Austin at 61, Aylesbury Street, for in his newsagent and stationer’s business he was frequently having to carry out the rounds himself, due to a shortage of paperboys. He and his wife had originally come to the business in 1929 from Dorking, and at the end of the war they would retire to Colchester. For those persons seeking a clerical occupation a young lady skilled in bookkeeping, typing and general office duties was now ‘Wanted for Duration of War’ at the British Gas Light Co., 83 Bletchley Road, where as a sign of the times an air raid shelter was being constructed at the rear of the premises. In fact this was in addition to the one already complete at the gasworks which located in the basement of the Retort House was protected by sandbags and steel shutters. With accommodation for 10 men, the refuge fulfilled an immediate need for an obvious and inviting target for enemy aircraft. was posed by the adjoining gasometer, for which in 1891 tenders had been invited for the construction of a ‘gasholder tank’, 51ft. 6in in. diameter. Throughout the war Mr. Jasper Cook would be the manager at the gasworks, and he would also play an important role presiding at all the local public committees during the savings week campaign. Originally from Herne Bay, where for many years he was on the staff of the local gas company, before coming to Bletchley he had been the assistant engineer at Bedford Gas Light Co. Elsewhere, also long established in the town was the brush manufacturing firm in Tavistock Street of James Roots, who now required an experienced cashier. As for the G.P.O., for the first time since the Great War they had the need to employ female staff for indoor vacancies, caused by those men who were now leaving for the Forces. Escaping from the London Blitz, during the year Mr. William Johns and his family came to the town, although nevertheless he continued to travel back to London every day to look after his shop, despite the premises having been bombed more than once. (In fact in 1945 he would then purchase a business in Victoria Road, previously owned by Mr. C. Weatherhead, and as the Corner Shop continued to trade from here until his death in 1950).

Bletchley butchers were now advocating an all day closure on Mondays and Wednesdays, which could perhaps leave those so inclined to spend more time in the White Hart Inn, Simpson Road, which was currently up for let - ‘Apply Phipps & Co., Northampton.’ As for the more unusual of occupations, Thomas Willis King, of 14, Bletchley Road, died in May, aged 80. A native of Northall, he had been apprenticed as a stone-mason to Thomas Yirrell & Son, of Leighton Buzzard, and came to Bletchley as their foreman and manager in 1885, when a branch was established in the town. His later years were then almost wholly employed on work at Bletchley Park. W.H. Smith’s had now received permission to build a packing shed at the rear of their premises in Bletchley Road, and nearby, despite an impending shortage of staff, (with 33 of their employees now in the Forces or waiting to be called up), at the end of May sales of £57,155, in the 13 weeks ending April 13th, were reported by the Bletchley & District Co-op. This showed an average weekly increase in trade of £402 and, as further good tidings the maximum retail price for dripping was now 6d a lb., with milk reduced by 1d a quart to 6d. This could locally be supplied by the Co-op or be otherwise obtained from Mr. Kemp, of Park Street, who, with the housewives providing their own jugs, made his deliveries with a couple of churns slung from the handlebars of his bike. From Little Brickhill, by horse and cart Mr. Holdom also delivered milk to householders around the town, and also to the Bletchley Road school where his wife was a teacher.

Since around 1937 Mr. F.C. Fairey, whose parents ran the Plough, at Water Eaton, had been the proprietor of a grocery and provisions business at 56, Aylesbury Street, whilst not far away at 65, Aylesbury Street, Mr. A. J. Wells continued a business established by the family in 1831, making shoes in premises near the village green in Loughton. Now the footwear department would shortly be moved to premises adjoining their outfitting shop, and for another trader of long standing, in June Mr. Brett, also of Aylesbury Street, completed 60 years in the outfitting trade, 57 of these having been on his own account. Now aged 84 he was in fact the oldest trader in the town, and despite an illness the previous year, which had caused him to temporarily close the shop, he had now sufficiently recovered to resume his trade. Brought up in Beachampton, and having learned his skills at Wellingborough, he first came to Bletchley to work for Mr. White, (who then occupied the same shop on the Aylesbury Street, Denmark Street corner). Three years later he then took over the shop, and soon become a familiar sight around the town, riding his penny-farthing and also delivering goods about the district in a pony and trap. As for another local outfitters, at the end of June Douglas Cowlishaw, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Cowlishaw of ‘The Chalet’, Aylesbury Street, announced his enlistment in the R.A.F.V.R., and therefore thanked all his customers for their past support. He would subsequently spend four years in the Middle East as an electrician, but nevertheless the business still continued at The Men’s Shop, (7, Bletchley Road), in competition with the Bletchley & District Co-op, which now offered a special purchase of ‘boys striped flannel two-piece Empire suits’, priced at 15s 11d each. In fact business for the Co-op seemed buoyant, with cash sales for the half-year ended July 13th amounting to £117,656, as compared with the previous figure of £107,749. Yet trade suffered a tumble for Mr. G. Brazier on June 21st when, about his business as a carter, his horse and trap was in collision with a brick lorry. Fortunately, although badly shaken he was not seriously injured and, following treatment, he then returned to recover at his home at 13, Duncombe Street.

On Thursday, July 4th the annual summer sale commenced at the premises of Angel Dindol, a well known trader in the town. However, the month also witnessed the retirement of another well known trader, Mrs. Weatherhead, of the Confectionery and Cooked Meat Shop at 71, Bletchley Road, who, thanking customers for their loyalty, now announced that her eldest son, Edward, would duly continue the business. As one of the earliest commercial developments in this part of the town, the shop had been originally formed in 1926 by the conversion of two houses from where, with the addition of a confectionery and cooked meats shop two years later, her husband commenced business as a florist, fruiterer and seedsman on Friday, March 9th. In fact having been employed in the greenhouses at Bletchley Park for a while, the niece of Mrs. Weatherhead, Miss Elsie Alderman, then left to begin work in the new family business. Tragically Mr. Weatherhead would be killed in a road accident, but the family continued to run the concern and in 1931 the greengrocery was ousted by a wireless shop, under the direction of Mr. Bert Weatherhead. As for Mr. Edward Weatherhead - who now took over the confectionery business - he had begun work at the Co-op Bakery, but left after seven years to join the L.M.S. Railway. He then ran a poultry farm in Stoke Road for a year, before buying a grocery store in Victoria Road, and eventually taking over his mother’s shop in Bletchley Road.

By the end of July, with the ongoing threats of air attack traders in the town were exploring means by which, in the event of a crisis, they could provide a mutual support and as a consequence at the Mutual Assistance meeting, chaired by the President of the Chamber, Mr. J. Bushell, ways by which traders could offer each other help, should their premises become a victim of war damage, were investigated. An executive committee was appointed to prepare an operational scheme and, as an additional measure, at the request of the Bletchley Urban Food Control Committee the Bletchley Chamber of Commerce called a meeting of all local food retailers, for the purpose of dealing with Mutual Assistance Pacts. By regulation Reg. 58(A), in July the Minister of Labour, Ernest Bevin, was given powers to prevent lockouts, trade disputes and strikes, but such authority was hardly needed in Bletchley where, despite the wartime situation, business carried on as normally as possible. Yet disruptions were being obviously caused by the call up of men for active service including, towards the end of August, Mr. Priest, the hairdresser at 42, Aylesbury Street, who was rivalled a few doors away, at no. 63, by Crosby’s hairdresser and tobacconist. Mr. Priest was now obliged to let his ‘modern gent’s hairdressing department’ for the duration of the war, and also departing the town was Mr. E. Bennett, who for over three years had been the manager at W. O. Peake’s factory, in Denbigh Road. He would now leave for a position at Crewe, (his native town), having been presented with a china cabinet and dressing case by Miss A. Mortimer, on behalf of the many employees gathered in the cutting room. With the need to conserve food supplies now being increasingly urgent, strict regulations had to be applied and in September the Enforcement Sub-Committee of the Bletchley Urban Food Control Committee announced their intention to prosecute three traders, for their alleged contravention of the Maximum Prices Order in the sale of eggs and oranges. During the following month fines and costs of £11 3s were then imposed on Bletchley Co-op at Bletchley Police Station, and this would be regarding two charges of selling oranges contrary to the Oranges (Maximum Prices) Order 1940, and one summons of making a wrong representation, in writing, as to the weight of meat. Later on during the war the townspeople would be able to supplement their rations with the meals available at a ‘British Restaurant’, built in utilitarian style behind the Council Offices, although for the meanwhile they remained content with the option of the Garden Café at 97, Bletchley Road. However, should they wish to gain extra money as well as food, then a visit might be in order to Mr. P. Bogush, ‘known as Frank’, who had recently opened for business just down the road at no. 47, paying ‘Highest prices - spot cash’ for old gold and silver.

The old Town Hall.
The arrival of the Grand Junction Canal, (later known as the Grand Union Canal), and the construction of the branch railway line to Bedford helped commercial prosperity to Fenny Stratford. Thus encouraged in August 1880 the local parishioners held a meeting in the Swan Hotel, and to advertise for the offer of a suitable site on which to build a town hall. £1 shares to the amount of £2,000 were issued following the formation of a joint stock committee, but shortly after the construction of the building, (on land which had been previously occupied by John Blunt's butchers shop, and thatched cottages), the Fenny Stratford Town Hall Company went into voluntary liquidation. Amongst subsequent uses the Hall would then variously provide accommodation for a bank, early meetings of the Salvation Army and frequent entertainments staged by the talented Walford family, whose repertoire included melodious renditions on the COESYSGWLELL-CAERDDGAR-PEIRCANT, (a musical contration made of broomsticks!) During World War One lectures were held at the premises for troops, who would march to the building from the neers Depot at Staple Hall, and during World War Two with many London firms seeking a refuge from the Blitz the Blackmore Fashion Drummond Street, transferred some of their activities to the premises, thereby providing employment for many local women. - J. Taylor.

Nowadays, the names of many of the firms trading in Bletchley during the war are just a distant memory, but until recently an exception remained with that of Gilroy’s, at 101, Bletchley Road. They remained in business until 2002, but in October, 1940, to be employed in their gown shop they needed a young saleslady, who would be offered the incentive of inclusive accommodation. Amongst the more prominent of the employers in the town was Premier Press, of Buckingham Road, who had now been given permission, as a war measure, to store 200 gallons of canned petrol in a brick and concrete pit at Simpson. The company often staged concerts in the town, and with these always proving a popular feature this was especially true for that which was held at the end of October. Staged in the Studio, this starred Art Gregory and his St. Louis Band, from Murray’s Club, London, and the guest artistes included Daphne and Irene Price, who thrilled the audience by singing ‘bright, amusing songs vivaciously.’ Tragically, with many of the local men having been called up for military service it was inevitable that casualties would soon be announced, and in early November the news arrived that John Whitfield had been killed by enemy action on Merseyside. Formerly the manager of Wyman’s local bookstall John had lived in Lennox Road, and served in the A.F.S. before joining the R.A.M.C. He left a wife and son. On the Home Front, the onset of the London Blitz had caused many firms to relocate their operations, and in November the Bletchley Urban District Council recommended that certificates should be issued for three new concerns. Employing 40 people, Prinsalm Mantles would now take over a building, (previously used as a rifle range), that belonged to the Bull Hotel and here they would manufacture garments for ladies’ outerwear. Nearby, the Blackmore Fashion Co. of Drummond Street, London, had arranged with Mr. J. Bushell to transfer their production plant to the old Town Hall in the High Street, and with the London quarters to meanwhile remain as a distribution centre, over the course of two weeks the local building firm of Howard Brothers would undertake a hurried reconstruction of the premises. Noted for their dress-making paper pattern productions, the business had been established for over 40 years, and at the old Town Hall the staff, mostly from the London headquarters, would carry on a publishing and bookbinding business. (In fact the firm survived the war, and in 1958 became Associated British Paper Patterns Ltd., operating from premises in Denbigh Road). As for Tetley & Co. - a firm which had originated in Huddersfield in 1835, when from the back of a pack horse two brothers began peddling tea and salt across the Yorkshire moors - having first opened in London in Commercial Road they then moved to Aldgate, but with their London premises now bombed out the firm intended to move to Bletchley, and take over the Sterilised Milk Co. premises in Osborne Street. Here they would undertake coffee grinding and the blending of tea, and thereby provide employment for around 70 people.

During November the members of Bletchley & District Chamber of Commerce were notified that, although the half-day holiday would remain unchanged, new shop closing hours were to be introduced. All shops, except tobacconists, confectioners and newsagents, would close at 6p.m. in the week but remain open until 7.30p.m. on Saturdays, and as a further inconvenience many businesses now began to suffer a shortage of manpower, which left a corresponding void of unfilled positions. These included that for a lorry driver and salesman for the wholesale fruit trade of R. W. Johnson & Son, and the Co-op were also in need of staff, especially ‘a capable butcher for a motor van round’, who would also have to be ‘a good salesman and used to both English and Imperial meat.’ Two adult clerks, ‘Exempt from military service preferred’, were also required, whilst at Stevens the bakers, in Aylesbury Street, a youth was required for a bread round. However, perhaps these duties had become less onerous since August 26th, when bread products had been nationally reduced from 45 different shapes to four types of loaf. Yet if bread delivery didn’t appeal then those job seekers possessed of a mechanical aptitude could always apply for the position of a band knife cutter at Blackmore Fashions, although their application, Plan 1271, to erect a new workshop at the rear of the Town Hall had now been deferred, pending further investigation by the Surveyor. With Christmas approaching, in order to ensure that a good supply of beef would be available for the Christmas week it was now announced that during the period December 9-14th inclusive butchers would have to be content with a large quantity of lamb and mutton. Owning respective shops in Victoria Road and Bletchley Road, thus affected were Mr. J. Colgrove, chairman of the Bletchley Butchers Buyers’ Committee, and the secretary, Mr. C. W. Tookey, who now announced that he would ‘be pleased to accept any new registrations.’ Whilst these were times of undoubted austerity, a wide variety of Christmas gifts remained available nevertheless and J. Page of 3, Denmark Street, offered slippers and shoes, in competition with Hills at 33, High Street and Bletchley Road, who seasonally reasoned that ‘Cold Weather Comfort Begins With Your Feet.’ Born and raised in Bletchley, Edgar Hill had taken over the shoe shop in Bletchley Road in 1911 from his father, and would continue to run the business until 1944, when it was then transferred to Mr. A.G. Irons. Meanwhile ‘Margery’ was displaying a full range of handcrafted novelties at 3, Victoria Road, and at 55, Aylesbury Street Flemmons had ‘everything for ladies and babies’, as well as ‘household goods at pre-tax prices.’ As for Weatherhead’s, in Bletchley Road, they could supply both records and radios, whilst for wines and spirits Staniford’s was a definite port of call, at either their branches in Bletchley or Wolverton. However, of the other businesses that had long been established in the town, the end of the year sadly saw the death of Mr. Ernest Cowley, the draper, of Manchester House in Bletchley Road.



Hedley Clarke
Hedley's brother, William, was a long serving captain of the voluntary fire brigade, and in 1941 after 29 years of service he retired from his job as caretaker of the Bletchley Road Council Schools. Having for the 20 previous years been a blacksmith at Garner's forge, in Denmark Street, for many years he lived at Chapel House, Bow Brickhill, and there he died in August 1953. - J. Taylor

Early January found the need for ‘an experienced gentleman’s hand’ at Crosby’s hairdressers in Aylesbury Street. The applicant would need to be exempt from military service, whilst for those not exempt Mr. Tookey, who owned a butcher’s business in Bletchley Road, declared that ‘In the event of my having to join His Majesty’s Forces, this business will be carried on in my absence.’ However, the trading hours would be somewhat curtailed from January 6th when, ‘owing to a shortage of meat’, all the butchers’ shops in Bletchley were to remain closed on Mondays, and from 1p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Yet they would still remain open for normal business on Fridays and Saturdays. Primarily due to the influx of evacuees, the population of the town in January had been 10,806, against the usual number of 6,901, and for the Bletchley & District Co-op cash sales would accordingly increase, with a recommended dividend of ½d in the £. Many employees of the Co-op were now serving, (or would shortly be serving), in the Forces, but having during his employment on the railway lost both his legs in a tragic accident in 1921 Oliver Wells became a clerk in the offices of the Society. In order to take up the position he had relinquished the post as secretary of the local branch of the N.U.R., as well as his former livelihood as a cobbler, and although he should have retired in 1939 because of the war he carried on until 1946. Made a J.P. in 1917, during the First World War amongst several appointments he had been treasurer of the Co-op, a member of the local tribunal, a member of the county relief committee and executive of the county’s northern division, and during World War Two he would become chairman of the Council in 1943 and 1944. Therefore in view of his active lifestyle it was perhaps not surprising that he had now bought a motorcycle and sidecar to help him get around! Possibly, in view of potential air raids, having to adjust his premiums, at 43, Bletchley Road Hedley Clarke was the Bletchley agent for the County Fire Office, and the realities of aerial warfare were tragically emphasised when Sergeant Pilot Gordon Downs Bushell was killed on active service. A fighter pilot, aged 24, he was the only son of Mr. J. D. Bushell, a leading businessman of Bletchley and President of the Bletchley Chamber of Commerce.

The site of the Tetley tea factory, Osborne Street.
Originally the Bletchley Sanitary Laundry, whose custom came to greatly benefit during World War One from the Royal Engineer's Depot at Staple Hall, the site later accommodated a factory for the Sterilised Milk Co. of London which, for the purposes of a Civil Defence exercise, suffered 'a near miss' by gas bombs in March 1940. Relocating from London the Tetley Tea Co. then took over the premises, which would later again feature as a target in another Civil Defence exercise. After the war, when Tetley moved to a factory in Denbigh Road in December 1957 the firm of Vavasseurs Food Products then took over the Osborne Street facility. Their headquarters was situated in London, and from their own plantations in Ceylon they manufactured sweetened coconut under the trade name 'Kandy'. - J. Taylor.

Endured as an unavoidable consequence of the wartime conditions, the townspeople were now becoming resigned to the restrictions of rationing, although by the middle of the month there had been a slight improvement in the meat position. Even so, butchers had only just managed to supply their consumers’ quota of approximately 1s a head, but more optimistically this would shortly be raised to 1s 2d for adults, and 7d for children. As for other commodities, even for the less well heeled J. E. Wells & Sons, of 65, Aylesbury Street, could still offer ‘Good shoes at ridiculous prices’, and thus they continued a business that had first been established at Loughton in 1831. Mr. James Wells, who died in 1967, aged 86, had first entered business with two of his three brothers, and around 1922 established the shop in Aylesbury Street which, following his retirement in 1948, would be continued by his son, Arthur. As for other shop owners, a little further along the street quality work wear was available at no. 69. The premises were run by the Duffield brothers, Fred and Alf, with the latter having married Mary, a girl from just around the corner in Church Street, in 1930. Both became active members of St. Martin’s Church. For Messrs. Joseph Tetley & Co., the end of the month at last brought approval to carry out various alterations and extensions at the old Sterilised Milk Co. of London factory, in Osborne Street. Previously the Bletchley Sanitary Laundry had been housed in the building, but a report by the Surveyor would soon reveal that the roof and internal staircase at the premises contravened the deposited plans, and these then had to be amended. Plans were now also confirmed for extensions to W. O. Peake’s premises in Denbigh Road, and elsewhere in the town a firm which had been relocated from London ‘on priority work’ sought accommodation for a ‘superior works foreman’, together with his no doubt superior wife and daughter. Elsewhere, at the old Town Hall Blackmore Patterns required ‘a compositor, improver’ for a permanent position, and across the road a tailor, tailoresses, fitting hands and pressers could find immediate employment by applying at the rear of the Bull Hotel. Opportunities were now also presently available for the younger generation, and Turner’s, the newsagent in Bletchley Road, required a boy for news delivery whilst again at Blackmore Patterns employment awaited a ‘Tall, intelligent youth’, 16-17 years, to learn band knife cutting.’

Frank Duffield, (right), appears to be recieving a religious presentation.
Both he and his brother, Alf would long be associated with St. Martin's Church.

Apart from the peril of high explosive bombs, during air raids ‘incendiaries’ - greyish cylinders hardly more than a foot in length - were also dropped, and, igniting on impact, their sole purpose was to start fires. However, when discovered they were easy to smother and extinguish, especially by the use of sand, but since thousands were being dropped this proved an overwhelming task. Therefore in September, 1940, the Government had introduced compulsory fire watching, but because this applied only to large factories, fires that could have been prevented elsewhere soon developed into an uncontrolled blaze. On December 31st, 1940, a more widespread policy was then compulsorily introduced, and every man who worked less than 60 hours a week, and was not in the Home Guard or Civil Defence, became liable to carry out at least 48 hours of fire watching duty a month. Women who worked less than 55 hours a week also had to enrol, and the owners or occupiers of the premises to be guarded were tasked with the daily organisation. Usually, shops and offices would be patrolled during alerts by members of staff, who were also expected to ensure that the fire fighting equipment was correctly maintained. For the businessmen in Bletchley as well as for private residents in February the B.U.D.C. scheme for covering the whole district with parties of fire-watchers was then explained by Arthur Bates, the A.R.P. officer. The intention was to arrange a voluntary service, and thereby avoid a compulsory order, and in the case of businesses a member of staff would be required to sleep on lock-up premises, with squads of three watchers to guard adjacent lock-up premises - (two to sleep, except during alerts, and one to watch and make periodical rounds). Being tasked to enforce these regulations was Mr. L. Davison, who following previous experience in the Walsall area had now been appointed as the Customs & Excise Officer for Bletchley and the surrounding parishes, in succession to Mr. J. F. Wood, who would shortly be transferred to Leicester. Meanwhile, with Captain Mells as the manager, at Fletton’s brick works, in Water Eaton, applications were invited from women and girls to fill those vacancies caused by men joining the Forces. With the work being deemed ‘of national importance’, hopeful applicants were to contact Mr. G. Barrett.

Fletton brickworks, Water Eaton.
During World War Two the local brick kilns were used to store vast amounts of ammunition. In fact on one occasion a procession of military trucks stood nose to tail from the Aylesbury Street crossroads to the brickworks at Skew Bridge, and several local people made endless cups of tea for the soldiers . Their generosity was then rewarded when whilst driving back on the return journey the soldiers threw tins of corned beef into the front gardens as a token of appreciation! Fortunately the kilns escaped the aerial attentions of the enemy although in mid October 1940 11 high explosive bombs fell at Flood End, and in the same vicinity five high explosive bombs were dropped near the railway line at Water Eaton, although without causing any damage. (Ammunition was also stored at dumps in the Brickhill woods, where two high explosive bombs were dropped on October 13th 1940. During the war an R.A.O.C. camp would be situated at Skew Bridge, and with the shortage of housing the redundant Nissen huts were taken over in 1946 by local 'squatters', whose families had no other accommodation except for temporary lodgings. In 1929, with a main works at Whittlesea, Peterborough, Flettons Ltd. had begun an operation excavating clay on land which once formed Home Farm at Water Eaton. After the war, with the national demands for rebuilding at Bletchley the brickworks were working at maximum capacity, and so in December 1946 Flettons asked the Council and the Government to allow extended workings at Water Eaton. This was duly approved in November 1947, with the company aquiring some 800 acres. However, on September 30th 1966 due to the financial situation, and the belief that the demand for bricks would decline, Flettons,causing the loss of around 100 jobs, decided to cease production at their Water Eaton works although the site, which included two large kilns, each with two chimneys, would nevertheless be kept in working order. Having for many centuries been a long established industry in the district local brick making has now ceased, and this photograph taken in 1979 shows the water filled pit and disused works of the London Brick 'Jubilee Works', now demolished. - J. Taylor

In March, ‘all children’s secondhand clothes’ were required by the shopkeeper at 43, High Street, whilst regarding opportunities for employment Tookey’s butchers, in Bletchley Road, could oblige with the need for an errand boy. Beacon Brushes required a driver, ‘capable of doing running repairs’, for a ‘Karrier Rigid, six-wheeler’, Cowley and Wilson offered work to a ‘strong youth’ for garage work, and at 47, Bletchley Road a vacancy had occurred for a ladies’ hairdresser, although ‘a good improver might do.’ Good improvers were also required in the Home Guard darts team when, as the month drew to a close, they lost their match with the employees team at the W. O. Peake’s factory. Still, they could always console themselves at the well-attended E.N.S.A. entertainment, which was staged in the works canteen for the L.B.C. employees. Helping to equip potential employees with the necessary skills for employment was Mr. W. Fear, at The Elms, Victoria Road, who in April advertised his services for private tuition in bookkeeping and commercial subjects. However, for those less inclined towards office duties a vacancy for a young man, ‘not eligible for military service’, could be investigated at Mr. Chandler’s shop, in Old Bletchley, with the duties to encompass grocery deliveries and ‘general assistance.’ The Bakery Dept. of the Bletchley & District Co-op now announced that ‘to make the best use of restricted supplies’ they were unable to provide Hot Cross buns. However, Easter gateaux, Easter logs and Easter shortbreads would still be available, and ‘You can obtain the Government 85% WHEATMEAL LOAF from our roundsmen and shops.’ By now some 50 members of the Co-op staff had been called for military service, whilst as for the industrial needs of the nation, in early April 50 men born after December 31st, 1897, and before April 6th, 1900, were registered for industrial service at Bletchley Employment Exchange. As for those exempt from such duties, the position of a dairy manager at the Bletchley & District Co-op Society was now available, and this would entail full responsibility for a department distributing 95,000 bottles of pasteurised milk a year. In fact a start in the milk trade had been made by the Co-op in 1920, when they acquired the business and premises of Mr. H. Kemp, of Bletchley Road.

The former shop of Mr. Chandler, Old Bletchley. J. Taylor

During the blackout, shops were not to have any lights visible from outside, except for certain dimly illuminated signs. Yet even these had to be placed inside a ground floor window or doorway, and were not to be conspicuous at a distance of 100 feet. However, they could be of any colour but were to be only illuminated for as long as the shop remained opened for business. Throughout the town local managers therefore took especial care to ensure that their premises complied with the A.R.P. regulations. Otherwise the risk was posed of being brought to the costly attention of the authorities, and one such example occurred when a member of the Home Guard, John Higgins, of ‘Eldorado’, Water Eaton, reported that lights could be seen through three windows at the Co-op shop in Water Eaton Road. Unable to gain entry he immediately telephoned the police, whereupon P.C. Crowley promptly broke a window and turned off the lights. Also summoned for a lighting offence was Cyril Pacey, of 49, Aylesbury Street, who on March 8th at around 8p.m. had forgotten to draw the blind on the door of his shop. As for the contravention of other wartime regulations, towards the end of April a butcher of Bletchley Road was summoned for having sold duck eggs above the maximum price on February 21st. A lady who lived at 90, Western Road, had called at the shop to ask for some eggs, and although the butcher produced several duck eggs, he said that he would only sell them on condition that they were not returned. She duly bought six for 1s 6d but on cracking one egg open that evening then found it to be bad. The other five were equally inedible and the next morning she asked the shopkeeper for replacements, but he refused her request. She then took the matter to the Bletchley Food Office, and on being interviewed by the Executive Officer the butcher claimed that he had sold the eggs in ignorance of the new order, which was to reduce the cost to 2s 6d a dozen. In evidence Mr. R. Sherwood, the Food Executive Officer, said that the butcher had told him he bought 45 duck eggs for 9s, but could not remember from which farmer they were purchased. A consequent fine of £2, with £1 6s costs, may well have then jogged his memory. Another incident also proved expensive for the shopkeeper at 44, Aylesbury Street, who found himself in a bit of a pickle for selling goods on February 1st ‘above the current price.’ Herbert Tunley, an assistant in the Bucks. Chief Inspector’s office, stated that on paying a visit to the shop he had been charged 1s for a jar of sweet pickles, and since this was in excess of the regulation price a fine of £3, with £1 6s costs, put a final lid on the case. As for employment in the town a daily maid was now required at 6, Lennox Road, whilst for ‘a Government job in Bletchley’ bricklayers and labourers were to apply to the foreman, at Elmers School. For the workers in the town no doubt a much welcomed entertainment was then provided on Friday, April 25th by an E.N.S.A. concert staged in the crowded L.B.C. canteen, and featuring Billy Welcome and Doris Hartley.

Under the new War Work scheme 128 women, who were born in 1919, were registered in May at Bletchley Employment Exchange, but for those not as yet called up amongst the job vacancies in the town was included that for a shorthand typist, with bookkeeping experience, at Root’s, the brush manufacturers in Tavistock Street. Cowlishaw’s needed a drapery assistant, aged 14 to 16, and for ‘a three ton Commer’ Rowland’s required a lorry driver, aged over 30. In the High Street, Tompkin’s Kingsway Garage, (which occupied the old premises of the local forge, where the Sears family had previously been in business for some 200 years), presently required a lad aged 14 to 16. For those girls able to undertake clerical and salesroom duties the British Gas Light Co. Ltd., at 83, Bletchley Road, required a young lady of smart appearance and, aged over 18, the successful applicant would need to reside in Bletchley and preferably have experience of typing and bookkeeping. As for the Bletchley office of the Northampton Electric Light Co., from a previous position as district manager with United Dairies, Mr. H. Sweetland, of 74, Duncombe Street, would shortly be appointed as their chief cashier. His wife also contributed to the family income by working as an assistant at Wilkinson’s grocery store, in Victoria Road. With newspaper space donated by A. & F. M. Yeo, ‘drapers and ladies’ and children’s outfitters’, of Fenny Stratford and Bletchley, as well as by A. Pollard, the ironmongers of 39, Bletchley Road, an appeal for savings to ‘Help us to help you win the war’ was now advertised. Then in a continuation of this theme until the duration of the war June found the need for a capable person to act as a ‘Mutuality Club Collector’, covering a part of Bletchley and the surrounding villages. Applicants were to contact the Secretary at Bletchley & District Co-op. However, for those who were unsuccessful, at least for the women they could otherwise try Fletton’s Ltd., which now offered a number of vacancies for a ‘congenial occupation under healthy conditions.’ However, during previous centuries such conditions could hardly have been expected by the many women engaged in the widespread practice of lacemaking in the county, for they had to endure long hours of work in return for a pittance. In fact as a more recent exponent of the art Mrs. Ann Baker, of 44, Tavistock Street, sadly died in late June at Renny Lodge, Newport Pagnell, having retained all her faculties into old age, and even working without the need for glasses. Born at Hanslope, she had begun lacemaking at the age of nine. On the matter of clothes rationing and footwear, during the month Mr. H. Massie Blomfield, of the Board of Trade, addressed Bletchley traders in the Conservative Club where, in the absence of Mr. J. Bushell, Mr. A. Harrington presided. The discussion included ‘a definition of slippers and in what category tennis shoes should be placed’ and, deemed sufficient for anybody for a year, it was also decided that the allowance of 66 coupons ‘would have a good effect in checking extravagance.’

For anyone with access to the necessary petrol, at the beginning of July two Morris Minor cars were available from the Central Garage, Bletchley, priced at £16 and £20. For £21 the firm could also offer a tradesman’s motorcycle and sidecar, which might have perhaps formed a useful means of transport for those ‘experienced waitresses’ seeking employment at ‘a Government canteen.’ Plus a ‘breakage bonus’, the wages would be 31s 10d per week, including meals, and hopefuls were asked to apply to the mysterious ‘Box P’, Smith’s Library. Females could also apply for a position as an assistant lady hairdresser at Dormary, 53, Bletchley Road, or otherwise as an experienced hairdressing assistant at Phyllis Cooper, 37, Aylesbury Street. Yet for some their choice of employment became somewhat less voluntary when, at the end of June, 126 women, aged 24, were registered at the Employment Exchange for ‘work of national importance.’ As for men, the British Gas Light Co., of 83, Bletchley Road, offered regular work to a Gas Works stoker aged over 30 who, by working seven shifts, at £4 3s 9d per week, would thereby no doubt help to produce the ‘good, hard clinker’ which, at ‘6s cash per ton’ was being presently offered for sale at the Fenny Stratford works. For those inclined towards a less stifling employment, until the duration of the war the Co-op required male or female ‘bread deliverers’, for motor, horse or handcart rounds, whilst elsewhere in the town an under-steward or stewardess was now needed at the Workingmen’s Club. At the Conservative Club, at a weekly wage of 11s 6d per week a woman was needed for bar cleaning work from 8a.m. to 11a.m., including Sunday, and also at the Conservative Club the firm of Wallace A. Foll had been instructed to auction an ‘Old Established Business of Newsagent, Stationer, Tobacconist and China Dealer.’ This was situated at 61, Aylesbury Street, and the sale of the business and the freehold of the local corner shop and dwelling would take place by the direction of George Austin on Thursday, July 24th at 6p.m.

In the middle of the month local members of the Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers & Confectioners & Allied Workers met in St. Martin’s Hall, where they heard that progress had been made in the Home Counties, with the area membership increased by 200. Towards the end of the month it was then suggested that Bletchley traders should consider closing their shops on Saturday afternoons, since there was now very little custom at weekends. Nevertheless, men and women were still required as shop assistants in the grocery and provisions departments of Bletchley & District Co-op, whilst as for those persons blessed with a knowledge of ‘Eugene Permanent Waving’, a hair curling vacancy had arisen for a capable assistant in their ladies’ hairdressing salon, where perhaps a visit might firstly be paid by those ladies seeking an interview for the position of experienced shorthand typist, available at the Water Eaton Works of Flettons. The successful applicant could expect an ‘adequate salary plus war bonus.’ B.U.D.C. also had an administrative vacancy on offer in the A.R.P. Department, where there was a need for a female assistant clerk with skills in shorthand, typewriting and/or bookkeeping. The new recruit would start on Monday, July 28th, on a ‘Wages scale to 47s.’

For those locals seeking an outdoor employment, sons of the soil could approach the manager at Sycamore Farm for the combined position of a general farm worker and tractor driver, and, also for those with a preference for the fresh air, a motorised milk round vacancy became available during August. This would be for the Bletchley & District Co-op, which, at the 229th quarterly meeting of the Management Committee, stated that cash sales, for the 26 weeks ending July 12th, 1941, had amounted to £131,230, as compared with £117,656 in 1940. The Co-op also required capable butchers, ‘over military age’, for the duration of the war, although concerns were being increasingly raised regarding the mistakes made by the inexperienced members of staff, who had replaced the 70 employees now on military service. Food had been sold above the maximum price, and no doubt this caused an issue for Mr. E. Holdom, a traders’ representative, and Mrs. Butler, of Osborne Street, who had both been recently appointed to the vacant seats on the Food Control Committee. Also on official matters B.U.D.C. now announced that regarding the ‘Fire Prevention (Business Premises) Order 1941’, prescribed to the Urban District of Bletchley by the Regional Commissioner 20th August 1941’, ‘Every occupier of business premises within the Urban District shall within 14 days notify in writing to the U.D.C. the arrangements made for securing fires occurring at the premises as a result of hostile attack.’

By now it seemed that it was the wish of many Bletchley groups to fall into line with those advocating an early closure on Saturdays. The scheme would commence during the first week in September, and thereby allow a longer holiday to be enjoyed by both assistants and employers. However, for one employer, Mr. J. D. Bushell, of 39, High Street, more personal matters would intervene for at the beginning of September he was informed by the Air Ministry that his son, Gordon Downs, who had been killed on active service on December 31st, 1940, had been mentioned in a despatch on November 25th, 1940 ‘for gallant and distinguished service as a fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain.’ Also on a sombre theme the town remembered Mr. Charles Boyes of ‘Westfield’, Westfield Road, who had recently died aged 81. Later becoming a director, for 50 years he had managed the firm of Rowland Bros, until his retirement in 1931. Born at Weedon, he first came to Bletchley at the age of 18 and was a pioneer of the Bletchley Building Society and a member of the old Fenny Stratford Musical Society. His wife having died 27 years ago, he was survived by one son and five daughters. During the month another long standing Rowlands employee, Mr. Alfred E. Staniford of ‘Athelstan’, Staple Hall Road, then completed 50 years of office service with the company. His sister and his mother, who had been the first telephone girl at the Aylesbury Street Post Office, ran a stationer’s, newsagent’s and fancy goods business at 61, Aylesbury Street, and also in Aylesbury Street was situated ‘The Chalet’, a drapery business run by the Cowlishaw family. In fact during the month the marriage would take place at St. Mary’s Church of Audrey Cowlishaw, an only child, to a member of the R.A.M.C., Ron Tew, from Petersfield.

Subject to the consent of the Town Planning Committee, in mid September a plan would be approved for additions to the Tetleys factory in Osborne Street, whilst at the offices of Fletton’s there was presently the need for a firewatcher. As for the Wico Electric Company, at a weekly rent of 21s the Clerk of the Council had from July 7th requisitioned 7, Rhondda Close for the accommodation of their personnel. Meanwhile, at the firm of W.O. Peake, in Denbigh Road, in early August one of their supervisors, Miss Winifred Bloomfield, married Mr. F. Jones, of Birmingham, with the couple being presented by her fellow employees with a silver dinner and tea service. Miss Bloomfield was originally from Colchester and had been living with Mr. and Mrs. Jarman, of ‘Bletchley Park Road.’ As a means to assist the Government meat problems, one Sunday at the Park Hotel it was now decided to form a Bletchley and District Fur and Feather Club, whilst for vegetable production the allotments in the town, including those at Central Gardens and land at the corner of Leon Avenue and Bletchley Road, were presently providing a welcome supplement to the food rations. Equally encouraging was the news at the end of September that chives - ‘strong, healthy plants’ - were available at 8d per dozen from Phillips, of Park Gardens, and perhaps this provided competition for a greengrocer of 99, Bletchley Road, who, by reason of selling onions above the maximum price, was fined £5, with £3 3s costs, in a prosecution brought by the Bletchley Food Committee. Visiting the shop on July 4th, an Enforcement Inspector had bought two bunches of shallots at 5d each, one bunch weighing 2¼ ozs. and the other 1¾ ozs., and it was alleged that this meant that at a rate of 5d per bunch the shopkeeper received 3s 4d for each lb. that he sold. Despite arguing that he had bought the shallots from the wholesaler at 3½d per bunch, equivalent to 2s 4d per lb, he was fined nevertheless. The main grocery shops in the town had now reached an agreement to change their early closing from Saturday to Wednesday, and, by giving more time to resolve any rationing problems over the weekend, this seemed a move that was popular. Hopefully it would also be popular with the female assistant taken on, in a reserved occupation, at Key’s, the grocers, in Buckingham Road. As for the suppliers in the town, Johnson, ‘Wholesale Fruiterers’, could now offer ‘best prices’ for apples, pears and walnuts.

Having been taken over by Messrs. Wm. Brendon Ltd., of Plymouth, at the end of October the Premier Press, in Buckingham Road, thereon became known as Premier Press (Brendon) Ltd., but for the long established M.A. Cook brushworks, in Victoria Road, this remained in family ownership, and vacancies that respectively paid 30s and 25s were currently available for boys and girls. Should the girls feel thereby short changed, then so did the local shopkeepers, for a deficiency of coppers now meant that for a while the banks were unable to meet their demands for petty cash. There was also dismaying news when George Austin, of 61, Aylesbury Street, announced that after Saturday, November 29th he would no longer be able to deliver newspapers not only in George Street, Simpson Road, Napier Street, Watling Street, but also the end of Victoria Road, Tavistock Street, High Street and Staple Hall Road.

The site of Weatherhead's shop, Queensway.
Formerly a gardener at Elmers school, Mr. Edward Weatherhead then began a green grocery business at premises in Bletchley Road. Following his tragic death in a road accident his wife replaced the business with that of a music and radio shop, which was successfully run by her daughter and younger son. In fact when the war broke out Herbert - 'Bert' - Weatherhead would become much involved in the local radio activities of the secret service, with the firm playing their part in the war effort by fitting radios to American tanks. - J. Taylor.

Holne Chase.
The excavation of a small Roman farm provided evidence for early occupation at Holne Chase, but of a more imposing residence by the early 20* century the Hon. Surgeon Colonel Giles, a rather colourful character, had arrived to live in the area. He would become one of the original members of Bletchley U.D.C. and in 1906 in association with a neighbour, Momington Cannon, he formed a nine hole golf course. As for later years, in January 1950 the Buckinghamshire County library sub committee rejected a proposal to use the former Albert Street Primitive Methodist Church as a library service point, and instead agreed to establish a full time branch at Holne Chase. This was scheduled to open on Tuesday, March 13th, 1951, but it had now been decided that - complete with a flat for the headmaster - Holne Chase should become a junior school for 160 children. The library then duly closed at the opening of the new Westfield Road library premises, the work on which had begun in November 1961. As for the school at Holne Chase, this was extended when four acres were purchased from Mr. J. Ramsbotham by Buckinghamshire Education Committee, and today the site still continues in educational use. - J. Taylor.

In March, Herbert Weatherhead, the youngest son of Mrs. Weatherhead of 1, Leon Avenue, had married Gladys Hurst of 35, Leon Avenue, and at the family’s shop in Bletchley Road a vacancy had recently been advertised for a keen youth, aged 14-17, to work in their accumulator room. However, there was the possibility, if suitable, of being eventually promoted to the service department. Of the founders of the firm, sadly the funeral took place during the month of Mrs. Fanny Isobella Weatherhead, aged 66, of 1, Leon Avenue, who had married the late Mr. Edward Weatherhead some 40 years ago. She had been a member of the Alderman family, from Swanbourne, and prior to World War One the couple lived in Kent and Wendover, before moving to Bletchley. Initially Mr. Weatherhead became a gardener at Elmer’s but then started a greengrocery in Bletchley Road, to which a confectioner’s was subsequently added next door. When her husband was tragically killed in an accident at Water Eaton crossroads two years later on October 17th, 1931, Mrs. Weatherhead replaced the greengrocery with a music and radio shop, and this would be successfully run by her younger son and daughter. Also during the month Bletchley said farewell to Mr. James Searey, a well-known saddler of the town, who died aged 54. Born at Medborne, Leicestershire, he lived at Olney and Kettering before settling in Bletchley, where he took over a business in Aylesbury Street. However, more recently he had opened a shop in Bletchley Road near the railway bridge. By the end of 1940 Holne Chase house and grounds were being used as the main offices of the General Federation of Trade Unions Approved Society, and one Tuesday during August Mr. Ben Tillet, the veteran Trade Union leader, paid a visit to Bletchley, where at Holne Chase he unveiled a memorial tablet in commemoration of Mr. W. Appleton. He had been the founder of the Society and from 1912 also the secretary, until his death the previous November at the age of 80. With the tablet erected in the Board Room of the Society’s H.Q., the ceremony was attended by around 60 staff as well as by local trade union and Labour leaders, and during the proceedings Mrs. Devine, the chairman of the Board, said that Mr. Appleton had been instrumental in the relocation of their offices from London to Bletchley, which was now a much safer place to work. Towards the end of November the town’s business community suffered another sad loss when, (being survived by a widow, his second wife, and two sons), the well known music dealer, Arthur Holdom, died at the age of 77. Having spent his early life in Drayton Parslow, where he played the organ as a boy in the Primitive Methodist Chapel, he became early apprenticed to boot making, and remained in this trade for several years before taking up music, teaching and piano tuning. In 1905 he then became an Associate of Victoria College of Music, and, thus entitling him to take the letters F.V.C.M., in 1913 was appointed a Fellow. Gaining a respected reputation throughout the villages of North Bucks., in 1921 he moved to Bletchley, (where many of his pupils lived), and for six years occupied Dunmore House. Yet eventually he decided that the house was too big for him, and he then moved further down the road to a new house, Dunmore Villa. Apart from Mr. Holdom, as another sad loss for the town Mr. William Gayton of 19, Denmark Street, died at the age of 78. Born at Winslow, he had been a barber in Bletchley for 54 years, and having served a five years apprenticeship opened his first shop in Aylesbury Street, then moving shortly afterwards to Denmark Street.

The Co-op Hall, in a derelict condition in 1979
The early Co-op shop in Park Street.
During World War Two three women and 107 men - five of whom would be killed - were called from employment with the Co-op to serve in the armed forces. Yet bussiness continued nevertheless, despite the austerity imposed by rationing. The first recorded meeting to form the Bletchley Co-operative Society was held on December 10th 1883, at Bletchley station, and indeed a little locomotive named Unity was chosen as the seal of the Society, not least since railwaymen were the pioneers of the movement. In fact a railwayman, Thomas Simmonds, was elected as President, although he was lunfortunately killed in a shunting accident at the station on December 29th . At the initial meeting it was agreed to establish a shop in the town, and in the following February in Park Street the first premises opened, with trade during the first week amounting to £28, with the wages bill totalling some 30s. Amongst the early members was Joseph Fennell, who had joined the railway as a junior clerk in the telegraph office, and being in his leisure hours a keen sportsman, at the of the Society he was one day fetched from the cricket field the first animal received by the butchery department, at the beinning of the Society he was one day fetched from the cricket field to carve up the first animal received by the butchery department, since no professional butcher was available. At the outbreak of World War One another member, Leonard Walduck, was too young to enlist and in June 1915 he instead joined the Co-op as an assistant in the Albert Street butchery, at a time when this accounted for 25% of the total sales. Leonard also helped with the bread deliveries, and one day on his round whilst returning to the van at the bottom end of Water Eaton Road hesaw some soldiers commandeering his horse for the Army. He then fetched another horse, but the animal was unable to pull the weight of the van and dropped down dead. After the war, in 1924 the Co-op bought their first motor vehicle, driven by William Guess, but despite this advance in 1928 they closed their greenhouses, and sold off the plants, fruit trees, and several thousand flower pots. Nevertheless, the Society continued to prosper, and in 1938 to the plans of the C.W.S. architects department the bakery was built by Drabble Construction in Albert Street. After the war the Co-op premises in Bletchley Road suffered a disastrous fire, but in June 1955 in Bletchley Road the Society then opened a new self service grocery shop which, as a link with the early days of the movement, occupied the site of the three old Co-op houses, originally purchased in 1911 and 1916. B.C.H.I.

When the Co-op Hall was demolished, on the wall of the adjoining house, a large advert was revealed for Sunlight Soap, with a mention also being made of E.Bailey's public baths. This referred to a local entrepreneur, who, realising the potential for trade that was being brought by the railway, in 1893 submitted plans to establish a temperance hotel and baths. - J. Taylor

During December, Mr. H. Goodwin was presented with £50 for completing 25 years of service as president of the Bletchley & District Co-op Society - (in fact he would eventually complete 40 years of service, and before moving to the Birmingham district would be presented with an armchair for this achievement) - and in opening the occasion Mr. J. Fennell recalled that in 1885 he had acted as the secretary in place of Tom Best, and had signed the very cheque which was used to pay for the ground on which the Co-op Hall now stood. Closing the year, throughout the Christmas week the Co-op informed their regular customers that Christmas cakes, chocolate logs and mince pies would be available as well as extra cakes, and meanwhile ‘off the ration’ Christmas gifts could be obtained from A. G. Cowlishaw & Son, of Aylesbury Street and Bletchley Road. Record tokens were available from Weatherhead’s but for one person their best Christmas present would be a successful application for the position of a ladies’ hairdressing apprentice, who was now required at Cooper’s, of 37, Aylesbury Street.




In order to increase food production, almost as soon as the war began the Government came up with the less than memorable slogan ‘Grow More Food’, but in the following year a London newspaper came up with the more inspired ‘Dig for Victory’, which the authorities then promptly pinched! Before the war Britain had imported 80% of the nation’s fruit requirement, and 90% of the cereal needs, but with supplies now threatened by the events in Europe, at the beginning of hostilities ‘War Agricultural Executive Committees’, commonly known as ‘War Ags’, were set up, to convert grass land to much needed crop production. Chaired by a former agricultural minister, and circulating a monthly newsletter on such topics of national concern as ‘the prevention, control and cure of Blackhead in Turkeys’, a County Committee was accordingly formed in Buckinghamshire. Corresponding to the area of the local District Council, beneath this Committee came local District Committees and these were composed of local farmers who were tasked to organise a survey of the farms, and duly suggest amendments to enhance not only the land, but also the farming practice. For each farm the District Committee filled in a ‘Farm Survey Card’, and farmers were thereby graded according to their level of perceived competence. An ‘A’ grade meant that the farmer seemed competent, and no intervention by the Committee was required. ‘B’ denoted a farmer who only occasionally needed help from the Committee, whilst of the three divisions of the ‘C’ grade one category dealt with ‘A farmer who, though reasonably competent, because of obstinacy, prejudice or laziness, etc., is not prepared to revise his methods or increase his production.’ As an example a farmer of one neighbouring village was deemed ‘shockingly bad’, and in such an instance the Committee could take control of the farm. The person concerned would be notified by receiving a ‘Schedule’ and also a letter, which contained the ominous passage ‘that I, on behalf of the Secretary of State take possession of the land and buildings described in the Schedule hereto annexed.’

Not that such matters always went smoothly, for at the imminent requisition of one neighbouring farm whilst the husband was away three officials called on his wife in connection with the situation. ‘One, a small man, was civil and polite, one said nothing and kept in the background, the other, a large person, shouted and raved and frightened my wife with threats and demands as to what he would have us do, ordering her about, and in fact was very rude and offensive.’ In a subsequent complaint to the chairman of the Bucks. War Agricultural Committee, the farmer then also declared that a great deal of work had been done to the farm, whilst of the two fields that the Committee wished to plough, they contained old trenches which, in the view of the Local Defence Volunteers, could be used as an ideal defensive position. In his reply Mr. Wigley, the chairman, duly expressed his apologies, and although praising the work of the man, who was voluntarily undertaking the duties to the detriment of his own business, nevertheless confided that ‘We who know him, realise that he is a typical blunt outspoken North Countryman, who has an unhappy habit of expressing himself in a way which is constantly giving offence, and many times prejudicing the object which he has in view.’ A discreet word would be said! On Thursday, September 14th the Bletchley market livestock sale had taken longer than usual due to a new grading system, and towards the end of the month the Bucks. War Agricultural Executive Committee then brought attention to a ‘Ploughing Notice’, whereby all farmers in Bucks. who, under the ploughing up campaign, were not able to carry out their ploughing obligations were to write immediately to the Machinery Officer, whose address was at the County Offices, Aylesbury. Severe floods had now affected the district, and several pigs were drowned in the fields off Water Eaton. Elsewhere, with a slaughterhouse in Church Street, (adjoining the fire station), for the time being J. Colgrove, in Victoria Road, could still offer ‘plentiful supplies of beef, pork, mutton, lamb, veal and chickens’, and unfortunately he could also offer a dubious line in poetry; ‘So Buy the Goods you will enjoy and pleased will be both girl and boy.’ Prime beef was also available from W. Mattinson, at Old Bletchley, although a limit on supplies would soon be imposed by rationing. Indeed, on Friday, October 6th at the 26th annual show and sale of dairy cattle and store stock there was a considerable reduction in the number of entries, and at the end of the month came a further disadvantage, when those sheep graders nominated for Bletchley market by the Bletchley Farmers’ Union were rejected.

Later in the war a hostel would be built in Bletchley for girls of the Women’s Land Army, the General Headquarters of which, in Buckinghamshire, was now established in a renovated wing of stables at West Wycombe Park. Working a 48 hour week the weekly rates of pay for those girls aged over 18 would be 28s, and for those under 18 years of age, 22s 6d, and although the help of the girls would be invaluable certain farmers wives were none too pleased, being of the opinion that the newcomers were ‘too glamorous.’ However, on less contentious matters of fertility for an increased cultivation the county now had an urgent need to plough up some 30,000 acres, and this was a task being presently ‘tackled briskly’ by the County Committee, under the chairmanship of Lord Addison. During the month Mr. F. Hodson, of Cold Harbour Farm, Shenley, resigned as chairman of the Bletchley & District Livestock Improvement Society. He had occupied the position since the formation of the Society in 1927, and was presented for his long service with an armchair. A native of Astley, near Manchester, as a ‘man who knew his own mind and spoke his own opinions’ he first came to the area in 1913, following his marriage to a girl from Moseley Common, near Manchester, and in 1918 he then helped to found the Bletchley branch of the N.F.U. With the first meeting held in the Swan, he was there elected a joint secretary together with Mr. G. Hammond, and by the end of the year the membership had reached 100. When after only a short while Mr. Hammond resigned, Mr. Hodson then carried on, and indeed remained as the branch secretary until his resignation in 1945. Unfortunately, a few years after the war he and his wife would both be killed in a tragic car accident. As another longstanding member of the farming community Mr. Alderman, of 50, Napier Street, had first been employed for around five years by the late Mr. J. Percival, of Staple Hall, as farm and garden manager, and in November he and his wife celebrated their golden wedding, having lived in the town for 49 years.

Milk would be amongst the many commodities rationed during the war, and it was therefore perhaps rather fortunate that during October Mr. Howard, of ‘Sunflower’, Denbigh Road, submitted a successful application for himself to be registered as a milk dealer, and his premises as a dairy. Then towards the end of November Mr. W. Hurst of 9, Victoria Road, was likewise registered as a dairyman, as also Mr. W. Beavington, of Slad Farm, Water Eaton, who was further authorised to act as a wholesaler and retail purveyor of milk. The year also witnessed an extension of the three inch water main along Shenley Road to Meadows Farm, a distance of 1,600 yards, and this was required in connection with an accredited milk supply under licence from Bucks. County Council, who would finance the cost. During December came an application from Mrs. Butcher, of ‘Corranmore’, Buckingham Road, to erect a pigsty at the rear of her house, and approval for this might have been of interest to the Bletchley Co-op, who now applied for their premises to be registered for the preparation of sausages or potted meats. The necessary licence would extend for the 12 months ending on December 31st, 1940.



In the late 1930s Britain had imported 150,000 tons of tomatoes, but now with the regular sources cut off the Government ordered all glasshouse businesses to consequently concentrate on this production. With foodstuffs increasingly in short supply the Anti Profiteering Act came into force on January 1st, and from thereon it would be an offence to sell specified goods at a price above that which prevailed on August 21st, 1939. Mr. Leo Page was appointed chairman of the Regional Price Regulation Committee, and this included Bletchley within an extensive administration area that covered the whole of the Southern Region of Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, part of Dorset and the greater part of Surrey. In fact members of the Committee were selected from all parts of the Region, and in a talk on the work of the organisation Mr. Page described the vested responsibilities, and gave timely warning of the dangers of profiteering. At the Water Eaton Women’s Institute, on Wednesday, January 3rd Dr. Dorothy Lufkin gave a talk on ‘Food in Wartime’, and in view of the impending food shortage tips were being offered during January on how to produce effective kitchen gardens, with exhortations by officialdom to ‘Beg, buy or borrow a spade and Dig for Victory ---. Step on it - make every garden a Victory Garden.’ Further wisdom declared that such plots would be more profitable if they ‘were deeply dug’, whilst offering seeds for those people ‘growing their own’, the Bletchley Co-op now opportunely advertised that ‘This year is to be a gardening year.’ Meanwhile, at Keys Stores, Old Bletchley, Scotch Class I seed potatoes could still be obtained, but this was increasingly not the case in Germany, where serious damage to the crop was being caused by Colorado Beetle. However, in Britain there was also a concern, for the high price of seed oats was now an increasing worry to the Bletchley Farmers Union. As for other matters, there would be a fair entry of dairy cattle and fat cattle - ‘prime quality heifers to 58s 6s per cwt.’ - at Bletchley market on Thursday, January 4th, although ‘with prices favouring buyers’ fat pigs were in short supply. However, any pig or poultry keeper could now be supplied with a bin for pig food on payment of 1s a month, with members of the W.V.S. providing service as Bin Wardens.

Sycamore Farm, Water Eaton.
A listed18th century building, the farmhouse still remains today, linked to the local activities centre of the Sycamore Club. However, the agricultural acres have long since succumbed to the housing development of the Lakes Estate which, when a model of the proposed central area was displayed at a press conference in October 1968, moved the Development Committee chairman, Councillor J. Cassidy, to rapturousiy declare that 'a lot of critics will be jumping on the band wagon and saying what a wonderful piece of development this is.' The Council had decided in January 1967 that the name would be the Lakes Drive whereupon one member quipped 'Will we have to alter Derwent Drive?' and on Monday, June 12th, at mid day Lord Campbell, the chairman of the Development Corporation, cut the first turf with a silver spade. The following March as the first tenants Mr. Greenwood and his family from Hornsey took up the tenancy of 79, Buttermere Close, and although the rents were favourable the Council was sending out letters asking if tenants might like to buy their properties for £4,000. Before the building developments Sycamore Farm had for many years been run by the Gumey family. William Gurney had begun married life at Eaton Leys Farm, and when around 1961 he moved from Sycamore Farm to a bungalow in Drayton Road his son, Cecil, and his family then took over, duly moving from Mill Farm. Due to the Council having purchased much of the acreage for some 2,000 houses, in November 1966 Cecil, who had seen active service in the Far East during World War Two, then left with his wife and three children for Thame, where he had bought the 218 acre North Western Farm. - J. Taylor.

The Government meat rationing scheme had now caused the closure of all but two of the slaughterhouses in the town, and a Butchers’ Buying Committee was formed which, with Mr. John Colgrove as the chairman, and Mr. C. Tookey as the secretary, became responsible for the whole of the buying for the Bletchley butchers. Vendors would now send notice to the District chairman, Mr. W. Johnson, of the stock coming into Bletchley market each Thursday, and when the animals were graded they would become the Government’s purchase at the fixed price. Taken to the now Government controlled slaughterhouses of the Bletchley Co-op and Mr. T.C. Waine, in Aylesbury Street, they would then be weighed out according to the need of the various butchers. In some cases farmland had now been requisitioned for ‘defence purposes’, and this was a matter for lively discussion at a February meeting of the local branch of the N.F.U., where one farmer complained that a dynamo placed near his cow house was causing upset to his cattle. However, farmers in Buckinghamshire had so far ploughed, or were about to plough, some 2,000 of the 30,000 acres of grassland scheduled for completion by the spring, and with ploughing being undertaken both day and night, (for which the blackout regulations were especially waived), by the middle of the following year throughout the country four million additional acres were under cultivation. As for other agricultural matters, since the outbreak of the war a wage rise amounting to £2½ million a year had been won by the nation’s half a million farm workers. They were now in receipt of an average of 2s 6d above their normal payments in peacetime and, as further good news for the farming profession, at Christmas the Government had decided to postpone the call up of all key agricultural workers, aged 20, for six months. However, this would not be automatic, and all cases had first to be submitted to the Bucks. War Agricultural Executive Committee, after which the Labour Sub Committee, in conjunction with the District Committees, would sift through the numbers. During January the executors of the late Mrs. E. Makeham had instructed the sale, by private treaty, of Sycamore Farm, at Water Eaton; an ‘Excellent Homestead and 96 acres - with possession.’ A cottage, paddock and semi-detached house were also available, but in the event the freehold dairy farm, as well as ‘Blue Cottage’, the paddock, and no. 65 Water Eaton Road were auctioned on Thursday, April 25th at the Park Hotel. Another farming loss then sadly occurred in February with the death at Leighton Buzzard of Mr. George Cook, aged 82. Born at Bletchley Leys he had originally studied to be a teacher, but for reasons of health then took up carpentry, before later becoming involved with agriculture. Farming the fields around Buckingham Road and Shenley Road, for many years he lived in The Cottage, Church Green Road, but then moved to 31, Duncombe Street, where he lived for around 25 years. Continuing his dairy business until about 1937, in public life he held many offices including that of parish constable, churchwarden, school manager, councillor and rate collector.

Bletchley cattle market
In December, 1939, the Government decreed that livestock for slaughter should be sold to the State at an agreed price, and as a 'collection centre' the livestock market at Bletchley remained in prominence throughout the war, thereby continuing a local trading tradition that had begun in early times. Exploiting the potential for custom brought by the old Roman road, the Watling Street, in 1204 Roger de Caux gained the right to hold a Monday market at Fenny Stratford, and to this all the tenants of 'Etone and Blechele' had to attend. However, the prosperity came to an end with the Civil War but after the hostilities fortunes began to revive until the outbreak of the Plague, which caused travellers to be diverted away from the town by branching off the Watling Street at Hockliffe, and then rejoining the route at Stony Stratford. In 1716 the Lord of the Manor, Browne Willis, then attempted to revive the market by building a small market house - 'a sorry little erection' - complete with butchers shambles and cattle stalls, but an attempt in 1817 to revive the corn market on Monday evenings at the Swan proved unsuccessful. Nevertheless, the cattle market was recommenced during 1858 in Aylesbury Street, and around 1880 George Wigley, of Winslow, began a fortnightly market, having obtained from Sir Philip Duncombe of Great Brickhill, Lord of the Manor, a lease of land on the west side of Aylesbury Street. At the cost of the Parish Authorities and Mr. Wigley this was laid down with blue bricks, and he further obtained a part of the adjoining land which was duly asphalted and fitted up with a cattle ring. George was the son of Henry Wigley, (1810 - 1888), who around 1836 had come to Winslow from Thame, and began a number of businesses in the town which included a printing works and chemists. After a period of training with the old established firm of Dudley and Son, auctioneers at Winslow, George then set up his own business, and in 1875 established a cattle market in opposition to that of Dudley, as a precursor to his Fenny Stratford enterprise. In 1910 the Board of Agriculture issued an order that cattle markets could only be held in streets with a surface impervious to water, but although 'the blue brick paving in Aylesbury Street does not comply with this order' it was allowed to continue. George had two sons, S.P. Wigley, 1877 - 1971, and H.H. Wigley, and although both entered the business, the latter took charge of a new London office. Tragically, during World War One he was killed in 1917 on active service and, with his brother taking over the remaining commercial control, the London business was discontinued. In fact during World War One the Defence of the Realm Act and 'Control' had been introduced, and following the end of hostilities the market as a result never fully recovered. Then in 1923 regarding the market paving the Ministry of Agriculture enforced their order of 1910, which prompted the move of the livestock market from Fenny to a sports field conveniently near Bletchley railway station, behind the Park Hotel. In fact since the new market field had been leased by a brewery, they no doubt hoped to profit from the trade! Held every Thursday at 11a.m., the market, complete with a covered sale ring and dial weigh bridge, was formally opened on October 9th 1924, at 11a.m. by Sir Herbert Leon, and the person placed in charge of the offices of Wigley and Gambell was William Spencer Johnson. In due course the firm became successively known as S.P. Wigley, Wigley and Johnson, and later W.S. Johnson and Co., with himself as the principal. In June 1950 adjoining the cattle market Mr. Norman Green planned an open-air market of 30 stalls but, with the remnants of the old market pavilion having been sold off in June 1952, both markets have now succumbed to more recent redevelopments, with the area presently overlaid by Sainsbury's supermarket. - B.C.H.I.

At a February meeting of the Water Eaton Women’s Institute, apart from a decision to knit garments for the troops - if the wool was forthcoming - an address was also given on ‘Gardening in Wartime.’ His flower exhibits having won many awards at the Bletchley Show, gardening had also been a passion for Mr. James Wintle of 12, Tavistock Street, who died aged 71 during the month at Northampton hospital. He had first come to Bletchley as a bricklayer on the railway around 1896 and, with his career having included military service with the Royal Engineers during the Boer War, he retired in 1934. As part of the wartime measures the Ministry of Food now agreed to recognise for each ‘collection centre’ an honorary liaison officer and, appointed by the Bletchley Farmers’ Union, Mr. J. North, a deputy grader, thereby acted in the interests of the town not only between the producer and the marketing officer, in the grading of stock, but also in those disputes arising out of the Livestock Scheme and orders. The local ‘collection centre’ was Bletchley market which, on a Thursday at the end of March, was then the venue for both the bi-monthly show and sale of dairy cattle, and the annual show and sale of store cattle. Demand and prices proved favourable, and on Thursday, April 11th the stock also included ‘10 well-grown pure bred Essex Saddleback down pigging gilts.’ However, a few weeks later it would be announced during June that the Bletchley Fat Stock Show would not be held that year, although the poultry and dairy cattle events would still take place. The need for increased farming had now witnessed much of the local acreage being cleared, and the felled timber was readily acquired by the firm of Rowland’s, who advertised ‘Fell for Victory. Oak, Ash, Elm, etc. wanted.’ Not surprising perhaps since, as a welcome alternative to the digging of trenches, they were now supplying many of the hundreds of trees that, as an obstacle against a glider-borne enemy invasion, were being laid across the surrounding fields. At the end of May Mrs. Perrin then suffered her own unwelcome invasion when a lorry, turning out of Bletchley Road into Duncombe Street, shed its entire load of 70 straw bales - straight through her shop window!

Due to a serious shortage of agricultural labour, the Bucks. War Agricultural Executive Committee now asked that farmers should take in a Land Girl for training. She would be paid 15s a week by the Government, and ‘surely now is the time to make certain of having someone at least partly trained, who will release men for field work when it comes on.’ In fact in Buckinghamshire the Women’s Land Army office staff now included Miss J. Parry, as County Secretary, and Miss A. Oxley and Miss I. Stevens as County Organisers, and by August there would be 120 Land Girls in permanent employment in the county. As for encouraging further recruits, the commissioning of Dame Laura Knight, a distinguished artist, would greatly help to publicise the organisation. Apart from the needs of grazing, by now any available land was being used for crop production. However, on those as yet uncultivated areas weeds, by spreading their seeds onto neighbouring land, were proving a continued nuisance, and in fact complaints were even received that weeds were growing in the main streets, ‘in some places 15 or 18 inches over the pavement.’ Yet regarding a two acre field in Denbigh Road, the potential for such agricultural setbacks was eliminated in July when the area, which adjoined the factory of the owners, W. O. Peakes, underwent cultivation. Before long a fine crop of potatoes had been produced, and even the factory’s flower borders were being planted with cabbages! During the later month the Bletchley Urban Food Control then advised householders on a variety of schemes, whereby surplus fruit from gardens or allotments could be used to the best advantage, i.e. for hospitals, schools and processing for jam. Initially people could contact the Food Executive Officer, Mr. R. Sherwood, who perhaps might have been interested in an 18 inch carrot, grown on the Eight Bells Allotment of Mr. Denny, of 36, Albert Street. Yet not all of the available land in the town was being put to good use, and of a derelict area between Brooklands Road and Westfield Road despite 3½ acres being under cultivation as allotments, 1¾ acres remained as waste. The area was overgrown with weeds, and the problem would be dealt with. By this time a regular weekly market was being held in the town for dairy and store stock, poultry, eggs and produce, and as mentioned each Thursday the Bletchley market then became the collecting centre for fat stock, which had to be penned by 10a.m. In place of Mr. J. North, a deputy grader on the panel, under the Live Stock Control Scheme Mr. J. Shirley had now been appointed as the liaison officer for Bletchley market, whilst as for the supply of animal foodstuffs, no doubt the cattle foods specialist Messrs. J. L Shirley & Son Ltd. were well patronised by local farmers, not least since the firm had just been awarded the Royal Warrant of Appointment to H.M. the King. Indeed, they then proudly placed a ‘by appointment’ coat of arms above the door of their offices in Bletchley Road! However, having played a role in the firm’s success the former controller of the transport department, Mr. E. Adnitt, of ‘Rushmere’, North Street, was now seeking pastures new, and would take up the position as secretary of the Northampton & Midland Building Society.

Edyth Orchard
Edyth Orchard stands on the pre war 'derelict' land between Brooklands Road and Westfield Road. At the beginning of the war, by a circular from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries dated September 18lh, 1939, Councils were informed that under the Defence Regulations 1939 measures were provided to increase food supplies. This would be by extending the existing powers for providing land for cultivation, and in a belated consequence Mr. Kirby, as the secretary of the Bletchley and District Allotment Association, had a meeting on the morning of May 5th, 1941, with the Clerk of the Council about cultivating the Brooklands Road area as allotments. Having received sufficient applications for all the proposed plots he was keen for the work to commence as soon as possible, since otherwise with all the prevailing grass and weeds the planting would have to be delayed until the following year. The Clerk duly wrote to Mr. R. Davey at the County War Agricultural Committee, at Aylesbury, but even so the matter would also have to be dealt with via Rowland Bros, for, although the firm raised no objections, communication was necessary with the widely scattered executors of Mr. T. Rowland, deceased, and Mr. W. Rowland, deceased, the agents for whom were respectively the solicitors W. Saunders, 7, Bloomsbury Square, London, and Messrs. Macdonnell, 36, Warden Lane, Strand, London. Yet despite such formalities, under the provisions of'Regulation 51 of the Defence Regulations 1939, The Cultivation of Lands (Allotments) Order', B.U.D.C. resolved to take possession of the area at a Council meeting on May 13'h, and the Schedule described the extent as being 'vacant land approximately 1.25 acres in extent bounded on the west by Brooklands Road, on the east by allotment land and north by property known as 51 Brooklands Road and south by land in the occupation of Mr. J. Ramsbotham.' The Surveyor, Mr. Bates, was asked to arrange for the area to be pegged out into 10 pole plots, and Mr. Kirby, who conveniently lived at 6, Brooklands Road, was asked to deal with the applications for the letting of the plots, and also, at 5d per pole, the collection of the rents. However, the first three months would be rent free, in view of the work that was needed to prepare the ground. On May 14th the Clerk then wrote to the District Valuer at High Wycombe requesting that an inspection of the land should be made, and this would be with a view to settling any claims for compensation. That the area should be fenced had been stipulated by the Allotment Association but, although the cost of the fencing had been determined at about £30, it seemed that regarding their share some executors were proving unwilling to pay. Mr. Davey, the Cultivation Officer, therefore suggested that a cheaper form of fencing should be used, although even by early June the matter had still not been resolved and Mr. Bates, the Surveyor, wrote to Mr. R. Storey, the Assistant Clerk to the Council, asking if any measures had been taken, since he had received no instructions.
- Mrs. E. Corden.

On August 3rd the First County Rally of the Women’s Land Army was held at West Wycombe Park, and also during August - perhaps of interest to Mr. A. Cook, of Sycamore Farm, who had recently been registered as a cow keeper - the means to deal with air-raid casualties amongst farm stock was explained to members of the N.F.U. Bletchley Branch. This information was presented at a general meeting in the Conservative Club by the Veterinary Officer for the district, Mr. F. Smith R.C.V.S., who, practicing as a vet at ‘Stowe’, Bletchley Road, had recently been married at Harrow on the Hill. The tragic realities of war were now sadly emphasised when Mr. Edwin Holdom, of Singleborough, whose son had been killed in an air raid, sent a heifer to Bletchley market one Thursday, directing that the money should be applied to the Spitfire Fund. Thus when the animal was subsequently sold for £20 the auctioneers, Wigley & Johnson, forwarded a cheque as directed, and also on the matter of raising monies the N.F.U. Bletchley Branch now announced the holding of a Red Cross Fund ‘Auction Gift Sale.’ This would take place at 2.30p.m. at Bletchley market on Thursday, September 12th, and including calves, rams, sheep, fruit and vegetables, ‘gifts of live and dead stock’ would be greatly appreciated. In fact when the subscription list closed £165 had been received, with a further £10 added later. As nearly double the original estimate, pleasingly a total of £600 would be finally raised, with some of the stock even being returned for resale. Indeed one lamb, bought for 30s, eventually fetched £20! September also witnessed 2,500 entries for the Bletchley annual sheep, lamb and ram fair, and whilst this was a smaller number than usual many buyers attended nevertheless. As for someone else who had been associated with the farming trade, following his death at the age of 66 at the end of September the funeral took place of William Bodsworth, a saddler and harness maker. A native of Linslade he had lived in Bletchley for the last 31 years, his home being at 62, Aylesbury Street.

By October the county office of the Women’s Land Army had been requisitioned by the Government for other purposes, and the new office for the organisation in Buckinghamshire would be at 6, St. Mary’s Street, High Wycombe. Then at the beginning of the month Bletchley market played host to the 27th annual Bletchley Dairy Show which, with buyers attending in a greater number than anticipated, attracted 27 more entries than the previous year. Messrs. Price Bros, of Cow Common Farm, Water Eaton, won the challenge cup, (offered by J. L. Shirley & Sons Ltd.), and they also gained first prize in the class for dairy cow or heifer in milk or in calf. Again with more entries than the previous year, on Friday, November 29th the annual show & sale of dairy cattle and bulls was also staged at Bletchley market, and record prices were realised for the bulls. Closing the year, on December 16th the Christmas show and sale of poultry then took place in Bletchley market, and good prices were commanded despite a reduction in the usual numbers.



In spite of a shortage of meat, during December five sheep, one leg of pork and two cwt. of offal had been rejected, and because of a lack of supplies commencing from January 6th all the butchers shops in Bletchley would remain closed all day on Mondays, and from 1p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. However, all day opening would remain on Fridays and Saturdays. Apart from a shortage of meat there was now also potentially a shortage of butchers for Mr. C. Tookey, of Bletchley Road, announced that ‘In the event of my having to join His Majesty’s Forces, this business will be carried on in my absence.’ The following week then saw a slight improvement in the meat situation, and butchers just managed to supply their consumers rations of approximately 1s a head. However, from the following Monday the new meat ration of 1s 2d for adults, and 7d for children, would be introduced, although the wholesale price of rabbits remained fixed at 7½d per lb. unskinned and 9½d skinned. For pig breeders, Streetes, of 19, Bletchley Road, could now offer ‘Karswood Pig Powders’, whilst regarding other animals on Thursday, February 6th the bi-monthly show and sale of dairy cattle took place. Judging began at 11a.m. and, with the auction commencing at 12 noon, a good trade for the dairy cattle was realised, with cows fetching up to £45 and heifers £39 10s. In fact suggestions were even proposed to establish Bletchley as the finest market centre in the area, and towards achieving this plans were put forward at the following Thursday meeting of the Market Shows Committee. Meanwhile, by a unanimous election Mr. F. Woollard, of Shenley Hill, Stony Stratford, became the new chairman at the annual meeting of the Bletchley Branch of the N.F.U., at which Mr. J. Wilfred Shirley presided over a pleasingly large attendance. At the outbreak of the war plans were in hand to spend large sums of money on rebuilding the market, which had grown during each year since the foundation, but with these intentions now postponed only temporary repairs were proposed, including a re-roofing of the cowshed. Then, as a further setback having been connected with the market for 30 years Mr. Hedley Clarke resigned as the auditor, a departure occasioned by his business pressures and matters of health.

As on this farm, experimental methods to increase the efficieny of the wartime cultivation were tried.
T. Trainor/N. Stannard

Regarding the Dig For Victory campaign, in order to be able to send correctly addressed communications the Royal Horticultural Society, in association with the Ministry of Agriculture, were now anxious to contact all horticulture, allotment and food production societies. As for food production on a farming scale, following the pulling out and burning of the bushes, at Bletchley Leys Farm on March 6th cultivation began of a five acre strip in a 30 acre field. This was with a view to ‘sward production’ and with the ant banks removed by two strokes of a disc harrow, by using ripper harrows, (to make the ploughing easier), care was taken throughout to bury the old turf. After three cultivations with a disc harrow burnt lime was then applied to the land at a rate of one ton per acre, and after further disc harrowing a dressing of four cwt. of super-phosphate, and one cwt. of nitro chalk, was worked into the surface. On April 18th seeds to include five different types of grass were then sown from a hand barrow, and after eight weeks dairy cows were grazed on the area. In fact with the whole field grazed during the year by 35 dairy cows, by the autumn a really dense sward would be formed and, after a resting period during the winter, grazing was then to recommence in early March of the following year. The results were certainly encouraging, and as just one conclusion it was found that a complete absence of phosphate would result in the failure of ‘take.’ Apart from the usual livestock, at Bletchley market on Thursday, March 13th a large quantity of English Dwarf and Rambler Roses came up for sale, having been unfortunately declared surplus since the clearance of the acreage for other crops. Also regarding the need for increased cultivation, in mid May it was decided that for another year the unused land adjoining the hard surfaced tennis courts in Central Gardens would be left as a hay crop. This was an alternative to using the land as allotments which, according to the Secretary of the Allotment Association, could otherwise be accommodated on land adjoining Bletchley Road. Indeed, throughout the war the produce grown on allotments would provide a significant contribution to the local food stocks and, with Mr. J. Goodwin as the first president, the Bletchley and District Allotment Association had origins from a meeting in March, 1920.

Despite a continuing shortage of meat, during the month as being unfit for human consumption the meat inspector found it necessary to condemn not only eight cattle, but also two forequarters of meat, a leg of mutton and 1,234lb. of offal. However, for milk supplies the outlook seemed more promising and the Bletchley & District Co-op now required a Dairy manager, ‘not liable for military service’, to take full charge of a department distributing 95,000 gallons of bottled pasteurised milk per annum. During mid April, for the Jewish festival the Bletchley Poultry Market held a show and sale of ‘fat hens’, whilst for egg producers Streetes, of 19, Bletchley Road, promised ‘Eggs in abundance from the new Poultry Rations and house scraps.’ In fact at 1s 3d a packet they could also supply ‘that essential egg-producer Karswood Poultry Spice (containing ground insects).’ Then towards the end of the month the Bletchley Farmers’ Union met in the Conservative Club on a Friday evening to hear Mr. Brant, the Cultivation Officer, announce that most of the maintenance ration was now hay. Farmers should therefore not only resort to more intensive grazing but also set aside more grass for mowing, as well as improving the quality and quantity of the hay crop. This could apparently be achieved by the increased use of manures, and with kale and mangel-wurzels now being grown to make up for a shortage of hay, potatoes were deemed just as effective a food for cattle as for pigs. In fact potatoes were also encouraged for human consumption and - ‘Always cook them in their skins’ - the importance of the crop was stressed by ‘Potato Pete’, a well known character in an advertising campaign. A recent letter from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries had revealed that ‘The position with regard to imported feeding-stuffs for the winter of 1941/42 is likely to be acute and we cannot assume that it will be possible to import any feeding stuffs as such.’ Therefore, in view of the overall situation the age of reservation would soon be raised to 25 for certain classes of agricultural workers, including farmers and farm managers, tractor drivers, threshing machine attendants, general farm workers and farm labourers, market garden workers and labourers. As for gangs of soldiers detailed to work on approved ditching schemes the Government would agree to pay half the cost, and during the following year Bletchley Leys Farm, run by Mr. I. Pearce, would be recommended for priority attention. With agricultural production assuming such importance, much progress had now been made, and from a figure of 2,500,000 tons of vegetables grown in 1938, the present total equalled nearly 4,000,000 tons. Thus in measures to sustain and increase this yield, although on Sunday, May 4th the clocks were put forward another hour at 2a.m. - (the official name for this additional summer time being ‘Super Summer Time’, as announced by the Ministry of Agriculture) - special provision was made for farmers to continue their working day by the present time. However, in order to overcome the difficulty of starting the day’s work two hours earlier than ‘Sun time’ they would put the clock forward, but arrange for their men to come to work an hour earlier. This would also apply to women, since farmers in the Home Counties were now being urged to apply immediately for Land Girls, since ‘demand is likely to exceed supply.’

On Wednesday, April 23rd Bletchley householders endured a day without milk for, being anxious to create a reserve of dried milk for the next winter, the Minister of Food had ordered dealers to reserve one day’s supply for this purpose. Wednesday’s supply was duly taken to a central depot for collection that morning, but certain consumers were exempt from the restriction including schools and hospitals. Also unaffected were those families receiving cheap milk, and since the beginning of the national milk scheme some 2,308 permits had been issued for free or low cost milk. Yet on the non-delivery day confusion arose as to whether householders could travel to farms and dairies to buy their supply, but such matters soon became irrelevant for at the end of June Bletchley dairymen would decide to discontinue the ‘non delivery’ days. Fortunately there was better news regarding eggs, for there was now a possibility that supplies might be arriving from America under the Lease and Lend Act. As part-time Food Executive Officer, in May Mr. R. L. Sherwood reported that not only was his chief assistant in Food Control work shortly to leave for another appointment, but there was also a possibility that his chief assistant in the Council’s general department would be called up for service in the R.A.F. In view of this, since otherwise he would be unable to devote the necessary time to such duties he recommended that a full time Food Executive Officer should be appointed, and the Committee duly agreed with his suggestion. In May, the Surveyor submitted a letter from Mr. G. Frost, of 18, North Street, asking permission for himself and his neighbours to use the waste land at the rear of their gardens for cultivation. Approval was given, but only subject to the area being returned at the end of the war, or earlier if needed. As for the land lying vacant at Brooklands Road, the Clerk of the Council now served notice on the Agents for the Executors of the Estate of the late T.E. and W.A. Rowland that, under the powers conferred by the Cultivation of Lands (Allotments) Order, 1939, the Council had now taken possession. Towards the end of May, despite there being a very short supply of dairy cattle a good entry was nevertheless attracted by the annual show and sale of horses at Bletchley market. Since more farmers were now using tractors, the numbers were somewhat less than the previous year, although activities were enlivened when it took 20 minutes to round up a horse which had broken loose from the ring. On Thursday, June 26th a sale of farm implements then took place at Bletchley market, and at the beginning of July Scouts of the 1st Fenny Stratford (St. Martin’s) Group began regular weekend work on farm camps, helping those farmers on whose ground they camped.

In mid July Mr. J. Elliott, formerly the Deputy Food Executive Officer for Windsor, began his new duties as the Food Executive Officer for Bletchley, and citing the pressure of his other duties as the reason Mr. R. Sherwood, Clerk to the Urban Council, accordingly relinquished his part-time position, which he had held since the beginning of the war. As for anyone wishing to conserve their rations of food, at the Swan Hotel a large meat safe was currently offered for sale, with the suggestion made that, measuring 6ft. x 4ft. 6in. x 7ft. 6in., it alternatively ‘would make a fowl house.’ During August the Bletchley schools began their month of summer holidays, and in the meanwhile some of the children would help out on local farms. Indeed, Bletchley had been a pioneer in the Young Farmers’ Club movement and, with three and a half acres of land around the Bletchley Senior School being cultivated as allotments, it thereby gave a lead in the running of a school farm. Each Friday squads of boys would help on the allotments under the supervision of Mr. E. Jones, and ‘good crops’ were now being grown. Already from the grass grown around the playing fields four tons of hay had been harvested, and kale was also being produced to help feed the cattle. The surplus garden produce found a ready use in the school canteen, and the corresponding waste and scraps were then used to feed the pigs. 10 heifers, one bull, 16 sheep, five pigs, a sow, ducks, hens and rabbits made up the farm stock and all had been reared at Bletchley Park. (In fact under the earlier ownership of Herbert Leon, Bletchley Park had a long tradition of breeding quality livestock, especially shorthorn cattle. However, in September, 1887, 62 of these were then auctioned off at the Park Farm, following Mr. Leon’s decision to breed only pedigree stock). From Newport Pagnell, Mr. Barrowman paid a visit to the farm every Wednesday to both conduct an agricultural class and supervise the activities, whilst during his absence a former pupil, John Sipthorp, exercised control. With money raised mainly by the children selling vegetables, all the farm implements were bought from the farm profits, and being allowed access to Bletchley Park woods the boys collected timber from which, under the supervision of the woodwork teacher, Mr. W. Bennett, they then constructed the various sheds and pigsties. Mid August had been a worrying time for several sheep on Mr. Tofield’s land, and for driving away the dogs that were the cause of their torment a Bletchley postman of 2, Mount Pleasant, was presented with a reward of £2 by Bletchley Farmers’ Union. No doubt he was as pleased as a butcher’s dog, and capable butchers, (over military age), were now required for the duration of the war by Bletchley & District Co-op. Then also regarding the local meat supply on Sunday, August 24th the Bletchley & District Fur & Feather Club held a meeting at the Park Hotel.

At the onset of the war, with so many men now required for military service the need for skilled agricultural workers accordingly increased. This shortage was duly met by the creation of the Women’s Land Army, and for a 48 hour week recruits under the age of 18 would receive 22s 6d a week, with 28s a week for those over 18. By October, 1939, the general headquarters of the W.L.A. in Buckinghamshire had been established in a renovated wing of the stables at West Wycombe Park, but a year later with these premises requisitioned ‘for other purposes’ by the Government the new address would become 6, St. Mary’s Street, High Wycombe. With Miss J. Parry now being the County Secretary, 120 girls were by then in permanent employment in the county, and on August 3rd, 1940, the First County Rally took place at West Wycombe Park. In fact by April, 1941, hastened by Compulsory Registration 500 applications a week were being received by the Women’s Land Army, and as the quota for the county the Bucks. War Agricultural Executive Committee now asked for a total of 1,000 girls over the next three months. Therefore it was just as well that by the end of August sites in Buckinghamshire had been chosen on which to build agricultural hostels to accommodate the Women’s Land Army workforce. The locations were to be at Bletchley, Wing, Buckingham and Princes Risborough, whilst throughout the country work had already begun on most of the 289 hostels required by the Ministry of Agriculture - perhaps optimistically to be ready for use by the end of September. For ease of construction the buildings were of a standard design, and consisting mainly of prefabricated sections could therefore be ready for immediate assembly on a concrete base, laid by local contractors. With all the furniture supplied, each hostel could accommodate 30 to 50 workers and was comprised of three blocks. Heated by slow burning stoves the first comprised a dormitory, with a small room at the end to house the hostel staff, and another small room for boxes and storage. The second block served as an ablution centre, with a small boiler house to provide hot water for baths and basins, whilst with the provision of a kitchen the third block found use as a Welfare Block, of sufficient proportions to allow ample dining and recreational room. A bungalow accommodated the manager and there was also a small sick bay for the workers, who were further provided with a covered cycle rack. Working long hours, with only one week’s annual leave, the girls at the hostel were detailed to provide labour on local farms, although not perhaps at Phillips, at Park Gardens, where in early September chives - ‘strong, healthy plants’ - could be purchased for 8d per dozen. As perhaps a welcome distraction from the long hours of toil, on occasion life in the fresh air would seem to stimulate a certain romance, for several engagements were soon announced between farmer’s men and local Land Girls. Indeed, this was a situation that did little to allay the fears of the farmers’ wives that, clad in their uniform of khaki breeches, green jumper, and wide brimmed hat, the new arrivals were ‘too glamorous’!

In early September the second meeting of the newly formed Bletchley Fur & Feather Club was held, with Mr. Blake as the Treasurer, and Mr. H. Souster, (who during the year retired from railway employment), as the chairman. Born in 1875, Harry Herbert Souster had spent all his life in the town, as also his parents, grandparents and great grandparents, and on leaving the High Street schools at the age of 12 he then went to work in a creamery in Bletchley Road. Earning 5s a week his task was to carry water for cooling from a well in the grounds of the Albert Street chapel, but at the age of 14 he then went to work for Mr. Snoxall, a coal merchant, delivering coal to houses in a horse and cart. Next he joined the railway as a cleaner, and after six years became a fireman, and 15 years later a driver on the main and branch lines. His wife had been born at Grendon Underwood but came to Bletchley as a child, when her father opened a boot and shoe repair business in Tattenhoe Lane. At the age of 11 she then entered domestic service for Mrs. Selby Lowndes and Lady Leon, and after her marriage at St. Martin’s Church, (conducted by the Reverend Henry Oliver), set up home initially in Albert Street, and then Duncombe Street and Osborne Street respectively, and eventually Windsor Street. Concluding the story, in 1940 their son Ron, who became a Northamptonshire policeman, had been presented with a pair of Dutch rabbits, and inheriting his father’s interest in the breed after the war would not only for many years serve on a national committee and a panel of judges, but also win a number of national prizes, albeit with Polish and not Dutch rabbits. However at the age of 13 his son, Keith, beat his father in a Polish show class but as for another son, Neil, he had no interest in keeping rabbits, and kept guinea pigs instead!

Mr. H. Souter, and a furry friend.
With the restriction of the rationing, rabbits provided a valuable source of meat, and Mr. Souter was appointed as chairman of the Bletchley Fur and Feather Club.

Attracting a good attendance, and with buying brisk, the Bletchley Sheep Fair had witnessed 2,700 entries, and there was also a good turnout for the second Red Cross gift sale of the Bletchley Farmers’ Union, held in Bletchley market on Thursday, September 18th. However, there were slightly fewer gifts than the previous year but nevertheless the sale realised a total of £520, with one homebred heifer, given by Mr. Boswell, having been bought and sold many times. A lb. of tea also brought excitements to the boil, selling for a total of twenty times at 5s more each time! On Friday, October 3rd the Bletchley Market Shows Committee held their 28th annual Dairy Show & Sale, whilst also at the market a special sale of horses and foals took place on Wednesday, October 8th at 12 noon. With the sale conducted by the firm of Wigley and Johnson, about 40 horses, mostly cart mares and geldings from farmers in the district, were included, and although prices were good, trade was not brisk. As for home grown vegetable produce, due to a ballot by the National Allotments Society a quantity of ‘super phosphate’, sent to the U.K. by ‘friendly Americans’, was allotted to the Bletchley Allotment Society, and in fact this proved rather opportune, since a Ministry of Food Advice Bureau, staffed by their own experts, was soon to be placed at the service of Bletchley housewives in the Co-op, Bletchley Road. Perhaps they could further advise on poultry keeping, the needs of which were locally supplied by the Bentima Co. Ltd, 19, Bletchley Road, who claimed that ‘The ground insects in Karswood produce eggs in a natural manner - no forcing. Make a test, get 7½d or 1s 3d packets.’ Meanwhile, again on matters of self sufficiency Messrs. Brinkler, of Bridge Granaries, hoped to make happy bunnies of their customers by pronouncing that ‘Rabbits keep fitter and thrive faster on Rabrite Rabbit Food Spice’, available in 4½d and 1s 4½d packets. As for fruit and nuts, at the end of October Johnson, ‘Wholesale Fruiterers, Bletchley’, declared their need for apples, pears and walnuts, and for these they were quite prepared to pay ‘the best prices.’ On Friday, November 28th, the Annual Show and Sale of Dairy Cattle and Bulls took place at Bletchley market and, attracting an entry of some 150 animals, this proved a larger total than the previous year, with the stock being of a higher quality. Animal husbandry was also to be on the curriculum of the local Women’s Land Army girls, of whom the first batch of 40 had arrived on Saturday, November 22nd to settle into their new hostel. This was situated in Church Green Road, and a local boy had the enviable job of acting as host, whilst other lads kept the premises clean and tidy. Employed by the Bucks. War Agricultural Executive Committee the girls came from the mills and factories of Liverpool, Manchester and other parts of Lancashire, and they would form a pool of labour for local farmers, who paid the Committee for this casual help. During the following four weeks the girls then received training in all aspects of farming on pieces of land taken over by the Committee who, paying them a weekly wage, ensured that they were kept fed and comfortable. By early December including the operation of three threshing machines in the district the new recruits were doing excellent work, although to occupy their leisure time there still remained a shortage of magazines and books at the hostel.

By December the local Food Offices had moved from their temporary home in the Council Offices to Lantern House whilst, for anyone wishing to supplement their food rations with swedes, one hundred tons were presently available for sale at Cook’s, of Sycamore Farm. However, cattle seemed to possess a less discerning appetite, as proven during the month by those that upon straying onto the land of Mr. Alf Speed, of 146, Buckingham Road, speedily ‘ate everything in the garden.’ Having previously warned the farmer of a rotten fence, Mr. Speed then speedily claimed £9 14s in damages from Mr. H. Kemp, of Bengal Farm. Yet as if this wasn’t enough to worry about Mr. Kemp, whose youngest son, a veteran of Dunkirk, was now serving in the Army, was also in line for a fine of £5 at Bletchley County Court, although in evidence Mr. T. Coles, as the head gardener to Major Whiteley, said that having examined the plot on November 11th he thought that a figure of £4 7d would be more appropriate. The matter was finally resolved when the registrar imposed a payment of £7, with 10s costs On leaving school Henry Kemp had been employed as a clerk in the offices of Rowlands Bros. and after their marriage in 1911 he and his wife then took over the grocery and dairy shop established by his father. Mrs. Kemp attended to the shop, and Henry to the dairy round, but in 1925 they sold the business and, building a house in Buckingham Road, began Bengal Farm, so named after a farm at Greens Norton where Mr. Kemp’s grandmother and mother had been born. At first the livestock consisted mainly of sheep, pigs and poultry but eventually a pedigree herd of Jersey cows was built up. Unfortunately, one Monday afternoon in September, 1952, the thatched and timbered buildings caught fire, and the farm was destroyed. Yet perhaps this eased the acceptance the following year of a compulsory purchase order by the Council, when their negotiations with the London County Council reached a ‘nomination agreement’ to provide housing for 500 Londoners. With the year now coming to a close the Bletchley & District Fur & Feather Club, (which had now been in existence for 14 months), held their first annual show on Saturday, December 27th in the Market Exchange, Park Hotel, and here the various specimens were much admired.




With the obvious apprehensions and concerns of the population, on the first day of the war with the opening of 200 offices the Citizens Advice Bureaux was launched in Britain. As for Civil Defence, throughout the country this now totalled a force of around one and a half million men and women, and with some 400,000 of these being employed full time at £3 a week, raising finance for the war effort became continually essential. In fact as perhaps the most obvious means to raise money the standard rate of income tax was now 29%, or 41% for those with incomes above £50,000, and with 10 million people liable for tax, this generated a sum of £400 million. In the local measures to defend the population the fire service would play an important role, and in fact militarily the Brigade already held a distinguished record for, during World War One, from the town’s contingent one officer and about seven men had joined up. One man lost an arm in action and Mr. F. Day was killed, but for those who returned a Welcome Home Dinner took place in November, 1919. In 1939 the Bletchley Fire Brigade, as it was then known, had only 10 members on strength, but with the outbreak of war suitable dormitories were arranged for those men on continuous duties. In fact both day and night a squad of regular and auxiliary firemen were accommodated at Bletchley fire station, and the construction of an auxiliary fire station was proposed in George Street. However, since Mr. J. Brooks, the chief motor mechanic and driver, was now to be transferred until further notice as full time Captain of the Brigade, Mr. N. Payne would be appointed to the permanent staff as his replacement, to be classed as ‘spare driver’ on Mr. Brooks return. As for the necessary petrol supplies for the fire service, as well as for the civil defence and Council vehicles, at a rent of 10s a month the Council had now hired a petrol pump at Maclaren’s garage in the High Street, where the quantities allowed to a local authority under the Pool Rationing Scheme would be stored.

Now housed at the Milton Keynes Museum, this steam fire appliance belonged to the Newport Pagnell brigade. The type is similar to that used by the Fenny Stratford brigade, and indeed on the opening of the Fenny Stratford fire station as part of the celebrations an exercise between the two brigades took place. Newton Longville also had an engine of this type which in later years was purchased as a 'prop' by a film company, following a lead article in 'The Times' which announced 'in the village of Newton Longville, in Bucks., there reposes a fire engine made in the times when Queen Victoria was a girl which can be had by anyone who will take it away'! As for Bletchley, during World War Two the local fire brigade was faithfully served by 'Elizabeth', a fire engine so named because of the registration number, EBH 820. However, since they were exposed to the elements when on a call the firemen christened the vehicle 'the pneumonia wagon, which after 26 years of service was retired - complete with crash gearbox and overdrive, but minus the wheels - to the playground at White Spire school in 1965. Unfortunately, during the day after its arrival hooligans smashed the windscreen and headlamps, when the schoolchildren were away. - J. Taylor. R. Cook.

The early Fire Brigade, photographed in the 1920s. - B.C.H.I.

Fire Fighters

I was a member of the fire brigade from 1932 to 1958. We were all part-time firemen anil had to be called home or fetched from work when there was an alarm. In spite of this, the turn-out was always remarkably quick and we were away within a very few minutes.
We were paid a retainer of two guineas a year and ten shillings for a call, but of course we lost our pay if we were called from work.

When I joined the brigade they had just been equipped with a Merryweather steam pump which was towed by a motor vehicle.Up to that time the appliance was horse-drawn. In fact, the horses normally pulled the dustcart and when there was a fire, we called the driver, Bert Nix, who drove both vechicles, and had to return to the fire station in Church Street, change over the horses and then away to the fire.
This photograph was probably taken in the 20's.
Left to right on the engine: Frank Howard (captain), Bert Nix (driver), Will Busier, Will Clarke, Jack Day, Frank Tattam.
Standing: John Brooks (who succeeded Mr. Howard as captain), Ern Matthews, Ern French.

George Pressland

Eventually the question arose of whether the brigade should mechanise by having a motor lorry to pull the engine.Old Bert strongly objected. He argued that while motor lorries might be quicker on made-up roads, they would bog down along all the local lanes and tracks. The mechanisers won the arugment but it was recognised that old Bert had a point. A good proportion of costly fires in those days occurred on farms, which were not easily accessible to the motor vehicles of the era and this was still a predominantly rural area.

Clifford Clarke

Fire Station, Church Street, Bletchley.
In 1881horses were acquired by the parish to pull the dust carts, and these horses would also be used to pull the fire appliance which, being accommodated at various locations in the town, had been previously pulled by the horses of the local coal merchants. At a cost of £300 an 'engine house' in Church Street was then built in 1889, whilst as for the fire appliance, having served for 92 years this was replaced in 1891 by a new steam fire engine, purchased at a cost some £100 greater than the expense of building the fire station! A few years later a dispute then arose as to whether 7s 6d should be spent a new wheelbarrow to cart away the manure of the fire brigade horses, or whether it might be best to buy a second-hand example for 3s 6d. It was duly decided to appoint a sub committee to deal with the matter! The engine continued in service until 1933, and with additional appliances acquired for a wartime use the Bletchley firemen would respond to many emergency calls, especially those from the cities being blitzed around the country. As for emergencies within the more immediate district, two 500 gallon and one 1,000 gallon 'water dams' were available, each of which consisted of a steel lattice structure containing a detachable canvas 'dam.' These could be carried to the scene of a fire on lorries, and in fact the vehicles allocated were registered as MV 8892, owned and driven by Mr. A. Sharpe, and MJ 5126, owned by Mr. H. Faulkner but driven by Mr. A. Dudley. Set up near the Bletchley Road Schools, static water tanks were also available, as also the only privately owned swimming pool in the town. Having cost £107,000, in Sherwood Drive a new fire station for the town was then opened by Brigadier Sir Henry Floyd, Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, on Tuesday July 26th 1966.
J. Taylor. R. Cook.

In other precautions, sandbagging had now been carried out to major buildings in the town, and these included not only sections of Bletchley railway station but also the telephone exchange, police station and the Clinic where, as the first aid point, a 24 hour service had been arranged with the aid of four qualified nurses. In fact an early appeal for sandbag fillers had been made on Friday, September 1st, and in response many volunteers duly reported for this duty on Saturday morning, at the rear of the Council Offices. Indeed, their efforts would soon be justified, for due to the presence of an unidentified aeroplane in the London area a ‘stand by’ signal was received in the early hours of Monday, September 4th. The ‘All Clear’ was then given when the aircraft was found to be ‘friendly.’ However, just after 7.30a.m. on Wednesday morning at the Bletchley Report Centre, (situated in the Council Offices), the first air raid warning in the town was received, although when activated the siren at the Cowley & Wilson garage broke down. Repairs were immediately carried out, and with all the emergency posts manned, and the squads ready, the ‘All Clear’ was eventually sounded soon after 9a.m. The Bletchley A.R.P. services had come into operation on Friday, September 1st, assisted by amongst others Colonel M. Clarke, the county A.R.P. executive officer, and Colonel T. Warren, the Chief Constable of Buckinghamshire, who was now appointed as the county Controller for Civil Defence. From now on the blackout was to be rigorously imposed, (in fact a stipulation that would last until September 17th, 1944), and with no lights to be shown at Bletchley station, in other requirements in the absence of street lighting white lines were painted along the centre of important roads, and also to demarcate the pavement at road junctions. Initially the blackout had been generally satisfactorily observed in the town, although a warning had to be given to a number of residents. The posting of notices indicated important points, such as the first aid centres, Report Centre and wardens’ posts, and so as to be easily identified in fog or the blackout the latter were marked with a white spot, two feet in diameter. The wardens’ posts had also been issued with gas detector boards and, as 18in. squares, gas patches were painted onto the cab roofs of designated vehicles.

Colonel T. Warren.
He joined the Army in 1905 and was promoted to captain at the outbreak of the First World War, being twice mentioned in despatches. In 1928 he then became Chief Constable of Buckinghamshire, at a time when he was also deputy assistant adjutant and quartermaster general of the 43rd Wessex Division. Appointed County Controller for Civil Defence at the outbreak of World War Two, Colonel Warren was made a Deputy Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire in 1941, and after the war when speaking at the Bletchley Civil Defence stand down at St. Martin's Hall he revealed that he had been given the opportunity to study the German plans for invasion, which had been found in Brussels. The main invasion was to have been launched at Weymouth, and then advance through Salisbury Plain, cross the River Thames west of Oxford, and move through Oxford, Bicester, and Aylesbury, thereby passing through Buckinghamshire on the way to London. - M. Shaw.

From the United Typewriter Supplies Co., at a cost of £9 12s 2d the Council had purchased their first typewriter in 1898, but at a cost of £32 now came the benefit of a new Harding typewriter for the office of the A.R.P. Officer who, by early October, had engaged three full time paid assistants for the Control Centre staff. Supplying a list of authorised personnel, Bletchley Urban District Council then made an appeal for local firms not to penalise those A.R.P. members called out during working hours, and, since no pay or petrol allowance was authorised for these part-time volunteers, this seemed an especially reasonable request. With sand having been placed in different parts of the town, householders were now asked to take two bucket loads to deal with incendiary bombs, and the importance of using sand had been stressed by A.R.P. leaflets, for ‘if you throw a bucket of water on a burning incendiary bomb, it will explode and throw burning fragments in all directions.’ As for the emergency services, in order to deal with such bombs about 150 regular and special constables, wardens, decontamination squad members and other A.R.P. workers then attended a demonstration at the Destructor Works. This was conducted by police sergeant W. How who, (holding the temporary rank of inspector during the war), as staff officer for the Northern Divisional Civil Defence organisation would be responsible for training many hundreds of A.R.P. volunteers. (In early 1946, after 25 years of police service he would then take a well earned retirement, and moving to Gerrards Cross his place would be taken by police sergeant Saunders, from Aylesbury).

Perhaps kindling memories of the extensive damage caused by a serious blaze to the factory in 1923 - the result of a pair of girl’s overalls having been hung out to dry in front of a fire - for the purpose of the demonstration a large heap of wood shavings from the M. A. Cook brushworks was set alight by small practice bombs which, manufactured by such firms as the Standard Fireworks Company, had a tenth of the effect of the real example. However, for future bombs a substitution of one of the ingredients would soon need to be made, since potassium chlorate was now increasingly in demand for other purposes. In the event of fire raids on the district a request had been made by Winslow R.D.C. that Bletchley Urban District Council should, from where the R.D.C. boundary adjoined the Urban boundary, provide a fire service for that part of the Watling Street northwest of Denbigh Bridge, and this was accordingly agreed - but only on condition that Winslow R.D.C. paid half of any costs! By the end of September all the A.R.P. personnel had been recruited by Bletchley Urban District Council, and apart from the air raid wardens there were now 70 first aid workers, 10 Report Centre staff, 10 regular firemen, 27 auxiliary firemen, 33 road and sewer repair and demolition squad members and 11 rescue and demolition workers. Yet with only eight of the A.R.P. personnel being paid the rest were all volunteers, excepting a small number of auxiliary firemen on full-time duty, plus a couple of staff who controlled the issue of stores and performed clerical work.

In order to ensure that a second permanent pump was available at any time, by the beginning of October the Council had purchased at a total cost of some £17, (which included the fitting of a ladder rack), a converted Willys truck for towing, and a system of fire patrols was now arranged. Thereby in the event of an attack on the whole of the urban area squads of auxiliary fire pumps, manned by auxiliary firemen - who were trained to deal with incendiary bombs - would be ready, and the instigation of this new scheme now meant that Bletchley would be protected by around 40 firemen, (instead of the regular 10), and by five powerful pumps, instead of the usual motor pump. Nearing the end of their first aid training the women wardens in the town were soon to be drafted to their duty stations, and shortly they would also complete their gas training. In fact in order to provide early notice of a gas attack the pillar-boxes had been especially treated with a substance that, in the presence of mustard or tear gas, would turn yellow/green, whilst as for the obligatory gasmasks the residents of the town were being supplied with sachets of waterproof material, with which to preserve the cardboard box and its contents. Also being supplied were National Registration Identity cards which, from October, every citizen had to produce if challenged by a policeman. By now most Bletchley factories had arranged their own A.R.P. schemes, and Mr. E. Bennett had been appointed as the Senior Warden at the W. O. Peake factory in Denbigh Road. He would be in charge of Air Raid Drill, with guide and warden squads being the responsibility of Miss Mortimer and Miss Bloomfield. Possessing a very complete set of first aid equipment, this aspect came under the charge of Miss Bates and Miss Bowden, and their work would be directed by two employees who were qualified St. John Ambulance workers. In further measures the police had trained a gas squad, and Dr. Lufkin provided instruction in first aid. In the event of an air raid the factory could be cleared in two minutes, and equipped with lavatory and washing facilities six reinforced concrete shelters offered protection for over 280 people. Elsewhere, at Beacon Brushes a large concrete bin, covered with sand, would be made gas proof, and at Rowlands, where workmen had recently received instruction in fire fighting, reinforced with timber and sandbags the office basement would accommodate all the employees. As for the white asbestos roof, since this would otherwise present a clear target for enemy aircraft the surface had been camouflaged with green paint, and the works’ hooter would sound as soon as the local sirens went off.

The post office, Bletchley station.
Before 1887 the Post Office occupied a building at Bletchley station near the portico entrance, but then moved into new and larger accommodation built at a right angle to the front. By the turn of the 1901 century Cecil Hands, the landlord of the George Inn, had taken over the stables in the yard, used to accommodate various horse drawn conveyances, and he also delivered the mail to local towns and villages, before the post office acquired a vehicle. The new General Post Office in Bletchley Road was completed in 1961, and then replaced the premises at the railway station. Pleasingly the new construction, by Wilson Lovatt and Sons, left the 'poor trees' outside the building undisturbed, and the opening ceremony was performed by Miss Mervyn Pike, the Assistant Postmaster General. The need for the more modern and improved premises had been given the stamp of approval by the fact that from a total of 52,000 letters and 1,200 parcels in 1935, the weekly volume posted in the town had now risen to 160,000 letters and 4,200 parcels. -B.C.H.I.

Valentin, Ord & Nagle had made a sandbagged dugout to accommodate all their workmen, and emergency services were organised, and precautions taken, at the nearby gas works. At Roots Brush factory in Tavistock Street, since all the employees lived only five minutes away from the factory the premises would be evacuated in the event of an air raid, although for anyone left on the site a brick building had been reinforced with sand bags. With most of the staff also living only a short distance away, similar measures were taken at the brushworks of M. A. Cook, in Victoria Road, although in the event of a raid some members of staff would remain on the premises to deal with incendiaries. At the Premier Press, in Buckingham Road, an outdoor shelter would accommodate all the staff, and as a dramatic portent of the possibilities an unscheduled explosion had even taken place nearby, caused by a fire near a ‘dump’, when a contingent of Portuguese were stationed in the locality. At Metalin employees were protected by a well-made dug-out beneath the offices, whilst as for Post office employees they could use the railway subway as an air raid shelter, and this would also accommodate the station staff. However, the locomotive, carriage and wagon and signal and telegraph departments were each to have separate shelters, with the appropriate emergency squads to be organised. Bletchley Fletton’s had made arrangements to use empty chambers in the kilns during air raids, and at the London Brick Company trenches were provided for outdoor staff. The indoor staff would use the main building, with pillboxes affording protection for the personnel of the works’ cottages. As for the warning of impending air raids, during mid October a new siren was affixed at the Cowley & Wilson garage, not least perhaps because complaints had been made that the old siren sounded too much like a train whistle! From early November all cases of unscreened lights in buildings would be a matter for the courts, and at the Coronation Hall at a meeting of the Water Eaton Women’s Institute a letter was read out from the A.R.P. Officer, thanking the members for the gift of three pillows for the Water Eaton A.R.P. post. The increase of A.R.P. duties, including having to clean the Control Room and the Food Control Room, had now encouraged the caretaker at the Council Offices, Miss Annie Mead, to seek an increase in pay, and the subsequent agreement raised her weekly wage from 20s to 30s, payable from November 18th. Her retirement, on superannuation, had been scheduled for December 31st, but after considerations the Council then decided to renew her appointment until March 31st, 1940, and this was subsequently extended to September 30th, 1940. At a wage of 12s 6d a week, with a free house, gas and coals, she had been appointed to the position in June, 1926, when the intended caretaker, Mrs. Tearle, was unable to accept the duties, and in fact she would subsequently remain in the position until 1946, with her retirement unfortunately hastened by a road accident during the autumn of 1945. On leaving the caretaker’s house, she would then live with her sister in Simpson.

The month now witnessed an appeal by the County Emergency Committee for owners of cars, rated between 15h.p. and 30h.p., to make their vehicles available as civil defence ambulances, whilst regarding the existing A.R.P. ambulance, at 3s a week the A.R.P. organiser had arranged a temporary garage near the Clinic. On Remembrance Sunday the Auxiliary Firemen proudly paraded in their new uniforms to the church service, and since a new clock for the fire station had been recently purchased from the local jeweller, Mr. Eldred, for £1 16s 2d., they had no excuse to be late. During the month, for the training lectures of the A.F.S., (ie. the Auxiliary Fire Service, which now supplemented the regional county fire brigades), Captain Brooks received a fee of £15 15s, and the members employed their newly gained skills from Wednesday, November 15th on a series of night practices. With the three trailer pumps manned by about 20 men, the first squad was called to a ‘fire’ at Water Eaton, where lamps had been placed on the Green to represent a blaze at Coronation Hall. Meanwhile, the second squad dealt with a fire in the Bletchley Park estate road, and the third pump raced to St. Martin’s Road. In fact in a real emergency reinforcements could perhaps also jump on their bikes, following the recent approval for the provision of a cycle rack at the rear of the Council Offices. Here, for ease of access plans for an exit road from the adjoining store yard to Bletchley Road had now been agreed, although for conveying the land at the rear of the Council Offices - (which was to be purchased from the Trustees of the Methodist Chapel) - the application of restrictive covenants prevented, at least for the meanwhile, the construction of any buildings. However, employing the necessary measures an application to have these limitations removed would be made by the Council’s solicitor. The possibility of air raids might now be an increasing worry, but even during World War One the threat had been a concern. In fact with specific regard to the possibility of an aerial attack, in 1916 the Council had applied to the County Fire Office for insurance on the Council Offices of £2,000, a measure which now in the present war seemed even more a necessity, since within the premises had been established the Report Centre. Here air raid reports would be received, and to ensure efficient communications the Clerk of the Council announced that, for about £20, an internal telephone system could be both purchased and installed. Maintaining a telephone watch for an average of 12 hours a day, seven days a week, were two full time members of staff, Mr. W. Bradbury and Mrs. O. Moser, and they also carried out not only all the clerical and administration work of the A.R.P. Dept., but also the clerical work of the fire brigade and A.F.S. as well. Born in Bletchley, the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. Hankins, of 46, Windsor Street, Mrs. Moser had attended The Cedars School, at Leighton Buzzard, and subsequently worked in Bedford, and later the offices of J.L. Shirley Ltd., in Bletchley Road, before her marriage in 1937 to Carl Moser. Generally, a full time officer of the Council would be on duty at the Report Centre from 8.30a.m. until 7p.m. each day, and volunteers would attend from 7p.m. until 10p.m. Then a night operator took over, and he would sleep on a chair bed with affixed above his head a loud gong, connected to the telephone. However, since Bletchley was presently designated as a reception area, unless a change occurred in the war situation the Council had advised that there was no longer a need to carry respirators in the urban area, and concluding the first year of the war there then came an announcement that first being sounded on Wednesday, September 6th, the sirens throughout Buckinghamshire would thereafter be sounded on the first Wednesday of each month, at 1p.m.




In essence, the whole of the A.R.P. organisation came under the control of the County Controller, who was also the Chief Constable. He divided the county into areas, and each of these came under the control of an Area Sub Controller, who then divided his area into districts. The Bletchley Urban District Council A.R.P. Department therefore came under the direction of the District Sub Controller, and the town would be divided into seven ‘Wardens’ Districts’, at each of which a ‘Wardens’ Post’ was maintained. By mid 1940 these had been established as;

Post No.1 Simpson Rectory.
Head Warden the Rev. Wynter.

The district was covered by five male wardens. A telephone with a loud bell was installed on the premises for an all night watch.

Post No. 2 Council Offices.
Head Warden Mr. F. Carvell.
The district was covered by 11 men and two women wardens and comprised Reginald Cottages, Denbigh Road, Staple Hall Estate, Simpson Road to Nixes Bridge, Rhondda Crescent, High Street, Watling Street, Church Street, Mount Pleasant, Woodbine Terrace, Tavistock Street, and Victoria Road from Western Road and Church Street to the High Street.

Post No. 3 Council Offices.
Head Warden Mr. E.T. Ray.
The district was covered by 17 men and two women wardens and comprised Cambridge Street, Western road, North Street, Aylesbury Street, George Street, Denmark Street, Victoria Road, Napier Street, Lennox Road, Leon Avenue, Eaton Avenue, Bletchley Road, from the Council Offices to the New Inn, Vicarage Road, and Manor Road.

Post No. 4 Market Room, Park Hotel.
Head Warden Mr. H. Eames.
The district was covered by 12 men and three women wardens and comprised Westfield Road, Bletchley Road, from Leon Avenue and the New Inn to the railway bridge, Duncombe Street, Clifford Street, Osborne Street, Brooklands Road, Windsor Street, Oliver Road, Water Eaton Road, from Brooklands Road to the railway bridge, Park Street, South Terrace, Albert Street, Regent Street, Oxford Street, Bedford Street, and Saint Martins Street. Until May, 1940, the post was situated at the Market Office, loaned by Wigley and Johnson, but was then moved to the Market Room, at the back of the Park Hotel, loaned free of charge, which afforded a better structural protection.

Post No. 5 The Sned, Buckingham Road.
Head Warden Mr. H. Tranfield.
The district was covered by eight men and two women wardens and comprised Railway Terrace, Buckingham Road, from the railway bridge to Meager’s Hill, 1 - 25 Water Eaton Road, Grange Road, Church Green Road, Elm Avenue, The Grove, Cottingham Grove and Bletchley Park Estate. A telephone with a loud bell was installed on the premises for an all night watch.

Post No. 6 Manor Farm, Old Bletchley.
Head Warden Mr. W. Mattinson.
The district was covered by five men and three women wardens and comprised Newton Road, Beechcroft Road, Buckingham Road, to the Urban District boundary, Church Walk, Shenley Road, Trees Square, and Tattenhoe Road. A telephone with a loud bell was installed on the premises for an all night watch.

Post No. 7 ‘Maudanclar’, Stoke Road.
Head Warden Mr. W. Grainger Cox.
The district was covered by three men and one woman warden and comprised Water Eaton Road, from Brooklands Road to the village, Water Eaton village, Saffron Street, Stoke Road and Drayton Road. A telephone with a loud bell was installed on the premises for an all night watch.

With some variations each Wardens’ Post was equipped with three gas detector boards, six buckets of sand, one hand bell, three electric hand lamps, three whistles, two rattles, one hurricane lamp and shade, a first aid box, two metal stretchers (Govt. issue), two blankets per stretcher, two stirrup pumps and two buckets.


For those services arriving in the event of an emergency, rendezvous points had now been set up in all districts as meeting points and, marked by a blue and white striped flag and two blue lamps, that for Bletchley was on the car park outside the Council Offices. Also at the Council Offices the A.R.P. equipment store had now been established in the council yard, and before Christmas by a decision of the A.R.P. Committee every member of the Council’s civil defence services received seasonal greetings. The Committee also provided suitable Christmas refreshments for those members on duty, and the Report Centre duly received 10s, the Clinic 30s, the fire station 25s, (meals for the same, 15s), and the Wardens’ Posts 25s each. Recognising the serious nature of the national situation, on the first Wednesday of the month the usual test of all the air raid sirens then took place, and should the town be attacked then, with Fireman Peppitt acting as the fireman mechanic, the Bletchley Fire Brigade was fully primed for action. However, having been on permanent duty for many weeks the Chief Officer, Captain Brooks, had taken a well deserved break on Monday, January 1st for a day of fishing, but his relaxations were suddenly disturbed when, on smoke being seen pouring from the windows of 3, Water Eaton Road, the alarm was raised. This was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bartle, and having been away for the weekend on their return they were far from pleased to discover that coals from a fire, especially lit for their homecoming by their lodger, had fallen from the grate and set the floor boards ablaze. Nevertheless, quite apart from carrying out considerable repair work to the fire station in Church Street, and also concreting the yard and constructing a pump house and dormitory, the firemen no doubt appreciated this unexpected emergency for, with one day off in four, whilst on duty they slept at the fire station, where for short periods during the evening other members of the A.F.S. gave unpaid voluntary relief. In fact as extra accommodation opposite the fire station a dormitory cum rest room was also available, which provided additional facilities for the cookhouse.

The year would see the full strength of the Bletchley Fire Brigade consist of the Captain, (who was also by agreement with the Home Office the full time Captain of the A.F.S. - qualifying for a 65% salary grant from the Home Office), a Lieutenant, seven regular firemen, 34 auxiliary fireman, (who were subject to a 100% salary grant from the Home Office), and two female telephonists, and whilst on alert the full time firemen stood by with their appliances at Fenny Stratford between 6a.m. and 8p.m. As for the auxiliary firemen, they only left their work to answer the siren if an incendiary raid was reported, but between 8p.m. and 10p.m. as many men as possible would attend. In the event of an alert firemen would report to action stations from 10p.m. for all night duty - incendiary raid or not - and in view of the contemporary crisis for a number of auxiliary firemen a deferment of military service had been obtained, if they performed 12 hours of duty a week. Stationed together in Church Street, during the year the local brigade and the A.F.S. would have the use of the Leyland fire engine, (normally crewed by the Captain and eight men, and capable of pumping 400 gallons of water), an Apex trailer pump, a Pyrene trailer pump, and two Worthington Simpson trailer pumps, and in addition the Council could provide a converted Wyllis Knight fire tender, registration number GBH 411. With their own drivers, who were partially trained as firemen, the Bletchley Co-op had supplied an extra capability by providing a vehicle on permanent loan, plus three others for towing the fire pumps, and all of these were on call at any time. As for other fire fighting equipment, this included a wheeled escape, ‘in poor condition’, a handcart, ‘without equipment’, four 30 feet extending ladders and four shorter ladders.

In the event of a possible air raid, on receiving a ‘yellow alert’ the Report Centre would call the fire station, and either from there or the police station the regular firemen would be summoned by a bell system with, (connected on the Post Office open wire system), a bell having been installed in each of the firemen’s homes. If necessary additional resources could also be summoned for, in view of the several air raids on the airfield, the Cranfield aerodrome fire brigade and that of Bletchley had agreed to both attend any major fires in each other’s areas. On receipt of a ‘red warning’ the Head Warden of each A.R.P. post would send his wardens, (each equipped with a first aid pouch), to patrol their sections, and if they witnessed an incident they were to assimilate the scene, return to their post and make a report to the Report Centre. If required, further assistance could then be summoned from the officers and men of 121 Coy. A.M.P.C., (the former Labour Corps of World War One), who were based at Skew Bridge. With two N.C.O.s and 24 men being detailed to the Council Office Wardens’ Post, one N.C.O. and 12 men to Post No. 4 at the Market Room, Park Hotel, one N.C.O. and 12 men to Post No. 6 and one N.C.O. and 12 men to the Plough, at Water Eaton, a reserve would be held at the Company’s H.Q. at the Swan Hotel, and also at the police station, but only if planes were overhead, or if gunfire was heard would patrols be mounted, since the main duty of the Company was to maintain order amongst the civilian population. At the Tuesday evening meeting of B.U.D.C., a letter was read out from the Secretary of the Trades and Labour Council requesting a policy statement on paid, full-time A.R.P. workers. Excepting four or five firemen, who were compulsory employed on Home Office instructions, and two full time assistants in the Report Centre, the service was at present voluntary, but expressing themselves rather aggrieved that such a matter should even be raised at this time, the Council decided to carry on with the existing situation. Then lightening the mood, during early January the wardens and messengers of No. 3 A.R.P. (Council Offices) Post held a party, followed on a Saturday evening by that of the members of the A.R.P. first aid contingent, who met at the Clinic for games, dancing and a beetle drive. The male personnel had arranged the programme, and the female personnel had arranged the refreshments, but on a more competitive theme on Wednesday, January 10th the A.R.P. wardens who were posted at the Council Offices played an evening darts match against other A.R.P. members. Unfortunately they were defeated.

Sandbagging by the council staff had now been carried out to the Clinic, council depot, Market Wardens’ post and telephone exchange and, in the event of a crisis, in order to assist communications it had been decided that the telephone administration of Bedford, which included Bletchley, would come under the direction of a single telephone manager. Subject to higher authority, he would then be responsible for all aspects of the telephone service consisting not only of engineering but also service, sales and accounts. Being directed by different chiefs, previously the commercial and engineering departments had been controlled as separate establishments, but now the new amalgamation aimed to provide an increased efficiency. As for other telephone systems, owing to their working arrangements Fletton’s Ltd. reported that they were now unable to maintain a 24 hour service without cost to the Council, and it was therefore decided that the Water Eaton Wardens’ Post, No. 7, (a garage at Mr. Grainger Cox’s house in Stoke Road, for which he was paid an annual rent of 30s), should be provided with a siren. However, in February the report from the A.R.P. officer disclosed that by a directive from the County Executive officer a 4h.p. siren was to be positioned at the police station instead. Nevertheless, the Council decided to still press for permission to have a 0.9h.p. siren - operated partially by electricity and partially by compressed air - erected at the Water Eaton post, although by the end of February the location of the sirens in the town were at the Council Offices, Messrs. Tranfield, ‘The Sned’, in Buckingham Road, Fletton’s Ltd, at Water Eaton, (until the end of the year), and the garages of Cowley and Wilson, and Vaughans. However, whilst still being maintained, at the two latter locations the sirens, (operated by compressed air), would be stood down for standby service. (As for the two garages, at his retirement in 1964 Mr. Henry Cowley would stand down as managing director of the Cowley and Wilson group, (although remaining as chairman), whilst regarding Vaughan’s garage, situated in Aylesbury Street, around 1960 Mr. Vaughan sold the concern to Royal Motors of Houghton Regis). Since Bletchley A.R.P. was practically an unpaid voluntary service Mr. A. Bates, the organizer, had only taken the job as a temporary appointment, to cover the crisis of September, 1939. However, in view of the worsening hostilities he had now agreed to continue the role in an honorary capacity, despite his full time employment as Surveyor to the Council. He had originally come to Bletchley in July 1935, from Loftus District, Yorkshire, where, from a previous employment as Borough Surveyor at Queenborough, Kent, he had been Surveyor and Engineer. Yet at Bletchley, due to the pressure of his other A.R.P. duties he would in time resign from the post of District Engineer for the Engineers A.R.P. Services, and the County Surveyor would then appoint Mr. W.J. Elliott as his replacement.

Excluding the Fire Service there were now 228 voluntary A.R.P. workers, consisting of one organiser, one Chief Warden, 80 wardens, one medical officer in charge of first aid, one First Aid Commandant, 68 first aid workers, 11 members of the Rescue and Demolition Squad, 15 members of the Road and Sewer Repair Squad, 10 Report Centre staff, 22 messengers and other personnel. In addition, due to an increase in the work two paid Report Centre clerical staff had been taken on from the unpaid voluntary staff. Assisting the A.R.P. were many Rover Scouts - (an advanced form of Scouting, ‘enabling young men to obtain the benefit of Scout training’) - and they now provided much useful service as Wardens, First Aid Workers and Messengers. As for other citizens in the town, the Ministry of Health announced that although they had no power to authorise small weekly payments from the Council to ‘helpers’, if these people were taken off the present billeting form, then they could be paid as employees of the Council. The payments would be charged to the evacuation account from January 19th, with the weekly rates being intended to cover board and lodging, maintenance and health and unemployment insurance. An important role of the A.R.P. service was to ensure that the blackout regulations were observed, but on January 12th at 8.15p.m. police constable Coventry, who was patrolling in Western Road, noticed a bright light radiating from a house in North Street. This was visible from the scullery window of number 24, and in court the occupant said that having fetched a drink of water, one of the evacuee children must have gone out and left the light on. Nevertheless, a fine of 30s was imposed. Also contravening the regulations was a light issuing from 107, Western Road, despite the resident having ‘blued over’ the window and bulb. This inadequacy duly lead to a fine of 10s, despite in her defence the accused, a widow with a son in the Army, having stated that she only received 17s a week. However, in reply the chairman remained unmoved, saying that by now people had long enough to know the rules. Then on January 28th at 8.45p.m. police constable Snarey noticed a bright light coming from a large, glass greenhouse at ‘The Bungalow’ in Tavistock Street. The lamp had been lit to melt the snow but with the offending illumination supposedly apparent from a distance of three-quarters of a mile, a fine of £1 was the result. At 109, Western Road, the resident also suffered a fine, since the thin brown paper placed at a window had been insufficient to screen the light, and another infringement of the blackout regulations was caused by someone who should have perhaps known better. He was a Londoner whose offence had been committed whilst on holiday in the town. Hopefully the fine of £2 would help to reinforce his future adherence to the regulations, especially since his own home in London had been bombed.

As part of the blackout regulations, throughout Bletchley normal street lighting had now been suspended, and indeed this was a measure that had been foreseen during the previous war when, at a Council meeting in February, 1915, a circular from the Chief Constable of Buckinghamshire was read regarding those arrangements to be made for public lighting ‘in case of invasion by hostile planes.’ Now with the present crisis the only street illumination should have been provided by ‘Starlight’ A.R.P. lights - ‘equivalent to stars on moonless nights’ - which were placed on several standards near the Council Offices by the Electric Light Co. However, no doubt to the consternation of the townspeople these were allegedly never actually switched on! Whatever the truth, helping to dispel the gloom a ‘tanner hop’ took place in aid of Scout funds on Friday, January 26th, and having been organised by the newly formed Bletchley Fire Brigade Social Club, the event took place at St. Martin’s Hall. Yet the proceedings were not without a certain irony, since during the event a call was received to attend a fire at the Observer Corps post! Caused by an over-heating flue pipe, the blaze was quickly put out. Soon the Club would be granted the use of the fire station for their occasions, and at the beginning of February the members played the Air Raid Wardens in a darts match, which they easily won. They then challenged Valentine, Ord & Nagle to a Saturday match at the Bull, and with the captain of the Brigade throwing a double seven again achieved victory. With Captain Brooks also being the chief officer for the Auxiliary Fire Service, by now the fire brigade consisted of Captain Brooks, a Lieutenant, eight firemen and 29 auxiliary firemen and help was still being afforded by Bletchley Co-op, who were now providing four vans free of charge to haul the mobile pumps. As a further benefit the Council, following a demonstration to prove the advantage of the equipment compared to similar models, had now authorised the payment for two sets of breathing apparatus which, for £70 6s 3d, would be purchased from the Roberts, McLean Co. As for the Brigade’s next social event, featuring ‘Spot Prizes’ this would be a sixpenny dance, to be held at St. Martin’s Hall on Friday, March 1st. Then also at the beginning of the month the Bletchley A.R.P. messengers held a Saturday tea party in the Methodist Hut, Bletchley Road, with Ron Staniford as M.C. and a while later a varied concert was performed by local artistes for the equipment fund of the Bletchley Division of St. John’s. In fact morale was further lifted when during this event Mr. W. Brown, the A.R.P. first-aid commandant, proudly announced that since 11.20a.m., September 3rd, with the aid of volunteers they had manned the first aid post for 24 hours a day.

In view of the potentialities, in mid March the A.R.P. Committee reported that, under the Regular Fire Scheme, the Leyland fire engine could now be summoned to deal with incidents outside the district, and during the same month in further preparations the Council sanctioned the attendance of the A.R.P. Officer, Mr. Arthur Bates, the Medical Officer, Dr. Stones, and the Chief Warden, Mr. C. Flack, to attend a course of lectures at the Falfield Training School. All expenses would be paid. This newly gained knowledge was then soon put to good use towards the end of the month when, on a Wednesday evening, all sections of the Bletchley Civil Defence came together for major A.R.P. exercises in the town. With zero hour set at 7p.m. the sirens sounded, and with airborne ‘raiders’ alleged to have crossed from Newton Road to Simpson, in consequence an ‘unexploded bomb’ was located in Tattenhoe Road, and a gas bomb in Holne Chase field. Other gas bombs were said to have dropped near the Sterilised Milk Factory, in Osborne Street, and of further ‘incidents’ the most spectacular was that at Cook’s Brush Factory in Victoria Road, which had been ‘hit’ by high explosives and incendiaries. Swift co-operation between the Fire Brigade and Rescue and Demolition Squad soon put out the ‘blaze’, and with a shoring up of the first floor the victims were then rescued from the upper windows. In the scenario, bombs had also destroyed half the road near Rowland’s, fracturing a water drain and injuring four people, whilst at Water Eaton the Co-op was deemed to have suffered damage from incendiaries. In fact the exercises were hailed as a great success, and in the event of a real emergency the wardens were well prepared since, apart from each being provided with a steel helmet and respirator, also available for use between six men were four suits of light oilskin cloth, four oilskin curtains, five pairs of gumboots and nine eye shields. During April Mr. J. Smith was again elected chairman, and Mr. F. Bates vice chairman, of the Council, and at the Council Offices the A.R.P. Committee now announced a suggestion by the Home Office Divisional Officer to install a 4h.p. Gent siren. This would replace the existing 0.9h.p. siren, which was to then be kept in reserve. With the cost estimated at £40 this was agreed by the Council, and when duly fixed on the Council Offices the new siren would indeed be audible throughout the urban area. However, also at the Council Offices a strange event occurred in early May, when the Coronation clock suddenly stopped one Tuesday evening and began to go backwards! Towards the end of May another strange event would then occur one Friday morning, when many people thought they heard an air raid siren, even though the A.R.P. Report Centre had received no warnings of enemy activity. In fact it was duly discovered that the sound had been made by the electric hooter of a car - the vehicle having travelled the entire length of Bletchley Road before the jammed button could be released!

On the evening of May 10th, King George 6th had sent for Winston Churchill, (who had been appointed to the War Cabinet on the outbreak of war as First Lord of the Admiralty), and asked him to become Prime Minister. Thereby the Conservative government of Neville Chamberlain gave way to a National Coalition, one of the first actions of which would be to pass an amended Emergency Powers (Defence) Act that, without recourse to Parliament, could impose any order and regulation which was deemed to be essential for the protection of the nation. Indeed such measures seemed very necessary for in September, 1939 in a secret Parliamentary session Winston Churchill had warned that the enemy might try to land half a million men. With the increased bombing of the country, and the threat of imminent invasion, two leaflets were now issued to all householders, ‘Stay Where You Are’, and ‘If the Invader Comes’, and if the invader did come, then to counter the disruptions to central government plans had been made to establish a devolved form of control, by dividing the country into 12 regions. Each would be under the command of a Regional Commissioner, appointed by the King, and the chain of command passed from the Regional H.Q. through the Group H.Q. to the Borough, usually in the town hall. Below the Borough came the District and then the Wardens’ Posts, each of which controlled an area of some 50 inhabitants, and local measures, swift decisions and an intensified district control could thereby be enforced. The officers would include Military and Police Liaison Officers, and A.R.P. Regional Officers acting under the Regional Commissioner, and in fact the Regional Commissioner for the Southern Region was Harold Butler, C.B., Warden of Nuffield College, Oxford. As for his area of jurisdiction, this comprised Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Oxfordshire, with the headquarters established at Reading. In their preparations for invasion the Germans had even faked an edition of the London Evening Standard which, to be infiltrated into a general circulation, contained various falsehoods to demoralise the readership, and also chillingly revealed the supposed intentions of Hitler, once supremacy had been achieved; ‘All males 16 to 45 will be sent to Germany to help me conquer Russia. All women 16 to 45 will submit to my troops as whores. The whole Jewish race I will slaughter to the last baby.’ In fact such a sinister scenario was not far removed from the intended official policy of the Nazis, and it was therefore just as well that measures for home defence were now attaining an increased priority.

In fact two days after the formation of Churchill’s government, at a meeting in the War Office a decision was taken to set up a force of local defence volunteers, and in a consequent radio appeal of May 14th Anthony Eden, the newly appointed War Minister, duly announced ‘We are going to ask you to help us… We want large numbers of men in Great Britain, between the ages of 17 and 65, to come forward now… The name of the new force which is to be raised is the Local Defence Volunteers.’ With an initial brief of ‘watching, observing, reporting and guarding’ the L.D.V., referred to variously, and somewhat unkindly, as ‘Look, Duck and Vanish’, or ‘Last Desperate Venture’ would, according to Eden’s deputy, Sir Edward Grigg, (the minister mainly responsible for the organisation), have a uniform of ‘civilian clothes with khaki arm-bands, (known in Army parlance as ‘brassards’), stitched to the sleeve, having the letters “L.D.V.” stencilled in white.’ Throughout the country 250,000 men immediately applied to join, and having commanded the Bucks. Battalion from 1926 until 1930, on May 17th overall command in Buckinghamshire was vested in Colonel P. Hall, this responsibility being taken over later in the war by G. Ledingham, whose H.Q. lay at Walton House, Aylesbury. Since Hitler had now decreed that on July 16th preparations should begin for Operation Sealion - the invasion of Britain - the new force would primarily counter landings by enemy troops, and any sightings were to be brought to the local attention by ringing the church bells, which from June 13th would be banned for any other purpose. As for the German response to this new organisation they officially warned that; ‘civilians who take up arms against German soldiers are no better than murderers, whether they are priests or bank clerks.’

With Captain Mells presiding, on the evening of Wednesday, 22nd May in measures to induce their members to join the new organisation, (forerunner of the Home Guard), the Bletchley Branch of the British Legion held a meeting, since it was felt that they were best suited to provide a ‘stiffening’ of the Local Defence Volunteers. Details were then duly given of the Bletchley Division, although despite the name this would also include Olney, Wolverton, Newport Pagnell, Woburn Sands and Winslow. Organised on the areas of the police divisions Bletchley would be divided into sub sections, each with a separate headquarters, and, as a counter to any landing by enemy paratroops, dusk to dawn patrols would be mounted. Following a good response the Bletchley Division soon numbered about 250 men, and with Sir Everard Duncombe being the organiser, Captain John Edward Davis Manlove would become his adjutant. Previously, Captain Manlove had been appointed in 1938 as agent to the Buckingham Divisional Conservative Association, making his home at Little Brickhill, but in June, 1940 he would be summoned for service in the R.A.F.V.R. Meetings to plan the sub-sections of the L.D.V., and appoint the sub-leaders, were now held at Old Bletchley and the police station, and although regular patrols became the consequence, since uniforms, rifles and ammunition had as yet not been issued the members identified themselves by wearing an L.D.V. armband, and carried out drill using sticks, golf clubs, and even garden implements! As for weapons of a more potent potential, the T.A. Headquarters in Oxford Road, Aylesbury, now announced that ‘supplies of petrol for the making of Molotoff Cocktails for L.D.V. will be obtained by indent on this office for petrol vouchers.’ During these times of national crisis a day of National Prayer would be observed in Bletchley, and members of the Urban Council, A.R.P., firemen and police accordingly attended a civic service in St. Mary’s Church. Including a combined Nonconformist service in the Albert Street church, elsewhere special prayers were offered at all the places of worship, and on Sunday, May 26th, to pay dutiful attention to a short talk given by Mr. A. Bates, the A.R.P. Sub Controller, members of Bletchley A.R.P. then mobilised for half an hour from 10a.m.

Between June, 1940, and August, 1941, 2,001 high explosive bombs and 5,633 incendiaries would be dropped on the county, and with the need for the A.R.P. service becoming increasingly apparent many precautionary measures were now being taken. Indeed, as just one example following an appeal Bucks. County Council began to purchase old but serviceable cars - of sufficient horse power - that were no longer required by their owners, and thus with the number of available auxiliary ambulances consequently increased, two would be shortly handed over to the Bletchley A.R.P., who were now making arrangements for the rapid distribution of the ‘Contex’ attachment to civilian respirators. As soon as they arrived in Bletchley these would be distributed with the necessary sealing tape to the wardens’ posts, with the wardens then tasked to make a tour of the district to fit the attachments, and in fact the urgency had arisen due to the confirmation in 1939 by British Intelligence that the Germans had cornered the world market of available arsenic supplies. Thereby they possessed the ability to deliver gas attacks of arsenicals able to penetrate the filter of a standard British respirator, but in a project codenamed ‘Arthur’ in a swift countermeasure scientists at the chemical defence establishment at Porton Down, in Wiltshire, then urgently developed a special additional filter, to ensure an adequate protection. For the Civil Defence a shortage of volunteers had been caused by the call up of men to the Forces, and in remedy the Urban Council now appealed for women volunteers to undergo a course in A.R.P. instruction. However, this perhaps excluded the seemingly unsympathetic occupant of 11, Manor Road, who was fined 25s for ‘showing a light.’ Indeed, when a conscientious police constable knocked on her door she rashly remarked; ‘I suppose you have been climbing over the fences to get here. It is a pity you did not fall into the stinging nettles!’ Yet this was a fate one could hardly wish on the lady at 16, Beechcroft Avenue, who whilst taking a bath was rather startled when the curtain fell down. Her husband was even more startled by a consequent fine, for contravening the blackout! The situation had required a definite tact, although this was seemingly not a quality possessed by a Nazi pilot who, on being shot down and captured, spat in the police sergeant’s face. ‘He recovered consciousness later in the day’!

During the monthly air raid test, in early June the new 4h.p. siren at the Council Offices was heard for the first time, and being found to have a louder note experiments were then made to increase the sound even more. This was achieved by fixing an upper sounding board, and in the event of an air attack the Air Raid Casualty Centre for Bletchley was to be located at the Council Offices in the A.R.P. Report Centre, where a payrise for the clerks was now impending. Mr. Bradbury would gain an increase of 10s, bringing his weekly pay to 70s, whilst the award of 7s 6d to Mrs. O. Moser would increase her pay to 47s 6d a week. As for other Council expenditures, by a report of the County Executive Officer the Regional Officer had now approved a salary increase of 4s a week for both the storekeeper and the general assistant at the A.R.P. office, and the same amount would be paid to the typist, effective from July 29th. On June 20th General H. Pownall, an ‘able soldier’, became the first Inspector-General of the Local Defence Volunteers. He had previously been the Chief of Staff to Lord Gort in France, having before the war commanded the Directorate of Military Intelligence, but as for his latest appointment he soon concluded that the organisation was something of ‘a dogs dinner’! However, this was of little surprise, for with the speed of the German advance the Government had not only lacked the time to set up the organisation, but had also been hindered by the non enforcement of the official requirement that candidates should not be aged over 65. Indeed, the only stipulation was that a recruit should ‘be capable of free movement’, and in fact for anyone finding themselves unable to meet the commitment then, by ‘the housemaids clause, they were free to leave on giving two weeks notice.

For the local control of the L.D.V., Superintendent E. Callaway was appointed as the Sectional Organiser. Born on December 31st, 1876, of a military family at Chalvey, near Slough, after working as a youth in a newspaper office he then joined the Slough Company of the Bucks. Volunteers and, at the age of 18, enlisted for three years in the Scots Guards. In 1898 he joined the Bucks. Constabulary, and was sent in May as a constable to Newport Pagnell, being later transferred to Whitchurch. In June, 1899, at St. Gabriel’s Church, Pimlico, he married Elizabeth who, as the daughter of a Metropolitan police officer, was the matron at Chesham police station, before later taking up the same occupation at Brill, and then Bletchley. Her husband rejoined the Scots Guards at the outbreak of the Boer War, but afterwards returned to a police career, being posted to Bletchley on his promotion to sergeant in 1904, following periods at Edlesborough and Wendover. A year later he then went to Chesham for 6½ years, and in 1911 took charge of the eastern section of Gerrards Cross. Promoted to Inspector in 1913, after 10 months at Brill he again came to Bletchley, and here he would duly remain. In fact he would bring the town a certain renown, by being the first police officer in the country to bring a case under the Air Navigation Regulations. When Superintendent Dibben fell ill, he then took over his duties and indeed became his successor in 1922, at a time when the headquarters of the Division was moved from Newport Pagnell to Bletchley. Serving on various police committees he was soon elected to the Police Council at the Home Office, and for two years became the chairman of the Superintendents Conference, indeed taking part as police representative in the funeral procession of King George V. In 1936 he received the M.B.E. from Edward 8th at Buckingham Palace, and apart from his police duties in 1939 he gained election to Bletchley Council in which capacity, besides fulfilling the role as secretary and treasurer of the local Red Cross Penny a Week Fund, he would remain throughout the war.

Apart from the threat of airborne invasion - a scare heightened by news that German paratroops were being equipped with spring heeled boots, to cushion the impact on landing - air raids were a continuing hazard, and as a means to limit the danger of glass splinters during the later month the A.R.P. Committee authorised the dressing of any one window of any house in the urban district with transparent celluloid paint. At a cost of 1s a window this would be undertaken by the Urban Council’s painters, and with the Council’s windows having all been treated, these could be viewed by prospective customers. As a further protection A. G. Cowlishaw, 35, Aylesbury Street, and the Men’s Shop, 7, Bletchley Road, advertised ‘Protect against flying glass with “Anti-Blast” netting. In ivory shade only, treated with an adhesive solution’ which, it was claimed, could be easily fixed to the windows by wetting the glass. Otherwise, sold in a width of 48 inches, at 2s 6d per yard, ‘Black-out Italian Cloth’, complying with the necessary ‘standard of obscuration’, could be used as an alternative. However, for a cheaper option some families used pieces of old railway tarpaulin, fixed to wooden surrounds made from picture frames, but perhaps of more dubious value others applied strips of sticky paper to their windows. Indeed the various patterns proved quite ingenious, in one case including ‘what, for want of a better name, one must call a “fleur-de-lys” effect.’ During June, at the request of the Ministry of Home Security the Central Board of Advisory Panels were set up. These consisted of qualified professional consultants, and from Bletchley employed the service of Mr. W.S. Johnson, F.S.I., of the firm of Wigley and Johnson. Regarding other appointments, despite his recent pay award Mr. W. Bradley, the Assistant Clerk of the Council, (and also the Assistant Accountant), had resigned, and was accordingly paid one month’s salary to date from June 15th. As for Mr. F. Martin, having taken over the duties of Mr. J. Payne, who had joined the Army, from June 24th he would gain an increase in his weekly wage from 52s to 70s.

The Council still welcomed applications from townspeople, aged 36 and above, to become either auxiliary firemen or part-time wardens, and perhaps providing a measure of incentive uniforms would now be supplied for the air raid wardens, consisting of a combination overall in the case of men, and a long coat and hat for women, with the ‘means of taking measurements, to ensure a proper fit’ supplied. As for part of their duties, the wardens were now tasked to visit every house in the urban area to ensure that every precaution against air raids had been taken, and they would also check respirators and listen for any ‘rumours’ in the town, which would then be forwarded to the Report Centre for police investigation. By such slogans as ‘Be like Dad, Keep Mum’ - which upset a few feminists - careless talk was actively discouraged, and increasing concern about the rumours of German landings, and their effect on national morale, would lead the Government to make by Regulation 39 (BA) the spreading of such stories an actual offence. In fact as a means to gauge the state of national morale, at the end of January the Ministry of Information had set up a Home Intelligence Division whereby, every week until 1944, a report was compiled for the attention of Ministers and senior officials. The content was drawn from the weekly submissions to the Ministry headquarters by ‘home intelligence officers’ who, in 13 regional offices, commented on ‘trends of feeling’, deduced from the raw information supplied by volunteers from a cross section of society. However, initially Churchill seemed little impressed, stating ‘I doubt very much whether this survey is worth its trouble’, yet nevertheless the reports continued, and perhaps touched on such worrying matters as that experienced at the end of June, by Edwin Staniford, aged 27, a newspaper editor and proprietor of ‘Athelston’, Staple Hall Road. He was charged with sanctioning articles in his newspaper alleged to be ‘intended to produce defeatism and dismay among the public’, and being ‘severely questioned’ by Judge David Davies, at the South East Local Tribunal his application to register as a conscientious objector was rejected. However, he duly lodged an appeal and, stating that for 12 years he had been a member of the Baptist church, and a deacon for four months, he further declared not only his position as captain of the Bletchley Company Boys’ Brigade, but also his voluntary service of 10 hours a week at the A.R.P. Report Centre. Subject to him remaining in his current occupation his wish would be eventually granted. Generally, censorship of the press was maintained on a voluntary basis, with newspapers invited to submit to the Censorship Division of the Ministry of Information any accounts that might prove of use to the enemy. The issue of Defence Notices provided a guide as to the type of material that was deemed acceptable, or that which required the attention of the censor, and any transgressions could be dealt with by the Defence Regulations.

Fenny Stratford Home Guard: Shooting Contest. Outside the Pavilion at Bletchley Park
1. George Walker 2. Bill Walker or Matthews 3. Mr. W. Read 4. Mr. Felce 5. Yorkie        
6. Charlie Henson 7. Mr. H. Jenken 8. Don Freeman 9. Less Dolling 10. Bill Gates 11. Charlie Salmon 12. Mr. Tebbet 13. Ernie Rogers 14. Hector Grace
15. Eddie Rogers 16. Percy Tees 17. Mr. Vigor 18. Mr. Thurlow 19. Mr. Pilcher 20. Harry French 21. Evans Winterburn    

In Bletchley, those men now wishing to join the L.D.V. were to report to the police station, and with Churchill in a radio broadcast of July 14th referring to the organisation as the Home Guard, this became the formal title on July 23rd. As the H.Q. of the 2nd Battalion, the town had been amongst the first of the 13 Home Guard Battalions to be formed in Buckinghamshire, and in brief during the war would consist of A Company (the old originals), B Company, (formed of railwaymen, for special railway duties), with Mr. G. Rogers in charge, (to be shortly succeeded by Major A. Leonard), a Post Office platoon, based on B Company, for special Post Office duties, and L Company, at Bletchley Park. Apart from Bletchley, A Company would also have platoons at Woughton, Simpson, Newton Longville, Water Eaton and Old Bletchley, and with the headquarters based at the police station, the ‘battle’ headquarters was situated at the rear of the Bull Hotel, where ‘Wally’ Webster, the weapon training officer, brought the recruits to a high standard of marksmanship. In fact drastic times called for drastic measures, and in the event of a German invasion secret plans were even made to blow up the Council Offices. With key areas designated for ‘defence to the last’, in preparation for a siege tinned rations were already on site, and amongst other measures was included the laying of ‘booby traps’, although one trip wire proved so well concealed that a platoon commander was pitched straight into a cesspool! As such a centre of importance it was therefore appropriate that during July in the vicinity of the Council Offices Dr. Douglas Morris, of Newport Pagnell, watched two Bletchley first aid parties deal with an ‘incident.’ He held responsibility for the ‘mobilising units and forces’, which included the first-aid parties in the local area, and with the exercise supposedly dealing with the aftermath of an air raid the rescue squad and fire brigade soon retrieved five ‘casualties.’ With two ambulances and the first aid car in attendance, the ‘injured’ persons were then placed on the grass outside the offices to receive medical attention, in the presence of an Incident Officer..

Also in July, during one Thursday evening a special meeting of the Council in committee was held, to consider an order from the Ministry of Home Security. This now authorised the provision of adequate shelters against air attack for the majority of the Urban District, although the Council had registered only a part as a priority, with the parishes of Water Eaton, Old Bletchley and Simpson being classed as ‘second risk areas.’ Consequent to the order an investigation would be made by the Surveyor, and people could then apply to the A.R.P. depot at the Council Offices for an inspection to be arranged. Materials would be provided to strengthen a ‘refuge room’, but this only applied subject to the householders providing the labour, and being insured under the National Health Insurance Act or, when there were more than two children in the family, being mainly dependent on earnings and pensions not exceeding £250p.a. If the rooms could not be strengthened, then materials for brick-built or combined family shelters might be provided. Alternatively garden trenches could be dug, although the local subsoil proved largely unsuitable. Nevertheless, some families excavated a large pit in their garden, which they then roofed over with stout railway timbers and covered with earth. As previously mentioned, in case of air attack various firms had now made, or were making, provisions for their workforce, and at the premises of W.O. Peake, in Denbigh Road, six shelters had been built, connected by concrete corridors with each entrance shielded by gas proof sheets. Each shelter could accommodate around 60 employees and, with reinforced concrete used in the construction of the floors and roofs, further protection was afforded by 14 inch strengthened brickwork walls, and 24 inch party walls. The lighting would continue even if the mains power failed, and everyone in the factory was issued with a card which indicated to which shelter they had been assigned. At Beacon Brushes, on the Watling Street, a large concrete bin, (previously used by the Bletchley Concrete Aggregates Co., in connection with their gravel pits), had been converted into a shelter which, being made gas-proof, was then covered with 80 cubic yards of sand. In fact in 1930, adjoining their gravel pits the company had purchased at auction some 25 acres of freehold land fronting Denbigh Road, and thereby their operations could significantly increase. Elsewhere, should the significance of Bletchley Park become known to the enemy then the Repeater Station would invite inevitable attention, and of little surprise plans for an air-raid shelter were therefore proposed. Indeed, since air attacks could be expected at any time it was perhaps just as well that the Fire Captain’s pay had been recently increased, by 5s to 75s a week.

Old Fire Station .
Still to be seen at the old fire station, in Church Street, are the drying poles for the fire brigade hoses. - J. Taylor

The Fire Station telephone hut, Church Street.
With the increasing risk of air raids, during July 1940 as opposed to the fire pumps being kept at the fire station a system of mobile fire patrols was introduced. Also incidents no longer to be reported via the Report Centre at the Council Offices but would instead be directly relayed to the fire station, where telephones for the purpose were installed in the rear of the premises. Also in Church Street, conveniently at 29, Church Street lived a long standing member of the brigade, Mr. G. Pressland. Born at Linslade, he had come to Bletchley in 1915 and for eight years worked in Canada and America, four of these being with the Canadian National Railways and Forestry. Returning to Britain in 1932 joined the Bletchley Fire Brigade during the same year and remained with the service until his retirement in 1955, being awarded the good conduct medal in recognition of his mmitment. In fact his would be the first such medal to be awarded in the town. - J. Taylor.

Regarding the immobilisation of possible enemy landing grounds, on July 9th the Surveyor, Mr. Bates, attended a conference at County Hall, Aylesbury. He would then be tasked to carry out such works as were deemed necessary, although currently he was considering relinquishing these responsibilities by his application to join the Royal Engineers. Yet when this request was refused he instead continued with his previous duties, and in consequence as part of the obstructive measures the Council was supplied not only with a large quantity of material from the London Brick Company, but also many hundreds of tree trunks and butts provided by the local timber firm of Rowland’s Brothers. However, one of their employees would tragically die during the month whilst taking a shift as an auxiliary fireman at the fire station. A 36 year old sawyer, he was William Scott, of 33, Denmark Street, who was found dead at his post between 6p.m. one Monday and 2a.m. the following day. One of the seven children of Mr. & Mrs. William Scott, of the Lock House, Bletchley, his son also worked at Rowland’s, and the tragedy was further compounded when later in the year following the death of Mr. William Scott, who had been the lock keeper for over 20 years, the next evening his widow whilst crossing the canal slipped into the water and drowned. During the month came a proposal to institute a system of fire patrolling in the area. This would replace the existing arrangement whereby all the fire pumps were kept at the fire station where, with telephones now installed in a hut at the rear of the premises, a system of direct reporting was to be introduced, instead of via the Report Centre. This, as previously mentioned, was accommodated within the Council Offices, where on behalf of the Council documents for sealing and signature were now presented, to finally convey the land at the back of the premises from the Trustees of the Fenny Stratford Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. As regarding other matters of land, by the powers of Regulation 16 of the Defence (General) Regulations 1939, an order was made to close various footpaths in the town, and these included the towing path, (on the eastern bank), from the canal bridge at Mill Road to Fenny locks. In fact this seemed especially necessary, as a precaution to help safeguard the Repeater Station through which, with obvious implications for Bletchley Park, many of the main national trunk telecommunication cables were routed.

On August 6th measures were taken to integrate within the Army the Home Guard, in which some 18,665 members from Buckinghamshire would be eventually enrolled. At Bletchley, Mr. A. Bates became Platoon Commander of Home Guard (Civil Defence), in which several Report Centre staff, wardens, waterworks employees and firemen were enrolled, and at the end of the year he would be replaced by Mr. E.T. Ray. With the railwaymen having their own Home Guard Company, the members included Major Leonard, ‘quiet, dignified and kindly’, Lieutenant Frank Gamble, ‘impeccably dressed’, Lieutenant Bernard Brown, who enlivened the company with conjuring tricks, and an old soldier, Lieutenant Risden Lickorish, whose appearance was deemed to be ‘smart.’ Born at Gayton, Northamptonshire, Risden had moved to Bletchley at the age of 5, and at the age of 15 joined the railway as a cleaner, earning 10s a week. Wounded on the Somme during World War One, memories of his military past might now be evoked when one day Wally Wallis dropped a sten gun, and sent a hail of bullets through the Armoury roof! Rather alarmingly Wally was assistant to the Armoury Sergeant, Walter West, a goods guard, who unfortunately had to endure several other wartime incidents of stray shots and accidental firings! Of the other organisations involved in home defence, the A.R.P. wardens now began to distribute and fit the Contex filters for respirators. Requiring 24 inches of adhesive tape the filters added an extra 1¼ inches to the length, and as a further measure against enemy contaminations during the same month the Water Engineer was instructed to install, at an estimated cost of £450, the machinery necessary to ensure a purity of the water supply, as required by the Ministry of Health. By now complaints were being received that since the discontinuation of the Cowley & Wilson air raid siren the remaining sirens were, in the vicinity of Bletchley station, inaudible above the noise of the trains. This posed an obvious and urgent concern, and a swift investigation of the matter would be undertaken. One Tuesday evening in September, members of the Bletchley Fire Brigade Social Club held a meeting to appoint Alf Higgs as secretary. He would thus take the place of Mr. J. Whitfield who, as one of the first Bletchley casualties of the war, had been tragically killed on Merseyside by enemy action.

At the height of the Battle of Britain, in early September a meeting took place at the Council Offices to consider raising public monies for a Spitfire. About £6,000 would be needed, and at a public gathering at the Council schools it was agreed by an overwhelming majority to start a Bletchley Spitfire Fund. In fact there were only five dissensions amongst the assembly of around 50. A small committee, chaired by Councillor J. Smith, was formed to work out the details of the scheme, and with collection boxes placed in around 60 shops, clubs, etc. residents were urged to make their own collections, which could be paid either into Barclays or Lloyds Banks. Mr. A. J. Stevens contributed £5 5s, whilst at Water Eaton funds were appropriately increased by the sale of enemy bomb fragments, which had been gathered by the locals and sold as souvenirs! By Monday, September 30th the Spitfire Fund totalled £130 16s 6d, to which J. Root & Sons had given £4 13s, W. O. Peakes the sum of £11 15s 3d, and the employees of the British Gas Light Co., £3 5s, and indeed by early October £205 3s 10d, had been raised, including 1s 10d from ‘a London refugee.’ However, since the Spitfire Fund was now in direct competition with the Emergency War Relief Fund, for some townspeople this provoked a conflict of loyalties.
Yet there was no disunity regarding the determination to resist a German invasion, and with such scares of ground and air assault still foremost water was now being stored in buckets in case of damage to the mains. As for the means to fight fires, householders were invited to place one or more buckets of water in a prominent position in front of their homes and, positioned so as to not obstruct the footpath, the buckets were to be clearly marked with the owners name and address. In fact volunteers could apply to their warden for a window label marked ‘Water’, and, at a cost of £1 each, the Council would also supply a stirrup pump, with interested persons to contact the A.R.P. Officer, at the Council Offices. From this period the police would be directly informed of any blackout contraventions, and in view of the long nightly hours being endured by the A.R.P. personnel, the A.R.P. Committee recommended that at the various posts tea and sugar should be provided free of charge. Indeed, perhaps it was the thought of a free beverage that helped calm that indignant warden who, having climbed several fences to track down the source, found that his perceived contravention of the blackout was only the reflection of a searchlight in a window! As for more productive matters, evening films were now being shown at the Clinic on both the means of rescue from damaged buildings and the procedure to deal with incendiaries, and not surprisingly most of the A.R.P. personnel attended, together with several members of the general public. Throughout the nation air raid shelters for the general public were now an urgent priority, but experience had shown that ‘a length of 12’ 6” does not provide sufficient space for fixing the wedges when the standard Type B. bunk is used. For future communal domestic surface shelters the length should be 13ft 6 inches in place of 12ft 6 inches.’ As for the cost of constructing and equipping such shelters, by the terms of Home Security circulars 249/1940 and 262/1940 a decree was issued that, for contracts agreed after October 19th, the whole expense would be reimbursed to the local authority by the Government, ‘provided that reasonable economy is practised.’

Concerning the cost of building the ‘combined family shelters’, situated at the end and rear of Park Street, the A.R.P. officer had now submitted a statement to the A.R.P. Committee, and whilst some of the householders had paid their share of £7 12s 6d, a few had refused any contribution. Therefore, by the direction of the Committee they would be informed, via the Clerk of the Council, that they were being held responsible for the payment. However, it was admitted that on completion the facilities - which were originally constructed due to a lack of Anderson shelters - had proved to be disappointingly damp in wet weather, (quite apart from providing an unsupervised adventure playground for adventurous children), yet nevertheless in October when Mr. G. M. Denning, the Assistant Regulations Technical Advisor, paid a visit in the company of Mr. A. Bates, the Surveyor, and Mr. N. Lee, the assistant in charge of the shelter scheme, he expressed himself content with the arrangements. More especially he deemed the barrel arch roof of the Park Street shelter to be an excellent alternative to the orthodox concrete slab, and he gained an impression as equally favourable on viewing the private shelters in Brooklands Road and Water Eaton Road. In fact regarding the domestic shelters, these had been mostly designed with arched roofs, to provide a safe refuge within the homes, and with good progress now being made the availability of about 100,000 bricks, 400 bags of lime and 230 tons of sand ensured that the construction could rapidly continue. At the approach of enemy aircraft the siren at the Council Offices would sound an initial warning, but with the onset of winter now imminent attention was being given to a means of keeping the device operational in the presence of ice and snow. This concern was then resolved by a letter of October 18th from the Senior Regional Officer at Aylesbury, which stated ‘It is understood that the cost of the heater without a thermostat is £4. 10. 0. and the expenditure will rank for grant subject to the terms of the relevant financial regulations.’ No doubt the siren would also help with the heating, by drawing a typical start current of 60 amps!

Bletchley Road, now Queensway.
With the arrival of the evacuees in the town, for the safety of those at large in the streets it was proposed to build public air raid shelters at suitable locations, including some along Bletchley Road. This had once been little more than a country lane linking the separate communities of Fenny Stratford and Bletchley, and in emphasis of the primitive condition the route became 'a genuine muddy slough of despond' in rainy weather, and 'as dusty as the Sahara' in summer. In fact as a past source of disease an open ditch alongside sufficed as a sewer. Following a visit to the town by the Queen in April 1966 the road was renamed Queensway, seemingly more suitable than Broadway, which had been proposed a while before. - B.C.H.I.

Having considered a scheme from the Surveyor, at a meeting in late October the Council approved the provision - albeit in shopping areas only - of six more air raid shelters, all to be built of brick and with a slab roof of pre-cast concrete. Designed to each accommodate about 50 people, the need for these additional shelters had arisen due to the large number of evacuees who were about on the streets during the day, and the protective facilities would be situated not only between Bletchley station and Stag Bridge but also in Aylesbury Street, with construction to begin once a formal sanction had been received from the Ministry of Home Security. Benches, dual lighting and sanitary accommodation were all scheduled for inclusion, and because of the nature of the work the successful contractor would be able to obtain a certificate for the necessary building materials; ‘Applications should be accompanied by a deposit cheque of one guinea which will be returned on receipt of a bona fide tender.’ For certain of the shelters the roof units were then ordered from the Croft Granite Brick Co., at a cost of £45 16s 8d, and wire cut bricks from the Tile Co. Ltd. at £36 8s. The need for the shelters was indeed pressing, for since the end of June over 850 high explosive bombs, and over 1,750 incendiaries had been dropped on the county, and in consequence by a letter the A.R.P. Department at Aylesbury now informed the local ‘A.R.P. Organisers, Executive Officials etc.’ of the approved procedures to be taken if ‘certain objects’ were found in their areas. Thus balloons were to be collected by the police and forwarded to H.Q. Balloon Command, R.A.F. Stanmore, Middlesex, whilst ‘Bombs should be immediately reported through the usual channels to a Bomb Disposal Unit’ - ‘No information about the objects herein referred to should be published in the Press by Poster or by wireless.’ With the expenditure agreed, during October the A.R.P. Officer applied for authority to purchase a second hand vehicle for A.R.P. purposes, and with a 40/50 Rolls Royce car being subsequently acquired for £75 10s, this would now be used not only to tow a trailer pump, but to also convey A.F.S. personnel about their various locations. The following month tenders were then submitted for the supply of waterproof coats for all members of the A.F.S., and at a unit cost of 26s 6d each, (plus tax), that from the Co-op was duly accepted. Those collecting boxes which had been placed at licensed and business premises for the Bletchley Spitfire Fund were opened towards the end of October, and realising a sum of £42 19s 9d this brought the total amount to £373 5s 5d, of which Captain Ridley, for the Bletchley Park staff, gave £28 4s, and Form 3a, at the Senior School, 3s 1d. By early November a donation of £5 by Bletchley Co-op, and the more unusual contribution of several Canadian dollars by Mr. E. Faulkner, then helped to increase the total to £385 3s 5d, and as a means to raise even more finance a whist drive was held in the Council Offices by the Bletchley air raid wardens. With Bletchley shopkeepers having donated the prizes the event provided a further £3 10s 6d, and by Monday, November 11th £419 4s 5d had been collected. As for other contributions, the children of St. Paul’s L.C.C. school, (who were now working in St. Martin’s Hall), gave £4, and by November 25th the Fund would stand at £450 7s 9d.

Coventry Cathedral.
As the Blitz intensified the local fire brigade, which now included the Auxiliary Fire Service, (a voluntary organisation run by the local authority under Government instruction), was increasing called away from the area to attend the fires which raged in the cities under attack. One emergency call came on the night of November 14th/15th, 1940, when in a sustained assault the Luftwaffe destroyed much of the city, including the Cathedral. - War Illustrated.
On November 6th Sir Edward Grigg announced in the House of Commons that the Home Guard would be given ‘a firmer and more permanent shape’, and with the role having been set out on August 6th, by Army Council Instruction 924 there would now be commissioned officers and N.C.O.s within a fixed organisation. On other matters of home defence, the need for volunteers for the A.R.P. now increasingly arose to replace those men being called into the regular Forces, and recruits could now benefit from the first issue of earplugs. Needing to be cut to length before use, and then moistened, ‘The plugs must be tied together with a short length of string to prevent loss’, and their purpose was not so much to obviate physical damage to the ear but more to ‘prevent the shattering effect of noise on the nerves.’ Authority was now given to engage an extra full-time auxiliary fireman, bringing the total number to five, and in line with their duties all members of the A.F.S. were then issued with waterproof coats, which must have proved especially welcome on the night of November 14th/15th, when the Brigade received a ‘reinforcing call’ to assist at Coventry. Here 330 German bombers had raided the city for 11 hours, and amidst the widespread damage the cathedral and 12 armament factories were destroyed, and 554 people killed. In fact the fires could even be seen from Bletchley. As for the churches in London destroyed by enemy action, in a much welcomed gesture soon after the war the altar and rails from St. Martin’s Church, Fenny Stratford, which had been used before the installation of replacements, would be sent to the heavily blitzed Christ Church, Forest Hill, London. However, for more immediate help throughout the war the Bletchley fire crews answered many calls for assistance beyond the normal boundary, and amongst the several heavily bombed cities that they attended would be included Southampton, where the members spent 14 days at different periods reinforcing the base at Totton. In fact having worked as a furniture manufacturer in London before the war, Fireman Jacob Leigh, of 28, Napier Street, already had experience of the Blitz, for during the first six months of the war he served as a volunteer part time member of the London A.F.S. On moving to Bletchley he then enrolled as a full time member of the local Brigade under Captain Brooks whose wife, Grace, was also assisting the war effort as a member of the Bletchley Women Conservatives - a group of ladies who kept themselves occupied by knitting garments for the Forces.

Early December brought the addition of several donations to the Spitfire Fund, including that from Shipman & King, and although these now increased the total to £455 12s 10d, even this was soon eclipsed by the additional sum of £3 18s 8d, by courtesy of the Bletchley Park Stop Watch Contest. As for other activities during the month, the various sections of the Bletchley Civil Defence then took part in a darts tournament at the A.R.P. H.Q., whilst for instructional information a few days later around 60 members of the A.R.P. services attended the Welfare Clinic, to watch a film that dealt with A.R.P. and first-aid work. Mr. J. Smith, chairman of B.U.D.C., now launched an appeal on behalf of the Ministry of Supply for 125,000 pairs of binoculars which, with a ‘good price’ to be paid, were required for the Merchant Navy, Observer Corps, Home Guard and ‘roof spotters’; ‘Our Fighting Services need them all. Sell yours now. Put your pair on active service. They are wanted URGENTLY.’ The local Civil Defence were then pleased to learn that in a reply from Aylesbury, reference Home Security Circular No. 239/1940 para.9 ‘Local authorities will be permitted to buy civilian helmets for the use of their employees, whether in their offices or undertakings. The purchases will not of course rank for A.R.P. grant’, and at a cost of 5s 6d each acceptable models would be made of mild steel, and painted battleship grey. In case enemy action caused a breakdown in the normal system, B.U.D.C. would now make a record of all the available auxiliary water supplies in the Urban District, and anyone having a well was invited to write to the Engineer, Mr. A. Bates, at the Council Offices. The Surveyor then told the Public Health Committee that arrangements had been made at Far Bletchley to have 400 yards of four inch water main scraped at a cost of £50, and this was in response to an increasing number of complaints following a recent fall in pressure. As reported by Mr. C. Flack, the A.R.P. Committee would now establish 24 private fire parties in the town, each to be equipped with a free stirrup pump, and already 20 pumps had been distributed privately. However, perhaps hoping to enjoy a break from such responsibilities earlier in the year the A.R.P. Officer had been granted permission to attend, with Mr. J. Massey, a four day all expenses paid training course for Home Guard Officers which, to be held either at Dorking or Woolacombe, would take place in the period up to January 25th, 1941. An announcement that the Spitfire Fund had reached a total of £475 5s 9d then ended the year, and with the recent acquisition of 2,000 Spitfire badges, in order to raise further funds these would be subsequently sold at 6d each.



Having in the autumn of 1940 been appointed as Home Secretary, on New Year’s Eve Herbert Morrison, ‘the Prime Minister of London’, had made a wireless appeal for the population to form ‘Citizen Volunteer Corps’, to deal with incendiary bombs. In Bletchley, to arrange at least one stirrup pump party for each street, and larger parties for longer roads, representatives of the police, A.R.P. and fire fighters were accordingly called together the next day in the Council Offices, and in view of the urgency of the situation approval was given to begin the construction of buildings in the Council yard. The A.R.P. department of Bletchley Urban District Council then posted a notice stating that ‘Arrangements have been made with the Police, Special Constabulary, Home Guard, Wardens and Firemen to visit all houses in the Urban District to advise citizens on the best way to deal with incendiary bombs and collect information useful for fire fighting’, and with bags of sand distributed to every house, it was especially stressed that these should be kept dry. Householders were also asked to place fire buckets within locations where the water would be less likely to freeze, and indicating where water and stirrup pumps were available cards to be displayed in house windows were distributed. If incendiaries were dropped anywhere within the local area, then the public would be informed by a series of short blasts on the wardens’ whistles, and thereupon householders were to take swift measures to deal with the bombs. Apart from householders, business premises were also making appropriate arrangements, and Fletton’s Ltd. now urgently sought a Fire Watcher for night duty, who ‘Must be active and a light sleeper.’ Applicants were to contact the Water Eaton offices. Emphasising the threats of air attack, during the New Year the display of a captured Messerschmitt 109 in the grounds of the Bletchley Road Senior School had proved popular, and although £51 was made it was realised by the Committee and helpers that, in future, extra vigilance would be required, since damage had been caused to the airframe by souvenir hunters making off with small pieces of the fabric. However, on the subject of fabric there was now more positive news, for at a cost of £249 7s 6d waterproof coats had been ordered for the Civil Defence personnel.

In anticipation of a German invasion and armoured attack, in further measures for Civil Defence in January Bletchley was declared a ‘centre of resistance’ by the ‘Zone Operational Instructions.’ Thereby the main priority would be to keep open the route to Woburn, from Buckingham, through Fenny Stratford, and ‘If fighting should break out in the area of a local authority, members of the authority, their officers and servants, and the members of the Civil Defence Services will be expected to stand firm and carry on with essential activities.’ As for the Spitfire Fund, this now stood at £502 18s 3d, and during the first week of January receipts included not only £11 11s 6d from a competition at Bletchley Park, but also £2 11s 6d collected by the Water Eaton Women’s Institute. As a means to raise additional funds the Spitfire Committee then held a popular Friday dance at the Social Centre, whilst later in the month a large company attended the Spitfire dance at Bletchley Road School Hall. Music was appropriately provided by the R.A.F. band from Cranfield, and with the inclusion of an anonymous donation of £2 2s this now brought the Fund to a total of £598 18s 3d. Helping to raise local morale to even greater heights, the R.A.F. Dance Orchestra from Cranfield had also supplied the music when, on the evening of Friday, January 3rd, No. 1 Platoon of the Home Guard staged a dance in the Yeomanry Hall. Then on the evening of Sunday, January 19th patriotic emotions were again aroused when at the County cinema the film ‘Britain goes to it’ was shown, having been especially made by the Ministry of Information. With admission free, the cinema had even secured a short musical licence from 7p.m. to 9p.m.

The danger from air raids was now obviously very real, and in a letter of January 14th the Senior Regional Officer duly wrote from County Hall, Aylesbury, regarding the public surface shelters at Bletchley; ‘Referring to the letter dated 10th January 1941, from the Engineer and Surveyor, Bletchley U.D.C., submitting proposals for the erection of the following public surface shelters:-

Albert St., Methodist Church - 50 ȁ persons
St. Margaret’s Church - 50
Next to Angel Dindol’s Shop - 50
St. Martins Hall, Bletchley Road - 50
High Street – Victoria Rd. - 50
The Market, Aylesbury St. - 50

I am authorised to convey approval to these proposals, and to add that reasonable expenditure not exceeding £1408 0. 0d. will rank for grant subject to the terms of the relevant financial regulations.’ In fact the Victoria Road shelter was situated on the southern corner with the High Street, and being rather damp provided an ideal ‘den’ for the local children!

As the Bletchley A.R.P. Controller, towards the end of the month Mr. A. Bates reported to the A.R.P. Committee concerning the canvassing for billeting, and the formation of supplementary fire parties. The preparations were nearly complete, and with 130 fire parties anticipated they would each be issued with stirrup pumps and sand. However, since this was rather damp householders would firstly need to dry the quantities so far delivered by the heat from their fires. Yet undampened was a continuing enthusiasm for local entertainments, and at the end of the month the Modernists Dance Band supplied the music for a Saturday evening dance, held in the Social Centre. This had been organised by the Bletchley War Relief Fund, whilst by Monday, January 27th the Spitfire Fund had now reached a total of £600 7s 3d, with a second contribution from St. Paul’s Road school being made of ten shillings. Highlighting a need to enforce the blackout regulations, a woman at Brooklands Farm was summoned at the beginning of February for an offence that, at 6.40p.m., had taken place on January 4th. Whilst preparing supper for her evacuees she suddenly remembered having left a steak and kidney pudding on the stove, and in her haste to move the saucepan momentarily forgot about the blackout and switched on the light. A fine of £1 would prove the penalty for this lapse of attention. As for the occupant of 20, Park Street, for ‘displaying a light from a chimney’ he also found himself summoned for, at 8.45 p.m. on January 27th, Mr. R. Tompkins, a sergeant in the Special Constabulary, had reported flames coming from the direction of Water Eaton. With the blaze having taken hold in the chimney pots the main fire engine was hurriedly called, and although the man declared in his defence that ‘the sweep’s rods could not have been long enough’, since the chimney had only been swept the month before, this imaginative excuse was brushed aside, and a fine of £1 imposed, plus 5s costs. By February 3rd the Spitfire Fund had reached a total of £611 16s 4d, and this included not only the proceeds from W. O. Peake’s and the stop watch contest at J. Root & Son’s, but also the contents of the George Inn collecting box, which amounted to £5 13s. Shortly afterwards the Bletchley Road Schools Parents’ Association then supplied another boost by donating the proceeds of a social evening, and the Premier Press Employees’ War Charities Carnival Dance, held at the Senior School on Friday, February 7th, added a further amount. Even celebrities of national renown would help with the cause, and at a well attended Studio on Sunday, February 23rd Mantovani and his orchestra gave a programme of popular music, featuring Stella Roberta and Jack Plant. In fact by Monday, March 3rd the Bletchley Spitfire Fund had reached a total of £664 9s 6d, (including a sum of 2s 6d from Master P. Souster, through ‘making and selling teapot holders’), and with a joyful disregard for the politically correct a ‘Help Wallop the Wops’ event provided further monies, as also a dance held in the Senior School on Friday, March 7th, to the music of Casala’s Dance Band.

Gas Attack.
Apart from high explosives, the enemy was also expected to use gas bombs, and in public locations posters were displayed giving details of how to cope in such an event. If an attack occurred then wearing gas masks A.R.P. Wardens riding bicycles would give warning by wielding wooden rattles, with the All Clear to sounded by ringing hand bells. However, despite the serious nature of the threat although it was illegal to damage a gasmask, it was not a criminal offence to be without one. Someone with first hand experience of a gas attack was Harold Price, who due to the effects of gas had been invalided out of the Army during World War One. In 1930 he came to Bletchley to look at some 'absurdly cheap' printing equipment and this lead not only to him beginning a printing business in the town, but also co-founding the Bletchley Gazette, with the first office being set up in a tackling shed in his back garden! In early April 1963 he retired from Bletchley Printers, but remaining as chairman was awarded the O.B.E. in the New Years Honours List of 1966. - J. Taylor.

By a report of February 24th the Civil Defence measures had been listed as 60 wardens, two first aid parties, (10 personnel), one first aid post, (40 personnel), four ambulances, (12 personnel), two cars for sitting cases, (two personnel), two repair gangs, (14 personnel), one R.D. party, (10 personnel), one decontamination station, (seven personnel), the Report Centre, (15 personnel), and 13 messengers, and in related measures the distribution of sandbags to the householders in the town was now complete. Then during the month Arthur Bates, the A.R.P. officer, explained to businessmen and private residents the B.U.D.C. scheme for covering the whole district with parties of fire watchers. Intending to arrange the service voluntarily, and thereby avoid a compulsory order, 35 fire squads had already been formed, enrolled and trained, and in the 75 districts each would guard a street length of 150 yards. Provided with a stock of fire fighting equipment a member of staff was to sleep on the lock-up premises, and in order to guard adjacent lock-up premises squads of three watchers were also detailed, two to sleep, (except during alerts), and the third to maintain watch and make periodical rounds of the site. Yet despite the tensions of the time romantic passions could still be inflamed, and during the month the wedding took place at St. Mary’s Church of Mr. Henry Peppitt and Miss Gladys Doyle. Members of the Bletchley Fire Brigade formed an appropriate guard of honour with crossed axes, for the groom, the only son of Mr. & Mrs. H. Peppitt of Home Close, Church Street, was the engineer and driver to the fire brigade, and as an A.R.P. warden his bride also undertook essential duties. Apart from the danger of high explosive bombs and incendiaries the potential of gas attacks was also a peril, and in the necessary countermeasures instructions were now issued by B.U.D.C. that; ‘If your respirator is damaged take it to the A.R.P. Centre at the Civic Offices where the damaged parts will be replaced or repaired. If your respirator does not fit correctly call on the warden and he will adjust it. If you are wearing your respirator and are exposed to gas vapour alone you should go home, strip off your clothes, wash all over and wash out your eyes, then hang your clothes out to air for 24 hours. If contaminated by splashes from gas bombs, get rid of the affected clothing and get washed down within a few minutes. Go to a house where there is a bath and have a bath. If caught on the streets in a gas attack and your clothing is contaminated, go at once to the Bletchley Road schools where a Decontamination Station has been set up in the shower baths.’ In fact for the use of the troops the shower baths were now being used by an average of 250 men a week, resulting in a water consumption of 1,250 gallons. Entertainments in the town provided a welcome means to lighten the apprehensions, and featuring music by the Pioneer Corps band, No. 1 Platoon, Home Guard, held a Friday evening dance in the Yeomanry Hall at the end of February. For a more varied programme, in the Senior School Hall at the beginning of March the Misses Lillian Wrigley and Mary Wright then displayed their tap dancing prowess, whilst for ‘mood music’ Vicky Forester exercised her vocal talents as a ‘crooner.’ The proceeds would be applied to the Home Guard for rifle range equipment. As for the Far Bletchley Home Guard Platoon, as a result of dances and whist drives they now had sufficient money to send parcels of cigarettes and tobacco abroad to those local men held as P.O.W.s, and in order for any friend or relation of an imprisoned man to send a package they were to forward the name and address to Mr. Chandler, at the Far Bletchley Post Office.

Primarily tasked to protect the local telecommunication premises, the G.P.O. engineering department at Bletchley had their own Home Guard, whose remit included the defence of the Fenny Stratford Repeater Station which, carrying many of the nation’s main trunk cables from London to the North, provided the main communications junction for Bletchley Park. Therefore the site was of an obvious strategic importance which, until the duration of the war, would be emphasised by the closure of the surrounding footpaths to the public. In the event of damage being caused to the Repeater Station by enemy attack, in order to test and re-route the circuits two ‘intercept huts’ had been built at some distance from the main building. One was situated at the crossroads opposite the Fox and Hounds, (now the Flying Fox), towards Hockliffe, and the other just south of the Denbigh railway bridge, on the eastern side. (Both huts would be eventually demolished during the 1960s, whilst the Repeater Station officially closed on October 9th, 1979). During March the A.R.P. Officer was to discuss with the fire brigade captains the arrangements for fire watching at the coal dump, whilst regarding the squads already formed for watching business premises and public buildings, their training was now complete. The ubiquitous stirrup pump not surprisingly formed an essential part of their equipment, and in fact throughout the Bletchley urban area 66 supplementary fire parties were presently available. Yet amongst the local population certain elements seemed hardly to help the precautions, and for taking sandbags from houses and placing them in roadways six boys would appear at Bletchley Juvenile Court. Charged on two sets of summons they were tried ‘for causing obstructions’, and not greatly assisting their defence was the revelation that whilst cycling home one evening police constable Lloyd had crashed headlong into one of the heaps! A girl and Mr. J. Parriss had also been involved in associated accidents and, as Mr. A. Bates, the A.R.P. Controller, explained, the sandbags had been originally placed as a fire fighting measure at suitable points along Bletchley Road, as well as in streets near the Eight Bells, Premier Press and also at the Council Offices. Despite the School Attendance Officer then stating that all the boys had previously been of good character, they were nevertheless each bound over for 12 months in the sum of £5, and ordered to pay 4s costs.

26 Brooklands Road.
Including a road to connect Water Eaton Road with Bletchley Road, (now known as Queensway), the Brooklands Estate was laid out in the 1880s by the firm of Rowland Brothers, timber merchants of Fenny Stratford. In 1941 26, Brooklands Road became the home of Mr. Fred McQuillan, a Londoner, who in recognition of his rescue work in the Capital, (when during an air raid he had been instrumental in saving a family of six from their blitzed home), received the O.B.E. from the King at Buckingham Palace. - J. Taylor.

Also rather derelict in character were certain of the air raid shelters in Bletchley, and with one practically falling down those in Park Street all needed reconstruction. The reason, according to the Surveyor, was that due to instructions given at the time by the Ministry of Home Security the shelters had been constructed with lime, since cement had not then been available, and the worry was further emphasised on receipt of a directive from the Regional Commissioners Office, Southern Region, Reading, stating that ‘the Minister of Home Security decided that all brick public and communal domestic surface shelters built with ungauged lime mortar, whether or not they have shown signs of disintegration, should be closed forthwith.’ Not surprisingly local anxieties were raised, and in response to these concerns in letter ‘Ref. 6T/BUC/4’, of March 14th, from County Hall, Aylesbury, the Senior Regional Officer then confirmed; ‘Referring to the letter of the 8th and 12th March 1941, from the Engineer and Surveyor, Bletchley U.D.C., Bucks, submitting proposals for the re-conditioning of communal domestic surface shelters, etc, in accordance with H.S. Circular 290/1940, the circumstances have been examined and accepted, and I am authorised to convey approval to an expenditure not exceeding £385 0. 0.d which will rank for reimbursement subject to the terms of the relevant financial regulations.’ During mid March the Surveyor then gave a report to the A.R.P. Committee on the building programme of the six new public air raid shelters, and no doubt these would be well appreciated by someone who had personal experience of air raids, Mr. Fred McQuillan, a Londoner who was now living at 26, Brooklands Road. In fact by the award of the O.B.E. his courageous work as the leader of a rescue party in a London bombed area had now been officially recognised, with the King making the presentation at Buckingham Palace. As for the circumstances behind the award, during an air raid Mr. McQuillan had been told that a family of six were buried in their home, and although four people were soon rescued two boys still remained trapped in a cellar, under 18 feet of earth and rubble. Despite the bombing for three hours Mr. McQuillan and his rescue party burrowed through the debris with their bare hands, and both the boys were eventually saved. With Mr. & Mrs. Corden having given £2 2s, by Monday, March 25th the Spitfire Fund now stood at £673 15s 4d., and with music by Jack Conroy and his orchestra further monies were then provided by a Spitfire Fund Dance, which featured John Burnaby, the son of David Burnaby, a well-known radio star. Thanks were also due at the end of the month when, as part of the ceremonies for a National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving, a special afternoon service took place in St. Martin’s Church, attended by members of the Council, the A.R.P. and fire service workers.

On Saturday, April 26th at 7.30p.m. a three and a half hour Home Guard Request Variety Concert & Prize Distribution, arranged and compèred by Mrs. L. Webster, was held in the Bletchley Road Senior School Hall. The event featured the B.B.C.’s ‘Carol Levis’ Discoveries’, and since Sir Everard Duncombe had succumbed to illness Lady Duncombe presented the prizes for the Shooting Competition, for which Mr. Harry Cook, of Bletchley, had donated a handsome challenge trophy. Competing for this would be 27 teams of five men, and the winners in the best shooting section, (Company Commanders’ tankards and Mr. Cook’s challenge cup), were then declared to be Messrs. L. Cook, captain, S. Alcorn, F. Brooks, C. Bull and G. Walpole. Shooting skills of this prowess would be especially welcome in the event of a German invasion, and with the threat still being very real during the month ‘Beating the Invader’, a leaflet which had been approved by the War Cabinet on March 13th, was issued to every household. In fact should invasion occur it was now decreed by an official directive that ‘If fighting should break out in the area of a local authority, members of the authority, their officers and servants, and the members of the Civil Defence Services will be expected to stand firm and carry on with essential activities.’ By now the rescue and demolition squads had been augmented such that three complete squads were available, and one would assume duty every third night. The decontamination squad was also trained to respond as a standby rescue squad, and as previously mentioned in the event of an air raid three shelters for 144 persons had been erected at the end and rear of Park Street. Four more shelters to accommodate 200 persons had also been built at various points in the shopping area, and in addition two other shelters able to protect 100 persons were under construction. With materials made available for 133 private domestic shelters, half filled sandbags had also been supplied to householders, and in suitable locations banks of sandbags were placed to be used in case of incendiaries. In addition a further scheme of fire protection, based on 68 householders’ fire parties, had been arranged, whilst for the water supply representations from the Ministry of Health led to £500 being spent on preventive precautions, to safeguard the purity of the supply from possible pollution. Towards the end of April, at the annual meeting of B.U.D.C. Mr. Oliver Wells was elected to the position of Vice chairman, and Mr. Frederick Arthur Bates, of 176, Western Road, to that of chairman. On accepting the office as a nominee of the local Labour party, (of which he was then secretary), Mr. Bates had begun his career as a councillor in 1926, but retired after three years. In fact he had only returned to the Council Chamber eight years ago, and in other activities had served as a Deacon at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church for 30 years, having been a member for 40 years. He was also vice-chairman of Bletchley Road Junior School Managers, and since the movement began additionally served as an A.R.P. warden. As for his normal employment, at the age of 14 he began work as a messenger at Bletchley Post Office, and was now the Postal Inspector.

At their Monday meeting, on April 28th the Entertainments Committee of Bletchley War Weapons Week arranged a full programme of events, to include dances, whist drives, bridge parties, lawn tennis and golf competitions and football and cricket matches. In addition the Council had granted the use of the tennis courts and the putting green at Central Gardens, and with admission priced at 2s an ‘open to all’ rifle competition, ‘to be shot for on the range of Bletchley Conservative Club’, would be held from May 17th to May 23rd inclusive, (with one War Savings Certificate being issued for every 20 entries). The range had actually been built in 1932 but due to a shortage of ammunition after the last club competition had closed during the year, to be subsequently used for shooting practice by the Home Guard and police. At the beginning of May, as the chairman Mr. J. Cook presided at a meeting of the Publicity Committee of Bletchley War Weapons Week, and it was agreed that an indicator would be placed outside the Council Offices, to display the rival totals of Bletchley and Buckingham, calculated to 7p.m. each evening. A Sunday procession was amongst the several topics discussed, and this would travel from the Leon Recreation Ground along Bletchley Road, via Oliver Road, Windsor Street, Water Eaton Road, Duncombe Street and Bletchley Road to Bletchley Park Sports Ground, where an open air service would be held. Should the weather prove adverse, then a service in St. Mary’s Church would instead take place. Whist drives, variety concerts and a cricket match were amongst the other scheduled events, and on Saturday, May 24th an ‘All American Tennis Tournament’ would be held at Central Gardens. In fact to meet the expenses of the week the Entertainments Committee planned a comprehensive series of public events, with a dance in the Senior School - to feature the R.A.F. Station Band from Cranfield - being just one. However, having recently received his call-up papers the secretary of the Committee, Robert James Storey, of Newton Road, was now to report for duty the following Monday, although fortunately his enlistment would be deferred at the last moment. Already a member of the Volunteer Reserve of the R.A.F., he first came to Bletchley in October, 1937, as Collecting Officer to B.U.D.C., and gained promotion to Assistant Clerk in August, 1940. He was born in Leeds, but his family moved when he was less than a year old to Caerleon, Monmouthshire, where he was schooled, and he then worked in an office until joining the staff of Caerleon Urban Council, before moving to Bletchley. Contributions to the War Weapons Week now included an initial £3,000 from the Prudential Assurance Co. Ltd, of 121, Bletchley Road, and from now until the end of the ‘Week’ for every £100 of savings bond policies applied for in Bletchley, (and upon which the first premium was paid), they would subscribe a further £200. The Bletchley and District Co-op would additionally invest £1,100 in defence and savings bonds, whilst for other money raising ventures the Spitfire Fund now stood at £687 5s 10d, following a contribution of £1 from the Ecclesbourne Road Senior Girls’ School. Elsewhere, by arranging a successful bridge drive in the Conservative Club Mr. & Mrs. Bodsworth had raised £8 14s 6d for the R.N.L.B.I., and also in buoyant mood was Bletchley Senior School who, through the Ship Adoption Society, had adopted S.S. Chelwood. The vessel was commanded by Captain Wright, (who in fact had been recently entertained to lunch at the school by the headmaster, Mr. E. Cook, and the staff), and a few weeks later a Social Evening for the Ship Adoption Scheme, held in the Bletchley Road schools, would make a profit of £2.

Money raising was now also on the agenda for various members of the ‘Local Authorities Administrative Staff’ who, having applied for the payment of a war bonus, would now receive on the recommendation of the Finance Committee sums at rates proposed by the South Midlands Provincial Council. These would include £24p.a. for the Clerk and Surveyor, £15 for the Clerk’s Assistant, and a smaller rise for the Medical Officer, although the amounts perhaps not surprisingly caused disapproval in some quarters! On Saturday, May 17th, Bletchley War Weapons week began with an official send off by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Kingsley Wood, who telegraphed Mr. F. Bates, chairman of the Urban Council, with the message ‘I am sure that Bletchley will do its utmost to make this War Weapons Week a signal success.’ Marshalled in Central Gardens by Mr. E. Callaway, chairman of the British Legion, as a prelude to the opening ceremony a march took place headed by a contingent of the Royal Engineers, and they duly lead a procession of the Royal Signals and the King’s Regiment, the Beds. & Herts. Regimental Band, the Pioneer Corps, W.R.N.S., A.T.S., W.A.A.F., Home Guard, police, A.R.P. wardens, the fire brigade, A.F.S., St. John Ambulance Brigade, Girl Guides and special constables via a route along Bletchley Road, Lennox Road, Eaton Avenue, Manor Road, Aylesbury Street, Church Street and Victoria Road. In the company of assorted dignitaries, at the Council Offices Brigadier H. MacMullen, M.C., then took the salute, after which in Leon Recreation Ground eighty soldiers and other members of H.M. Forces were provided with a free tea. During the evening a large crowd watched the raising of the indicator outside the Council Offices, and with Sid Hawks and his Luton band providing the music the day concluded with a very successful opening dance, held in the Senior School Hall, Bletchley Road. The Band of the R.A.F. having led the procession from Leon Recreation Ground, on the following afternoon a combined parade and service of prayer was held on the Bletchley Park playing field, and during a film show in the evening, at the County Cinema Mr. C. Flack briefly explained the importance of investing money in the War Weapons Week. In fact perhaps his talk proved inspirational, for during the first two days £21,625 would be raised, of which £16,887 had been collected on the first day. Subsequent amounts would include £221 7s 6d from the Bletchley Road schools, but despite this and the other best efforts of the town the final total, which amounted to £90,000, proved insufficient to beat the £152,000 raised by Buckingham. The triumphant Mayor and Mayoress of the victorious town then attended a dinner party for members of the Committee and friends, which, served by the Bletchley Co-op, was held to finally wind up the ‘Week’ in the Senior School Hall on Friday evening. This was followed by a concert, and of the monies raised the three selling centres had collected £8,000, Cowley & Wilson, (under Mrs. Rumbelow), £2,000, Mrs. Tongue, under Inspector Merry, £2,000, and the Conservative Club £4,000. At the completion of the audit undertaken by Mr. E. T. Ray and Mr. R. Sherwood, it was then announced that the Entertainments Committee had made a profit of £209 4s, but by the sale of stamps and certificates alone nearly £10,000 had been raised by the War Savings Group, the usual amount being £200. Expressing his appreciation for all the combined efforts Sir Kingsley Wood then concluded the Week with a suitable telegram; ‘Please convey my congratulations to the people of Bletchley on the splendid success of their War Weapons Week.’

With the close of the festivities attention could now turn to more routine matters, and in consequence the Council adopted a recommendation by the A.R.P. Committee to appoint an additional full-time auxiliary fireman. The need had arisen since many of the personnel were being called away for duty in other areas, and this led to the Minister of Home Security being asked to approve a 1s a day subsistence allowance. However, in a lessening of the other responsibilities the A.R.P. Committee would then be told by the Sub-Controller that, except during alerts, although one watcher had to remain on duty at weekends, firewatchers were no longer required to remain on duty during business hours, or up to half an hour before blackout time. Nevertheless, air raids still posed a peril elsewhere in the country and, with war workers and others soon to be transferred to the local district, at the request of the Ministry of Health a postal census of local accommodation was to be carried out by the A.R.P. Committee. Regarding the question of grants for emergency deep well pumping plant, during early June in connection with an emergency water pool the Ministry of Health had begun discussions with the Water Engineer, whilst of other measures Mr. A. Bates was appointed as Salvage Officer for the district. Then towards the end of the month Mr. W. Webster presided over the annual meeting of the Conservative Club Rifle Section, during which Mr. H. Pocock, the secretary, reported that a profit of £5 11s 7d had been made. With the range being used for Home Guard training, ammunition had been provided for their use but this was only on the understanding that a replacement would be made, a condition which had not as yet been complied with. At the beginning of July, via the collectors, Mr. R. Sherwood and Mr. A. Bates, two belated contributions were made to Bletchley War Weapons Week, one from 24 members of the U.D.C. for £15 15s, and the other from 15 members at Eaton Avenue for £8 15s. At the end of the month arrangements began to supply, albeit in limited numbers, ‘table type’ indoor shelters for householders in the parishes of Bletchley, Fenny Stratford and the part of Water Eaton from Saffron Street to Brooklands Road. These would be issued free to those householders whose occupation was compulsorily insurable under the National Health Insurance Act, but with certain concessions those persons in other categories would have to pay £7 for each shelter which, measuring 6 feet 6 inches long, 4 feet wide and 2 feet 9 inches high, could instead be situated in outdoor buildings, if the dimensions proved unsuitable for a house. For the A.R.P., 42 stirrup pumps had now been purchased at 19s 3d from the Accounting Officer at the Home Office, and with the A.R.P. equipment store conveniently erected on land at the rear of the Bletchley Road Methodist Church, the Surveyor would accordingly negotiate with the Trustees for the payment of a wayleave rent, which was duly agreed at 5s a year.

Despite a fortuitous lack of enemy air attacks the A.R.P. wardens maintained a constant vigil, and one incident of concern was reported when the reflection of a bonfire could be clearly seen from a local canal bridge. Thinking that his son, who was home on leave, had put out the fire the previous night, the errant farmer, of Eaton Leys Farm, remained unaware that the blaze had reignited through a change in the wind, and a fine of £2 would be the consequence of his unintended ignorance. As for the question of the local water supply, the Clerk of Wing R.D.C. now reported that an examination of the documents of the Great Brickhill waterworks had revealed the hydrants to be the responsibility of Bletchley Council. However, in contravention of their duty unless Wing repaired the hydrants Bletchley had refused permission to connect up with the mains of the Bucks. Water Board! With Mrs. W. Grove as the secretary, during the course of the war the Duncombe Street and Osborne Street Savings Group, (one of the more prolific of the local organisations), would raise some £5,000 towards the town’s total, and with himself as the chairman in early August Mr. C. Collins called a meeting in the Conservative Club, for the purpose of forming a new Committee. It would be the intention to try and increase the ‘Street Savings Groups’ until every Bletchley resident had a group in their street and although towards the end of July there had been 11 Groups, by early August there were 61, and this number would increase to 98 by the end of the war. In fact Bletchley was probably the first town in the country to have a group in every street and factory, and in due course the Bournemouth Committee would even write to ask for the secret of this success! As for contemporary activities elsewhere, a knitting guild had now been started at the Bletchley Road Schools and, with around 400 garments despatched to the Forces, this was perhaps rather appropriate since two members of the staff, Mr. Ken Davies and Mr. Hinton, were already in the Army, and Mr. Puryer would shortly join. Most of the wool came from the voluntary subscriptions of the children and staff, but free wool could be issued once the school had ‘proved its worth.’ However, Form IIIA had already proved their worth by starting a charities organisation during the Christmas term, with subscriptions now being sent to the Y.M.C.A. canteen, the Spitfire Fund, War Relief Fund, hospitals, St. John Ambulance Brigade and the Red Cross Comforts Fund. Yet as for their own needs, the shortage of craft materials, and the increased cost of new text books, meant that they now had to make the most of whatever they could obtain. Much waste was accordingly salvaged, and on the subject of salvage during August the Ministry of Supply sent a letter asking that private and publicly owned iron railings should be given up, this perhaps being a request of unintended irony, for it just happened to coincide with the kind offer of Mr. W. Johnson, of the firm of Wigley & Johnson, to provide the poor with free advice as to how to correctly formulate their claims for war damage compensation!

During August Herbert Morrison, the Minister of Home Security, announced the formation of the Fire Guard, for the purpose of fire watching. So far, despite being extremely necessary fire watching had been regarded as a tedious, and therefore unpopular duty, and with the issue of a helmet and an armband the new title hoped to ‘glamorise’ the role. On August 20th the ‘Fire Prevention (Business Premises) Order 1941’ was then prescribed to the Urban District of Bletchley by the Regional Commissioner, and notices would in consequence be posted in the town. By the following two weeks occupiers of those business premises encompassed by the Urban District then had to notify the U.D.C. - in writing - as to the arrangements that had been made to secure any fires which, as a result of hostile attack, might occur at their premises, and duly ensure that these were ‘immediately detected and combated.’ Then at the end of the month, with a distribution of leaflets having been made by members of the Boys’ Brigade the ‘Bletchley Street Savings Campaign’ opened and, held at an 8p.m. meeting in the Conservative Club, on Thursday, September 4th the 61 Group Secretaries duly agreed to canvass their neighbours. With the local office of the Bletchley Local Savings Movement situated at the Conservative Club, many Bletchley street groups had already attained a 100% membership, and in fact this was an achievement that would even be mentioned by the B.B.C., after the 6 o’clock news during one Sunday evening. On the National Day of Prayer, in early September the Bletchley churches were well attended, and with the 1st Fenny Stratford Scouts and Guides having marched to the service at St. Martin’s, the St. Mary’s Guides and Scouts paraded with the A.T.C. Lead by their Commanding Officer, Major General Blount, D.S.O, over 100 men of the Home Guard then marched to St. Mary’s Church, whilst, as on several previous occasions, the Senior School provided the venue for worshippers of the Jewish faith. B.U.D.C. now posted a notice that ‘Under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Registration for Civil Defence Duties all male British subjects who on 6th September 1941 were resident in the urban district of Bletchley and are not less than 18 but under 60, unless exempt are to register under the Civil Defence Duties (Compulsory Enrolment) Order 1941.’ Thereby a total of 1,628 men, resident in the Bletchley urban area, registered on September 14th, 20th and 21st, although on medical grounds exemptions were requested by 112, with a further 839 persons excused on the grounds of being already involved in other civil defence duties, or through working long hours.

The A.R.P. Committee now made a report that, with Bletchley having been listed as a prescribed area under the Fire Prevention (Business Premises) Order 1941, measures were to be accordingly taken to enrol all persons covered by the Order for fire watch duties. Thus in compliance with the ‘Fire Watching Order’ men aged between 18 and 60 were registered at the Bletchley Road schools on Sunday, September 14th, as also the following Saturday and Sunday, and applications would now be invited for the position of a full-time Fire Prevention Officer. At a salary of £300p.a, and under the general direction and supervision of the Staff Officer to the Chief Warden, the successful candidate would be required to carry out those duties imposed by the Fire Prevention (Business Premises) & Fire Prevention (Compulsory Enrolment) Orders 1941, and towards the end of September in other measures the Government announced that they were to take over both the Bletchley Fire Brigade and the A.F.S. which, under the Maidenhead office, would become part of the National Fire Service. Thereby since the post would no longer be a responsibility of the Council Mr. A. Bates in consequence resigned from his unpaid appointment as the fire brigade Superintendent. Intending to impose a national structure of command, the National Fire Service had been the creation of the Home Office under the ‘National Fire Service (Emergency Provisions) Act 1941’, and resulted not only from the experience of the ‘Blitz’, but also because of the disunited nature of the country’s fire services, and the non standardisation of the appliances and equipment. The latter had especially hindered co-operation whenever an incident was attended by several brigades, since very often each used different types of hose fittings, pump connections etc., and further complications had arisen due to all manner of usually unsuitable vehicles having been commandeered to tow fire pumps. However, in early 1940 the Home Office had developed the auxiliary towing vehicle, (A.T.V.), and most commonly employing the chassis of the two ton 4x2 Austin K2, more than 4,000 of these would be delivered during 1941. The N.F.S. thus introduced a much needed structure of command and efficiency of equipment, and in fact would continue until April 1st, 1948, having employed at its peak some 350,000 men and women.

Morrison shelter.
Named after the Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison, distribution of the indoor Morrison shelters began in Bletchley at the end of September 1941, and working in squads of four Boy Scouts of the 1st Fenny Stratford Troop assembled each shelter from over 200 parts. The record time would be 25 minutes, achieved by a squad with a complement of only three! - War Illustrated.

On September 30th the summer War Savings Campaign came to an end, and with all having gained new members there were now 85 groups in Bletchley. Indeed, that of the Conservative Club would shortly celebrate one and a half years of existence, having collected £6,165 13s 6d. With an example on exhibition at the Co-op, the distribution of Morrison indoor shelters began towards the end of September, and 70 had been installed in local houses within a few weeks. Working in squads of four, Boy Scouts of the 1st Fenny Stratford Troop had been energetically engaged in piecing them together, and despite weighing more than 7cwt., and comprising over 200 parts, one table had nevertheless been constructed by three Scouts in the record time of 25 minutes. Householders were advised to clean the shelters thoroughly before use, since a liberal coating of grease had been applied to prevent rusting, whilst as for other additions of metalwork during October the A.R.P. Officer recommended the purchase of four galvanised iron tanks, each with a capacity of 250 gallons. For use in connection with the mobile water supplies these would be required in the event of enemy damage to the water mains, and the proposal was duly agreed. In further needs for the A.R.P. Department 30 male volunteers, aged above 15, were now urgently required for first aid parties, and they would take up their duties at the Bletchley first aid posts. As for associated medical matters, the St. John Ambulance Brigade, and the Nursing Division of the Brigade, then expressed themselves pleased by the recent arrival of a hut at the Bletchley Road Clinic where, at the annual meeting of the Brigade, Miss M. Scobie, the Divisional Secretary, now reported an increase in the membership from 26 to 29. Having taken a class for first aid lectures in July, the home nursing course given by Dr. Lufkin also gained a pleasing result, when at an examination conducted by Dr. Bull all of the students obtained their Home Nursing certificates. The applications for the position of Fire Prevention Officer had now been sifted, and from the three unsuccessful candidates for the post of Billeting Officer, Mr. W. Warner, aged 54, of the Weights and Measures Department of Bucks. County Council was eventually chosen. He would be paid a salary of £300 p.a., whilst from the first full week in October the war bonus paid to workmen was now to be increased from 8s to 11s. Also on monetary matters the Anchor Day collection, organised by Mrs. E. Chappell in aid of British Sailors, had raised £21 13s 10d. As for the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund, this received a benefit of £9, as the sum raised by collections at St. Mary’s Church. With his enlistment in the R.A.F. still deferred, during the month at St. Mary’s Church Mr. Robert Storey, the Assistant Clerk to Bletchley Council, married Olwyn Lewis, a daughter of Mr. J. Lewis, of 52, Newton Road, and in fact the occasion would be a double wedding since her sister, Laura, married Jack Moseley.

As October drew to a close, the Bletchley Savings Movement selling centre would now open each Saturday from 2.30p.m. to 4.30p.m. at the central office of the Conservative Club, and here Savings stamps and certificates could be purchased. Also hoping for financial contributions was the ‘Help for Russia Fund’, which opened on Wednesday, November 5th, at St. Martin’s Hall, and at an enthusiastic preliminary meeting called by the Bletchley Trades Council Mr. H. Goldsworth presided as chairman. For the benefit of the Fund the Bletchley Co-op had agreed to allow housewives to give the number 2900 in place of their own check digit, (thereby redirecting the ‘divi’ when purchasing goods), and by permitting the vehicle to be housed in the Co-op garage, (situated in Park Street), the Co-op would also play another important role, when Bucks. County Council proposed to send a mobile gas cleansing station to Bletchley. The National Service (No. 2) Act now directed that after January, 1942, any male aged between 18 and 51 could be liable for service in the Home Guard, for up to 48 hours of duty a month. As for the other local residents who were doing ‘their bit’ they received recognition at the end of the month, when the Council thanked all those householders and traders who, in connection with Lord Beaverbrook’s salvage drive, had made contributions in response to the appeal for waste paper. In fact encouraged by this success, a further drive would then commence from the week beginning December 1st. During December the conscription of women was introduced, although married women not living apart from their husbands, and women with children under the age of 14, were exempt. As for other persons involved in home defence, a firewatcher, who ‘Must be active and a light sleeper’, was required at Fletton’s, Water Eaton, and for part-time A.R.P. duties motorcyclists were needed as despatch riders. Motorcycles would be provided, and anyone interested could apply to the A.R.P. Officer at the Council Offices. Meanwhile, with news space donated by Bletchley & District Co-op it was now announced that, from December 15th to 21st, the National Council of Labour would hold a special ‘Help for Russia Fund’ week. This would include a house-to-house collection, a whist drive, a dance, and railway and workshops collections, whilst for a concert meeting in the Studio on Sunday, December 21st London artistes would be engaged. In addition there would be mutual assistance for the Fund from the Red Cross and St. John Ambulance Brigade, as agreed at an executive meeting of the latter.

Woughton House
Major-General Harold Blount
Set within a park of 43 acres, Woughton House was built in in the early 19"' century, and from 146 became the home of the Levi family. In a tragic accident, Major William Levi was killed in 1889, when thrown from his horse and trap at Fenny Stratford, and he left a widow and also a son, Captain, later Lieutenant Colonel, William John Levi. For several years before World War One, William John Levi would be the leader of the Fenny Stratford Musical Society. By 1935 Woughton House had become the leader of the Fenny Stratford Musical Society. By 1935 Woughton House had become the residence of Captain the Hon. Arthur Baillie who, having been 'four years instructor at equitation school', established and ran the Woughton Stables, in conjunction with Commander M. Brind. - J. Taylor

Concerning future events, at an 8p.m. meeting held at the Council Offices on Wednesday, December 17th ‘Bletchley Warship Week’ was discussed, scheduled for March 21st to 28th during the following year. This aimed to raise about £120,000, sufficient to provide a corvette, but if £55,000 could be raised for the hull then this would allow plaques to be exchanged with the crew. However, the monies raised for a previous venture had unfortunately proved insufficient, and a meeting now had to be called to wind up the Spitfire Fund. This proved especially disappointing for Robert Storey, for not only had he been much involved in the fund raising, but was now also about to join the R.A.F. Yet he would later transfer to the Fleet Air Arm, and after demobilisation then returned to Bletchley to resume his duties as Assistant Clerk to the Council. In fact in 1946 he and his wife would become the tenants of the town’s first post war council house, in Water Eaton Road. During December, Mr. A. Bates, the A.R.P. Controller, would say in an interview that with the recent Civil Defence and ‘invasion’ exercises now complete he was well satisfied with their outcome, not least because several ‘surprise situations’ had been introduced to more effectively test the response. Regarding the ‘military invasion’ of Bletchley, this had begun in the district on a Saturday afternoon, and gaining intensity through the night lasted until Sunday morning and evening. At around 4p.m. on the Saturday the first ‘raid’ had taken place when a lone bomber dropped high explosives on Buckingham Road, and apart from this situation the A.R.P. and police also had to deal with the aftermath following a supposed heavy bombing raid on the town on Sunday, at about 3.30a.m. With many places allegedly hit, including the station, houses, shops and factories, all the town’s defensive services were called into action, and during an associated ground assault the police station, which changed hands several times, was ‘burned out.’ Then following the setting up of an auxiliary station in the Council Offices the ‘enemy’ attacked again, but was successfully ejected. As a precautionary measure an emergency Civil Defence H.Q. was set up in Mr. Trunkfield’s post, in Buckingham Road, and, with the first aid and rescue parties hard pressed to cope, reinforcements had to be called from Wolverton, Hanslope and elsewhere. The Home Guard platoon then despatched scouts to discover the enemy position, and whilst they were away Boy Scouts helped to trail the invaders and thus provide valuable intelligence to the Home Guard. No doubt the competence of the defensive measures were a source of great satisfaction for Major-General Harold Blount for, having retired in 1939 after a distinguished career in the Royal Marines, he had recently been appointed the Town Commander for local defence. Educated at Malvern College, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Marines Artillery in 1898, and nine years later was then appointed as assistant professor of fortifications at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. On promotion to Captain in 1909 he went to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, and three years later joined H.M.S. New Zealand, in which he sailed around the world in 1913. During his subsequent career during World War One he saw action at Heligoland, Dogger Bank and Jutland, and having been promoted to Major in 1917 he was awarded the D.S.O. and the Russian Order of St. Stanislas. After the war he served as the instructor in musketry for the Marines, and from 1922 until 1924 became Fleet Royal Marines Officer, Mediterranean. As for subsequent appointments he served as Brigadier Major Royal Marines at Portsmouth from 1924 until 1928, again Fleet Royal Marines Officer, Mediterranean from 1928 until 1930, Colonel Second Commandant Chatham from 1931 to 1934 and Commandant Depot Royal Marines 1934 until 1937. Later rising to even higher ranks he eventually retired to Woughton House in 1939, but until 1944 he would become the commander of the local Home Guard, with the headquarters located at Bletchley police station.




During the First World War rationing had not been introduced until 1918, although now there would soon be a need to accept rationing as a part of everyday life, which especially seemed rather unfortunate since the novel introduction had only recently been made of pre cooked frozen meals. Under the Birds Eye label these were being marketed by General Foods in America, but supplies from the United States would be increasingly and effectively threatened by the German U boat campaign and, with a population of almost 47 million to feed, in Britain food rationing would remain a necessity until July 2nd, 1953. During September, 1939, the appointment of the necessary officials in Bletchley for the instigation of food rationing began, and included would be Mr. H. Dimmock as chairman of the Food Control Committee, Mr. E. Cook his deputy and Mr. R. L. Sherwood, the Food Executive Officer. Married with five children, two of whom would serve in the R.A.F., Mr. Dimmock seemed an appropriate choice, for he was noted for his cool judgement and discretion and, as the ‘father’ of Bletchley Urban District Council, had now been a councillor for nearly 30 years. He came from a family of 11, and during the Boer War had joined the newly formed Bletchley Volunteers at the age of 16, subsequently rising to the position of sergeant by the age of 20. As a convinced Socialist he held associated meetings in Aylesbury Street using a packing case as a platform, and in 1914 was elected as a trade union candidate at the age of 30, thereafter representing the Fenny Stratford ward. Following World War One, although still in military service he was elected as vice chairman of the Council in 1919, and he then became the chairman on five subsequent occasions. As for the background of Mr. Cook, details are given in the chapter ‘Back to School.’ Having married the daughter of Mrs. Jane Cheyne, of 80, Buckingham Road, (she being the widow of Captain Thomas Cheyne, of the Merchant Service), Mr. Reginald Leuty Sherwood would serve as the Clerk of Bletchley Urban District Council from 1932 until 1960, and is today commemorated in Bletchley by the naming of Sherwood Drive. Presently Mr. Sherwood was being paid a salary of £43 10s 10d, but from September 27th the income tax on this would be raised by the War Budget to 7s 6d in the pound, a rate which in fact was the highest to date.

Not only was the war reducing household incomes, for via the local press B.U.D.C. now informed the town’s population that by order of the Fuel & Lighting Order rationing of coal, electricity and gas would come into effect on October 1st. Persons would then generally be able to only obtain 75% of their previous supplies, whilst as for consumers of two or more tons of coal in the year ended June 30th, 1939, they would need to register with a licensed coal merchant before October 1st, 1939. Users of smaller amounts were required to obtain a certificate, and this had to be produced whenever they purchased coal, which could be bought, (except in special cases), from one merchant only. Of those in the local area, these included the Co-op, A. Sharpe, 2, Cambridge Street, Edward Martell, of 8A, High Street, Charles Essen of Duncombe Street or Charles Franklin Ltd. of Bletchley Road and the canal wharf, Fenny Stratford, and under the ‘Emergency Powers (Defence) Retail Coal Prices Order 1939’, all coal and coke merchants would only be able to sell in the Urban District according to a schedule of prices, which could be inspected at the Council Offices. The Clerk of the Council fulfilled the position of Local Fuel Overseer and, as fixed from September 7th, he would be paid £50p.a. for the added responsibility, although this amount, plus the other expenses, would be repaid to the Council by the Mines Department. Then towards the end of September Mr. Sherwood was also appointed as the National Registration Officer for the compilation of a National Register, the information for which would be provided by a census. For this purpose the Bletchley Urban District had therefore been split into nine areas, each under the charge of an individual enumerator, and the data collected would provide a basis of information for the issue of identity cards and food ration books. With food shortages now likely, and the obvious implication that prices would be exploited, in order to prevent profiteering the Prices of Food Bill came into effect from October 9th but regarding the ration books, although these had been scheduled for a national introduction during October the actual date, due it was said to the campaign launched by a national newspaper, would be delayed until January 8th, 1940. Yet even so, by the end of October 9,419 ration cards had been prepared for distribution in the town, and of these there were three types; the ordinary card for adults, a card for children under six, and the card for adolescent boys born between October 24th, 1921, and October 23rd, 1926. Also there were special cards for ‘heavy workers’, and a travelling ration card for commercial travellers, whilst for those people needing sugar for jam making or fruit preservation, separate documents would be required, which could be obtained from the Food Office, at 76, Bletchley Road.

The influx of evacuees had now significantly swelled the population of the town, and with the basic services accordingly hard pressed to cope this especially affected the sewage facilities, which even before the war had reached their maximum capacity. Then during October the Surveyor submitted an application to supply water for the temporary buildings at Bletchley Park, but already the overall demand on the town’s water resource was beginning to stir up iron deposits in the mains, which lead to a disconcerting discolouration of the supply. As for refuse collection, householders were being asked to burn as much of their rubbish as they could. This was because the increased amounts of green and wet matter placed in the dustbins caused additional problems at the Destructor Works which, as an ageing facility, had now served the town for some 13 years. In fact it had been in May, 1926, that the Council first decided to purchase a suitable site, and with Hedley Clarke offering half an acre of land near Western Road at 1s 4d per sq. yd., or 1 acre at 1s per sq. yd., the half acre option was duly chosen. Following the submission of plans and a sketch by the Surveyor to the Highways Committee, in August of that year a contract was then confirmed for the unit to be supplied by The New Destructor Co. Ltd., with the total cost amounting to £1,330. Hopefully the unit would now last for several more years and not be destined to become scrap metal, a resource that increasingly was now needed for the war effort. Indeed, in October Herbert Morrison, the Minister of Supply, began measures to take stock of the national reserves and, with every derelict building to be examined, the following month the Iron and Steel Control of the Ministry of Supply announced their intention to build up a reserve of half a million tons of scrap metal, an amount sufficient to build 300 destroyers or 7,000 tanks. On Monday, November 6th, in an exercise that was anticipated to take three days the actual distribution of ration cards then began, principally so as to be well advanced for the introduction of the Ministry of Food rationing system. In fact it had been decided that commodities to include fish, vegetables and canned meat would commence on December 1st, but customers had to firstly register with the shops from which they had agreed to buy their rations. Including J. D. Bushell of the High Street, Bushell & Thurlow, Bletchley Road, H. Keys, Buckingham Road, J. Colgrove and, of course, the Co-op, various traders in the town not surprisingly vied for this custom but, with the initial system proving cumbersome, after 1942 a points system would be introduced, whereby people could save up their ‘points’ and then buy their requirements from any shop. As for meat supplies, according to one local retailer ‘Bacon may be short, but Colgrove’s sausages are the same length as ever’, although supplies of bacon would soon be shorter than ever when the intention was announced to ration this commodity, as also butter, at 4oz. a week, during mid December. However, since Christmas cakes and confectionery were still available from several shops it was perhaps wise for consumers to make the most of their coming Christmas, especially since sugar would soon be rationed.



On January 8th food rationing was formally announced. Butter, sugar (weighed into blue bags), bacon and ham could now only be purchased on production of a ration book, (according to an allowance of butter 4oz., sugar 12oz., and uncooked bacon or ham 4oz.), and although in canteens and restaurants coupons would not be required for bacon and ham consumed on the premises, hotel guests had to hand over their ration books to the proprietor. In fact during the month 123,593 coupons would be checked at the Food Office, and ‘spot checks’ were now to be made with different retailers each week. For the time being coupons would not be required for rabbit, game, poultry, fish, offal, brawn, pies or paste, and sausages, but as throughout the country towards the end of January the local butchers had found the Ministry of Food’s first week of meat control somewhat disappointing. In fact the Department was generally viewed as rather muddled, with ‘a huge administration staff proving incompetent to deal with a trade problem’, and during the week this was well emphasised in the immediate district and Bletchley, where only nine bullocks had been available, representing a shortage of 36 quarters. There was also a shortage of sheep, and complaints had been received concerning the poor quality of pigs sent from Aylesbury. Difficulty with calves was an associated problem, and, with butchers increasingly losing money ‘on the purchase and sale of bullocks’ heads’, regarding the general condition of the available produce one butcher was moved to remark that ‘I would hardly have sold that quality meat for dogs!’ Yet as chairman of the Bletchley butchers, the local councillor, (and Methodist lay preacher), Mr. J. Colgrove, said that although the system was wrong, at least the officials were doing their best. As for Colgrove’s, this had long been established as a butcher’s in the town, and John Colgrove, who was born in Swanbourne, had first come to Bletchley as a butcher’s boy for David Edwards, of Aylesbury Street. He then worked at Banbury and Stratford-Upon-Avon, before taking over the management of two declining businesses in Wolverton, which he duly made profitable. Both his father and grandfather had been butchers, and with the livestock allegedly grazed on Leon Recreation Ground John would successfully continue the family tradition. Acquiring a slaughterhouse in Church Street, he began his own business at 9, Victoria Road, and shortly afterwards married Hilred Marlow, of Silverstone. Then from 23, Victoria Road he subsequently built up a flourishing wholesale business, and in this enterprise would be greatly helped by Mr. Marks, whom he employed for over 20 years. During World War One Mr. Colgrove had applied his butchery skills as a Government grader, and it was perhaps with some depth of feeling that just after the close of those hostilities the firm saw fit to advertise, ‘If you don’t like foreign meat, Our Hams and Bacon are a treat!’

For the purposes of food control the Clerk of the Council now reported that following agreement with the Ministry of Food, who would pay the yearly rental of £60, a room in the Council offices had been made available. Also during the month, one Monday Mr. Colgrove and the secretary of the Bletchley Butchers’ Association, Mr. C. Tookey, then spent nine hours at Aylesbury trying to obtain enough meat for the local butchers, but although they had a requirement for 50 quarters of imported beef they were told they could only have five. This would have to be divided between 12 shops catering for a population of 10,770, and in fact in a desperate attempt to meet the need of his customers one butcher even offered his colleagues 2s a lb. However, since no supplies were available his financial incentive proved in vain. Yet with no restrictions on the availability of imported lambs 60 were duly obtained, although there were still problems with the supply of suet. A couple of weeks later, in the wake of their weekly Monday visit to the Aylesbury Allocation Centre Mr. J. Colgrove, and Mr. C. Tookey, then gave a report on the beef situation. No improvements had been made, and Mr. Tookey said that it took half their time to get the meat, let alone sell it, and there would be no more beef until Friday. Compounding this shortage was the fact that the demand for English meat had now encouraged dealers to travel especially to such markets as Bletchley, in the certain knowledge that whatever beef they managed to purchase would find a ready sale in some of the larger towns where, with women now demanding the same pay as men, high incomes were being earned by families engaged in munitions work. Then on March 11th came the introduction of meat rationing by price, and not weight, and paradoxically the situation regarding supply began to improve, with 24 beasts becoming available that week. This was opposed to a quota of four during the previous period, although by the middle of the month following a number of meat inspections the Sanitary Inspector, and the Medical Officer, had been compelled to condemn a percentage as unfit for human consumption. However, helping to ease the situation were rabbits which, often being caught by the use of ferrets, could now partially supplement the shortage. Invariably infested with fleas, ‘stump’ rabbits from the hedgerows were less preferred than those from sandier soil, and apart from the meat the skins of the rabbits were also prized, since they could be sold for a penny a time to ‘Jessie’ Dumbleton, a crippled rag and bone man of 3, Denbigh Road. He travelled his rounds on an old lady’s bicycle but, blaming the reason on clothes rationing, which was harming his business, he would later be summoned for rate arrears.

During April a purchase tax was introduced by the War Budget, and cigarettes would thereon cost 8½d a packet. As for other matters, coal remained in short supply although for those households where people were ill a large number of permits had been issued by the Bletchley coal overseer, Mr. R. Sherwood. He was also the Food Executive Officer, and at the beginning of April reported, at a Friday meeting of the Food Control Committee, that with an additional 63 adult and 50 children’s books having been issued, 226 retailers had now been licensed since the institution of rationing. Of these 205 came from within the urban area, and 21 from outside, and the total now comprised 156 general retailers, 14 butchers and 56 caterers. As for the registered consumers, they numbered 44,139 comprising bacon 11,131, butter 10,639, meat, 10,827 and sugar, 11,542 for which 408 permits, representing about 1½ tons, had been issued for the making of jam and marmalade. Butchers were now resigned to the meat situation, but there were many complaints regarding the high proportion of lamb that was necessary to obtain a quarter of beef. In fact for the coming week, to supply the 12 shops in Bletchley only 3½ English beasts had been allotted for 28 English sheep, and towards the middle of the month matters became even more disconcerting when about half of the meat was condemned, due mainly to emaciation, cirrhosis and tuberculosis. Yet concerning coal there was more optimistic news, for although supplies were still below the usual level the Mines Department had decided to nevertheless double the previous limit of 2cwt. per household. However, a ban was to soon be introduced on the making or selling of iced cakes, although perhaps for alternative options June commenced with a helpful demonstration of wartime cooking, which was held at the offices of the Northampton Electric & Power Company, in Victoria Road. Then also during the month came the distribution of the new ration books, and although around 5,000 were accordingly issued in the Bletchley area, this still left some 3,500 awaiting distribution. As mentioned, the arrival of the evacuees in the town had significantly increased the pressure on the local services, and for refuse collection it was now decided to obtain an additional vehicle since, because of the increased amounts, the Karrier Bantam tipping lorry, registration EBH 325, was increasingly hard pressed to cope. (Yet EBH 325 would soldier on until May, 1952, when finally put up for sale by the Council. They would then continue the Karrier tradition in 1967 by purchasing, for £4,482 5s, another Karrier refuse collection vehicle from the local garage of Davenport Vernon, and in fact they had little choice, since this was the only tender received!) Refuse was now an important source of salvage, and with 3½ tons of paper and 2 tons of scrap iron, etc., having been reclaimed by mid April, matters would then be further improved when the Biscuit Manufacturers’ Defence Committee announced that, on their behalf, grocers could now buy old biscuit tins from the public for salvage.

‘Very few of us can be heroines on the battlefront, but we can all have the tiny thrill of thinking as we hear the news of an epic battle in the air, perhaps it was my saucepan that made a part of that Hurricane.’ So said Lady Reading in a radio broadcast when, as the head of the Women’s Voluntary Service, she launched a campaign to collect scrap metal. However, the aluminium used in pots and pans was of an insufficient quality to manufacture aircraft components, but nevertheless the Government had especially asked the W.V.S. to concentrate on aluminium - ‘One ton of aluminium makes a Spitfire.’ More importantly the campaign helped to boost morale and foster a sense of purpose, as also perhaps did the Council when they launched their own general appeal. This was to add to the overall 5½ tons of scrap iron, 20 tons of paper, 5 tons of bottles, 1¼ cwt. of aluminium, 1cwt. copper, and 4 tons of flattened tins which had been collected since March, and under the charge of Mrs. J. Whiteley a house-to-house ‘salvage canvass’ duly began. Of great surprise, at Water Eaton amongst the scrap which Hugh Hammer and Joe Birtle had ‘been working valiantly’ to amass came the discovery of an aluminium pipe rack, which ironically bore a label inscribed ‘A bit of the Germans’ own metal, to hit back at them.’ In fact it had originally been part of a Zeppelin, brought down at Cuffley during World War One! With the Water Eaton scrap dumped on the Green in front of the village hall, Mrs. Whiteley then toured the various depots with a trailer towed by her car to collect the aluminium salvage, and this was then sent to The Grange, Old Bletchley, or the U.D.C. Surveyor’s office. Indeed as a testament to their worthy endeavours by the end of the month the W.V.S. had collected some 4½ cwt. The increasing demands on the town’s water supply was now further burdened by the unwelcome discovery of damage to a pipe at the Drill Hall. This had been revealed when the Territorial Army Association received an unusually large demand for £29, indicating that much of the water had been running to waste, but upon asking the Council to take a sympathetic view, and reduce the bill by 50%, they were instead directed to contact the firm which had laid the pipe! In a more understanding move, from July the National Milk Scheme began to provide expectant and nursing mothers, and children under five, with one pint of milk a day for 2d, or free in cases of need, whilst as for the progress with food rationing, for the second rationing period 8,150 ration books had been issued, with advice now being offered on how to make the best use of the limited supplies.

Including information about recipes, in the national press from the summer of 1940 the Ministry of Food published a weekly ‘Food Facts.’ The first had begun with the lines ‘Grow fit not fat on your war diet’, and this would be hopefully heeded when a Ministry of Food Order allowed retailers to sell bacon trimmings ‘off the ration.’ Then as another bonus those workers in offices and factories devoid of a regular canteen would be allowed to have during working hours quantities of tea that had not been obtained from home supplies. This measure had been announced in April by the Minister of Food, Lord Woolton, the popular ex businessman and social worker, and for those partial to a ‘cuppa’ they were advised that ‘you should give the tea enough time to brew, and stir it just before pouring. If you do all this your ration will go further.’ As for coffee, there were still ample supplies - ‘Try it for breakfast and make your tea ration go further’ - but in fact tea could be purchased from any shop without the need for prior registration. Schemes were now introduced by which surplus fruit from gardens or allotments could be used to the best advantage, i.e. for hospitals, schools, processing for jam, etc., and details could be obtained on application to Mr. R. Sherwood, the Food Executive Officer. During July Bletchley Urban Food Control requested that for the purpose of dealing with ‘Mutual Assistance Pacts’ the Bletchley Chamber of Commerce should call a meeting of all the local food retailers. As a result, at the Mutual Assistance meeting, chaired by Mr. J. Bushell, president of the Chamber, the various ways by which the local traders could help each other, should their premises be damaged, were discussed, and in consequence the formation of an executive committee would prepare an operational scheme. The following month a report was prepared by the local Fuel Overseer, and the Surveyor, on suitable sites for a coal dump in the area, and also during the month the collection of salvage continued apace. In fact by the end of August under the organization of Mrs. Clifton the 2½ tons of scrap iron collected at Water Eaton had been taken away by lorry, and the proceeds would be applied to the Red Cross Fund.

From Monday, August 26th bread could now only be sold in four standard shapes - tin loaves, sandwich loaves, oven bottom loaves and Scotch batch loaves - and it was impressed upon the population that if everyone saved just half an ounce of bread every day, then this would equate to 250,000 tons of wheat a year, equivalent to about 28 wheat ships. In order to cope with such matters, during September the Clerk of the Council then announced a need to reappoint the Food Control Committee, and whilst all the original members were willing to serve, this would be with the exception of Captain Baker who, having now left the district, would be replaced by Mr. J. Wicks. Since milk was required ‘for more important purposes, from October 1st cream, (which was now deemed to be a luxury), would no longer be available, and during November members of the Bletchley & District Chamber of Commerce were then notified of the new shop closing hours. All shops, except tobacconists, confectioners and newsagents, were to close at 6p.m. in the week, but Saturday opening would continue until 7.30p.m., and the half-day holiday remained unchanged. As for the meat situation, by a report of the Meat Inspector, 134 cattle, 733 sheep and five pigs had been examined during the month although of this amount four cattle, three sheep and 3¼ cwt. of offal had to be condemned, due to emaciation, tuberculosis and cirrhosis. In fact at the end of the month Bletchley butchers then experienced the greatest shortage of meat since the introduction of rationing, with only two pigs delivered for division between the 12 butchers. Now having a population, (due to evacuation), that exceeded 10,000, Bletchley seemed resigned to rationing as a way of life, and yet by early December over 20% of the residents had still failed to send in to the local Food Committee the reference leaf of their old ration books. Without these the new books could not be issued and even 45% of the received applications had to be returned, due to the pages having been incorrectly completed, or the identity numbers omitted. In the absence of a book, or with an incomplete book, the food rations could not be obtained, although even with a ration book that was correctly authorised some commodities would soon remain out of reach. Indeed, from Christmas Eve there would be no more imported bananas, and this seemed rather a shame since they had been available in English shops since 1633. However, across the Atlantic matters seemed somewhat more optimistic, for as a portent of things to come during the year Colonel Sanders had perfected his special recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken.



In January, to counter food profiteering the Food Minister, Lord Woolton, announced extensive new price controls and, including rice, coffee and biscuits, the cost of more than twenty food items would now be frozen. Yet meat remained in short supply, and commencing from January 6th all butchers’ shops in Bletchley would close all day on Mondays, on Tuesdays from 1p.m., Wednesdays 1p.m. and Thursdays 1p.m. However, they would remain open all day on Fridays and Saturdays. Then as the month progressed a slight improvement occurred in the meat position. Butchers just managed to supply their consumers’ rations of approximately 1s a head, and from the following Monday the new meat ration would allow an increase to1s 2d for adults, and 7d for children. As for bacon prices, from March 10th these would increase by about 2d a pound. Towards helping the clothing situation, in March all children’s second hand clothes would be required for cash at not only 43, High Street, Bletchley, but also the fruit shop, 51, High Street, where Janet Hill was additionally in the market for second hand furniture and other goods. Since the beginning of the war she had traded as a fruiterer and grocer, and after many years in business she would eventually retire in 1958, at the age of 71. During April the Bletchley & District Co-op Bakery Department announced that ‘to make the best use of restricted supplies’ they would not be supplying Hot Cross buns, but they would be able to offer Easter gateaux, Easter logs and Easter shortbreads - ‘You can obtain the Government 85% WHEATMEAL LOAF from our roundsmen and shops.’ Soon it would be confirmed that the gross amount realised during 1940 for the sale of salvage was £312 4s 11d, whilst as for the present year it was announced in March that Buckinghamshire would be among the 22 counties in which a National Survey of Scrap Iron and Steel was to be launched. Other parts of the country had already been surveyed, and, with the Survey having been in operation for eight months, a national record was being compiled of all salvageable items, to include disused railway track, water and gas pipes. Controlled tipping was now to take place on a site in North Street, and this was a measure that during the winter would help to relieve the strain on the destructor works, situated, (as approached from Cambridge Street), at the far end of North Street. Indeed there was an urgent need, for already approximately 2,700 tons of refuse had been dealt with during the year. In addition approximately 500 tons of clinker had been made for U.D.C. purposes, and also on the question of waste a new automatic sewage recorder had now been delivered and installed at the sewage works.

With the exception of schools, hospitals and those families receiving cheap supplies, in order to amass a dried reserve for the next winter, at the end of April Bletchley householders endured a day without milk. By a directive of the Minister of Food dealers would hold back a one day supply, and this would then be taken to a central depot for collection early the same morning. Yet not only was Britain enduring such measures, for in Japan rice rationing was now being introduced. At the Council Offices, one Friday in early May during a meeting of the Bletchley Food Control Committee the part time Food Executive Officer, Mr. R.L. Sherwood, outlined the work that had been performed by the Food Office since the last time they met. Reporting that 7,530 emergency ration cards had been issued between September, 1940, and April, 1941, he said that these were issued to persons who had either lost the originals in London, or had arrived in the Bletchley area for a short stay, or who were otherwise awaiting the arrival of pages or coupons from retailers in different areas. During the same period 3,332 persons had moved into the urban area, and 1,608 had moved out, and for the third issue of ration books on January 6th these numbered 10,239, with the registrations for all rationed commodities being 66,623 in April, against 58,906 during the previous September. The public was to now apply for the new ration books from early June, and persons were to cut out the card - filled in by block capitals - from the back page of the present book for despatch to the local Food Office. In fact the 4th series ration book, containing about the same number of pages as the existing book, and accompanied by a Ration Book Supplement, would now last for a year instead of six months, and due to the large numbers required printing had begun in December, 1940. As for permits for free or cheap milk, these totalled a figure of 2,308 since the beginning of the national milk scheme. Mr. Sherwood then announced that his chief assistant in Food Control work was shortly to leave for another appointment. Also there was a possibility that his chief assistant in the Council’s general department would be joining the R.A.F., and in view of this depletion he was therefore of the opinion that, since he could no longer give the necessary attention to these duties, a full time Food Executive Officer should be appointed. The Committee duly agreed with this recommendation.

New furniture was only available to those setting up home for the first time, or for people who had been bombed out, although the Bletchley and District Co-op had now secured the entire stock of a ‘High-Class London Furnishing House’, which included walnut and oak bedroom suites and kitchen cabinets. Indeed, due to the losses being wreaked by U boats many supplies were becoming more limited, but difficulties were also being experienced in Germany, where due to a shortage of elastic it would later be said that ‘if such things were as important to men as they were to women the war would have ended long before it did’! In fact from May 1st all the clothes of workers in Germany were standardised, whilst in Britain from June 1st every shop window tailor’s dummy would need to have a sign which stated the number of coupons necessary to buy an article of clothing. However, until the new coupons could be printed, those for margarine in the ration books could be used! With the increasing need to conserve cloth, turn ups were abolished for trousers, although to overcome this austerity some men bought a pair a size too large and then turned up the excess! As for women perhaps the concept of bra cup sizing would remain just a dream, for it had only recently been developed in America. A man’s suit would now have only three pockets and a maximum trouser length of 48cm., although the Board of Trade did allow a new ‘utility cloth’, from which, albeit with the number of styles being restricted for both sexes, ‘utility suits’ could be made by authorised tailors. For people of sufficient wealth they would be able to buy the cloth and have it made up into less austere garments, but for those of more modest means 16 coupons would be required for a man’s overcoat, 11 for a dress and eight for pyjamas. Also on the question of the rationing of clothes and footwear, at a Tuesday meeting in early June Mr. H. Massie Blomfield, of the Board of Trade, addressed Bletchley traders in the Conservative Club where, in the absence of Mr. J. Bushell, Mr. A. Harrington presided. The matters for discussion included ‘a definition of slippers and in what category tennis shoes should be placed’, and it was agreed that the annual allowance of 66 coupons - enough for a complete outfit - would be sufficient for anybody for a year, ‘and would have a good effect in checking extravagance.’ Cutting extravagance was now also a priority for the War Office, who in consequence released 10,000 cavalry swords for scrap, whilst in mid June reclamation also become a priority for Mr. A. Bates, when he was appointed Salvage Officer for the district. A few weeks later then came a recommendation to store salvage in a suitable building at the Refuse Destructor Works, and with the plans to be duly submitted, at an estimated cost of around £200 the work would be scheduled to commence in November.

On June 2nd a new system of supplying meat to catering establishments was introduced, and this would be based entirely on the up to date statistics of the number of meals served, and not as the business carried out in January, 1940. From July 7th to 19th the new rationing registration then took place, and everyone had to register whether or not they wished to change their retailer. In mid July the newly appointed Mr. J. Elliott began his duties as the Food Executive Officer for Bletchley. He had lately been the Deputy Food Executive Officer for Windsor, and upon his arrival Mr. R. Sherwood, Clerk to the Urban Council, relinquished this part-time position, which he had held since the beginning of the war. Since there was very little trade at weekends, a suggestion was now made that traders should consider closing on Saturday afternoons, but for a man from Denbigh Hall Inn, who had previously been the licensee of the Maltsters Arms, he ceased trading altogether at the end of July when, accused with others of black market dealing in meat, he was sent to prison for two months. A fine of £1 was also imposed for not keeping a hotel register, and no doubt such matters would soon become the concern of both Mr. E. Holdom, a traders’ representative, and Mrs. Butler, of Osborne Street, who in early August had been appointed to the vacant seats on the Food Control Committee. By the end of August most Bletchley groups seemed in agreement with those who wanted an early closing on Saturday, and during the first week in September the scheme was accordingly commenced, thereby enabling assistants and employers to enjoy a longer weekend. Especially for grocers the move proved popular, and gave more time to deal with rationing problems over the weekend. However, rationing problems were then somewhat eased from September 22nd, when all catering establishments were now to receive cheese on a scale previously allowed only to ‘certain types’ of establishment. Then in further good news from September 29th certain types of fish would become cheaper, with the retail price of lemon sole falling from 1s 7 ½d to 1s 6d a pound.

The Clerk of the Council now gave notice that a survey of iron and steel railings was to begin, and any person having any examples that were considered to be of historic or artistic value, or were deemed necessary to prevent cattle from straying, or served an otherwise useful purpose, was to lodge their objection within 14 days. At the close of November the Council then thanked householders and traders for their response to the appeal for waste paper. This had been collected in connection with Lord Beaverbrook’s salvage drive, and the population had been informed that if every person in Britain saved 2ozs. of paper a week, then this would not only provide enough newsprint for four months, but also save 16 ship loads of imported paper. Passed through a variety of processes, (including ‘refining’, to eliminate any lumps), waste paper of the lowest grade was converted amongst other uses into ‘board’, for the manufacture of ammunition containers, and for those workers who were engaged on this task they received a basic weekly wage of 33s 6d, plus a production bonus. However, for those workers who were involved in ‘dirty work’, such as dipping the containers into wax and painting them, they qualified for an extra £1 a week. A further salvage drive would then commence from the week beginning December 1st, although this would of course exclude the all important pink ‘points’ ration books, the distribution of which was being continued in Bletchley. Nevertheless there had been a slow response, and many people had still not even applied. With the approach of Christmas, at the beginning of December the Bletchley & District Co-op informed their regular customers that Christmas cakes, chocolate logs and mince pies would soon be available. There would also be extra cakes during the Christmas week, whilst elsewhere ‘off the ration’ Christmas gifts could be obtained from A. G. Cowlishaw & Son, of Aylesbury Street and Bletchley Road. Customers could at least then face the coming new year with a measure of seasonal cheer, and for the local Food Office a new outlook was also forthcoming, following their recent move from a temporary home in the Council Offices to Lantern House.




The evacuees destined for Bletchley would arrive from Islington, where certain of the residents had perhaps not fully appreciated the danger of air raids since, on receiving his example, one man had turned his Anderson shelter upside down, filled it with water, and used it as a duck pond! Yet the need for air raid protection would become apparent on the night of August 24th, 1940, when as a result of a navigational error a small number of German bomber crews unleashed their loads onto Central London. They had mistakenly believed they were over open countryside but following a retaliatory raid the following night, when 81 aircraft of Bomber Command attacked Berlin, for both sides the policy of restraint was now at an end, and mass attacks against major cities would begin. The image of the tube stations in London as a refuge from the bombing is perhaps the most enduring, although in fact only about 4% of the population took advantage of this protection. Instead, many preferred to remain in their homes, or the Anderson shelter in the garden, whilst for others a communal refuge was provided by especially constructed public shelters, such as the one at Islington in Ritchie Street, where, when the nightly raids began, a ‘Mrs. B’, (a beetroot seller by day), became renowned for the orderly manner in which she took charge. In fact she would both calm and care for the mothers and elderly people, before returning the following day to her work in the local market.

George Young - his recollections as an evacuee.
At the outbreak of the war the Government began the evacuation of schoolchildren to areas of the country deemed safe from Hitler's bombs. So our family became evacuees, my sisters first, quickly followed by mother clutching me and a suitcase. Thus we came to Bletchley. My sisters went three ways. One finished up with Mrs. Hartwell in Park Street. One went to Buckingham and my eldest sister with Mrs. Harvey at Denbigh Hall cottages. My mother and myself were billeted at 39 Duncombe Street with Mrs. Emmerton. We were not to live together as a family again until 1947. My family tree was to tell me that our family had not moved more than ten miles from Islington in the previous two hundred years, but Adolf changed that. There was no provision for men evacuees. The only way my mother and father could be together was to find a home that would accept them. This did not happen, but father now on war work got a job driving a steam engine, which had a large green caravan which he parked in a field in Grove Way. This became our home for the next six years. When the first council houses were built in 1947 at Chestnut Crescent we had the fifth house allocated. Our family was united again for the first time in seven years, my sisters having been in billets during the war. My family never returned to our former home in Islington. We became the early citizens of Milton Keynes you might say. But twixt arriving as an infant and leaving school I had a life that today’s children do not have. We swam at Denbigh gravel pits, also at Water Eaton mill pond. We went fishing at all the local waters and roamed without any restraint. The greatest influence on us was our schooling under the stewardship of E.C. Cook, the headmaster of Bletchley Road School, who taught us values. The three Rs and woodwork and how to behave. How many trees were broken in half at the Leon Recreation Ground, none. They have all survived. The people who took us in and brought us up did us proud. Most of them are gone now but God bless them anyway.
In 2005, during the celebratory week for Victory in Europe george made a nostalgic return to 39, Duncombe Street, the house where he had been initially billeted. Here he is seen about to enter the property in the company of Naomi Welland.

On Friday, September 1st, Bletchley would receive the first batch of evacuees, with 800 children and helpers from the Islington district destined to arrive by train at Bletchley station. However, due to entraining and detraining - first at Islington on the electric line to Watford, and then from Watford to Bletchley - at 2.43p.m. the train, (No. 15), pulled into platform 7 an hour late, to be met by a welcoming party which included Mr. E. Cook, the Billeting Officer, Mr. Crisp and Miss Workman, who were both local school teachers, and Mr. R. Sherwood, the Clerk of the Council. Members of the police and clergy were also present and although many children had come to watch the arrival of the train, in order to avoid congestion they were soon moved from the station to the station approach junction. In fact the wisdom of this was soon apparent when the platform became crowded with the young evacuees, who ‘formed a happy throng, clutching haversacks, cases or parcels of clothing in one hand and steadying their gasmask cases with the other.’ The children were then formed into a line and walked over the bridge to the station entrance from where, assembled into school groups, they were lead to the Duncombe Street market entrance by the teachers, many of whom carried banners showing the name and number of the school. Their progress had been unsurprisingly watched with great fascination by Bletchley parents and teachers, and the children also expressed great fascination when they were handed their necessary rations in carrier bags. Working near the poultry section, these had been filled by the ration staff, and with Mr. E. Jones and his helpers now taking charge of the rationing, the children examined the contents of the bags with eager curiosity, ‘the quarter-pound of chocolate receiving devouring attention.’ Intended to last for two days - when the Government grant would start - the rations also included a tin of meat, a tin of sweetened and a tin of unsweetened milk, two 6oz. packets of biscuits and a postcard view of Bletchley, with ‘Bletchley has welcomed your child’ printed on the reverse. In a space especially provided their new address could then be sent back to their parents. As for another thoughtful inclusion, instructions were placed in each bag regarding the opening of the Clinic where, on the day after evacuation, doctors and nurses would be in attendance to examine any child whose ‘foster mother’ thought fit to bring them there. Having received their supplies the children were divided into groups, (a process not without difficulty, since brothers and sisters often wanted to remain together), and taking charge a marshal and helpers then took the children to one of the seven designated areas in the town, where in small groups they were handed over at the road junctions to the appointed officer. His job was to conduct the youngsters to their final homes, whilst as for the host families they received 10s 6d per child, 8s 6d if more than one, and 21s for adults.

Regarding the arrival of the evacuees, perhaps the emotive scenario is best described by a contemporary observer who wrote, ‘So Cockney Kid greeted us with a smile and a wisecrack. There was no shyness about him. His self confidence was assured. He might have owned the station, and, indeed, the whole of the railway system. It was his day.’ However, some children seemed to have a more philosophic outlook for, with labels tied around their necks to identify them, one remarked that he felt ‘like a parcel being posted to the country.’ As for a local comment, being a member of a family that took in some of the evacuees, Monica Austin, nee Pengelly, would recall;

Pictured here is a young Monica Pengelly at her desk creating a script for a Puppet Show, but that's another story.
Also pictured on the right is Mary Weatherhead and behind are Jean Hartup, Valerie Silcock and Shirley Butcher.

“One morning, there was a babble of voices from the street outside. We hurried to our front window to see who was causing the noise. Denmark Street, Fenny Stratford, was alive with a swarm of people, both adults and children. The adults had clipboards, the children gas masks over their shoulders. I wondered what was going on. Children were not told anything in those days but sometimes a clue could be picked up from adult conversation. My mother, without saying a word, went out into the street and a few minutes later came back with two girls in tow. “This is Rose and Edna”, was all she said. Rose was thirteen and very plump. Her sister, Edna, two years older, was tall and slim. They were evacuees from London and had come to stay with us. At that time my father was off work and the only money we had coming in was from the Sick Club he paid into, so it was difficult for Mum having two extra mouths to feed. And they certainly did feed, their appetites were voracious. It wasn’t long before Mum asked the Welfare Officer if she could place them in another home as Dad was still off work and she was finding it impossible to manage.”

72 evacuation trains would pass through Bletchley station during the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and of the 2,700 London evacuees who arrived by train, (plus another 500 who came by bus), 1,600 would be eventually settled in Bletchley, with a similar number distributed within the Wing Rural Area. For some evacuees, until they could be taken to their billets provision for catering and sleeping had been made at the Methodist huts, and for his organisational involvement in these arrangements much praise was afforded to the newly appointed Methodist minister, the Reverend Arthur Yates.

Having experienced life in Bletchley before the evacuation, in later life Peggy Sharpe, nee Sear, recalled the actual experience of being a 14 year old evacuee.

“The war clouds had been approaching for some time when I reached my 14th birthday in August 1939. I had left school at the end of the summer term and was looking forward to beginning my working life and feeling really grown up. It was then that my father told me I would be going back to school to be evacuated with my 7 year old brother. London schools had offered summer school leavers the opportunity to join in the evacuation scheme. My mother was very distressed, we were a devoted family and she wanted us to be together. My father however insisted, he had been a young soldier in the First World War and knew what might be expected.”

“On the 1st September we assembled at our school, Leopold Road, Willesden, with our gas-masks and a change of clothes – just hand luggage. After tearful good-byes to our parents and labelled so we wouldn't get lost, we marched off to a local church for prayers. My mother's last words rang in my ears “look after Ronnie - don’t let go of him”. I never forgot those words - I held my brother’s hand from then on and kept him close beside me. After prayers we marched on to Willesden Junction Station where a special was waiting for us. I wasn’t worried, my father was a railway man and I knew the station and the line, it was the L.M.S. Many times we had been on family outings, often to my grandparents who lived in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, perhaps we would go there, then we’d be with our cousins, I thought. I knew my grandparents, over 70, could not look after a teenage girl and a small boy.”

“As the train pulled out of the station many children began to cry. The teachers were kind and my teacher, Miss Downey, sat with us; quite a number of her girls had returned, like me, to join the evacuation, some also had younger brothers or sisters. Miss Downey chatted to us about what we would do and how we older girls would have to help look after the younger children. As we got into the country some of the children were amazed at the sight of cows and sheep. I didn’t know there were children who had never seen them before. On we travelled past the Ovaltine Farms at Kings Langley and the lion on the hill at Whipsnade Zoo, land marks pointed out by my father on previous journeys.”

“When we rushed through Leighton Buzzard I knew the next station was Bletchley and my heart sank as we rushed through there too. Now I was lost, I didn’t know where we were going. However, the train stopped at the next station, Wolverton, and we all filed into the station yard where we were given a carrier bag each which contained an orange, a sandwich and some biscuits. Then we boarded a bus which took us 3½ miles to the little village of Castlethorpe, where we arrived at the village school and sat waiting to be taken to our new homes.”

“People came in to look at us and different children were taken to the homes of the villagers. Several times my brother and I were approached and some of the kindly women wanted my brother and others wanted me. Some wanted two girls, some two boys. Again and again I drew my brother close, he would not leave without me or I without him. It didn’t seem to me that they understood we couldn’t be parted. It was I who didn’t understand, the villages hadn’t room for two children of different sex. My teacher came to speak to me and said I would have to let my brother go, but I wouldn’t listen and insisted we stay together. The numbers of children were dwindling by now and we were nearly last when a dark-haired middle-aged lady stepped forward and she spoke to me and then said “I’ll take them both.”

“Later she was to tell me how touched she was at my devotion to my brother. This was Mrs. May; she had a husband and a son, who was a couple of years older than me. I thought we would live in Castlethorpe forever. But we didn’t; like a lot of other evacuees we returned to London in November 1939. We kept in touch with her and when we were bombed out in September 1940 we did in fact come to live in Bletchley; she visited us and we her. I married in 1945 and went to live in America.”

In fact it was whilst awaiting her mother at Bletchley railway station that Peggy had met her future husband, a member of the American forces. He was stationed at Little Brickhill, and after their marriage returned to America in 1945. Now as Mrs. Griffin, Peggy followed in March, 1946, and the couple set up home at 325, Hudson-street, West Columbia, South Carolina. Having acquired a southern drawl, a few years later Peggy then returned to Bletchley to visit her ailing father, and found that despite all the labour saving devices of America she still preferred England, for as she said at the time; ‘All I do now is stand and look at Brickhill woods and the wonderful view.’ Also of the same opinion was one of her three children, Debbie, who did not want to go back. However, this predicament would be tragically resolved when following her husband’s death in a tragic accident, Peggy then returned to Britain.

Another romance to involve foreign travel would be that which befell Doris Cattle, who had arrived in Bletchley as a 10 year old evacuee. After the war she would marry Don Groom, and although the couple made their home at 105, Water Eaton Road, they later emigrated to Australia, where Don’s brickworking skills were in great demand. A feathered evacuee had also came to seek refuge in Bletchley, namely Polly, a grey parrot. Originally brought to England by a sailor, the bird had later been variously owned by a bookmaker, the wife of an Army officer, and numerous other ladies, but in 1923 it was then acquired by Miss Elizabeth Rackley, of London. The sex of Polly had always been unknown, until with the onset of the Blitz she suddenly began to lay eggs. In order to escape the bombing Miss Rackley and Polly then moved to Bletchley, although because Polly had learned to imitate the whistling sound of a falling bomb the experience could not always be forgotten! Possessing an extensive vocabulary, ‘some very genteel, some matey, and one word was entirely objectionable which of course was always reserved for the more embarrassing occasions’, scorning parrot food Polly was rather partial to tea, but after eating four grapes she suddenly exclaimed ‘Well, there you are’, and died at the age of 52.

The Bletchley Road Council Schools, which initially became the centre of the evacuation exercise.
In January 1936 the Organiser of School Gardens, Mr. Aycaster, discussed plans for the new school garden, and work to dig and prepare the land began the following month. However, the site could not be fully laid out until the new school buildings were complete, on which matter on March 31s' Mr. Godber, the architect, brought the plans of the proposed school reorganisations. Nevertheless, through the Education Committee 1 Ocwt. of potatoes were received for the garden in May direct from Scotland, and in June then came a delivery of 4,000 plants from Biggleswade. At a return visit on November 20"' Mr. Aycaster seemed suitably impressed, and on examining a collection of garden pests 'took one interesting specimen away for identification.' By March 1937 building work had begun on the new Senior School although on the 23rd the foreman of the contractors had to report that at the entrance of the boy's playground a lorry had run into one of the pillars. Being in a dangerous condition this was then immediately removed. On the morning of June 13"', 1938 the new 'Bletchley Senior Council Mixed Department' then opened with Mr. E.C. Cook as headmaster although of the other teachers, since Ethel Dove could not assume her duty until the end of the following month a supply teacher, Mrs. R. Holdom, covered for the temporary absence. The school was organised as a three stream school with a Leavers Class, and with a canteen supplying hot mid day meals at 3d a day 'the first day passed with very little dislocation.' Yet a while later, during the early morning of October 3rd a little dislocation was certainly caused when a section of the partitioning fell out between the science lab. and the adjoining classroom. With the increasing international tensions, by circular 714/1938, 'Admission of Refugee Children', instructions were received on Thursday, September 29* not to admit and mark Refugee Children in the usual way but to maintain a separate register. However, although one girl was duly admitted as a refugee the order was then cancelled, and such children would thereon be marked in the usual way. In November Colonel Wyness, a school manager, drew attention to the issue that 'in view of recent happenings', 'specific instructions should be given to the staff as to action to be taken in case of air raids', and indeed in June of the following year several teachers would be enrolled for A.R.P. classes at Wolverton and Buckingham. As for more routine considerations, in February 1939 Mr. Cook attended the Education Offices at Aylesbury to choose a selection of pictures for the school. By May the School Correspondent had received a letter from the Secretary of Education stating that the Board of Education had approved the proposal of the Committee to make an exceptional promotion from the Junior to the Senior School. Arrangements had thereby to be made for the promotion of all children who would normally be promoted in September to be promoted forthwith, and perhaps some were amongst a party of 14 children and teachers who, during the Whitsun holiday, spent a week in Paris at the Hotel de Nice. - B.C.H.I.

The policy of evacuation required meticulous organisation, but even so when it was found that on their arrival some of the children had not been accommodated, they and their helpers were taken to the Bletchley Senior School Hall for redistribution. As the centre of the evacuation exercise, for the purposes of education the schools had been temporarily closed, and the staff of the Evacuation Office at Bletchley Senior School were accordingly kept busy dealing with any problems. Yet including those mothers and babies, or expectant mothers, who had been taken into households in place of children, most of the evacuees were soon comfortably settled in, albeit with the exception of a few who had made a swift return to London. However, these were chiefly those who had been in trouble with the authorities, ‘and whose farewell aroused a feeling of relief’! After the evacuation, on the following Sunday hundreds of people arrived at Bletchley station to visit their displaced wives or children, and whilst many were temporarily reunited, for others the objects of their quest remained inaccessible in far-off villages. Under the Evacuation Scheme children’s clothes were urgently needed, as also the loan of pushchairs and prams, and with their billeting forms having to be presented, payments to those persons needing assistance would be made at Bletchley Employment Exchange on Thursday, September 7th between 10a.m. and noon, and the High Street schools from 10a.m. 4p.m. As for evacuation queries, they would be dealt with by the Central Office at the schools. By mid September there were four categories of evacuees; (1) Children, teachers and helpers from two large London schools, Ecclesbourne Road and St. Paul’s, plus one or two small private schools; ie. a total of 718 children, 44 teachers and 46 helpers. (2) Mothers and small children, ie. 143 mothers and 379 children, including 34 expectant mothers. (3) Children who had arrived in the town but were not attached to schools, children on holiday, who had arrived since the evacuation took place, and a few transfers. (4) Those who had returned to London, a total of 44 adults and 61 children. Then for the compilation of the ‘National Register’, by the end of the month the Bletchley Urban District had been split into nine areas, and the nine enumerators were already distributing the Schedule, which, to be completed by the head of the household, would need to include everyone who was resident at the premises on the night of registration, (Friday). With Mr. R. Sherwood as the National Registration Officer, the census would then provide a basis for the issue of both food ration books and identity cards.

The Methodist Church, Queensway.
At a cost of £155, despite there having been a complete refurbishment in 1882 of the Methodist chapel in the High Street, in 1907 land in Bletchley Road was purchased from a Mr. Lee and the Trustees of the Duncombe Estate, and the Methodist Trustees then set up a committee for a new building in 1908. Eventually it was decided to build a church at a cost not exceeding £1,800, and with plans prepared by Mr. E. Harper, an architect from Birmingham, of the 13 tenders examined the lowest, of £1,851 10s, was accepted. The following year 250 circulars were then sent out to solicit subscriptions, and on July 10th, 1909 the stone laying ceremony took place to a musical accompaniment by the Luton Town Band. Also included was singing by the Wolverton and Woburn Sands choirs, and this was again a feature at the official opening by the Reverend William Perkins in November 1909, with Mr. Turney using a silver key inscribed with his name and the date. (Interestingly, in 1966 when she came to Woburn Sands from London the key was then discovered by his daughter, Miss E. Turney, amongst his effects, and was subsequently kept in the church safe.) From 1934 a wooden hut in the grounds was used by the Methodist guides, and in the early months of the war with the influx of evacuees into the town the large vestry room of the church was set aside as a social amenity. For the most part the evacuees were afforded a genuine welcome in the town, but when the adjoining Methodist hut began use as the Bletchley Refugee Reception Centre the notices proclaiming this were mysteriously ripped down. After the war, in 1955 the wooden hut was destroyed by fire and one Saturday afternoon in July 1961 four foundation stones were then laid for the new Sunday School hall, built alongside the Methodist chapel by Tranfields, at a cost of £5,500. - J. Taylor.

By early October the Bletchley Evacuation office had been transferred from the schools to rooms at the Lantern Café, where staff worked every afternoon compiling and updating a register of evacuees. However, some 300 of these had now gone back to London but for those who remained around 600 blankets, 65 mattresses and six camp beds had so far been issued. In order to see how the evacuated children had settled in, on October 2nd Miss Thelma Cazalet, the M.P. for Islington, then paid a visit to the Senior School, and in the middle of the month London County Council officially thanked all the evacuation workers for their assistance. Nevertheless, the job was not fully complete, for at the end of the month an announcement was made that within a fortnight about 50 more evacuee children would arrive in Bletchley, associated with those schools already billeted in the town. In early November officials of the Borough of Brentford and Chiswick then came to Bletchley, to spend an afternoon investigating the measures that were being taken for evacuated mothers and children. In fact they brought with them a number of complaints from dissatisfied mothers who had now returned to London, but upon enquiry these would all prove to be without any foundation. For those evacuees now settled in the town, the large vestry room of the Bletchley Road Methodist Church was especially set aside for their use as a social centre cum retreat and, with a fire and reading material provided, would be open every day from 1p.m. until 4.30p.m. In other measures, towards the end of November Mr. W. Crisp was appointed Deputy Billeting Officer, Mr. E. Jones, secretary to the Evacuation Committee, and Mr. W. Puryer Supervisor of Records, whilst on more basic and everyday matters during one Tuesday afternoon Mrs. Ann Bradford, the London County Council evacuation welfare organiser, made a distribution of footwear to the evacuees. Appealing for clothing and shoes, she had sent many letters to large firms and organisations, and in response the Lion Road Hospital Society had proved especially sympathetic, and sent about 50 pairs. In the distribution Mrs. Bradford was greatly assisted by her London helpers for whom, subject to approval by the Ministry of Health, a maintenance allowance was now payable of 15s a week for the Organiser of Helpers, 10s each a week for the two Communal Feeding Helpers and 5s a week each for the 15 General Helpers. Yet apart from her endeavours to secure clothing and footwear for the evacuees, Mrs. Bradford had now also arranged to rent Ropley House for at least nine months, and with Mrs. Harlock she would have the responsibility for some 19 evacuee children, who would soon be arriving.

During early December, on Sundays the Bletchley Girl Guides began to provide a room in the Social Centre for mothers visiting their evacuated children, and one mother could feel especially proud of her son Maurice, an 11 year old evacuee from Islington, who was now living at Water Eaton. Some weeks ago he and a five year old companion from Bletchley had been fishing in the canal, and when the lad fell in Maurice saved him from drowning, an act for which he would duly receive the Gilt Cross for Gallantry from the Boy Scouts’ Association. Definitely a cause for celebration, as also would be the forthcoming house to house collection for the evacuees’ Christmas festivities, which raised a total of £26 3s 10½d. As a centre where on a daily basis evacuated mothers could socialise, the Clerk of the Council now reported that suitable accommodation was being sought, and premises were also required as a headquarters for those helpers engaged in repairing children’s clothes. Both requirements could be possibly housed in the billiards room of Ropley House, and accommodation within the House might also allow the Evacuation Office to be transferred from the Lantern Cafe. Thereby a centralisation of all the evacuation facilities could be made, and with the weekly rent established at £2, plus costs for lighting, it was resolved to seek approval from the Minister of Health, and to also apply for a sum of about £40 for the provision of chairs, tables, and office equipment.



In a letter from the London County Council, as finance towards providing Christmas treats for the children B.U.D.C. had now received a cheque for £25 which, added to the proceeds of a town collection, made a total of £51. This would then be partially expended on treats for the evacuated children, and partially on the evacuated mothers. Including the latter there had originally been 1,520 evacuees in the town, but now the latest return showed that only 555 people remained, including 30 teachers, 14 helpers, 44 mothers and 467 children. However, a lot of evacuees had temporarily returned to London for Christmas, although on the national scene by the end of the month over half of the official evacuees had gone home for a more extended stay, and this was because their apprehensions had been lessened by the absence of the expected enemy air attacks. Due to the prevailing poverty many children in the town owned only one pair of shoes or boots, and since these were in an often unsurprisingly poor state of repair a daily chore would be to put in a fresh piece of cardboard, to keep out the water. In fact as early as 1922 a ‘Boot and Shoe Club’ had been set up for the benefit of the pupils at the Bletchley Road Council schools, and the sole objective was to allow footwear to be purchased by instalments, ‘since boots and shoes form a serious item in the matter of domestic economy.’ As for the newly arrived evacuees, with the costs for mending their footwear presently incumbent upon their host family, in January a Bletchley ‘Boot Repair Fund’ was launched ‘for those London children in our midst.’ Also during the month Mrs. Bradford, the Chief Organiser for evacuees, had the petty cash account of £7 6s 11d - for the period September 1st to December 7th - agreed by the Ministry of Health which, whilst it did not have the power to authorise small weekly payments to the helpers, did suggest that if such persons were taken off the present billeting form, then the Council could pay them as employees, with the payments to be charged to the evacuation account. This would then become the procedure from January 19th, and the weekly rates would cover board and lodging, maintenance and health and unemployment insurance. Apart from the evacuated schoolchildren, accommodation also had to be locally found for many of the personnel employed at Bletchley Park, but for those who were billeted with one landlady a swift correction of attitude seemed necessary for ‘My first people assumed I had become their handmaid and expected a full service, including breakfast in bed! I soon cured that, and the next lot could not have been nicer.’ With householders paid 21s for each billetee their obligatory guests soon became known as the ‘guinea pigs’, and finding such accommodation would become the responsibility of Miss Skeath, a billeting officer for the Bletchley Park organisation. In fact having come to Bletchley when her London home was bombed, she was seemingly well qualified for the position.

At the end of the month Miss Kate Stearns, the headmistress of the evacuated London Senior Girls’ School, gave an address to members of the Women’s Section of the Bletchley Labour Party. Her theme regarded the treatment of the children, and she explained how she divided their needs into three parts, physical, mental and spiritual. Indeed, some children seemed to be greatly in need of a sense of direction for, as more fully detailed in the chapter ‘Back to School’, one Tuesday morning five homesick evacuees left their Bletchley billets and set off to walk home to Islington! They were eventually found in the evening at South Mimms, 29 miles away, and duly arrived back at Bletchley in the back in a police car. As for some of Bletchley’s other evacuated children, Mrs. Battams had been little impressed by the arrival of Gordon, who ‘looked like a gipsy.’ However, ‘I togged him up, and turned him out respectable’, but alas it seemed in vain, for when he returned to Bletchley from a Christmas holiday in London ‘he came back looking just as bad’! During early February, at St. Martin’s Church Mrs. McLeod, secretary of the St. Martin’s Hall Committee, reported that the use of the Hall as a school for evacuees was financially ‘not a good thing for them at the moment.’ In fact just the expenditure on coke was costing £1 7s 6d per week, and when the Vicar asked how often the Education Authority would pay for the use of the Hall, she replied that as yet no acknowledgment had been received regarding her request for an agreement and money. Under a new scheme by the Government, in the event of an emergency Bletchley had now been provisionally allocated a further 400 evacuees. Yet this number was liable to increase, and therefore during March an agreement was reached for the Ministry of Health to authorise Ropley House for purposes additional to the needs of difficult children. Such requirements would include daily accommodation for a social centre for evacuated mothers, a working centre for the helpers engaged in repairing children’s clothes, an evacuee enquiry office, and a clearing house for children being moved from one billet to another, and, should these proposals be accepted, then the Evacuation Executive Committee, who held responsibility for billeting those children ‘whose habits made them unsuitable for billeting in other houses’, would not only arrange staff for the premises, but also if necessary offer the alternative accommodation of a Council house for one of the Ropley House tenants. Following a meeting between the Clerk of the Council and a Ministry of Health inspector, including an understanding that assistance would be given towards the provision of a daily charwoman, fireguards, fire extinguishers, mattresses, beds and blackout materials, it was then duly agreed that the Council would take over the tenancy of Ropley House from April 1st - albeit with a reply now pending from the Ministry of Health which would officially confirm the final use. However, for Mrs. Bradford, the London County Council Chief Organiser of Helpers, this would be superfluous, for she had now resigned from her post.

During April, in view of the billeting requirements for the staff now employed at Bletchley Park, B.U.D.C. were unable to accommodate a request from the County Council to take, should there be continued air raids on London, an additional 100 evacuees. Yet even for those evacuees who had escaped from the Blitz their new life in Bletchley posed other perils, as became tragically manifest one Sunday evening in late March when Ronald Reynolds, a seven year old from 40, Baxter Road, Essex Road, Islington, tragically drowned whilst fishing for tadpoles. Billeted with Nellie Osmond, of 2, North Street, he had been warned not to go to a disused reservoir at the back of North Street and Western Road, but in the company of a boy aged seven, and a girl aged four, he disobeyed this advice and fell into the water. Despite the swift attentions of Dr. W. Carter he could not be revived. The month of April witnessed the annual inspection and display of the 1st Bletchley Company Boys’ Brigade, held on a Saturday in the Senior School Hall, and with evacuated boys of the 45th London Company contributing to the programme, the assembly then paraded under the command of Mr. S. Ricketts, Captain of the 45th London Company, and the Bletchley Captain, Mr. E. Staniford. In fact Mr. Staniford had now suggested that for the whole of August a standing camp should be set up near Bletchley - possibly towards Brickhill - for the benefit of the evacuees, with the boys to use the camp for two weeks, and the girls for two weeks. Thereby it was hoped that a holiday could be enjoyed by the children, and so also afford the householders ‘a much needed rest’! As a further reward for such caring efforts, Bletchley housewives were informed in May that those who had satisfactorily cared for evacuees for more than four months would receive, in recognition of their service, a personal letter signed by the Queen. Then on the recommendation of their headmasters, (Mr. Taylor and Mr. Lewis), also meriting an accolade were four Senior and four Junior School boys from the London schools, who had now been awarded places at a ‘Central School.’ They would be accordingly re-billeted at Buckingham, which was the home of the nearest evacuated London Central School, Marylebone School, and by this education they would be able to continue their studies until the age of 16. Meanwhile, at the Ropley House evacuation centre matters were proceeding none too smoothly, for in June the Clerk of the Council made a report regarding certain difficulties concerning the staff. In fact he warned rather ominously ‘that the member of staff concerned be informed that unless more amicable conditions prevail a change would have to be made’, and indeed during her earlier tenancy of the premises Mrs. Bradford had cause to not only claim for damage to her personal property, but also for thefts. Elsewhere, however, persons in charge of evacuated children were now reminded that an increase in the billeting allowance would be payable from the first week in June, and they were also rewarded by an entertainment staged one Friday afternoon during that month in the Temperance Hall, by the senior boys and girls of the London schools.

In mid June the Bletchley evacuation authorities received notification that, because they could not be accommodated at Wolverton, around 200 evacuees from Chingford would be coming to the town. Thus the 175 children, 18 helpers and teachers duly arrived one Sunday in four large buses, and, after a medical examination, they were then given a hot meal in the school canteen. Perched on the stage the coach drivers were also provided with a meal, although one who sat precariously balanced on a wobbly chair caused great amusement when the seat suddenly gave way, and dumped him on the floor! Yet Bletchley was not to be the final destination for the new arrivals, since due to an increased demand for billets the evacuees would be instead found accommodation at Buckingham. However, during early September a shortage of accommodation was no excuse when, due to increased enemy activity, ‘hundreds’ of bombed out refugees arrived from the East End of London. With an urgent need for food, clothing and blankets, efforts had to swiftly be made to find them a suitable refuge, and shepherded to the centre by the police they were initially provided with sleeping arrangements at the Methodist Recreation Room, where Deaconess Silvia Warman was ‘making valiant efforts.’ Indeed, she had much past experience, having travelled to the town with the children as Care Committee representative last September. With the assistance of her helpers she now took care of the new influx, and every night two volunteers remained on duty, since for those in their care ‘each little sound was to them an aeroplane: each little movement on the part of any of us was sufficient to rouse them in a nervous expectation.’ The Public Assistance Board had been empowered by the Government to supply the refugees with food and shelter for 48 hours, but after this period such responsibilities ceased, and if they could not find accommodation for themselves then the refugees became the responsibility of the local authority. However, only around 25% would need such assistance, whilst as for the able bodied men, on the authority of the chairman of the Council the Surveyor had found temporary labouring jobs for some of them. In fact under the new ‘Evacuated Persons Registration Act’ people who were normally in work, but had been removed to another area under an approved area evacuation scheme, (thereby becoming the billeting responsibility of that local authority), were required to register with an employment exchange, or other office of the Ministry of Labour, whenever they were unemployed.

At a large and enthusiastic meeting of the townspeople, on Monday, September 16th, in response to the predicament of the evacuees’ unanimous support was given to form a Bletchley Emergency War Relief Fund. With Mr. R. Sherwood inaugurated as the treasurer, as the secretary, Mr. A. Gorman, of 34, Albert Street, would be available day and night for the benefit of Bletchley people, and as well as providing for the more immediate needs it was also the intention of the Committee to raise a substantial fund, sufficient to meet any forthcoming emergency. Consequent to a lengthy meeting held on the Wednesday the raising of finance then began, with several persons having agreed to pay by weekly remittance. At Bletchley Park £9 13s 4d was collected by Miss Bye who, together with Mrs. Harlock, then began raising further monies by arranging a series of concerts in St. Martin’s Hall. As for other contributions, one person gave a camp bed, donations were variously sent of clothing, fruit and vegetables, and, as a legacy from the pre war years, by a unanimous vote the balance of £30 13s 5d in the bank, and £3 2s 6d cash in hand, would be added from the ‘town committee.’ This had been set up in 1933 to alleviate distress through unemployment, whilst distress for a different reason would be alleviated for the new arrivals by removing the coin boxes from the local public conveniences. With Ropley House now an official centre for the evacuation activities, during the month a report by Councillor Callaway, Councillor Maycock and the Medical Officer recommended that the billiard room should be partitioned, thereby providing a combined accommodation for the evacuation office and the sewing and clothing repair staff. A shortage of toys was also noted, as well as the need to provide air raid protection, towards the cost of which £7 12s 6d had already been paid by certain of the occupants. However, a number of the occupants then refused to make any further contribution, and it was duly made clear by the Council that those parties would continue to be held responsible for this shortfall. Towards the end of September, during one Thursday an anniversary tea was given at the Bletchley Road Infants’ School. Arranged by Miss Workman and her staff, this was to mark the anniversary of the arrival of the London schoolchildren in the town, and during the occasion the presentation of a barometer was made to Mr. E. Jones. This was in recognition of his work in assisting the evacuees, and soon such endeavours would be needed again, for the additional influx of 660 London schoolchildren and helpers was now anticipated. They would arrive from 20 different parts of the Capital and with the announcement having only been made one Friday, most of the following Sunday was taken up with the hurried moving of desks and the preparation of meals, tasks in which the Guides of the 1st Fenny Stratford (St. Martin’s) Company provided much assistance. The Junior School Hall, and two other classes, were prepared as temporary sleeping quarters for 200 children, and suitable accommodation was made in the staff room for eight visiting staff. Fortunately Mr. Sherwood, the Clerk of the Council, had managed to obtain from Aylesbury 800 blankets and 600 empty palliasses, and these were then swiftly filled with straw by members of the Boy Scouts and Boys’ Brigade, assisted by the Guides. With the arrangements having been made by the police, on the day of their arrival at around 5.30p.m. the evacuees were then duly met by a fleet of ambulances, coaches, and also private cars, which had been especially lent to the evacuation committee by residents of the town. Taken to the Senior School, in relays the evacuees were then served tea, before settling down for the night on the straw palliasses, which had been arranged as beds on the schoolroom floors. As members of the teaching staff Miss Milsom, Miss Capell, Miss Wing and Miss Clark remained with the evacuated children at the school until 10.15p.m. when, continuing this duty throughout the night, two other members of staff then took over. However, in view of the limited accommodation in the town, by arrangement with Winslow R.D.C. around 400 evacuees were then sent to that area on the Monday, which no doubt proved a relief for Mr. Jones, the Evacuation secretary, and Mr. E. Cook, the Billeting Officer, (and also headmaster of Bletchley Senior School), who had been frantically trying to find suitable accommodation locally.

Regarding approval to appoint Deaconess Warman as ‘Social Welfare Worker’, during October it was decided to approach the Ministry of Health. Having responsibility for the Bletchley Urban area the position carried a salary of 45s a week, and no doubt this money would be well earned, since concerning those who were in need of welfare there now seemed to be some disquiet in the town. In fact with the Bletchley Road Methodist Hut presently in use as the Bletchley Refugee Reception Centre, posters stating this purpose had been mysteriously ripped from the gate. Yet generally a greater toleration prevailed, and situated at the rear of St. Martin’s Hall a daily rest room for the refugees was begun one Thursday in early November. The official opening was performed by Mr. J. Smith, the chairman of the Council, and the weekly rent of 14s would also include the cost of lighting. The facility had been arranged by the Bletchley Emergency War Relief Committee, who were housed at 137, Bletchley Road, whilst regarding other matters of accommodation, (albeit subject to obtaining the necessary permission), the transfer of the evacuation office at Ropley House could now be made to the Council yard, where a wooden building would be constructed at an estimated cost of £120. Thereby space would be created for between 15 and 30 beds at Ropley House, and further relieving the plight of the evacuees would be a cheque for £200 from the Lord Mayor of London’s War Distress Fund. Received by the Clerk of the Council, this money would then be applied to help relieve the neediest cases amongst the evacuees from London, and since a large number had now arrived in the town since the beginning of September, the Council in consequence decided to review the position and re-canvass the district. The available accommodation could thus be determined, and overcrowding thereby relieved. Aware of the many problems caused by evacuation, the relevant Committee accordingly felt that a sub-committee of the Council would now be necessary to deal with the question of reception and other matters, and this would duly become a matter for discussion. With Christmas approaching the schools now held their various break-up parties, and at St. Paul’s Junior Mixed the headmaster, Mr. J. Lewis, gave an impromptu concert in St. Martin’s Hall. As for the Ecclesbourne Road Infants’ School, which had been evacuated to premises at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church, their event was enhanced by the donation of a Christmas tree from the Duke of Bedford, and concluding the festivities at St. Martin’s Hall a Christmas party was then held on Boxing Day for some 400 evacuees, whose enjoyment was assured by a good tea, dances and games.



Due to evacuation, in January the population of Bletchley numbered 10,806, against the usual 6,901, and, reporting to the A.R.P. Committee, the A.R.P. Controller, Mr. A. Bates, declared that the canvassing for billeting was nearly complete. However, in February one of the evacuees from London, Stephen Woodfield, unfortunately died at 18, Beechcroft Road, and his presence in the town had been of an interesting significance for, as a past member of Ferme Park, (London), Baptist Church, he had been a personal friend of the late Reverend C. H. Spurgeon, after whom the Bletchley Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church was named. In view of the increasing number of new arrivals in the town, during mid February the temporary appointment of a Billeting Officer would be advertised at a salary of £208p.a., and, possessing ‘secretarial and organising ability’, the successful candidate would be required to work under the direction of the Clerk of the Council. Yet due to the increase in the volume of the work this decision would then be revised, and at a meeting of the Council one Tuesday evening it was decided that, since the duties would prove too much for a temporary or voluntary officer, an advert should be placed in the ‘Local Government Chronicle’ for a permanent full-time Billeting Officer. Despite the opposition of one member, who warned against ‘a multiplicity of officials’, this would be at £4 a week, but to firstly confirm the need the A.R.P. Committee sought the opinion of Mr. E. Cook, the Chief Billeting official, who then duly agreed that the time had arrived to appoint a full-time paid officer. As for the new accommodation for an evacuation office, (which would take up most of the space which had been allocated in the Council yard for additional buildings), the tender of Mr. W. Elliott had proved to be the lowest of the three received, and to include the cost of heating and lighting the premises would be rented at £25 p.a.

The number of evacuee children in the town had now declined, and during mid March the first in a series of fortnightly evacuees’ meetings was held on a Wednesday in St. Martin’s Hall Rest Room. In fact perhaps a topic of conversation concerned Mr. Fred McQuillan, a Londoner now living at 26, Brooklands Road, for, as detailed in the chapter ‘Don’t Panic’, he had recently received the O.B.E. from the King at Buckingham Palace. The award recognised his courage as the leader of a rescue party in a London bombed area, and someone else with experience of bomb damage was Mrs. C. North, the cook engaged at Ropley House. Her house at Clacton had been bombed out, and she therefore now asked permission to store her salvaged furniture at Ropley House, where she was engaged as the cook. However, the empty stables, where she hoped to keep her effects, were scheduled for use as a store for evacuee blankets, bedding and clothes, and since these were being transferred from the billiard room to create space for other purposes, it was therefore with regret that her request could not be entertained. Nevertheless, Mrs. North’s cooking skills remained in great demand, and since the necessary facilities were now available it was decided that all children attending school should be given their midday meal at Ropley House, instead of the school canteen. By the beginning of April plans were now advanced to remove the Rest Room from St. Martin’s Hall Reading Room to the Evacuation Centre. This was situated next to the Bletchley Road Methodist Church, and with it hoped that the move would take place on April 17th, evening sessions would then be possible at the new location. Consequent to his interview with the Council, Mr. F. Gauntlett, the Billeting Officer to Bude Stratton Urban and Rural District Councils, had now been selected as the Billeting Officer for Bletchley, and would receive a salary of £208p.a. Yet in the event he declined the position and Mrs. M. Smith, the Assistant Billeting Officer for Ilminster U.D.C., and Mr. F. Martin, of the Evacuation Department of B.U.D.C., were alternatively invited for interview. However, when Mrs. Smith then also declined the appointment the position was re-advertised, although with the subsequent applicants lacking experience, discussions then took place to re-engage the previous billeting official, Mr. E.C. Cook. He had vacated the role due to the pressure of other duties but duly agreed to the re-instatement subject to the following conditions; a) that Deaconess Warman be appointed as his Assistant, to carry out any necessary enquiries and generally help with the role, at a pay of 50s a week. b) Mrs. Benjamin and Mrs. Kay would take over some of the minor duties now performed by the Deaconess. c) Mr. Cook would be granted an annual allowance of £50 towards his travelling expenses. d) the appointment would be for an initial trial of six months. These proposals were duly agreed, and one Wednesday during May Deaconess Warman was also appointed as secretary of the Bletchley Emergency War Relief Fund, the occasion also being the opportunity for the Reverend Yates to express his regret at the resignation of Mr. A. Gorman. Generally, in view of their plight the evacuees in the town were welcomed with great hospitality, although towards the end of May a proposal that refugees using the Rest Room and social centres should be provided with tea without charge was heavily defeated. Instead, tea at the Rest Room would be offered at 1d a cup, or ½d a cup on ‘milkless days’, whilst in other measures Mrs. Rood had now accepted the responsibility of cleaning the Room where, with a radio now in use, the gift of two easy chairs would shortly be made, as also a gramophone and records.

The traumas of the Blitz and evacuation had an undoubted effect on many children, and as a consequence of the correspondence between Dr. Ethel Dukes, of the Institute of Child Psychology, and the Medical Officer, on Tuesday, May 13th, B.U.D.C. decided to establish a child psychology clinic in the town. This would provide treatment for ‘difficult’ children, and with the need duly confirmed by the A.R.P. Committee, they recommended that the Council should approach the County Health Department for permission to use two rooms at the Bletchley Road clinic. If the Ministry of Health agreed, then these could be used until the end of the war. As for the associated costs, it was hoped that the travelling expenses of Dr. Duke, and also Mrs. Hay’s fee of 10s 6d per visit as ‘play therapist’, plus £5 towards the cost of play material, would be met from the Evacuation Account. In mid June Mr. E. C. Cook, the Billeting Officer, was granted his allowance of £50 p.a. towards travelling expenses, whilst as for the Medical Officer he had recently paid a visit to Ropley House from where, although matters appeared to be otherwise satisfactory, on developing whooping cough one of the children had been removed to live with her mother at the Rest Room in the Methodist Hut. Therefore it was suggested that the A.R.P. Committee might provide a sick bay at Ropley House since, under the care of the matron, Mrs. Spencer, the premises had often been called upon to fulfil this purpose. However, in due course the Clerk of the Council then submitted a letter from the Senior Regional Officer of the Ministry of Health, which stated that until the sick bay facility at The Elms, Winslow, proved insufficient, then the plans for Ropley House would be deferred. It was instead recommended that the Council should apply to the Regional Officer for approval to appoint a qualified nurse to take charge of Ropley House since, whilst being primarily tasked to look after the ‘unbilletable’ children, if the sick bay was established then she would be immediately available. As for other measures regarding the evacuees, plans were now successfully submitted for a rest room and dining room to be constructed in front of the Methodist Hut, where bunks were now to be fitted, whilst regarding the distribution of adult clothing at the Hut, at a meeting of the War Relief Fund this was deemed as being unnecessary for the time being. However, children’s clothes were still required, and would be distributed during July and August.

When the immediate bombing of London did not materialise, many parents considered returning their children to the Capital, but the dangers of the Blitz soon confirmed the need for them to be kept in safer locations.
On the evening of Friday, June 20th the North Bucks. Coroner, Mr. E. T. Ray, returned a verdict of accidental death at the inquest on Peter Kelly, aged 12. An evacuee from 32, Grosvenor Avenue, Highbury, for the past 18 months he had been billeted with Mr. & Mrs. H. Ince of 6, Watling Street Terrace, and had attended the Ecclesbourne Road School Senior department in Bletchley Park pavilion. Having one Thursday evening met up with another 12 year old, Arthur Cox, of Lennox Road, the two boys then went for a swim in the Mill Pond at Water Eaton but on soon getting into difficulties Peter grabbed his friend’s bathing costume, and when this tore began to slip under the water. At the inquest 18 year old Herbert Smith, of 11, Windsor Street, said that he had been near the pond at around 7.30p.m. on that evening, and when told that a boy was drowning he dived on two occasions into some seven feet of water. Eventually he recovered the body but despite desperate attempts at artificial respiration by four soldiers, plus the additional attentions of Dr. Dorothy Lufkin, all their efforts proved in vain. Also to no avail were the Government warnings in early August that the lull in the bombing was only temporary, and trains were accordingly packed with evacuated mothers taking their children home. However, many would shortly return after a brief holiday, and since this now contributed to the problems of finding additional accommodation in the town, after a Tuesday meeting of B.U.D.C. in early August compulsory billeting was adopted as ‘an unpleasant necessity.’ Reporting on an A.R.P. Committee interview with the Registration Officer at Reading, the Clerk of the Council, Mr. Sherwood, reported that in a letter from the Ministry of Health the Council would now be required to operate the compulsory powers delegated to them. However, these would be tactfully exercised, and perhaps the rubber stamp purchased for the A.R.P. office from H.M. Macpherson Ltd., at a cost of 10s 3d, might now come in useful. With the imposition of this new billeting burden the administration necessary to deal with the problems of local accommodation was then hardly helped when Mr. F. Martin, the acting Billeting Officer for B.U.D.C., was appointed paid deputy Billeting Officer to Wing Rural District Council, at £4 per week, and it was perhaps as an incentive to prevent further departures that the wages of the billeting staff were to now be increased.

In order to take over the aspects regarding entertainment, Mr. Arthur Duffield would soon be co-opted to the Bletchley War Relief Fund Committee, and with the onset of the school summer holidays there was now also a need to provide entertainment for the many infant evacuees, who would otherwise be left without care. Therefore Miss B. Eden, the headmistress, assisted by the teachers, Miss D. Wilson, Miss R. Gray, Miss W. Davies and Miss M. Filer, arranged outings and games for the 40 to 60 infants of the Ecclesbourne Road Infants’ School at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church Hall, and, as a further relief, Miss Eden announced that for the purpose of helping those evacuated mothers who went to work, she would now accept children of three years of age in the Spurgeon Hall, with school canteen meals being available at the usual cost. Yet it seemed that constructive activities would also benefit several older evacuee children in the town, especially since their antics had caused much damage to Colonel Whiteley’s buildings. Then towards the end of September one boy confessed to police constable Crowley that having climbed in and out through a ventilator of the shed he touched one of the wires which ‘flashed’, but the father duly implied that the admission had been extracted by the use ‘of third degree methods.’ In his defence it was then stated that from July 19th to August Monday the boy had been helping in the haymaking and, whilst he had been in court in 1940 for causing wilful damage, he was now only involved with the other boys when the weather was wet. In fact having been in the district for 12 months the whole family would soon be going back to face the Blitz in London, but nevertheless the lad was bound over for £5. During September Mrs. Spencer, a member of the staff at Ropley House, asked permission for her husband to stay at the House for two days a month, and although this was agreed he would have to supply his own rations! Elsewhere, regret was expressed at the decision by the St. Martin’s Girl Guides to discontinue their help at the Rest Room, although here there was a more positive move when the rota was completed of supervisors for weekdays and Sundays.

At the end of September it was again decided to advertise for a full time Billeting Officer, (Male), at a salary of £300 p.a. Candidates had to be above military age, or otherwise exempt, and with 13 applications received, in November from the shortlist of four Mr. Henry Jones was chosen. He had previously been the Billeting Officer to Chitton R.D.C., and would now remain as the Billeting Officer for Bletchley until the end of the war, when he then left for an appointment in London. With the approach of Christmas, London County Council cheques now met the seasonal expense of entertainments for the evacuated school children, and on Wednesday, December 17th the evacuated Senior schools then gave a mixed party in the Temperance Hall, with some 140 children attending. The amusements included a conjuror and a selection of comic songs, performed by Mr. Duffield, and on Thursday, December 18th in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist School Hall other evacuated children, from St. Mary’s Church of England Infants’ School, then visited the Ecclesbourne Infants’ School. Here they were conducted in the carol singing by the headmistress, Miss B. Eden, whilst performing the play ‘Three Roses’, in St. Martins Hall the St. Paul’s L.C.C. Junior School also included carol singing, at an entertainment which was further enlivened by a London conjuror, a ventriloquist, a Punch & Judy man and, not least, ‘heaps of pastries, buns, cakes and sweets for tea.’




Throughout the war, petrol rationing, (which did not finally end until May 26th, 1950), would curtail the use of private cars on the roads. However, early experiments to find an alternative fuel included the burning of ordinary town gas in suitably modified engines, but the short range, dictated by the amount of gas that could be contained in a voluminous bag, affixed to the roof of the vehicle, proved inconvenient. When coupled with the rationing of coal, this quickly ensured that gas powered vehicles became a short lived novelty, and for further alternatives it is perhaps best not to dwell - despite the proximity of the livestock market - on the fact that the daily ‘output’ of just one flatulent sheep could have powered a small truck for 25 miles! However, causing not quite such a stink were the ‘moderate terms’ on which car hire, day or night, was locally offered by Mr. W. Underwood, of 46, Napier Street. His was unsurprisingly a popular service, and with the increasing restrictions on private motoring the owners of cars of between 15h.p and 30h.p. could now answer an appeal from the County Emergency Committee, who would convert the vehicles into civil defence ambulances. In fact the Committee was prepared to pay a nominal price of £15 to £20, but they would also ‘greatly appreciate free gifts.’ For many people bicycles now provided a convenient means of short distance travel, and at H. Sewell’s cycle shop, at 34, Church Street, a ‘New Hudson’ model could be purchased for around £5. Yet even from people who already owned a bicycle the cycle shops experienced an increased custom, for in order to comply with the wartime regulations there had recently been a pronounced run on red rear cycle lamps. Indeed, for the traffic using the roads the wartime restrictions and conditions posed a number of hazards, and not the least was that because of a shortage of manpower highway repairs were having to assume a lessened priority. Yet the condition of Westfield Road was pronounced to be so dangerous that the Surveyor was instructed to have the potholes filled in, whilst at the Fenny Stratford crossroads the darkened traffic signals had proved so indistinct during daylight that the junction was to now be patrolled by Special Constables.

In view of the blackout large arrows were painted at all the turnings off the main roads. Also painted were the first three letters of the street name, examples being OLI - Oliver Road, STA - Station Road, CHU - Church Street and CGR - Church Green Road, but even so a number of tragic accidents still occurred, and towards the end of September a pillion passenger was killed in a collision near Denbigh Bridge. Then during October whilst walking along the road in the blackout Arthur Golder, of 1b, Manor Road, was hit by a car and died at Northampton hospital the following day. Again during the blackout, on the evening of Friday, December 1st another fatal accident occurred when a 58 year old assistant telegraph railway linesman, from 19, Water Eaton Road, was knocked down in Bletchley Road. Also taken to Northampton hospital, there he would tragically die from his injuries. The beginning of the war had witnessed severe disruptions to the railway service, and even day tickets had been cancelled. Yet other dangers apart from German air raids also posed a peril, and one Saturday afternoon during November the guard of the Euston express had to stop the train near Denbigh Bridge, when mailbags caught fire. With the blaze put out with fire extinguishers I.R.A. activities were suspected as the cause. Nevertheless, railway activities continued as normally as possible, and Bletchley had even gained 2nd prize during October in the L.M.S. Railway Station gardens competition, due largely to the commendable attentions on no. 1 platform of the rose growing, aptly named Inspector Bugg, ‘a military looking man with a small moustache.’ Congratulations were then also due to District Traffic Inspector Thompson, when in early November he was promoted to the position of District Signalmen’s Inspector. This would entail his move to Blackburn, but not before his Bletchley colleagues had presented him with a gold watch.



For Bletchley, the year began in a clandestine manner when, on January 2nd, whilst travelling along the Oxford to Cambridge line the Royal Train stopped to take on water at platform 7. With King George on board the journey was being undertaken in great secrecy, and Bletchley men had the honour of providing the crew:- Sid Keyte, of 40, Water Eaton Road, as driver, Albert Flatman, of 47, Park Street, as fireman, and Charlie Cope, of 15, Leon Avenue, as guard. Whilst travel presented few problems for royalty, for schoolchildren in the town ‘getting around’ usually meant riding a bicycle or walking, and accordingly in January a local newspaper decided to launch a ‘Boot Repair Fund.’ They therefore impressed upon their readers that for ‘the London children in our midst’ properly prepared footwear was a necessity, but for the Repair Service to become fully operational a patching machine would be urgently needed. Fortunately a second hand example was soon obtained, for the sum of £4. Yet only the boots and shoes of evacuees would be mended free of charge, with the other children having to pay for their repairs. As the proceeds from their Saturday ‘Tanner Hop’, the Fenny Juniors Football Club then contributed £3 5s to the Repair Fund, which now stood at over £12, and in other donations Mr. and Mrs. Ellingham gave 5s. The office staff of Wigley & Johnson sent 9s 6d, and further donations could always be sent to the President of the Fund, Mr. W. Johnson, or to the Honorary Treasurer, Mr. Oswald Hart, at Barclays Bank. Whilst serving as a Lieutenant in the South Wales Borderers, Mr. Hart, a Cambridgeshire man, had won the M.C. during the First World War, and it would be in August, 1937, that he and his wife, Jean, moved from Ampthill to Bletchley, where he took over from Frank Caton, (a native of Shefford), as the manager of Barclay’s Bank. Wisely, Mr. and Mrs. Hart sent their children to the Isle of Man during World War Two, and on Mr. Hart’s eventual retirement in July, 1950, the couple then moved to ‘The Cheverals’, Bow Brickhill. There Mr. Hart died a few years later, leaving a widow, a son, John, and two daughters, Mary and Ruth.

The grave of Irvin Butler, a victim of the tragic rail crash at Bletchley station on October 13th, 1939.

On Friday, January 12th the trial of Cyril Haynes, of 6, Frances Way, Liverpool, opened at Bucks. Assizes. This was in consequence of the railway tragedy which, the previous year, had occurred at Bletchley station, and since the inquest Mr. Haynes had been committed on a charge of manslaughter. When the case opened, however, during the afternoon the jury then sensationally dismissed the charge without hearing the evidence, and in fact this proved to be an outcome which pleased everyone. Since that horrific accident because of the damage to the station passengers had lacked the use of a refreshment room, but in January plans were approved for the L.M.S. Railway Co. to build a replacement facility on the previous site, with refreshments during the interim being made available from the Stationmaster’s room. Despite the war, at the annual meeting of the Bletchley L.M.S. Railwaymen’s Institute the financial situation was reported as the most successful for many years, and the secretary, Mr. J. Vaughan, even announced that an adverse balance had been turned into a credit of £40. Then as further good news, at a Sunday morning meeting of the Bletchley branch of the N.U.R. Approved Society the secretary, Mr. S. Maycock, announced that the benefit paid to members in 1939 had been £285 9s 7d., and this included not only sickness, disability and maternity expenses, but also dental and optical work, and surgical treatment and appliances. For any servicemen now finding themselves stranded at Bletchley station a Wolverton greengrocer, Mr. Bert Keller, had kindly offered a service to convey them home, and this was especially appreciated since petrol restrictions were now curtailing the mobility of many motoring citizens. However, Mr. Fortescue, of the garage in Aylesbury Street, had gained extra mileage by employing a mix of petrol and paraffin, and fuelled with this novel brew his car then proceeded along the road in clouds of smoke! After allegedly ‘filching’ diesel and fuel oil from local farmers, Mr. Ward, a local taxi driver, also employed a similar solution, with the result that his vehicle travelled along the road belching clouds of black smoke in a series of bangs, jolts, and jerks. As a familiar sight in the town he plied for hire with his large dog sitting beside him, and on one occasion was detailed to pick up a party of railwaymen from a dance at Leighton Buzzard. Unfortunately the taxi broke down on the return journey, and the passengers then all had to push! Perhaps a more reliable means of transport was the bicycle, and to comply with the prevailing regulations cyclists had not only to black out the upper half of the front lamp but also the lower half of the reflector. Yet nevertheless several cyclists were still fined for riding with unscreened lights during the blackout, the perils of which were then especially emphasised when late one Monday evening whilst wheeling her bicycle in Bletchley Road Miss Joan Kilsby, of 4, Western Road, was injured in a collision with a car. Quite apart from the blackout the severity of the winter was also creating hazardous road conditions, and towards alleviating the dangers 100 tons of sand had been locally spread by the B.U.D.C. lorry and a team of 10 men. In fact it was due to the weather that people attending the Premier Press concert had to trudge through six to nine inches of slush and water, and it was therefore perhaps just as well that from January 1st Bucks. County Council had decided to increase the wages of all the roadmen by 2s a week. As for keeping the hydrants clear of snow, this was the province of Bletchley Fire Brigade. At Fenny Stratford crossroads, during March the traffic signals would be much improved by fitting a device which, by turning a screen, allowed half the full light to be shown in daytime, and the regulation ‘X’ at night. Yet despite all the tribulations of travel, and the restrictions of a limited service, it was indeed a tribute to the competence of the postal staff that in the Bletchley postal area, of some 360 square miles, only three complaints had been received.

Petrol rationing was introduced in September 1939, and private motorists who were not essential users were limited to an amount that would allow travel for about 1,800 miles a year. However, this amount was then gradually reduced, and finally abolished in July, 1942. At the introduction of petrol rationing one local taxi driver had allegedly 'acquired' diesel and fuel oil from local farmers, and in consequence his car would proceed along the road in a series of jolts and jerks, belching clouds of black smoke - all with his faithful old dog sitting beside him! - Tom Hayward.

The Council now discussed the liabilities that might arise should they implement a scheme to create a footpath from the Watling Street to North Street. For those workers employed at the factories of the Watling Street this would provide a useful short cut to the town centre, and even with the cost being estimated at £1,700 the Council remained enthusiastic about the project. Yet less enthused was the railway company, under whose bridge the path would pass, for they understandably expressed reservations to include a real concern that the I.R.A. might place a bomb under the bridge. Nevertheless, after due consideration the Council’s insurance company sent a letter to the Clerk of the Council stating that although they would not issue a policy ‘in perpetuity’, for a five year agreement a policy providing ‘an indemnity of £1,000 unlimited’ could be issued, at an annual premium of £7 10s. As for any accident resulting from the footway ‘passing under and adjacent to the railway’, the L.M.S. Railway Company then agreed to accept responsibility, but only on condition that the Council paid them £8 10s p.a. Meanwhile, during March a £5 fine was imposed by Bletchley magistrates on a driver from East Finchley, and with this being the first case of the kind the action perhaps emphasised their determination to enforce the new road regulations. The culprit had been stopped at 9.20p.m. on February 21st, and his offence had been to exceed by 15 the new 20 m.p.h. speed limit which, in built up areas, now applied during the blackout. However, in reply to the charge the driver said that he had been unaware of any restrictions, and in any case it had been an exceptionally bright moonlit night! Helping to perhaps curtail any further infringements would be the imposition during May of an extra 1½d on a gallon of petrol, thus increasing the price to 1s 11½d, but rather more draconian came an announcement in October, when the Ministry of Transport stated that the manufacture of cars in Britain for civilian use had now ceased. As for contemporary developments in Germany, Dr. Emil Everling, professor of aerodynamics at the Berlin technical high school, now reported that the Nazi auto industry had plans to streamline car body designs in the form of a Zeppelin, which would allegedly promote a greater fuel efficiency.

The railway underpass, from North Street to the Watling Street.
Despite the wartime restrictions on building, the Council reached agreement to build the underpass and footpath in 1940, as a shortcut to the town centre for those workers employed at the Watling Street factories. However, concerns were expressed that the I.R.A. might plant a bomb under the bridge, and such fears were well founded for I.R.A. activity was the suspected cause when, in a contemporary incident, mail bags had caught fire on a railway express near Bletchley station.

Nationally, for the benefit of those personnel serving in isolated positions, such as searchlight companies and barrage balloon units, the Y.M.C.A. operated in excess of 800 mobile canteens. In addition they also ran 1,134 centres in camps, billeting areas, docks and railway stations, and regarding the latter one of these would now shortly be set up at Bletchley. During the early 1900s, for their early meetings in the town the Y.M.C.A. had taken a room in George Street at the home of Mr. Biggs, and for the same purpose during World War One they then briefly occupied the Town Hall. Thus in continuing this local involvement, with the co-operation of the Bletchley rail officials they now hoped to establish a canteen at the end of April to serve Forces personnel, and situated on the north end of platforms 2 and 3 this, at a cost of around £300, would comprise a hut measuring some 60 feet by 12 feet. With a counter at one end, there would be accommodation for games, reading and writing, whilst regarding the canteen equipment this was to include large gas cookers, Ascot water heaters and also the gift of a fridge. The idea for the canteen had been that of Mrs. Blackburn, who duly became the organiser, and having during the last war performed a great deal of ‘noble work’ for the troops, her experience would prove invaluable for the present venture, of which Mr. W. Blackburn, her husband, would be chairman. Fortunately they would now have ample time to run the facility, for being presently resident at ‘The Dene’, they had chosen the Woburn Sands district for their retirement in 1939. Declaring Bletchley to be the draughtiest station in England, Lady Hillingdon officially opened the canteen on April 20th, and staffed by over 100 volunteers the premises offered a day and night service. The takings of the first day came to about £2, and with a large mug of tea priced at 1d, and poached egg on toast 4d, during the first fortnight the revenue would total more than £50. As well as the traditional fare a ‘special’ was put on every day, and by the end of the initial six months a profit of £564 would be made. ‘Socials’ organised by the Bletchley Schools Parents’ Association and the Bletchley Labour Party Women’s Section, held in the Co-op Hall, soon raised additional funds, and the income was then sent to assist the canteens overseas which were being run at a loss. Provision was even made for any customers who missed their trains to sleep on the premises, although whenever railwaymen tried to cadge a can of tea not to be caught napping were some of the allegedly ‘right miserable old devils’ who were employed as serving ladies! Rather more glowing however were the appreciative comments of one serviceman who described the canteen facility as “a friendly place where you can get together, have a meal, enjoy a song, write a letter, and generally feel at home”, and for the further benefit of the service personnel the honorary secretary, Mr. J. Manlove, had now made an appeal for cards, dominoes, draughts, darts, dartboards and a wireless set. More unusually ‘entertainment’ was also provided by the aptly named Winston, a kitten who had seemed to adopt the canteen, or vice versa!

In 1891 Bletchley station had witnessed the spectacular passage of a 65 ton gun, en route from Longsight to Woolwich, but now ordnance trains protected by armed guards were becoming a regular feature, as also the ambulance trains aboard which surgeons would be at work. Men aged from 41 to 50 were currently required as platform porters - ‘knowledge of horses an asset’ - and with the station being of strategic importance, the threat of German air raids on the town meant that the railway lighting had now been discontinued. The normal street lighting in the town had also been curtailed, and as a partial alternative ‘Starlight’ A.R.P. lights, ‘with an illumination equivalent to stars on moonless nights’, had instead been placed by the electricity company on several lamp standards near the Council Offices. During May the Council then also decided to install ‘twilight’ illumination in Bletchley Road, Victoria Road, the High Street, Aylesbury Street and Buckingham Road, and although the effect was described as ‘not brilliant’, at least it was ‘better than nothing.’ According to the A.R.P. officer, having been introduced as an ‘anti panic measure’ this reduced lighting would remain on throughout an air raid, and the cost of £54 for the lamps and installation, and £56 per annum for the electricity, not surprisingly compared very favourably with the pre-war expense of £800 per annum. In fact the railway authorities now asked for a similar scheme to be installed in Station Approach, but for the side streets these would be only included in the scheme pending a satisfactory report from the Air Ministry. However, all of this then proved rather academic when, during November, Mr. Flack reported that the Council had found it necessary to discontinue the Star lighting system.

As a measure to thwart enemy troops, with the concerns of an imminent German invasion car owners were now being told not only to leave their vehicles locked, but to also immobilise them when not in use by removing the rotor arm. As for anyone who failed to comply, the police had powers to slash the tyres! In other measures road signs were being removed throughout the country, and as with those in Bletchley and district, which were taken down in June, they would then be stored until the duration. Complying with a Government order the word Bletchley was removed or erased from signs throughout the town, and during October the need for such precautions became emphasised when on the outskirts of the town a German Junkers 88 aircraft machine-gunned an express train, which then had to make an emergency halt at Bletchley station. Indeed the station itself became a target when several bombs were dropped in the vicinity and no doubt this proved somewhat disconcerting for those men at Bletchley rail depot, whose application for an A.R.P. shelter had been declined by the railway company. Apart from damage to a school, a house and the Rectory, the bombs also caused minor damage at Bletchley Park, but for a messenger at Bletchley Park - Mr. George Plumb, of Atheldene Road, Earlsfield, London - although he escaped the bombs he was tragically amongst those who were killed during November in a Liverpool to Euston express train crash, ‘in the London area’.

Throughout the war thousands of personnel would be employed at Bletchley Park, and with many billeted at Bedford a special three coach train, (nicknamed ‘the Whitehall’), brought them daily back and forth to Bletchley station. Having been the Bletchley stationmaster for the past four years, Mr. B. Hill, of The Briary, Church Green Road, would no doubt be well acquainted with the passengers but in December he was then appointed as the stationmaster at Broad Street, London. However, his impending transfer would soon be sadly marred, when at the end of the month the death of his wife occurred. Mr. Hill had begun his railway career on leaving school, and during the subsequent 34 years he gained early experience as a clerk at Woburn Sands. Another railwayman to now be transferred elsewhere was Mr. C. Morrison, the District Signalman’s Inspector at Bletchley, who had been appointed to the position of Yard Master at Shrewsbury. Yet in contrast to these departures there would now be a re-acquaintance with Bletchley for one railwayman, Walter Sear, who had been born in the town. Having been early apprenticed to the International Stores in Aylesbury Street, he then served with the Royal Engineers during World War One and later became a porter at Willesden. When their home was bombed in 1940 he and his wife then returned to Bletchley, although his place of work would be Swanbourne, where he was employed as a foreman shunter. In fact the story of his evacuee daughter, Peggy, is told in the chapter ‘Far From Home.’ As for other railway matters, closing the year the Council then declared that regarding the construction of a loop line they would not oppose the application by the L.M.S. Railway Company for an Act of Parliament, which was necessary to purchase a strip of land at the site of the Council’s refuse destructor.



One Sunday in early January, at the fortnightly meeting of the Bletchley branch of the National Union of Railwaymen gifts were sent to those members now serving in the Forces. In addition, in recognition of his 33 years of unbroken membership a Disablement Fund cheque, and certificate, was presented to Brother J. H. Goodman who, having once been the only trade union shunter, and the only trade union inspector at Bletchley, had apart from his railway employment been for the past 23 years president of the Bletchley Co-op Society . At the end of January Harry Collins, a native of Daventry, became Bletchley’s new Station Master. Married to a Bletchley girl, during his early career from 1920 to 1931 he worked as the district relief clerk at Bletchley, and the couple would now live in Church Green Road. In fact he would remain in his new position throughout the war, being then appointed at the end of 1945 to a similar position at Rugby. In early March the Co-op Hall became the venue for the regular meeting of the N.U.R. Bletchley branch and, surpassing the achievement of Brother Goodman, the presentation of a Disablement Fund cheque and certificate was made to Brother Jack Foolkes, on the occasion of his retirement. In fact he had been a member of the branch for 44 years. By now the town employed between 800 and 1,000 railway workers, but sadly Mr. Alf Birch, a 54 year old Bletchley platelayer, of 4, Elm Terrace, Church Green Road, had been recently killed whilst working on the line near Denbigh Bridge. Under a cloud of smoke, when crossing the line he had ventured straight into the path of an express train. On railway matters less tragic, regarding repairs to the bridge of the Bedford branch line, under which a footpath was being opened, £850 had been paid to the L.M.S. Railway by B.U.D.C. who, for the re-opening of the branch line, were then required by the terms of the L.M.S. agreement to fill in part of the old gravel pits, and so form an appropriate way at North Street.

The war provided opportunities for women to increasingly undertake those jobs normally reserved for men - perhaps with scant regard for political correctness! - Men Only.
During April a notice of intent to the Licensing Justices was submitted by the Clerk of the Council, for the purpose of transferring the licence of the Bletchley station Refreshment Rooms from Owen Glynne Roberts to Graham Royle Smith. Then towards the end of the month on Easter Monday Bletchley N.U.R. held a concert in the Co-op Hall for the Orphan Fund, and with £6 19s raised by the event the need for such benevolence was tragically emphasised when John Meadley, aged 67, died at 67, Victoria Road. As an electrician, during his railway career he had made many trips on the Royal Train, although for the past 18 months he had been employed as the caretaker at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church. Another sad loss would occur with the death of Charles Crane, aged 87, at Hutton in Essex, who for 23 years had been employed as a railway inspector at Bletchley, until his promotion to Headstone Lane, London. In fact during his time in Bletchley he had also been secretary of the Buckingham Division Conservative Association. In May Mr. J. Williams, a native of Oswestry, began duties as the goods agent at Bletchley L.M.S. station. Immediately after the last war he had been loaned for two years by the railway to the International Transit Committee, established by the League of Nations to help reinstate the Continental train services, and later he would become chief clerk in the Northampton goods office. At Bletchley he now succeeded Mr. W. Theobald who, after 11 years at Bletchley, was being transferred to Albion Station, West Bromwich, taking with him the appropriate gift of a travelling suitcase, which had been presented to him at a staff gathering by his colleagues. For those wishing to begin a career with the railways, in June the LM.S. advertised for ‘live in’ counter attendants at the Railway Refreshment Rooms. Male and female porters were also required, ‘apply Goods Agent, Bletchley’, although in late July as tragic evidence of the potential dangers Mr. Henry Wright, of 24, Park Street, suffered a badly crushed foot in an accident on the line. He was rushed to Northampton hospital, but his injuries proved to be so severe that his foot had to be amputated. Soon to leave the Bletchley railway scene was Mr. Arthur Jones, who, on his retirement from 44 years of railway service, was presented with a fireside chair by his fellow colleagues in the Goods Department. Then at the end of May the L.M.S. Tring - Northampton Section District Controller, Mr. John Hampson, retired after 11 years service at Bletchley. Born near Wigan, he lived in Southcourt Avenue, Linslade, and accounted Freemasonry and golf amongst his leisure pursuits. During World War One he had been railway assistant to the Chief Military Transport Officer, and was later appointed as assistant district controller at Lime Street, Liverpool. In March, 1930, he took charge of the Bletchley District Control Office, and this entailed responsibilities to include the Oxford and Cambridge branch lines. As for the new District Controller, having been assistant divisional freight controller at Crewe he would be Mr. H. Korsey.

During the war a familiar voice to the many passengers using Bletchley station would be that of Mrs. Collyer, who was at one time resident at 83, Simpson Road; ‘Everyone who heard her commented on her clarity of speech and pleasant tone of voice. In fact she became known as “the girl with the golden voice” and was featured in an article in a famous national paper.’ Following her train announcing duties, Mrs. Collyer then became a passenger guard and indeed with the shortage of manpower there were now many opportunities for railway employment. As a porter at Bletchley station, one example was Mrs. Emily Donoghue who, with her two small children, Pat aged 6 and Ken, aged 3½, had moved to the town some 12 months ago from her home at 41, Newington Green Road, Islington. Now they were living at ‘Rosaville’, Denbigh Road, the home of Mr. & Mrs. A. Hubbell, but one Friday midnight at the end of August tragedy struck when whilst carrying mailbags across Bletchley railway lines Mrs. Donoghue was struck by a train, and although she was rushed to Northampton hospital, she later died from her injuries. In fact the accident had occurred whilst she and Mrs. Phyllis Culley, of ‘Casa Mia’, Stoke Road, were pulling a truck of mail from platform 7 to the General Post Office. At the bottom of the platform they stopped to let a light engine go by on the slow line, but since steam from the engine had obscured the signals, Mrs. Donoghue then walked across the line to ensure that the track was clear. She had reached midway when suddenly the 10.25 parcels train from Willesden to Crewe loomed and ‘snatched her away’, and the driver remained in ignorance of the incident until stopped about four miles along the track. Yet crossing the railway lines had always been dangerous, and in 1892 a butcher’s boy had a narrow escape when whilst pushing his barrow across the track he jumped clear of an express train. The barrow was smashed to pieces. Before the war, lifts for taking barrows from one platform to another had been planned as part of a station reconstruction, but this scheme had now been shelved with the result that especially during the blackout there had already been many minor accidents. During mid September several trains calling at Bletchley station were affected by the decision to abolish 1st class travel on parts of the railway service. Instead there would be only 3rd class carriages on short distance trains between Bletchley and Euston, and from the end of the month 3rd class only on those trains providing the regular haul between London and Bletchley. However, the 1st class facilities would be maintained on 16 up and 11 down trains on weekdays, and eight up and eight down trains on Sundays. In late October Mr. D. C. Pride, a former passenger train inspector in the Birmingham area, was appointed as the L.M.S. Assistant District Controller at Bletchley, and he would replace Mr. G. Rogers, who was now to begin the duties of Stationmaster at Carnforth. Originally from Halifax, Mr. Rogers had been stationed at Bletchley for six years and in other railway appointments Mr. A. Bebbington, of Sutton Oak, now became the running shed foreman in place of Mr. Z. Tetlow who, having held the position for 6½ years, was now to be transferred to a similar appointment at Crewe South Shed. After a while he would hen gain promotion to Assistant Superintendent. In his early career Mr. Tetlow had ‘served his time’ at the Horwich Loco Sheds, and after a period in the drawing office subsequently had charge of various sheds before coming from Hellifield, Yorkshire, to Bletchley, where he became chairman of the L.M.S. Cricket Club. Despite his move he kept his home in Denmark Street, but unfortunately it would be there that he died at the age of 52 on the afternoon of Christmas Day, while spending Christmas with his wife and 13 year old daughter.

At the beginning of November, in a B.B.C. anniversary radio broadcast Mr. & Mrs. Harrington, of 24, Bedford Street, were surprised to hear themselves being congratulated on the occasion of their golden wedding. Aged 74, Mr. Harrington had retired as a telegraphist from the L.M.S. 14 years ago, and in other occupations had for some time occupied the position of president of Bletchley & District Co-op, serving on the management committee from 1901 until 1912. As for newcomers to railway employment, by recent changes in the Schedule of Reserved Occupations ‘any railway workers certified by a railway company as qualified to be employed as guards, signalmen or shunters are now reserved at the ages of reservation applicable to men actually employed in these occupations.’ As for those in non reserved occupations, with a heavy Christmas post in the town 10 soldiers in Bletchley were now seconded to help on the station platform, since the loads had proved too heavy for the porters. Therefore the eventual installation of platform lifts on Bletchley station would be especially welcome, and not least through alleviating the previous perils of crossing the railway lines in the black-out conditions.




In 1823 the British Admiralty had been offered an electric telegraph. At the time they rejected this novelty as ‘wholly unnecessary’, but for domestic as well as for military applications the introduction of the telegraph, and later the telephone, would soon prove increasingly essential. In fact in evidence in many photographs of the early 1900s a feature often to be seen along the main highways is that of a line of wooden telephone poles, and this overhead arrangement for carrying the wires was deliberately used to limit the loss of signal between the very large distances that were spanned. During the early 20th century, for the testing of the lines that passed along the Watling Street a small brick built ‘test and intercept’ hut was then constructed near the canal bridge at Fenny Stratford, and under the charge of Mr. F. Young and Mr. G. Line this was operated by the Post Office Engineering Department. However, as the amount of telecommunications traffic increased it soon became impractical, due to the size and cost, to continue with the above ground method, and instead cables were begun to be laid underground. Yet since this entailed using conductors of a smaller diameter the signal loss accordingly increased, and for the necessary amplification ‘repeater stations’, (typically spaced 45 miles apart), were consequently introduced. Indeed, in 1923 it was proposed to build a ‘telephone relay station’ on the same site as the test and intercept hut - whereupon ‘Fenny Stratford will become once again an important telegraphic and telephonic centre’ - and with this duly completed in 1924, the repeater station, which comprised two storeys with a reinforced concrete floor, was amongst the first in the country. As for the generating of the necessary electricity, of a type pioneered by a Fenny Stratford engineer, Herbert Akroyd Stuart, two Ruston and Hornsby heavy oil engines were transported in sections from Bletchley station to the premises on four horse drays. With the completion of the repeater station the linemen then moved firstly to George Street, and later to Bletchley Park. Since many of the main national cables passed through Fenny Stratford, measures to safeguard the building were taken at the outbreak of World War Two, and these included not only the provision of heavy steel shutters on the inside of the windows facing the Watling Street, but also the building of small bunkers either side of the entrance. Indeed such measures would be very necessary, for many new circuits were now being laid to serve the several nearby secret wartime establishments. With a cable link having been made in 1938, these of course included Bletchley Park, and although the role that the code breaking activities played in computer development is now well known, as had been the initial reaction with the electric telegraph and the Admiralty, so the British Government at first lacked any foresight regarding the importance of ‘calculating machines.’ Indeed, when in 1842 Charles Babbage had first revealed his calculating machine to the Government, the unimpressed Prime Minister, Robert Peel, retorted ‘How about setting the machine to calculate the time at which it will be of use.’ With the urgent need to decipher the German Enigma traffic, that time had now arrived.

In September the curtailment of highways lighting, and the imposition of blackout conditions, made the situation on the roads especially hazardous, and two pedestrians tragically died in subsequent road accidents. Therefore to help alleviate the danger large arrows, and the first three letters of the street name, were painted at all junctions off the main roads, but even before the war the state of the local highways had left much to be desired, with even Bletchley Road, (now Queensway), described as being in rainy weather ‘a genuine muddy slough of despond’, and in summer ‘as dusty as the Sahara.’ In fact even the road between the schools was said to be in a better condition! However, with a need to divert expenditure towards A.R.P. requirements all grants from the Ministry of Transport for highway improvements had been stopped, although as an exception the Surveyor was instructed to remedy the danger posed by the many pot holes in Westfield Road, following a complaint by the Reverend A. Yates. Yet under the Private Street Works Act, 1892, at least a part of Tavistock Street had been made up as well as North Street, where the beginning of the year had witnessed the completion of 14 new houses. These, each costing £435, were subsequently let at 12s 3d per week, and with four houses in Western Road also complete this brought the total number of council owned properties in the town to 184. As regarding other developments, during April plans had been approved for Messrs. Tranfield to build houses in Cottingham Grove, and now the Surveyor had submitted plans from their acting solicitors, Bulls of Newport Pagnell, showing the proposed layout of the Holne Chase Estate. Concerning the various pavements in the town, extensions were now complete in Western Road, South Terrace and Church Green Road, and on the roads the application of hot bitumen spray and granite surface dressings was made in St. Martin’s Road, South Terrace, Park Street, Albert Street, Newton Road, Grove Road, Regent Street and part of Church Green Road. Elsewhere new street extensions had been carried out by the relevant developers, and these included such areas as Beechcroft Road, Bletchley Park Road and Cottingham Grove. In order to cover the distance before dusk, in those rural areas served by the Bletchley Head Post Office collections during the week by the Post Office vans would now be made one hour earlier, and two or three hours earlier on Sundays. As for public business at the Head Office, this would close at 6.30p.m., and the sub-offices at 6p.m. Being under the jurisdiction of Bletchley Post Office, town deliveries which were now carried out by women, and the despatch and collection of mail to and from the many sub offices, were the responsibility of Mr. F. Bates, who in other activities was much involved with the Council. Born in Denmark Street in 1883 he had now been employed by the Post Office for 47 years, and having begun his career as a telegraph messenger and then postman, he later progressed to more senior positions.

With a parcel delivery at 11.30a.m., deliveries of letters in Bletchley were to be reduced to two each day - at 7a.m. and 3p.m. - and perhaps demand had been further lessened at the raising of the postal charge from 1d to 2½d during May. As part of the air raid precautions the pillar boxes had now been treated with a substance that would turn yellow/green in contact with mustard or tear gas, but for Mr. L. Weatherhead, of ‘Glenroy’, Lennox Road, he would shortly no doubt gain a greater appreciation of the perils of wartime, when appointed as an executive officer of the G.P.O. in London. Then towards the end of September, in other local appointments Mr. Alan Wesley, who had been the Surveyor’s clerk for three years at Bletchley Council, took up a similar post with the Easthampstead R.D.C. at Bracknell, and in recognition of his past service he was presented by the Surveyor, Mr. Bates, with a cream pigskin dressing case, with silver fittings, and an inscribed silver plate. Applications were now invited by the Bucks. County Council Highways & Bridges Department for the position of a temporary male clerk in the Divisional Surveyor’s Office, Bletchley. Candidates were to not be liable for military service, and would need to possess a knowledge of shorthand and typing, and interested persons were asked to contact the Divisional Road Surveyor, Mr. T. Orchard, at 45, Bletchley Road. The salary would be £3 a week, as compared with the minimum weekly wage of 47s granted by the Council to those able-bodied workmen who were employed on a 47 hour week. Mr. Orchard, who was now also the area engineer for the A.R.P. and Civil Defence, had lived at Bracknell House since 1930, and as a native of Hemel Hempstead had been educated at Berkhamstead. He began his career around 1912 when articled to Mr. Walter Locke, who was then the Surveyor to Hemel Hempstead Borough Council, and later he became the deputy Borough Surveyor at Aylesbury. Seeing service from August, 1914 until early 1917 with the Royal Bucks. Hussars, he was attached to the Royal Engineers following his commission, and having spent four years of the war in Egypt and Palestine, in April, 1922, he was appointed northern Surveyor to the County Highways Department. This then covered the Bletchley urban area, at a time when the staff comprised only one clerk in the Bletchley office, and 50 workmen in the division. In fact there was still a clear need for additional highways labour, since during the month those staff detailed for weekend highway cleansing, (primarily clearing up paper, orange peel etc. on early Sunday mornings), had proved unable to cope, with the numbers having to be consequently increased.

Regarding a licence to store 1,000 gallons of petrol at the Highways Depot., (on the Watling Street), an application from the Divisional County Highways Surveyor was submitted by the Clerk of the Council in November. Permission was agreed, but matters were less fluid on the building scene for, with an increasing shortage of manpower, most developments in the town had come to a halt. This had also been the situation during World War One, but in the months immediately following the end of that conflict 13 new houses were completed in Buckingham Road. For continued expansion, under the Local Government Board Housing Scheme in 1919 the Council then reached provisional agreement with Sir Herbert Leon, regarding the purchase of land on the Leon Avenue Estate as a selected site for working class houses. In fact by January, 1924, a scheme for 50 houses in the town had reached completion, with a new scheme, for around 30 properties, being initiated. In 1926 building work then began on the Staple Hall Estate, and development also took place along the Cambridge Street extension, and on Bletchley Road and Denbigh Road. In February of the same year the Council accepted tenders from four Bletchley firms for house building on Council owned land, namely 36 properties in Western Road and 32 at Old Bletchley, whilst as for private developments, during the same year four semis were offered for sale on the corner of Eaton Avenue and Leon Avenue by Hubert Faulkner and Son. With the outbreak of war the firm then became much involved with the increasing need for code breaking accommodation at Bletchley Park, but, since the temporary buildings initially contravened the Building Line, the Council lodged a formal complaint, and requested that in future such constructions should comply with the regulations!



Born in South Mimms, Frank Howard died in late January at ‘Howardsville’, Church Street, at the age of 89. Having lived in Bletchley since the age of six, during his early career he had worked as a bricklayer for many building firms of a local prominence, and these included Staniford, Hailey Gates, Harry Welch, T. Clark and A. Taylor. When in 1905 his sons, Sam and Frank, then started their own construction company, he became an active member of the firm which, being subsequently responsible for the building of many houses in the town, continued in business until 1976. Amongst the early projects in the town on which he was engaged were the building of the Town Hall and Ropley House, and both of these would now be used in a wartime role. Ropley House had initially been the home of William Rowland, one of the founders of the local timber firm, whilst his co-founder and brother, Thomas, lived at nearby Rhondda House. Thomas had married some 60 years previously, and of his two sons one was now the firm’s managing director. Following the death of Thomas in 1919 his widow continued to live at the House with Mrs. Baker and Captain H. Baker, and when she died in February, at the age of 82, the works employees and staff formed a respectful guard of honour at her funeral. In February ‘Marston Lodge’, in Buckingham Road, ‘a modern residence with half an acre of garden and orchard’, came up for sale, and Mr. Victor Bunker duly purchased the property as part of the estate of Miss Fanny Amble Fountaine who, at the age of 79, had died on November 3rd, 1939. A member of a well known farming family in North Buckinghamshire, she had the house especially built for her on leaving Stoke Hammond in 1924, but for persons now requiring a somewhat less spacious accommodation, Mr. H. Faulkner presently had a small flat to let at Staple Lodge.

Concerning the householders in the town, numerous summons were being issued for non-payment of rates, and these were then brought before the Bletchley Police Court by B.U.D.C. One example would be that for 81, Water Eaton Road, where the occupant made her feelings indignantly clear by retorting that since the property was frequently washed out by the sewer, ‘Do you think I’m going to pay rates? What with dead kittens floating in my saucepans.’ As for the resident at 40, Osborne Street, he was unemployed, and of his 33s dole after expenses he was left with just 10s for his wife, himself and twin babies. The chairman then suggested that he got a cheaper house, but he said that he had been unable to do so. In fact 41 summonses had now been issued for the non payment of rates, and perhaps it was not surprising that from August the Clerk and his assistant, the newly promoted Mr. R. Storey, would be authorised to pursue their recovery. The wintry weather was now keeping the highways authority active, and already the B.U.D.C. lorry and 10 men had used 100 tons of sand on the roads. With pedestrians now having to trudge through between six and nine inches of slush and water, the difficulties were being further compounded by the conditions of the prevailing blackout, and indeed as part of the Air Raid Precautions motorists and cyclists had to ride with their lamps partially screened at night. As for the traffic signals at Fenny Stratford crossroads, they had been reduced to mere crosses of light, and this lead to so much confusion during the day that in early March the Divisional Surveyor to Bucks. County Council, Mr. Orchard, had them fitted with a device which, by means of a screen that was turned at blackout time, allowed half the full light to be shown in daytime, but the regulation ‘X’ at night.

Albeit to a lessened degree highway repairs were still being carried out in the town, and permission was now sought to replace the ‘dilapidated’ tar sprayer with a new model. From the various tenders supplied a suitable example was then eventually purchased from the Phoenix Engineering Co. Ltd., at a cost of £86. Again to a lessened extent building projects were also being carried out in the town, and with approval having already been received by the company for two houses, during March a report on the Perry Brothers development on the site at Manor Road was made by the Surveyor. In fact this was perhaps part of an increasing work load, for it was then agreed that the charge of 5s a quarter for his telephone should be cancelled since, due to the distraction, he found ‘the installation of the telephone not altogether a blessing.’! On the west side of Manor Road the Council now agreed to share the cost of laying a six inch main from the sewage ejector to a manhole, and elsewhere plans would be shortly approved for a house on the Bletchley Park Estate for Mr. W. Elliott. As for those persons needing a more immediate accommodation, a detached property with a large garden would soon be available at 28, Napier Street, ‘with vacant possession.’ As detailed in the chapter ‘Getting Around’, towards providing a shortened access to the town centre, (primarily for those workers employed at the Watling Street factories), the Council now discussed the possible liabilities of constructing a footpath, whilst on the matter of the highways lighting in the town, at their Tuesday meeting on May 15th they then considered the question of a restricted illumination for the town. The vote was five for, and five against, and with the chairman casting his vote in favour the roads and streets to be affected would be Bletchley Road, Victoria Road, High Street, Aylesbury Street and Buckingham Road. However, this ‘twilight illumination’ although welcome - not least since the cost was a tenth of the peacetime expense - was aptly described as ‘not brilliant but better than nothing.’ Road repairs were again now an issue needing the Council’s attention, and with surface dressing scheduled for Grove Way, Central Gardens, Mill Road, Drayton Road, Newton Road, Western Road and Leon Avenue, in Water Eaton Road kerbing and resurfacing work would take place both from the crossroads to Saffron Street, and in the triangle of the Buckingham Road, Water Eaton Road junctions. This could then provide a temporary employment for some of the newly arrived able bodied men, whom the Surveyor had now been authorised to engage on any labouring work that he thought necessary. In view of the very real prospects of a German invasion, as a means to confuse enemy troops the road signs in Bletchley and district were taken down at the end of May and during June, whilst by mid December with the scheduled road repairs either in progress, or now complete, attention could be focussed on the lamentable condition of Oxford Street. However, since no new paving would be carried out during the war, for the meanwhile ‘patch and mend’ was the only means to suffice.



With measures to deal with incendiary bombs now being organised, in January representatives from the police, A.R.P. and fire fighters in the town were called together at the Council Offices to arrange at least one stirrup pump party for each Bletchley street, and larger parties for longer roads. With the need being emphasised to keep them dry, bags of sand for fire fighting purposes would be distributed to every house, and householders were asked to stand fire buckets in locations where they were not liable to freeze, since the winter was proving to be very severe. In fact the gritting of Tattenhoe Lane, Vicarage Road and part of Simpson Road was now to be arranged by the Surveyor, and the cost would be borne by the Council. As for accommodation in the town, with around 2,500 dwelling houses in the district billets would have to be found for the substantial number of workers now moving to Bletchley, with this being a consequence of the relocation of their employment as a refuge from the bombing. In fact as one example Blackmore Patterns were now operating from the old Town Hall, and accordingly sought an unfurnished house, cottage or flat to rent for ‘Careful tenants.’ Likewise a London firm ‘on priority work’ was seeking a property in the Bletchley area suitable for a ‘superior works foreman’ - and also no doubt his superior wife and daughter. Yet despite the increasing demands for accommodation the council tenant of 46, Newton Road, was curtly informed that on no account could she sublet her property, as had been made very clear when, for this purpose, she had applied for permission to install a gas cooker in one of the upstairs rooms. Action would be taken if she did! As throughout the country the possibility of air raids posed an ongoing threat, and by early February many fire squads had been formed in the town, each guarding a street length of 150 yards throughout the 75 districts. Indeed Mr. Griffin, of 8, Ommaney Road, New Cross, London, could soon provide a personal testament to such wisdom, for at the end of the month he would be urgently searching for a cottage, bungalow or unfurnished house to rent in the town, having been recently bombed out of his previous home.

By early March, in addition to those squads already established for watching local business premises and public buildings, 66 supplementary fire parties had now been formed, all of which were fully trained and supplied with stirrup pumps. As for the general population, protection against air attack could be provided by the outdoor Anderson shelter, or the indoor Morrison shelter, whilst communal shelters afforded a refuge for those persons caught in a raid when away from home. In fact to recap the situation, four shelters would afford protection for 200 persons at various locations in the shopping area, and two more shelters were under construction to accommodate a further 100 people. Then in mid March the Bletchley Surveyor gave an update to the A.R.P. Committee on the progress of the six new public air raid shelters, but as for the three existing shelters at the end and rear of Park Street, since one was practically falling down there was now an urgent need for reconstruction. The situation had arisen due to an initial Ministry of Home Security instruction to build the shelters with lime, but with cement now being available this would be used for a structural reinforcement, for which the Ministry would provide a 100% grant. Concerning the Council’s expenditure it was now revealed that the estimate of the previous year had been overspent by £3,000, (although this excluded rates), whilst as for the highway’s account, regarding repairs to the Bedford branch railway line bridge, under which a footpath was to be opened, the L.M.S. Railway had received £850. So as to form an approach at the North Street end, the work along the route would include the infilling of a large reservoir, (previously the old pumping pit), and progress was being continued as fast as possible despite labour difficulties. These were unsurprisingly also the cause of the house building slump in the town, but at least there was nationally some good news for the construction industry when, as a means to relieve the difficulties caused by a previous range of 17 different sizes, collaboration between the Ministry of Works and the manufacturers, (throughout England and Wales), lead to common bricks being standardised in just two sizes.

£280 had now been spent on purchasing the land behind the Council Offices, whilst as for the roads in the town £150 was laid out in advance for the 1941/42 tar spraying programme. However, the continuing shortage of manpower meant that many highway repairs begun to suffer - Water Eaton Road was in a particularly bad condition - but until a loan could be obtained to carry out permanent improvements, the Surveyor could only attempt to remedy the worst sections. For many years the Wilberforce Hotel in Bletchley Road had provided accommodation for people staying in the town, but during early May the proprietor, Mrs. Eliza Parkins, died aged 64 at Northampton hospital. Having come to Bletchley around 1919 from Kingston on Thames, since the death of her husband 18 years ago she had lived with her sister, Miss Edith Hammond. The importance of ‘blacking out’ their windows was constantly impressed on all the householders in the town, but even so transgressions of this essential measure still continued. In one instance Hugh Manyweathers, an A.R.P. warden of 14, Western Road, said that at 11p.m. one evening he had noticed during an air raid alert that lights could be seen coming from five windows of 7, Rhondda Crescent. The curtains had not been properly drawn, and with this duly confirmed by another A.R.P. warden, Sid Hancock, of 46, Victoria Road, Phyllis Parsons and Rosamund Owen found themselves summoned for the offence. In reply to the charge they said that they were two of the four joint tenants of the house, and because they were due to work on a night shift they, as the only occupants at the time, had been ‘awfully rushed.’ Nevertheless each accepted responsibility, being fined £2, with 5s costs. With the blackout in force driving conditions at night proved understandably hazardous, but this could perhaps not be used as an excuse when, early one Wednesday morning, two lorries collided near Beacon Brushes. The accident left the Watling Street strewn with crockery, and soldiers were then detailed to clear the debris away.

The absence of nocturnal air raids on the town perhaps justified the stringent air raid precautions, although from daylight attack Bletchley did suffer an amount of housing damage. Yet fortunately this was quite minimal, which for ‘the personal representatives’ of the late Richard Lane was perhaps just as well, since they were now hoping to sell ‘The Glen’, Trees Square, Old Bletchley, by auction. Conducted by the firm of Wigley and Johnson, at 6p.m. this would take place on Thursday, June 26th at the Park Hotel, (where plans for an adjoining car park had now been referred to the County Highways Committee), and not only did Mr. William Buckingham thereby secure the premises for £650, but with a five feet frontage to Newton Road he also acquired the adjoining plot of land, for £160. In mid July, by the direction of Mr. J. C. Mather, of 33, Eaton Avenue, a six roomed semi detached house with garage and garden then came up for auction, and possibly proved of interest to the R.A.F. officer who now advertised his need for a furnished house, (with a bath, electricity and small garage), within 12 miles of Bletchley. Anyone able to oblige was asked to contact F/O Park, c/o Botolph House, Botolph Claydon. It was a sad reality that perhaps due to the blackout during the first three months of the year 2,264 persons had been killed on Britain’s roads, but although there was now unsurprisingly an increase in military traffic, vehicles owned by the War Department had been involved in less than 6% of the incidents. Yet nevertheless at the end of July the pronounced number of Army vehicles in the town lead to the Finance Committee receiving a letter, in which concern was expressed that, when using the footpath under Bletchley Road railway bridge, pedestrians had begun to cross the road before reaching the Belisha beacon crossing at the Park Hotel. However, it was perhaps not only military traffic that was perceived as a danger, for at a wage of 60s a week a person to drive the local steam roller was now required by Bucks. County Council. Forwarded for consideration by the County Surveyor, a suggestion was then made that notices should be erected on the station side of the bridge, and these would indicate that pedestrians were to only cross the road by the beacon. In a further remedy Bucks. County Council would be approached to extend the pavement fencing, but when in due course the County Surveyor replied that he could not oblige, the Finance Committee eventually became involved. Thus discussions duly began to make the Bletchley Road crossing ‘more foolproof’, and as a consequence by mid September the Surveyor, in the company of representatives of the County Council and police, had visited the bridge, and his suggestion to extend the existing footpath by 36 feet was subsequently agreed. Meanwhile the Highways Committee reported that Mr. A. Clarke had allowed the Council a right of way over his site at the bottom of Tavistock Street. This was pursuant to a public right of way being denied, and although Mr. Clarke had offered to sell the freehold for £100, this was declined. As for other matters to concern the Council, regarding the Leon Recreation Ground, where the byelaws had been suspended until the duration of the war, many people were thoughtlessly riding their bicycles on the footpaths, and to curb this annoyance the Council was now to erect prohibiting signs. Then in early September they also dealt with another annoyance when Mr. F. Field, of ‘The Caravan’, Water Eaton Village, was summoned for rate arrears of £1 3s 10d. However, his wife made her own opinions known when she sent a reply stating that when they took over ‘the place’ no mention had been made of rates, and in any case they were paying quite sufficient rent. Indeed, leaky caravans were hardly a substitute for the convenience of modern housing, which, for Mr. J. Wallis, of 22, Victoria Road, would soon become even more convenient, when his plans for the addition of a bathroom were approved.

The Council had now adopted town planning procedures whereby permission would be refused for buildings which did not conform with the relevant planning scheme. The move had been recommended by the North East Bucks. Joint Planning Committee, and with exceptions being only allowed in cases of hardship, or where the building was to be erected as a temporary expedient, the permission would be valid for the duration of the war plus six months, or more if agreed. The buildings would then have to be taken down at the expense of the applicant. In fact such measures would no doubt thereby apply to the Bletchley Park huts erected by the well known local building contractor Mr. Hubert Faulkner, who unfortunately during early October whilst driving his car collided with an Army vehicle at Houghton Regis crossroads. In consequence his wife, (ironically an A.R.P. ambulance driver), had to be taken to Luton & Dunstable hospital with severe injuries that included a fractured leg. By mid November the new footpath from North Street to Denbigh Road was being extensively used, although it continued to remain in a poor state of repair since no labour was available. Elsewhere the shortage of manpower was also causing problems, one of which being that whilst the trees in Leon Avenue and Eaton Avenue were to be lopped this winter, those in Leon Recreation Ground would be left swaying in the breeze until 1942. Also swaying in the breeze was an Army Lance Corporal, who at around 11.30p.m. on November 21st had been trying to drive his Army vehicle up the eight inch kerb at Stag Bridge. When police constable Philip Lloyd arrived on the scene to investigate the cause of the congestion, the driver then staggered out and confessed ‘You have got me all right this time.’ At the consequent hearing his superior officer would then reveal that whilst the man had done some stupid things, none had been as stupid as this! Yet of a more sober nature, in early December another military incident occurred when in thick fog a military coach and an Army lorry collided at the Bottle Dump, causing minor injuries.




For many years before the war, on August Bank Holiday Mondays a large show had been held at Bletchley Park for the entertainment of the townspeople. All manner of activities were featured, from sheepdog trials to vegetable displays, but with the outbreak of war the shows were stopped, and ‘Bletchley Park became a mystery.’ Also stopped were television transmissions by the B.B.C., for on September 1st in the middle of a Mickey Mouse film they had suspended all broadcasts, which would not recommence until June 7th, 1946. With the stifling of this embryo competition, as the primary means of visual entertainment the cinema then enjoyed an unrivalled popularity, and in the days preceding the outbreak of war it perhaps seemed appropriate that ‘Trouble Brewing’ was being screened at the County Cinema, starring George Formby and Googie Withers. On September 12th Basil Dean, the theatrical producer, created E.N.S.A, and no doubt enticed by the prospect of a regular salary, and exemption from the call up, during the coming months many hopefuls would chance their sometimes dubious talents and apply. In fact perhaps not without some justification was the organisation unofficially referred to as ‘Every Night Something Awful’! Musicians were naturally amongst those wishing to join, and perhaps included former members of the Bletchley Town Band, which had closed down at the outbreak of hostilities. The band leader, Mr. Axby, then stored all the instruments in his house in the High Street and went off to join the R.A.F. but by becoming leader of the camp band for the next four years he maintained his musical skills, and in fact in April, 1946, the Bletchley Town Silver Band would begin a post war programme, commencing with a performance in the Community Centre.

Construction of the Studio began in 1936 and with the opening ceremony performed on October 5th by Mr. Flack, Chairman of the Bletchley Urban District Council, the first film, 'Mr. Deeds Goes to Town', was shown to a capacity audience. However, from the proprietor, Mr. Burnett, the cinema was shortly afterwards acquired by the Shipman and King Circuit and having arrived with his family in Bletchley in 1937, Ken Hurst became the projectionist. He also travelled around the neighbouring villages with a mobile cinema, and in fact following the outbreak of war some cinema projectionists would then serve with the soon to be formed Army Kinema Service (A.K.S.), which held responsibility for providing mobile cinemasfor the benefit of troops overseas. At the declaration of war all cinemas were closed, but those situated in safe reception areas re-opened on 'September 11th as did such venues in evacuation areas four days later, until 10p.m. Child evacuees in the town had the benefit of half price admission to the Studio, and not surprisingly this lead to many of the local children attempting to mimic a London accent - with varying degrees of success! For adults the venue was often used to stage celebrity entertainments, including concerts by Mantovani, and also of a celebrity connection was a Bletchley resident, who was a cousin of the well known film star, Michael Redgrave. As for other film stars, after the war an officer at the Bletchley R.A.F. station was granted special leave of absence to portray his real life P.O.W. experience in the film 'The Wooden Horse'. He subsequently attended the well received premiere in London and another Bletchley serviceman to be immortalised on film was Mr. S. Prat, of Water Eaton. Dsiabled during the war he was now a resident at the Star and Garter Home in Richmond, and there had been selected for a film appearance in the movie "The Lady With a Lamp', featuring Anna Neagle as Florence Nightingale. In the film he and his co-stars would play the role of wounded Crimean War soldiers. With the advent of television many cinemas were forced to close, but the Studio managed to survive and became a part of A.B.C. in 1967. However, the rival entertainments of the New City forced a final closure in 1989. - B.C.H.I.

At the beginning of the war all regional radio programmes were closed down. Instead, there was now only a single Home Service, and during September the Government transferred powers over the B.B.C., (on matters to include programme topics and broadcasting hours), from the Postmaster General to the newly formed Ministry of Information - sometimes known, due to initial inefficiencies and muddle, as the Ministry of Aggravation. However, the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, assured the House of Commons that the Ministry had ‘no desire and, indeed, no power to interfere with the discretion of the Corporation in their choice of entertainment programmes’, although political broadcasts were to only be made with prior approval. Once hostilities began, in accordance with the regulations no whist drives or dances were to be held at Water Eaton Coronation Hall until further notice, and in fact when the Hall was later requisitioned by the military, the organiser, Mr. C. Rennie, acquired the alternative use of the Conservative Club. Inaugurated in 1925 in the tap room of the old George Inn, (later known as The Shop, in Stoke Road), the Water Eaton Women’s Institute had also held their meetings in the ‘Village Hall’, but would now transfer their activities to the local Methodist chapel. With the tensions of the time, no doubt the local pubs offered a certain solace, and during September alterations and improvements to The Plough, in Water Eaton, were approved. Various changes of licence now also took place, and these included that of the Eight Bells from T. Hastings to Leonard Jones, the Foundry Arms from Jesse Elliott to Selina Elliott, the Denbigh Hall Inn from C. Scott to E. Cowley and the Maltsters Arms from E. Cowley to George Cook, (the latter having previously been a postman at Whitechurch, London, for 35 years). In view of the wartime situation, the grants for the new swimming pool and tennis courts in Central Gardens had now been withdrawn, and even in matters of recreational reading changes were being proposed. On or before Thursday, September 28th all books had to be returned to the County Lending Library at the Temperance Hall, George Street, and from October 21st Bucks. County Library books would be issued from the Bletchley Road Junior School on Saturday afternoons, between 2p.m. and 4.30p.m. Then as the wartime conditions began to eventually stabilise, from Wednesday, October 4th the weekly whist drives at the Conservative Club were resumed, and although there was no interval for refreshments, on Tuesday, October 10th they were also recommenced at Water Eaton Coronation Hall where - ‘If sufficient tables, the Snowball of £3 5s will be played for’ - the Hall again provided a venue for a Grand Dance on Saturday, October 17th. Revellers were invited to ‘Come and have a Jolly Time’, with Eddie Friday and his band providing the music. Also as an occasion to temporarily forget the troubles of wartime, in the Co-op Hall, in Albert Street, a ‘social’ organised by the women’s section of the Bletchley Labour Party offered to banish ‘Black-out’ blues with ‘Something for everyone’, and elsewhere dances also provided an opportunity to cast cares aside. Yet reminders of the potential danger were always present, and not least by the stipulation that ‘Everyone must bring their gas mask’, as directed to those attending the Premier Press entertainment staged at the Conservative Club on Friday, October 20th. Held ‘in aid of war funds’, the event raised £8 2s 1d, not only for the Lord Mayor’s Red Cross & St. John Ambulance Brigade Fund, but also the Overseas League Cigarettes Fund for Soldiers. The Red Cross again came to benefit from a collection taken at the County Cinema on Saturday, October 21st, with the sum of £4 2s 1d being shared with the Lord Mayor’s Appeal for the St. John Ambulance Brigade. Meanwhile with the staff having busily been knitting scarves, helmets and jerseys for the benefit of the Forces, a collection at the Studio was made for the purchase of wool and knitting articles, and of the various entertainments which were now being organised in the town, to conclude the first year of the war ‘Come and have a happy time’ therefore seemed an appropriate exhortation, as applied to the Social Evening held in St. Martin’s Hall on Wednesday, November 22nd.



The Papworth Trio.
At many of the dances organised by the Parents Association, during World War Two the Papworth Trio played in the Bletchley Road Senior School hall, even during the air raid alerts! - B. Pacey

As the year progressed, with the German armies poised across the Channel an invasion seemed increasingly imminent, and any means to maintain public morale became important. Therefore dances proved extremely popular, and of the local musicians the Papworth Trio was especially well known, consisting of Thomas Archibald Papworth on piano, Cliff French on violin and on drums Joe Underwood, who worked in the railway goods office. Originally from Newport Pagnell, ‘Tommy’ Papworth, an orphan, had been brought up by the Johnson family of Bletchley, and although initially apprenticed as an electrical fitter at Wolverton Works, at the age of 19 he harboured ambitions to join the Navy. However, with the outbreak of World War One he then served with the railway Royal Engineers, mostly in France, but during the course of his military duties he would succumb to shell shock. During his convalescence he then learnt to knit as part of his therapy, and following his marriage in 1919, (the service having been conducted at St. Martin’s Church), he would later augment his needle skills by making Buckinghamshire pillow lace, having been taught the art by his wife. Around 1924 when men were being laid off from Wolverton Works he then began a fruiterers business in Aylesbury Street, and this occupation he would duly continue for some thirty years. A talented musician, during the 1920s he formed the six piece Apollo String Orchestra, which accompanied silent films at the cinema, and indeed in 1938 he trained to be a cinema organist at Bedford. However, this came to an end with the outbreak of World War Two, but nevertheless the Papworth Trio, which had been formed during the late 1930s, continued to perform, playing everything ‘from the Lancers to the Okey-Cokey.’ In fact it was perhaps to concentrate on the increased need for wartime entertainment that, in 1942, Mr. Papworth resigned as the organist at Bow Brickhill church.

The Papworth Trio would continue until Mr. Papworth’s death in 1956 whilst as for another locally famous band, in 1936 Fred Groom, from Leighton Buzzard, had set up his own band, having previously played for many seasons with the Lawrence Inns Band. Despite the military call-up of the original members the band would play at many events during the war, and in early January one of the first was a Monday evening entertainment at the Coronation Hall, Water Eaton. Arranged by the employees of Premier Press, this helped to raise a sum of £42, and a part of this amount was then spent on cigarettes, etc. for those Bletchley men who were now serving in the Forces. The band would eventually close down in January, 1945, when Fred had to give up playing the trumpet because of the irritation caused to a sensitive spot on his lip. Doing their bit for the war effort, the Scouts held a whist drive at St. Martin’s Hall on Saturday, January 6th, and also of the younger generation Yvonne Dunbar, although aged only 15, would become very active in many local entertainments. Indeed she organised the varied concert for the Evacuation and Infant Welfare Funds which was held on Friday, January 12th, and this included a display in which she not only portrayed Britannia, but also sang Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory! Various organisations now began to arrange their own entertainments, and the St. John Ambulance Brigade held a dance in Water Eaton Hall on Saturday, February 3rd, at which the popular Eddie Friday and his band provided the music. Staged by the Premier Press War Charities Fund, a ‘Grand Concert’ was then held at the Studio on Sunday, February 4th. Proceeds were for the Lord Mayor’s Red Cross Fund and, with a special ‘Music & Dancing’ licence having been obtained, the occasion proved so popular that 200 people had to be turned away. In fact according to Syd Lipton he had never played to a more appreciative audience, and in reciprocating this sentiment especial thanks were expressed to himself and his orchestra, not least through having travelled to Bletchley despite their performance in London at 6.30p.m. the same evening! Included amongst the other performers was a popular artist in the local halls, Terry Harrison, whose first couple of banjo renditions ‘earned a boisterous welcome.’ The event raised a total of £49 14s 5d for the Red Cross funds, but having been lead to expect ‘high class’ music one concert goer felt rather short-changed, and duly wrote to a local editor; ‘Believe me, Sir, when the first selection of wails was finished everyone in the audience applauded.’! In early February over 200 employees of the Bletchley & District Co-op, together with members of the Management Committee and friends, attended their annual social evening at St. Martin’s Hall, whilst for a less select attendance it was the intention of the Simpson Players to stage for three nights from Thursday, February 8th A.A. Milne’s ‘Mr. Pim Passes By’, a ‘sparkling little play, typical of the genius of the author.’ Priced at 3s 2d reserved, and 1s unreserved, tickets were available via Lloyds Bank from the banjo playing Mr. Terry Harrison - who would play the part of Mr. Pim - but partly due to one of the cast members being called up, the production was later rescheduled for February 19th, 20th and 21st. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the town with Mr. E. Cook as the compère the St. John Ambulance Brigade now announced that they were to organise a ‘Grand Variety Concert by well-known Local Artistes.’ This would be held at the Bletchley Road Senior Schools on Friday, March 1st, with the proceeds being applied to their equipment fund. In aid of the Lord Mayor’s Red Cross Fund, at the Studio the Premier Press Employees’ War Charities Fund staged another Sunday evening concert on March 17th, and amongst the ‘Well-known Radio and Gramophone Artistes’ was included not only Tommy Kinsman and his broadcasting band, but also Ronald Chesney, ‘the English Larry Adler’, Terry Harrison, ‘Bletchley and B.B.C. Banjoist’ and Miss Betty Buchnelle, of ‘Band Wagon’ fame. Then providing an alternative mix of entertainment, on Tuesday, March 26th Paulo’s Royal Circus paid a visit to Bletchley market field where, during the two performances held at 4.30p.m. and 8p.m., the attractions included not only ‘Ponderous elephants’ and wire walkers, but also acrobats, Teddy Bears and ‘Oriental Mysteries.’

During April events in the town proved to be a rather varied selection. Mr. Jack Payne’s Minstrel Troupe gave a popular show in St. Martin’s Hall, raising £3 for the Hall funds, whilst at the school hall the Bletchley Musical Society performed Handel’s Messiah. Then on Saturday, April 13th, with an invitation to all the old-age pensioner members the Education Committee of the Co-op Society arranged a tea and concert of light music. The venue being St. Martin’s Hall, ‘B.B.C. Variety Artistes have been engaged’, and performers of prominence were again a feature at a concert staged at the Studio on Sunday, April 28th. This had been organised by Sir Everard and Lady Duncombe in aid of the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Association, and not only were ‘Artistes from London’ included but also the piano playing Roger Quilter, one of England’s foremost composers. In fact his latest epic, ‘Julia’, had been performed at Covent Garden in 1939. As for local talent, at the Water Eaton Hall at a ‘jolly’ Saturday evening dance Fred Groom and his band included performances on the musical saw and the electric guitar, but towards the end of the month members of the National British Women’s Total Abstinence Union introduced a more sober note, when they held their monthly meeting in the town. Billed perhaps somewhat ambiguously as ‘The cheapest wartime show’, on Wednesday, May 8th Lord John Sanger arrived at Bletchley market field with his ‘Royal Command Circus.’ Here people were invited to ‘Dispel your black-out blues’, and the circus animals were hopefully better trained than Mrs. Clark’s black mongrel dog, which now found itself the centre of a court appearance. The pooch had jumped up at a man and tenaciously held on to his overcoat by its teeth, and since the dog had been the subject of previous complaints Superintendent Bryant, when addressing the Bench, said that ‘he knew a dog was entitled to its first bite, but this was not the first’! Mrs. Clark, of the Maltsters Arms, was duly ordered to keep the animal under control. As for other entertainments to sink one’s teeth into, on Saturday 18th a ‘Grand Dance’ took place at Water Eaton Coronation Hall, whilst on May 22nd Rosaire’s British and Continental Circus and Jungle paid a visit to the Market Field. As promised by their advert there would be ‘No frauding the public’, and indeed this was a claim that seemed to be borne out by the inclusion amongst the acts of the ‘Loopinos’ trick cyclists, looping the loop on the back of a motor cyclist! Thankfully the skills of the Bletchley Town Band later proved less giddy, when they opened their Summer Season with a Sunday concert at Water Eaton. The months entertainments then drew to a close when one Tuesday evening the Girl Guides of the 2nd Bletchley Methodist Company provided a concert in the Salvation Army Hall. As for cinemagoers, they could enjoy the Wizard of Oz, which was now being shown at the County Cinema, and foster mothers had the additional choice of attending an entertainment provided by the senior boys and girls of the London schools, given one Friday afternoon in the Temperance Hall.

After Dunkirk, the realisation that the country now faced an imminent invasion promoted a spirit of national defiance, and this was a mood indeed emphasised by the almost complete lack of absenteeism and late coming amongst the workforce. With the associated suspension of all holidays by the Government, local entertainments became increasingly popular, and as one example a Saturday dance at Water Eaton Coronation Hall took place on June 22nd. With Ethel Dover as vocalist, and featuring music provided by the ubiquitous Fred Groom and his band, admission cost 2s, although H.M. Forces in uniform qualified for a discount of 6d. As for civilians in the town, following an agreement that several factories would close for that period, many workers could now have the usual week’s holiday in August, and other factories offered a compromise by staggering their hours. Since the previous winter the employees of Premier Press had raised £122 for war charities, and at the Studio on September 22nd they staged another Sunday evening concert in aid of the Spitfire Fund. This began at 8p.m., and featured not only ‘Harry Fryer and his famous broadcasting orchestra’ but also George Latour and Ann Trevor, of whom the latter regaled the audience with a selection of her latest radio ‘hits.’ In fact she no doubt enjoyed a widespread following, since as the principal means of entertainment there were now some nine million radio sets in use throughout the country. Again at the Studio, on October 20th another Sunday evening concert was then arranged, with Art Gregory and his St. Louis Band - from Murray’s Club, London - billed as the chief attraction. The guest artists, Daphne and Irene Price, sang ‘bright, amusing songs vivaciously’, and the event helped to raise monies for the London Distress Fund. At the Eight Bells pub structural alterations had now been approved, but hopefully such measures would not be required at The Swan, Old Bletchley, where Cynthia Dell was currently conducting ballet and tap dance classes at 5p.m. every Monday. Also on Mondays at an admission fee of 1s ballroom dancing was taking place from 7.30p.m. at the Conservative Club, but perhaps for the troops in the town this proved somewhat less enticing than the weekly ‘Sunday at 7.30’ concerts, which were presently being staged at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist School Hall. In fact a tradition was thereby maintained which dated from World War One, when the Hall had been used as a venue for providing troops with refreshments, stationery and recreation. As for the new entertainments the initial gathering had attracted an audience of 21 soldiers, who were then invited to add their voices to the popular feature of community singing.

At the end of the month large crowds were drawn to the Coronation Hall, Water Eaton, for a concert of local talent, but due to last minute difficulties the Bletchley Park Band were unable to provide the orchestral selection, and Fred Groom’s band from Leighton Buzzard provided the music instead. The event had been arranged by a well known singer in the town, Miss Yvonne Jean Dunbar, the youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Dunbar, of Brooklands Road, and in fact she would later become greatly involved with the operatic scene in London. Also well known on the entertainments scene was Mrs. Lorna Webster, of Simpson. She was especially renowned for encouraging youthful talent - indeed having gathered ‘a great company of young artists’ - and during early November by arranging a Saturday evening concert she had generated much needed monies for the venue, the Albert Street Methodist Church. Then at the end of the month, one Sunday afternoon the Studio Cinema was crowded to hear a programme of music by Harry Fryer and his band. Don Carlos, the principal guest artiste, had especially travelled through the night from a show in Liverpool, and amongst his selection he sang to rapturous applause ‘For Love Alone.’ During the interval a special collection was then made towards providing relief for the distress in Coventry, with the final figure of £12 4s 9d being rounded up to £13 by Mr. J. Bushell, who presided. Mr. Snelling had arranged the concert for the H.M. Forces Instrument Fund, but although his fund raising efforts had so far raised £260 for various charities, these would now be curtailed by his volunteer service in the R.A.F. In December a Friday dance was held in the Senior School Hall for the benefit of the Spitfire Fund, and also during the month a Sunday dance was held for the War Relief Fund. Presented by Miss Yvonne Dunbar, this well attended event featured local artistes, and with Fred Groom and his band providing the music, Eric Greeves performed solos on the electric guitar and xylophone. Closing the year, at 3p.m. on December 29th to a packed attendance a concert was then held at the Studio, featuring the first appearance of the R.A.F. Dance Orchestra, with Sam Costa and Denny Dennis - ‘England’s Bing Crosby’. As for a local contribution, the microphone had been kindly lent by Mr. Weatherhead!



At an evening dance held in the Yeomanry Hall, Old Bletchley, by No. 1 Platoon of the Home Guard, music was supplied by the R.A.F. Dance Orchestra from Cranfield. The occasion took place on Friday, January 3rd, which also happened to be the date that the Spitfire Committee held their dance at the Social Centre. The following day a dance and social evening for the St. John Ambulance Brigade, the Nursing Division, A.R.P. personnel and friends then took place at the Clinic, and continuing the popular series of ‘Sunday at 7.30’ entertainments, on Sunday, January 5th a concert for the benefit of the troops in the town featured cockney sketches by Mr. W. Webster, and Lancashire monologues by Peggy Sharpe. As usual the venue was the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church School Hall, whilst as for other entertainments, with admission priced at 2s, (H.M. Forces in uniform 1s 6d), Fred Groom and his band provided the music at a dance at St. Martin’s Hall on Saturday, January 11th. Should events organisers be suitably impressed, then for future bookings he could be contacted at ‘Strathmore’, Rock Lane, Linslade, Leighton Buzzard. However, regarding artistes of a more national fame Jack Payne and his orchestra, who had given two Royal Command performances, as well as broadcasts by the B.B.C., paid their first visit to Bletchley on Sunday, January 12th, and at the Studio performed a concert for the Spitfire Fund. Amongst the performers were Peggy Cochrane, George Irwin and Art Christmas, and the event drew large and enthusiastic crowds who proved especially appreciative of Art Christmas, who not only played amusing performances on every instrument in the band, but also played two trumpets at once! For maintaining the morale of their various members, many organisations in the town were now holding their own events, and featuring artistes ‘of B.B.C. fame’ on Saturday, January 18th an evening concert in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist School Hall raised funds for the Baptist Church. During the same evening the R.A.F. Dance Orchestra then played at a successful fancy dress dance in the Conservative Club, and with this having been organised by the extremely capable Miss Dell, she seemed indeed well suited to the task, for not only had she formerly conducted a dancing studio in London, but had also gained previous experience in West End cabarets. As for the R.A.F. Dance Orchestra, at the Bletchley Road schools they had another engagement the following day, having been appropriately booked to play at the Spitfire Dance.

Often employing the Romany Dance Orchestra to play their ‘many popular tunes’, Miss Dell now also staged a regular Wednesday evening dance from 7.30p.m. until 11p.m., as well as a Ballroom Class every Monday from 7.15p.m. until 9.15p.m. Admission 1s, these were in addition to the ballet and tap classes held on Saturdays from 10a.m. to 11.30a.m. in the Conservative Club, where hopefully the structure was now rather more sound than in earlier years, since at the opening of the premises in June, 1932, when dances were being held members took exception to the bits of ceiling that fell onto the billiard table in the room below! With music provided via an ‘H.M.V. amplifier’, on Friday, January 24th another evening dance was organised by Miss Dell. On this occasion she was assisted by Miss Kirby, and with both ladies holding bronze and silver medals, and both being members of the London National Academy of Dancing, it was therefore rather appropriate that some of the proceeds from the entertainments would help towards raising funds for a dancing academy in the town. The promotion of nifty footwork was also the ambition of the Fenny Stratford Football Club, for which funds were raised one Friday evening at a dance at the Social Centre. Here Mr. D. Berry demonstrated his drum playing talents, accompanied by Miss D. Cook on the piano accordion, and the Social Centre was again the venue when on Saturday, January 25th the Bletchley War Relief Fund held an evening dance. The ‘Modernists Dance Band’ provided the music, but attracting an audience of 200 people, on Wednesday, January 29th the programme at the Bletchley Co-op Society annual social evening included a selection of B.B.C. Variety Artistes, with the show being opened by the popular B.B.C. comedians Joe Murgatroyd and Josie Bradley, alias ‘Poppet.’ Then local attention was arrested at the end of the month when the Bletchley police held their annual dance in the Bletchley Road Senior School Hall. The entertainment continued until the small hours of Saturday morning, and apart from seven musicians of the North Bucks. Police Band, music was also provided by Ron Pearson, a well known Bletchley musician who played solo numbers on the electric guitar. Again in the Bletchley Road Senior School Hall, on Sunday, February 2nd Miss Yvonne Dunbar then presented a concert with a topical difference, for an invitation was extended for local troops to contribute their own talents, and thus help to raise funds for local soldiers who had been taken prisoner of war. Meanwhile, in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church Hall the Sunday evening concerts for the troops continued in popularity, and for that which took place on Sunday, February 2nd, the Albert Street Methodist Church had arranged the programme, which even included a performance of whistling by Mr. R. Herbert.

Having arrived in the town with his wife, during the year Mr. Beckwith would take over the post of welfare officer and caterer for the Ministry of Works, but whilst running the High Street schools as a canteen he would also organise various concerts, both there and in St. Martin’s Hall. Indeed it was because of such entertainments that throughout the war he managed to raise a sum in excess of £700. (After the war he then set up a fish and chip shop in Aylesbury Street, and with his father in law being a Druid, he would join the Ancient Order of Druids in 1948. In fact he would later try to unite the local Druids, and form a town lodge!) As for other entertainments, at 7.30p.m. the Conservative Club became the venue for a whist drive on Tuesday, February 4th. Admission was priced at 1s, although ‘no refreshments’ were offered. With music by Lawrence Inns and his band, between 8p.m. and 12 o’clock midnight on Friday, February 7th the Premier Press Employees’ War Charities Carnival Dance was then held at the Bletchley Road Senior School, and the Fenny Minors Football Club was also hoping to raise money by staging, on Friday, February 14th, a dance in the Social Centre. The premises then later accommodated a presentation by the Broughton Players of ‘She passed through Lorraine’, a play they had previously performed at Aspley Guise and Newport Pagnell, and with the Rover Scouts assisting in the production, the performances, staged on Friday and Saturday, February 21st and 22nd, had ‘some fine moments, good dialogue and flashes of humour.’ Entertainments for local fund raising then took off again on Sunday, February 23rd, when for the Spitfire Fund Mantovani and his orchestra played a selection of popular music at the Studio. Performing before a large attendance Stella Roberta and Jack Plant were amongst the artistes, but for Mr. Reg Snelling, who had promoted the previous concerts, it was now time to bow out, since he was waiting to join the R.A.F. Terry Harrison, the local banjo player ‘of B.B.C. repute’, would become his replacement. In lieu of the annual dinner and dance, on Saturday, February 22nd the Bletchley Post Office annual social evening had taken place in the Conservative Club, whilst as for another popular venue the Yeomanry Hall witnessed a Dance & Cabaret on Saturday, March 1st. Held from 8p.m. until 11.55p.m., in aid of Dr. Barnardo’s Homes this had been staged by the effervescent Miss Cynthia Dell, and music was provided by the ever popular R.A.F. Dance Orchestra. On the same evening at St. Martin’s Hall Bill Bond’s Modernists Band supplied the music for the War Relief Fund Committee dance, although as a rival and nearby attraction a concert was being given in the Senior School Hall. This hoped to raise funds for the Home Guard rifle range equipment, and also regarding local defence at the end of the month at the Yeomanry Hall No. 1 Platoon Home Guard staged a Friday evening dance. Music was provided by the band of the Pioneer Corps, and hopefully their offering was rather more competent than the efforts of a 19th century predecessor, the Atlas Military Band, who on one prestigious occasion had locally earned themselves the less than enviable acclaim that ‘at times they played woefully out of time, and their programme was more suited to the dance than the promenade’! Nevertheless, local musical abilities must now have improved, for as a result of various dances and whist drives the Far Bletchley Home Guard Platoon would soon be able to send parcels of cigarettes and tobacco to local men held as P.O.W.s. In fact to send a package, any relation or friend having the name and address of such a P.O.W. was asked to contact Mr. Chandler, at Far Bletchley Post Office.

Until further notice, from March 5th a Grand Dance would now be held every Wednesday at the Conservative Club, with admission priced at 2s, (Forces 1s.) The ‘very popular’ Casali Five Dance Band were engaged to play, and raising money for the Spifire Fund they again featured at the ‘Help Wallop the Wops’ dance, held in the Senior School on Friday, March 7th. On Friday, March 14th the newly formed Youth Organisation then staged their first dance in Bletchley Road Senior School Hall, where to a good attendance Mr. John Oliffe operated the radiogram. Also on the same day with music by the Northern Division Police Dance Orchestra Bletchley police held a dance in the Social Centre, and although Miss Joan Pincher and A/C Lawson were the lucky winners of the spot prize competition, when Mr. Keys won a sack of potatoes he promptly returned his award for resale! Live music was a feature at the Studio on Sunday, March 16th, when Harry Fryer and his orchestra, (who had been regularly playing in the B.B.C.s ‘Music While You Work’ programmes), staged a concert at 2.45p.m. With George Lutter and Ann Trevor billed as the principal artistes, perhaps their talents were then rivalled on Wednesday, March 19th, when, in the crowded canteen of the London Brick Company performances were given by E.N.S.A. entertainers. Shortly afterwards the vocal talents of police constables Lloyd and Norman then came to the fore at a Forces Concert in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church Hall, and, provided by Bletchley police the programme had been arranged and compèred by police constable Bartlett, who also sang and gave piano accordion solos. Local talent was again forthcoming at the annual concert of the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church choir, held on Wednesday, March 26th, in the Baptist Hall, and as one of the highlights Mrs. A. Phillips sang ‘When Dawn Breaks Through’, composed by a talented local girl, Miss Gertie Weatherhead. On Saturday, April 12th, with admission priced at 2s, or 1s 6d for Forces in uniform, the Northern Division Police Band provided the music for the ‘Special Easter Attraction’, held in the Senior School Hall for the St. John Ambulance Brigade. The occasion took the form of a Grand Dance, but for those of a more theatrical preference tickets were now available from Terry Harrison, at Lloyds Bank, for the play ‘Love from a Stranger’, which would be performed in three acts by the Simpson Players at the Social Centre on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the 17th, 18th, 19th of April. Proceeds would be shared between the Air Raid Victims’ Distress Fund and the Red Cross Fund, and regarding the local Red Cross an ‘Evening Variety Concert’ was then staged on Sunday, April 20th at the Bletchley Road Senior School Hall.

Featuring Billy Welcome and Doris Hartley, on Friday, April 25th another E.N.S.A. concert was held in the London Brick Company canteen, and in fact it was not uncommon for such local events to feature many names of national renown, including no less than the B.B.C.’s ‘Carol Levis’ Discoveries.’ Then at the Spitfire Fund Dance with music provided by Jack Conroy and his orchestra John Burnaby, the son of the well known radio star David Burnaby, was the star attraction of the evening’s entertainment. Also well appreciated would be the concert staged by the Bletchley N.U.R. on Easter Monday in the Co-op Hall, with £6 19s being thereby raised for the Orphan Fund. It had now been announced that a ‘War Weapons Week’ was to be held in the town, and in consequence at their meeting on Monday, April 21st the Entertainments Committee arranged a full programme of events. Various dances were to be a feature, and one would be accommodated in the Senior School, with music provided by the R.A.F. Station Band from Cranfield. Other entertainments were to include whist drives, bridge parties, lawn tennis and golf competitions, and football and cricket matches, and it was therefore perhaps opportune that the Council had now granted the free use of the tennis courts and putting green at Central Gardens. Here the need for an assistant attendant, ‘minimum age 16 years’, had been advertised, and thus the successful applicant would be able to enjoy a grandstand view of the ‘All American Tennis Tournament’, which was to be held on Saturday, May 24th. Throughout the day the Beds. & Herts. Regimental Band would provide the musical entertainment, and also on tennis matters the Bletchley School Sports Association members were informed that the tennis courts were now ready. New members could enrol on the Club Ground at Bletchley Park, and applications were to be made to Miss M. Timpson, at 27, Saffron Street. Regarding War Weapons week, with the chairman, Mr. J. Cook, presiding, a meeting of the Publicity Committee took place on Thursday evening May 1st, and amongst the many topics for discussion was that of a proposed procession. Commencing at the Leon Recreation Ground this would travel via Bletchley Road, Oliver Road, Windsor Street, Water Eaton Road, Duncombe Street and Bletchley Road to conclude with an open-air service at the Bletchley Park Sports Ground. However, should the weather prove adverse then St. Mary’s Church would provide alternative accommodation. For 100 pensioners, St. Martin’s Hall now became the venue for a social evening given by the Education Committee of Bletchley Co-op. This took place on Saturday, May 9th, and on May 11th at the end of the winter season the Sunday ‘Troop Concerts’ in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Hall came to a close. They would restart in October, and the church secretary, Mr. E. Staniford, reported that with the help of all the artistes in the town 29 concerts had so far been given, each of which had averaged an attendance of 55 soldiers.

War Weapons Week began on Saturday, May 17th, and with Sid Hawks and his Luton band supplying the music a very successful opening dance was held in the Senior School Hall, Bletchley Road. During a film show at the County Cinema on Sunday evening Mr. C. Flack then briefly explained the importance of investing money to help the ‘Week’, of which one of the most popular and well attended entertainments would prove to be Mrs. Lorna Webster’s Wednesday evening concert. This took place in the Senior School Hall on May 21st, and as a highlight of the proceedings great amusement was caused when Bernard Brown, the Bletchley conjuror, drew a pile of carrots and strings of sausages from the pockets of Mr. Bates, the chairman of the Council. Born at Fenny Stratford Mr. Brown, a talented magician, had joined the railway on leaving school at the age of 14, but having firstly worked at Wolverton and then, after a few months, at Bletchley, he was released by the railway to serve in the later part of World War One as an officer, in charge of bombs and ammunition. After the war he then resumed his railway employment, and was posted to Watford and Willesden as a goods guard before returning to Bletchley in 1925. He would become a passenger guard in 1950, and on his retirement in 1965 was presented with a silver tea service. An accomplished magician, at various times he held the position of President of Northampton Magic Club and Vice President of the Northern Magic Circle, and he also became a member of the British Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

On Friday evening, May 30th, following the many successful events a dinner party and concert was held to wind up War Weapons Week. The occasion took place in the Senior School Hall, where members of the committee and friends were served by the Bletchley Co-op. Then closing the month, at the Social Centre a grand dance in aid of the St. John Ambulance Brigade took place between 8p.m. and 12 midnight on Saturday, May 31st. Music was provided by the ‘Gaiety Accordion Band’, but of more unusual entertainments John Thurston’s Fair came to Bletchley on Friday, June 26th, and would stay until the 30th. Also proving very popular was the ‘Blue & Khaki’ amateur revue, which was held on Saturday, June 21st. With Lieutenant Brooks and the Pioneer Band playing the instrumental music, the cast were all members of H.M. Forces and the venue, the Bletchley Road Senior School Hall, was again in use on Friday, July 4th, and Saturday, July 5th, when another highly entertaining and original revue was staged. Raising £31 5s 3d for the British Red Cross Society, this was entitled ‘Behind the Gates’, and, generating calls for many encores was given by members of the Bletchley Park Drama Group. The Hall had been packed, and this was despite the attendance having been confined to Bletchley Park personnel who, on occasion, were also not only entertained by the famous ‘Griller Quartet’, but were also shown various films. In fact one provided an authentic example of Nazi propaganda, being a captured German film, ‘Die Goldene Stadt’, which idealised conditions in Prague under the Occupation. On Saturday, July 12th Fred Groom and his band provided the music for a ‘Grand Dance.’ This was staged at the Social Centre, where Doris Duggan, ‘the Personality Vocalist’, made her first appearance in the town. Then including the radio comedian Gillie Potter, ‘Star of the Royal Command Performance’, (who at the end of the month would open the ‘Feast Saturday Fayre’ at Shenley Rectory Gardens), a Grand Concert was organised in aid of the Red Cross Working Party. This was staged in the Senior School Hall on Saturday, August 9th at 8p.m., and tickets had been available from Weatherhead’s, 73, Bletchley Road. Another dance was then held in the Senior School Hall on Saturday, September 13th, from 7.30p.m. until 11.55p.m., and here a special engagement had been made of Reg Heckford’s Rhythmists, (Watford), ‘with two vocalists.’ Proceeds from this event were destined for the St. John Ambulance Brigade. Featuring the Romany Dance Band, from early September every Friday at St. Martin’s Hall ‘A Non-Stop Dance’ would be held from 7.45p.m. until 11.35p.m., and as an example on Friday, September 19th as ‘Something New !!!’ non- stop dancing took place to the music of the V Dance Band. However, after such energetic exertions no doubt the local pubs then provided a welcome retreat, and with the temporary transfer of the Denbigh Hall Inn having now been made from Eric Cowley to Archibold Paxton, that of the Rose and Crown was transferred in full from Alf Lovell to Thomas Barnes.

By now, on Tuesday evenings from 8p.m. to 11p.m. the lessons in ballet, tap and ballroom dancing were in full swing at the Co-op Hall, and anyone interested could contact Miss C. Dell, at ‘Melville’, Shenley Road. Meanwhile, on Friday, October 10th, with music by Vera Stapleton’s band from 10p.m. to 12p.m. a dance in aid of the Red Cross Fund took place. The venue was the Senior School Hall, but it would be the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church School Hall where on Sunday, October 12th the ‘Sunday Night at 7.30’ weekly entertainments for the Forces recommenced. Then from the end of October on Saturday evenings the Bletchley Choral Society began their singing classes from 5.30p.m. to 7.30p.m., whilst as for the Lord Mayor’s Air Raid Distress Fund, including a Ladies’ Percussion Band a Grand Variety Concert would take place at 7.30p.m. in the Senior School Hall on Saturday, November 8th. However, on a more personal note one lady was rather surprised to find herself the object of special attention at the end of October, when Sandy Macpherson announced on the radio that he would play ‘Trees’ for Rhoda Maddox, of 44, High Street. The request had been made by her husband, who was now training to be an air mechanic in Canada. On Wednesday, November 12th, as an unusual substitute for the usual outdoor campfires Scouts of the 1st Fenny Stratford Troop held a ‘Radio Campfire’ in St. Martin’s Vicarage Room. Each patrol gave a number of skits on popular radio features, and it was therefore perhaps rather unfortunate that three Bletchley residents had recently been fined for not having a wireless licence, in fact a matter perhaps of some interest to the police who, during the month, held another successful police dance on Friday, November 14th. With 300 people attending, this took place in the Senior School Hall, where Doug Dytham’s Rhythm Aces, from Wolverton, provided the music. Proceeds would be applied to the Police Widows & Orphans Fund. On Thursday, November 13th a small but enthusiastic audience enjoyed another concert in Bletchley Road School Hall. This was held under the auspices of the Council for the Encouragement for Music and the Arts which, as a rather more ‘high brow’ counterpart to E.N.S.A., had origins from a private initiative of the Pilgrim Trust. In December, 1939, they had held a conference at the Board of Education ‘to discuss the problems of preserving and promoting cultural activities in wartime’, and provided a subsequent grant of £25,000. Then in April, 1940, official Government recognition was confirmed by a subsidy of £5,000. Under the title ‘Art for the People’, C.E.M.A. duly arranged travelling exhibitions, chamber concerts, and tours by the Sadlers Wells Company, and after the war the organisation would become the Arts Council. As for someone who was well versed in the arts, on Friday, December 12th Cynthia Dell’s cabaret and the Blue Rhythm Dance Band performed at the Senior School Hall, in aid of Dr. Barnardo’s Homes. Then the following day a concert in the Conservative Club raised over £7 for the local P.O.W. Fund, and on Friday, December 19th, and Saturday, December 20th, there was a large attendance for the second ‘Blue & Khaki’ revue, given by the Army, W.A.A.F. & W.R.N.S. in the Bletchley Road Senior School Hall. Here a private sang sea shanties, and a feature of the ‘Night Club Special’ was ‘some good dancing.’ Proceeds were for the ‘Tanks for Russia’ fund, and bringing the year to a close on Boxing Day the Carnival Dance in the Senior School Hall raised £28 for the Service of Youth fund.




The police court and police station in Simpson Road had been extended in 1924, but this unfortunately meant that the annex built towards the street for the use of the Superintendent covered the ‘treasured’ police station rose garden. However, such sensitivities became irrelevant at the declaration of war, and including the police station many important buildings were now sandbagged. As a further measure at Fenny Stratford crossroads the traffic signals had been darkened, although this rendered the signals so indistinct during daylight that the junction had to be patrolled by Special Constables. As a further nuisance for the police a man from Osborne Street was then summoned for ‘unlawfully and fraudulently’ obtaining gas to the value of 7s 2d. Having committed the offence between July 15th and 18th, he had also damaged the meter. As for more important issues, Colonel T. Warren, the Chief Constable of Bucks., was now the Controller for Civil Defence in the county. Having joined the Army in 1905, he was promoted to captain at the outbreak of World War One and being twice mentioned in despatches he would receive further recognition with the award of the C.B.E. Being again promoted in 1924, in 1928 he then received the brevet rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the New Years Honours List, and became Chief Constable of Buckinghamshire at a time when he was also deputy assistant adjutant and quartermaster general of the 43rd Wessex Division.

P.C. 279 Leslie Strong.
Born on March 21th, 1914 he joined the police on November 11th, 1935 and from Denham was posted to Bletchley on September 7th, 1939. Stationed at Little Brickhill from April 2nd, 1940, with police constables Cyril James and Ernest Haynes he was then appointed on May 15th to deal with matters concerning the subversive activities of aliens and members of the public, specifically for the Northern Division. Appointed Detective Constable on December 2nd, 1940, during his future career he would gain the rank of Chief Superintendent, and retiring from the force in 1973 he died in June 1985 at the age of 71, with the funeral held at Haddenham parish church. - M. Shaw.

Thomas Marchant.
At the age of 89 he was believed to be the oldest active special constable in Britain.

Strengthening the local police presence, police constable Leslie Strong joined the Bletchley police force on September 7th, having enrolled in the police force on November 11th, 1935, at the age of 21. Paramount amongst his duties would be enforcing the blackout, although with a certain irony by November police permission had been obtained to place two screened lights under the Bletchley railway bridge. However, these were subsequently vandalised, and in future a dim view would also be taken of any cases of unscreened lights in buildings, with such matters then being dealt with in court. On a lighter theme, in November police constable Thomas Todd, who had transferred from Bletchley to Newport Pagnell in July, was married at Newport Pagnell, where he had recently rescued a girl from drowning in the floods. Also concerned with the safeguard of children was Mr. Thomas Marchant, of 18, Oxford Street. Every Tuesday and Friday he escorted the schoolchildren across Bletchley Road, and at the age of 89 he was believed to be the oldest active special constable in Britain. Appointed in 1871 to the Post Office, in this employment he duly completed 25 years’ service. Since the last war he had been a member of the special constables, for whom every year of service in the present war would now count as three. However, this would be of little benefit to Mr. Marchant, for his long association with the organisation would come to an end with his death in May, 1940.



With hostilities now for real every precaution was being taken, and for having broken the Aliens Order a lady of ‘Dauphin’, in Leon Park Gardens, was fined £1, with 13s costs. She had gone to her son’s wedding in London without a travel permit, and whilst there failed to report daily to a police station. For the local constabulary enforcing the blackout would now occupy much of their time, and diligence was indeed necessary for, in clear conditions, even the light from a 30 watt bulb could be seen by an aircraft at medium altitude from a distance of 150 miles. One contravention of the blackout occurred on the evening of January 12th, when from Western Road police constable Coventry noticed a bright light radiating from the direction of North Street. On investigation he found it to be coming from the scullery window of 24, North Street, and in court the occupant said that having fetched a drink of water one of the evacuee children must have gone out and left the light on. A fine of 30s was duly imposed, and the need for such a deterrent was emphasised on Thursday, January 18th, when the whole of the Bletchley Police Court proceedings were taken up by cases of black-out infringement, with the imposition of fines ranging from 10s to 30s. At a civic service attended by members of the local police, a day of National Prayer was observed one Sunday at the end of the month in St. Mary’s Church. Indeed there was every reason to pray, for invasion scares were now at their height, and due to the associated fear of spies and ‘fifth columnists’ on June 15th police constable James Crowley was appointed as an officer to deal with those reports regarding the subversive activities of aliens, and members of the public, in the Eastern Division. As for the Northern Division, similar responsibilities were vested in a trio of officers, including the recently transferred police constable Strong. Yet for police constable Jack Smethurst, he had already been posted to this duty since February 10th. A native of Lancashire, after serving in the Grenadier Guards he had joined the police on May 1st, 1933, and following duties at Slough, Eton and Newport Pagnell he then moved to the C.I.D. department at Bletchley in 1936. Except for a period in 1939 and 1940, when he was called to the Grenadier Guards as a reservist, he would then remain in Bletchley until 1946, being a transfer to Burnham on his promotion to uniformed sergeant. Eight years later he would succeed Mr. Biggs as Inspector at Buckingham, and later would succeed him again upon a promotion to Chief Inspector.

The police station was now the centre for applicants wishing to join the Local Defence Volunteers, forerunner of the Home Guard, although some aspects of home defence were hardly helped by the actions of certain amongst the home population, who had recently vandalised the lamps placed under the railway bridge. Fortunately less malicious was the episode heard at the Police Court in November, when for a chimney fire at 29, Duncombe Street Henry Douglas found himself fined 5s! From now on people not paying attention to the blackout regulations would be reported directly to the police, and no doubt would thereby come to the attention of probationary sergeant Philip Owen Lloyd who, having been promoted to this position from August 30th, received corresponding congratulations from the presiding magistrate at the Bletchley Police Court. Hailing from Fishguard, he had joined the police force on January 29th, 1934, as P.C. 163, and no doubt this latest elevation had been partly in view of his participation during March in an operation against a club in Slough. As a consequence of these actions four gaming machines were destroyed, fines of £150 15s 10d were imposed, and, with the club struck off the register, the premises disqualified for 12 months. On June 22nd Lloyd was then appointed as Detective Constable, and thus qualified for the due allowance from June 24th. The following month came an additional cause for celebration when he married Miss Elsie Line, originally from Sherington, who for the past four years had managed a hairdressing salon in Wolverton. An 8 day striking clock would be amongst their presents. Meanwhile, amongst the several cases now receiving the attention of the Police Court was that of Kathleen Hobson, of 2, Railway Terrace, who admitted using a torch and not directing it downwards. Giving evidence, police constable Snarey said that at 7.40p.m. on November 24th he had seen the defendant and several friends talking to a number of soldiers in Bletchley Road, and during the course of this conversation the accused flashed a torch five times in the air, and once on the ground. Being the first case of its kind, anxiety was understandably expressed that the flashes could have been mistaken for signals to the enemy. A fine of 15s was imposed, and indeed such was the concern that by law torches would have their aperture reduced to one inch diameter, with the light dimmed by inserting a thickness of newspaper. At the end of the year officers from Scotland Yard were called in to investigate the supposedly suspicious death of Eli Jackson, aged 68, of 72, Aylesbury Street, who had been found dead by a farmer in a field near Newington, Oxford. Originally a native of Northampton, at one time he toured the country as a circus boxer, but had until recently been employed as a roadman with Bucks. County Council. Married with three grown-up daughters and a son he had left his home to visit relatives in Oxford two days ago, but the subsequent investigation could find no evidence of foul play. A verdict of death from natural causes was thus announced, with it being suggested that because ‘He was rather eccentric and getting sillier’, he had stumbled into the pond and dragged himself out before collapsing. .



The duties of the police were invariably to now deal with the several wartime measures, and in one example in January a notice from the Bletchley Urban District Council A.R.P. department announced that arrangements had been made with the Police, Special Constabulary, Home Guard, Wardens and Firemen to visit all the houses in the Urban District. This would be to advise citizens on the best way to tackle incendiary bombs, and with air raids as the primary threat, enforcing the ‘blackout’ was the immediate priority. However, as rather a paradox, for riding without a light a cyclist of 91, Duncombe Street was ordered to pay a fine of 7s 6d. The offence had occurred at 11.15p.m. on December 19th, and by way of explanation the man brightly declared that having no matches it was impossible for him to keep the oil lamp alight in the wind! More serious crimes also had to be dealt with, especially theft, and this was a charge brought against a lorry driver of Saffron Street. He was employed by Rowland Bashford Tompkins, of Kingsway Garage, to bring maize and cattle cake for Mr. J. Smith from London to Water Eaton, but over the course of 12 months the loads had always been short. Under the terms of the contract Mr. Tompkins was then obliged to make up the difference, and on investigation it was discovered that the driver had been selling part of the loads to someone else. For these misdeeds he would be subsequently fined, with costs. As for Mr. Tompkins, (the son of Robert Barrington Tompkins, of Dunstable), perhaps he could now concentrate on building up his garage business. After serving with the Beds. Yeomanry during World War One, he came to Bletchley in 1926, and within a few years began a garage business at the Kingsway Garage in the High Street. In 1930 the firm of Tompkins, Moss and Co. was then formed, and apart from his commercial activities during the war he would serve with the Bucks. Special Constabulary. After the war the garage business would then be extended to the other side of the High Street, and the firm eventually also acquired the Central Garage, in Bletchley Road. However, Mr. Tompkins would be tragically killed in a head on collision with a lorry, whilst driving along the Watling Street in 1956.

Thanks mainly to Mr. T. Kirby, who had been a candidate for the ‘School Board’ in the later 19th century, flogging was now abolished in the town for those children who did not arrive at school before 9.30a.m. Nevertheless, for those youngsters found guilty of more serious crimes corporal punishment still remained an option, as imposed towards the end of the month on three Bletchley boys aged 13. Each had been sentenced by order of the Bletchley Juvenile Court to receive six strokes of the birch for having ‘pinched off the railway.’ Smashing the padlock of an L.M.S. railway store with hammers, on December 19th they had stolen a yellow flag valued at 2s, whilst for a similar incident four other boys admitted stealing binoculars, cooking utensils and cutlery, valued at £15, from a caravan owned by Captain Edgar at Old Bletchley. The offence had taken place between December 15th and 18th, and with all the offenders pleading guilty, all had been in trouble before. On a less discordant note, on the evening of Friday, January 31st Bletchley Police held their annual dance in the Bletchley Road Senior School Hall, and they again arrested local attention during March, by providing the programme for the ‘Forces Concert’ in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church School Hall. Arranged and compèred by police constable Aubrey Bartlett, he also sang and gave piano accordion solos, whilst his fellow officers, Philip Lloyd and Cecil Norman, performed a variety of vocal numbers. Cecil Norman had been first posted to Bletchley on February 14th, 1936, in fact the year after joining the police force, but police constable Bartlett, (his number being 62), had joined on May 23rd, 1927. Despite having only recently arrived in Bletchley he would soon gain local notice, however, for on March 8th his prompt action had stopped a runaway horse in the town, and being highly commended for this act, from August 11th he would then be promoted as a temporary appointment to Acting Sergeant. As always, juvenile crime proved a continuing annoyance and this was especially unwelcome at a time of national crisis. For taking sandbags from houses and placing them in roadways, on Thursday, March 6th six boys appeared at Bletchley Juvenile Court to answer two sets of summons ‘for causing obstructions’, and in another incident a young lad threw a ‘crowscarer’ into the road outside the Conservative Club. The device, used by farmers to scare birds away from crops, had been removed from a string sold by a local shop, and with a nearby policeman having been alerted by the loud explosion he swiftly arrested the boy, and marched him off to the police station. In consequence the boy’s mother would be fined 25s. Causing another song and dance, Bletchley Police held an evening entertainment in the Social Centre on Friday, March 14th, with the Northern Division Police Dance Orchestra providing the music, and they would later provide the music for a ‘Special Easter Attraction’ on Saturday, April 12th, at a grand dance held in the Senior School Hall. Proceeds would be for the St. John Ambulance Brigade, who unfortunately could not be of help when, during early March, Council workmen investigating the cause of a blockage in a local sewer found the obstruction to be ‘an underdeveloped body which had never had a separate existence.’ The discovery had been made between the Swan corner and Franklin’s yard, and the matter was swiftly reported to the police.

The police station at Fenny Stratford.
In early feudal times society had no police force, and the law depended very much on the moral conception of the population regarding their rights and duties to each other. Eventually the office of constable was then created, and at Fenny Stratford in 1647 the quarter sessions approved the appointment of two constables. However, with County police forces becoming obligatory in 1856, in 1879 it was recorded by the vestry that 'we do not think a constable is wanted in this parish, there being three resident policeman, and a constable does not seem wanted.' During World War Two, in June, 1940 it was announced that men liable for conscription aged between 30 and 50 could opt to join the fire service or police instead of the Forces, whilst for those already in such posts they were not allowed to resign. As for the police station, apart from the normal duties the premises were designated as the cleansing station for personnel of the Decontamination Squad, 'and the men are provided with a change of underclothing by the County.' By the 1960s it had been intended to build a new divisional police H.Q. and court room in Simpson Road but with the building of a new town now being proposed the idea, after discussions between the Police Committee and Home Office, was considered unjustified. However, during April 1966 in Sherwood Drive on the site of a small copse, (formerly a part of Bletchley Park), plans for a new sub division police H.Q., to accommodate 70 to 80 police, as well as traffic wardens and civilians, were to be prepared by the county architect. Work duly began on the new station in October 1967, and in 1969 the Simpson Road premises were then finally taken out of operation - R.C.H.I.

Towards the end of March whilst cycling along the Watling Street Detective Constable Leslie Strong, who was stationed at Little Brickhill, unfortunately collided with a car. He was rushed to Northampton hospital with face and head injuries, but injuries of a more deliberate intent were nearly caused on the evening of Saturday, 14th June near Woughton when an unknown man, said to be wearing an officer’s uniform of a Scottish regiment, fired a weapon at police constable Snarey of Bletchley, who was on motorcycle patrol. The police had recently circulated the description of a wanted man, aged between 35 and 40, and 5 feet 8inches tall, and between Newport Pagnell and Bletchley during his mobile patrol police constable Snarey had noticed a person resembling this description crouching in a field. When he attempted an arrest the man then fired a shot, and whilst police constable Snarey set off in pursuit, War Reserve Constable W. Shouler, of Woughton, raised the alarm at Bletchley police station. Exchanging shots, Snarey chased his assailant for over a mile before collapsing from exhaustion, but despite wearing two haversacks his quarry carried on, and eventually escaped by crossing the River Ousel. With all the North Bucks. police immediately called out, they were joined in the hunt by soldiers armed with machine guns, and meanwhile the Home Guard stopped and searched all lorries travelling along the main road. At Simpson Bridge drivers were also challenged by the fixed bayonets of both the Home Guard and the military, and in fact some of those who had been stopped and searched four times in four miles grew increasingly resentful, with one becoming so awkward that he had to be taken to the police station for his credentials to be checked. The extensive hunt then continued through the night and all day Sunday, and on Sunday afternoon Colonel T. Warren, the Chief Constable of Bucks. - who was soon to be appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Buckinghamshire - arrived in Bletchley. With an armed guard placed at the gates of the police station a long conference with Superintendent F. Bryant, and Inspector Merry, was held, and they were duly joined by the Assistant Chief Constable. A prolonged telephone conversation then ensued with the authorities in London, from where even reporters came to investigate this worrying incident. Yet perhaps also as worrying was the subsequent discovery of a break in at the rifle range of Fletton’s Ltd., where £2 4s 5d had been stolen from the pavilion. Someone of fortunately a more honest disposition was Charles Dickens, a labourer of 5, Council Houses, Great Brickhill, who on June 5th whilst putting in a new water service pipe at 35, Bletchley Road, began to dig inside the pantry floor. However, he had only moved about six tiles when he chanced upon a tin box, which he then put on a table whilst his inquisitive workmates gathered round. When opened the box was found to contain gold and silver coins valued at £350, and on inspection by Henry Eldred, a jeweller, of Leon Avenue, these were found to date from between 1816 and 1881. The haul was duly sent for examination at Hendon Police Laboratory and at the consequent inquest, held at Bletchley Police Station, William Hing, a grocery manager for the Bletchley Co-op, said that although he had lived at the house since 1925, he had remained quite unaware of the tin. With the coins declared Treasure Trove, and since no rightful owner could be traced, Mr. Dickens duly received 80% of the value, whilst as for Mr. Hing, perhaps he would be somewhat consoled when presented with a silver mounted umbrella, at his retirement in 1946.

As opposed to the usual solemnities, during June the Bletchley Police Court was enlivened when, after the nature of an oath had been explained to a 10 year old boy, the chairman asked him ‘Whom do you offend against if you tell a lie?’ ‘The rector’, suggested the boy. The chairman tried again. ‘Someone above the Rector’, to which the boy brightly replied, ‘Hitler?’ An honest mistake, perhaps, which is more than can be said for the misdeeds of a man from Denbigh Hall Inn, who had previously been the licensee of the Maltsters Arms. Accused with others of black market meat trading, he received a prison sentence of two months, plus a fine of £1 for not keeping a hotel register. As for firearm offences, these again became an issue during August, when a man from 190, Osborne Street, was summoned for not possessing a firearms certificate. Being a member of the Bletchley Rifle Club, for £2 he had bought the rifle at his place of work from a man living at 1, Saffron Street, who, about three years ago, had purchased the weapon from a fair at Peterborough. Despite claiming their ignorance of the need for a certificate both men were each fined £1, with the police retaining the rifle. Other matters to occupy the police attention included wanton damage caused by four boys aged 9, 10, 11, 12 and a girl of 8 to a building, contents and fittings, the property of Colonel J. P. Whiteley, M.C., M.P. The Colonel’s head gardener, Mr. T. Coles of Grange Lodge, said that the building adjoined the Yeomanry Hall, and although the premises had been doubly locked and bolted, he noticed damage on July 14th. From thereon additional damage occurred daily until August 13th, when he caught the four boys on the roof. Four panes of glass had been broken in the skylight, through which access had been made with ropes, and with its upholstery and padding ripped to pieces a Chrysler car in the garage was practically wrecked. As for the infliction of other damage, this included electric light fittings and a boxing ring, the pads of which had been ripped and the ropes cut. Police constable James Crowley, (whose number was 67), then stated that slates had been ripped off the roof, ventilators broken and about 200 tiles of a nearby, dilapidated piggery scattered over a field, and admitting the damage the boys said the cutting had been done using mower blades. However, they claimed that many other children also used the place as a playground but although the girl was discharged, the boys were ordered to pay £1 5s 3d each, along with costs, and as well as their parents they were bound over for two years. The sentencing was therefore a triumph for police constable Crowley who, originally from Bantry, County Cork, had served in the Merchant Navy and Irish Guards before joining the Buckinghamshire police in March, 1935. He then served four years at Beaconsfield, and subsequently at Chalfont St. Giles, before arriving at Bletchley in 1940.

Following his probationary period, from August 30th police constable Lloyd was now confirmed in his position as sergeant, and would duly qualify for a salary of 102s 6d a week. No doubt the money would be well earned, for at the end of September children were again proving to be a nuisance, by kicking the roadside sandbags until the contents ran out. However, certain adults in the town also displayed a childish behaviour, as seemed the case when the rivalry between Bertie Denny, of 31, Osborne Street, and William Kirk, of 10, Albert Street, came to a climax in a joint summons. Both men ran dances in the town, and on learning that Denny - albeit unwittingly - had booked a hall on the night that he was also holding a dance, Kirk stormed round to Denny’s house intending to have words. Tempers flared, and indeed the need for a stitch would be the consequence of a punch in the eye. Face slapping also took place, until one of the protagonists picked up a three foot length of garden fence and broke it across the other’s shoulder. Denny then dived into his house, fetched his wife’s broomstick and repeatedly hit his rival until it broke! Hardly sporting behaviour, but neither was that of the five boys aged between 9 and 12, four of them evacuees, who were summoned during September for the damage they caused to the Bletchley Co-op Sports Pavilion. Giving evidence Mr. C. Flack, the Society secretary, said that in June the Pavilion had been in fairly good order, but by August 105 panes of glass had been broken, with the inside panelling and a stool vandalised. The damage amounted to £10, and admitting their crime the boys were bound over for two years, each being ordered to pay 14s. As for offences elsewhere in the town, complaints of theft or damage to the allotments had now been made whilst, perhaps as a matter they would not wish to broadcast, three Bletchley residents were fined for having no wireless licence. On September 3rd police constable Snarey, the hero of the episode involving the ‘Scottish soldier’, had been released for the armed forces, and having joined the police force on August 14th, 1939, he would then resume this career in 1944, with a posting to Aylesbury. On Sunday, October 12th, 175 men from all sections of the Northern Division of Bucks. Special Constabulary paraded in Bletchley, where on the Central Gardens car park they were marshalled by Inspector Merry, (whose son would also pursue a police career). Presenting medal ribbons for ‘long and meritorious’ service, the newly promoted County Chief Constable, Colonel T. Warren, then made the main inspection, accompanied by Sir Walter Carlile, of Gayhurst, Sir Vernon Kell, the former ‘spymaster’ of Emberton, and Superintendent Bryant, of Bletchley. Addressing the men in the Studio car park the Chief Constable paid compliment to their smartness and efficiency, and said that towards permitting them further training he had ordered his superintendents and commandants to allow them, as far as possible, to man the Police Divisions for one day a month, to ‘see what sort of show they made of it.’ Thus one of those ‘on probation’ would be the local jeweller Harry Eldred, who, having first become a Special Constable in 1936, would by the end of the war have attained the rank of sergeant. Yet he had previously seen military service during World War One when, adding a year to his age, he joined the Wiltshire Regiment, and during his military service would be wounded on the Somme.

About 300 people, including police from Bletchley and Wolverton, attended a successful police dance on Friday, November 14th. This was held in the Senior School Hall, with the proceeds being applied for the Police Widows & Orphans Fund. From Wolverton, Doug Dytham’s Rhythm Aces provided the music, which perhaps proved more agreeable than that which three workers from Valentin, Ord & Nagle faced on Thursday, November 13th, when they appeared at Bletchley Police Court on charges of theft from the premises. However, since all had been of previous good character the firm agreed to continue their employment. Giving evidence, Detective Constable Smethurst said that whilst watching the factory on October 31st, at 6.10a.m. his suspicions were aroused when he noticed the coat of a man leaving the site. On investigation a bag of germ meal was discovered hanging by a strap from the suspect’s shoulder, and at a subsequent search of the man’s home a pair of wellingtons and clogs was also found. Mr. E. Cox, the company’s chemist, then confirmed that the man had previously been of good character, and therefore recommended that he should be kept on. Nevertheless, a fine of £2 with 30s costs was imposed, with the man bound over for two years. Hoping to be sacked from his job the second man had also stolen some germ meal, and two bags were found at his home. He had been ‘rowing with his wife’ and wanted to leave the district, but when he asked for his cards this was refused, and so he stole the bags. Sentenced to a fine of £2, he was also kept on. (In fact by the Essential Work Order of March, 1941, since any privately owned factory could be deemed to be engaged on national work, if this was essential to the nation’s defence, then except by permission of the National Service Officer no employee could leave or be sacked. Gross misconduct was the only possible option for disgruntled employees to secure their dismissal, or else to chance the verdict of an Industrial Tribunal.) The third man, from 17, Aylesbury Street, had stolen four bags of cattle feed, and this was a practice that he had apparently begun about two months ago. His motive was to supplement his fowl mix, but no doubt the subsequent fine of £2 would not seem much like chickenfeed. Thanks to the surveillance skills of Detective Constable Smethurst justice had been done, and perhaps he had perfected his techniques ten days earlier when, on October 21st, at 9p.m. he had kept watch on a man whom he believed to be guilty of stealing petrol. Now living in Bow Brickhill the suspect was a window cleaner, and because his business in London had been a victim of the Blitz he had come to Bletchley with his family. By selling his personal belongings he then bought a car to start a taxi business, but with a petrol allowance of only 21 gallons every two months this hardly enabled him to earn more than £1 per week. In consequence he decided to resume his occupation as a window cleaner, (of which he had 21 years experience in London), but on travelling to the Capital to fetch his materials he discovered that they had been stolen. It seemed that he then took desperate measures, for as stated in court by Mr. Rowland Tompkins, of Kingsway Garage, following a collision on October 3rd one of his firm’s lorries, used for delivering glucose, had been garaged, plus several others, in the Bridge Hotel yard with 18 gallons of petrol left in the tank. However, a while later Mr. Tompkins discovered that two gallons were missing, and the police were called in. On October 21st at 9p.m. Detective Constable Smethurst subsequently observed the accused in a car outside the Swan Hotel, and although the man had an empty petrol tin and a length of tubing under the seat, by 10.25p.m. the tin had been filled. Therefore there seemed little doubt regarding his criminal intent, but despite being found guilty of acquiring petrol from an unauthorised source, and not surrendering coupons, in a somewhat lenient sentence he was bound over for two years, and ordered to pay 15s in costs.

At the end of November, at Bletchley Conservative Club Bletchley police proved they were on target when in a shooting match they beat Buckingham police by four points. However, a man of 3, Hillway, Woburn Sands, then found himself in the firing line when he pleaded guilty to stealing 12lb. 10ozs. of tea, valued at £1 5s 3d, as the property of the Ministry of Food. Aged 46, he had been a night watchman for Joseph Tetley & Co., at Bletchley, and on September 30th police constable Lloyd had seen him leave the factory at about 7.30a.m. with a bundle strapped to his cycle. On investigation the bundle was found to contain tea, and the man duly admitted to having stolen quantities about three times a week. This he sold for 1s per lb., and he also asked for five other charges of stealing tea to be taken into account, as well as having sold tea wholesale without a licence. In fact he then gave the police a list of 13 persons, and with subsequent visits made to the addresses all but one of the named parties admitted being recipients. In his defence, mention was made of the man’s good military record, having risen to become a Lieutenant whilst serving with the East Surrey Regiment, and having lost a leg in the last war he not only now drew a good pension, but also earned £3 2s a week, with 5s travelling expenses. A sentence of three months imprisonment was imposed. Also associated with the charge was a hairdresser and reserve constable of 70, Duncombe Street, who was also the secretary of the Bletchley branch of the British Legion. He likewise faced a count of stealing tea, but elected to go for trial. Police constable Lloyd could be undoubtedly commended for his work, although his dignity would suffer a blow in December when he received a black eye during an incident with some drunks in Aylesbury Street. Such behaviour was certainly not Mr. A. Bates cup of tea for he was the A.R.P. Controller, and in a recent interview had expressed himself very satisfied with the way in which the recent Civil Defence and ‘invasion’ exercises had been conducted, especially with the introduction of surprise situations. Both the police and the A.R.P. dealt competently with the various ‘bomb’ incidents, and although the police station, which changed hands several times, was ‘burned out’ during the ground action, it was quickly replaced by an auxiliary station, set up in the Council Offices.




On the evening of Wednesday, August 30th, the Reverend George Brewin, the new Wolverton Methodist Circuit Superintendent, and the Reverend Arthur Yates, the new Bletchley Methodist Minister, had both been welcomed to the town. On leaving a Liverpool school the Reverend Yates had been apprenticed to the cabinet making trade but after three years of religious study at Richmond College, University of London, he then came to Bletchley as his first appointment. In fact his first service at Bletchley Road Methodist Church would prove a memorable occasion, for it was during the proceedings that the announcement that war had been declared was made. Therefore it was with an added poignancy that on the afternoon of Sunday, September 3rd during the children’s service at St. Martin’s the lesson was read to 500 of the London evacuees, from St. Paul’s School and Ecclesbourne Road School, by one of the headmasters. The church was again packed on the afternoon of Sunday, October 1st, when the Home Defence Services in the town paraded for the observance of the National Day of Prayer. As for matters further away from home, on Wednesday, October 4th, the Bletchley section of the Wolverton Methodist church held an overseas meeting in Bletchley Road Methodist Church, where the Reverend Edwards, of Leighton Buzzard, who had been stationed in Jamaica for 20 years, spoke about the people and the way of life in that country. As for the Albert Street Methodist Church Sisterhood, this had now been re-formed, and a new start was duly made the following day. A week or so later on the ‘Special Day of Prayer’ £7 2s 6d was raised for the ‘Save the Children Fund’ by the collections at St. Martin’s Church. However, the unique St. Martin’s ceremony of firing the ‘Fenny Poppers’ on November 11th could not be held due to the wartime regulations regarding noise, but nevertheless the St. Martin’s dinner still went ahead at the Vicarage, attended by the Vicar, wardens and secretary of the Parochial Church Council. Arranged because of the war on one day instead of two, in early November a bazaar was held by the Bletchley Road Methodist church to raise monies for the new Sunday school, but regarding the rooms of the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church Sunday School the Education Authority had now decided to use this accommodation for schoolchildren, since other pupils were already using the Bletchley Road schools - the London children in the mornings, and those of Bletchley in the afternoons. Towards the end of November the large vestry room of Bletchley Road Methodist Church was then set aside for the use of evacuated mothers, and being open every day from 1p.m. - 4.30p.m. the facility would be used as a social centre and retreat, with a fire and reading material provided. As for the established church, the Reverend A. Partridge, who had now been the rector of St. Mary’s Church for five years, and rural dean for four, had accepted - subject to the approval of the Bishop of Lincoln - the living of Moulton, near Spalding. He had been associated with Canterbury Cathedral for 20 years, but his association with Bletchley commenced on an exchange with the Reverend F. Bennitt of the living of East Peckham, Kent. Hopefully his successor would be suitably appreciative of St. Mary’s, for much work to beautify the church, including work on the Lady Chapel ceiling, had been carried out by the well known woodcut artist and illustrator, Charles Thrupp, who sadly died during December at the age of 60. For several years he had lived at Walnut Tree Cottages, in Old Bletchley.



With the Senior scholars holding their party in the evening, on Wednesday, January 17th, during the afternoon the Infants Sunday School held their Annual Party and Prize Distribution in St. Martin’s Hall. The 300 or so children enjoyed games, songs and recitations, and to those scholars who had gained the highest marks in 1939, (which included Roland Doggett, who had been named after a local doctor), Father Wheeler presented prizes. Well respected, in fact he would remain in the town until 1957, having first come to Bletchley in 1935. He thereby succeeded the Reverend Archie Moxon who, after graduating at Oxford, became a priest in 1896. After various positions he then came to Bletchley in 1926, but would now move on to Chinnor. At a meeting in February the Spurgeon Baptists were told that, due to the wartime conditions, the finances had suffered in recent months, but nevertheless the new church and Sunday school at Old Bletchley continued to maintain good congregations. Both had progressed satisfactorily, and since the running expenses of the church were now cleared, £10 was even being put to the Building Fund. This presently stood at only £205, on loan from the Bank and the Baptist Building Fund, and also on a harmonious note during the same month entertainment was provided at a Wednesday meeting of the Bletchley Road Methodist Church Women’s Pleasant Hour by Adjutant Reid, of the Salvation Army. He not only sang but also played the accordion, whilst elsewhere another amateur entertainer, Mr. Frank Duffield, had now agreed to remain as the church warden at St. Martin’s Church. As for other church business the St. Martin’s Working Party, which met every Tuesday in the Parish Room, had been registered as a local depot for comforts for the Navy, and with wool being obtained from H.Q., for ‘official requirements’ items would be duly knitted, baled and sent to the Admiralty for distribution to warships.

After five years as the rector of St. Mary’s, the Reverend Alan Partridge had now left, and at an ‘ancient induction ceremony’ carried out by the Rural Dean, in March the Reverend John Lloyd Milne, M.A., O.B.E. was inducted as the new Rector of Bletchley, in a ceremony performed by the Bishop of Buckingham. For the past two years he had been the rector of Quendon and Rickling, in the Diocese of Chelmsford, having been originally ordained by the Bishop of Lincoln in 1913. During World War One he served as Chaplain to Salonika, being mentioned in dispatches and awarded the military O.B.E., and including rugby and rowing amongst his recreations, as headmaster of the cathedral choir school he later carried out duties for ten years at Manchester Cathedral. With a family of four, he would remain as the rector of St. Mary’s throughout the war, until inducted to the living of Oving with Pitchcott in October, 1945. During March the quarterly meeting of the Wolverton Methodist Council took place at the Freeman Memorial Church and, although the financial position gave some cause for concern, there had been an increased attendance at the Sunday Schools. Probably there was also an increased attendance on Easter Monday, when the daughters of Mr. & Mrs. W. Yeoman, Irene and Kathleen Yeomans, of 37, Leon Avenue, held a double wedding at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church. A member of the Baptist choir, Irene was also the Leader of both the 1st Bletchley team of Life Boys and the Primary Sunday School whilst Kathleen, also a member of the choir, held the position of leader of the Old Bletchley Primary Sunday School. In April, organised by the Women’s Own a sale of work in the Coronation Hall raised £20 for the Water Eaton Methodists, a sum which would then be put towards the new building fund. The following evening a meeting was held to consider the formation of a Sunday School at Water Eaton, and it was hoped that before long they would have a building in which the newly formed school ‘would be proud and happy to meet together.’ April also witnessed not only the re-election of Mr. Wallace A. Foll as the ‘People’s Warden’ at St. Mary’s Church, but also the arrival of ‘Student Crusaders’ from Richmond Theological College, London University. They would spend a week in the town expounding ‘This Christian Faith’, and their previous event had been at Bristol, where they staged an ‘Easter Crusade.’ Twenty of their number now planned to work in the Bletchley district, although three had ironically contracted German measles and were unable to come. Arriving on a Sunday, the group conducted services at the Albert Street, Freeman Memorial, Bletchley Road and Simpson Methodist churches, and services were soon also being held every evening at the ‘Crusader Centres’, as well as in the open air at the Central Gardens and Aylesbury Street. The students aimed to communicate ‘that science and education do not stop war, check the rise of dictators or show us how to live together happily’, and therefore there was only one way, ‘the revolutionary way of Jesus.’ With their message being well received, at the end of the month the Crusade secretary, Ronald Jefferies, would then write to thank the people of Bletchley for their hospitality, and in due course an acquaintance would again be made when in four coaches, two cars, and by train, over 120 people left Bletchley to renew their friendship with the students.

Albert Street Primitive Methodist church.
With the foundation stones laid in 1898, the church remained in religious use until 1944. Then for 12 months it became solely a Forces canteen but in 1946 reopened as the Bletchley Methodist Youth Centre, which continued until the building was acquired by the Bletchley Co-op from the Methodist authorities in 1955. Money from the Albert Street Methodist Church Trust was then applied towards the £6,954 3s 2d needed to build a new Methodist church in Warwick Road, and meanwhile the youth organisations were accommodated in a new hall built at the Freeman Memorial church. Interestingly, opposite the old church may be seen an advert painted on the end wall of a house for Sunlight Soap. This came to light at the demolition in recent years of the Co-op hall, and the name Bailey recalls Mr. E. Bailey who, in 1893, had submitted amended plans for, amongst other amenities, a temperance hall and public baths. In fact 'Sunlight self washer soap in 3d Tablets' had been available from a grocer in Aylesbury Street, until he became rather too frisky with his lady assistant and had to make a swift exit from the town! - J. Taylor.

For the Sunday school funds, in mid April the Water Eaton Methodists held a Wednesday sale of work at the Coronation Hall. A healthy sum of £20 was raised, and a good financial position was also reported at the annual meeting of the Baptist Sports Club, with more than £15 having now been cleared off the ground debt. Certainly something to sing about, and also on a musical theme in May Sir Sydney Nicholson, the Director of the School of English Church Music, paid a visit to St. Martin’s. This was part of a tour of choirs affiliated to the School, and also displaying their musical talents were the Girl Guides of the 2nd Bletchley Methodist Company, who towards the end of the month gave an evening concert in the Salvation Army Hall. On Friday, May 3rd a ‘Treasure Ship,’ the ‘Good Hope’, docked at the Albert Street Methodist Church, (‘gangway down’ at 6p.m.), and the cargo of over £20 was then applied to the benefit of the church and trust funds. As for the Bletchley Road Methodist Church, on Friday evening, May 16th, the first meeting took place of the recently formed Crusade Council. The Reverend Yates had been appointed as chairman, but there was presently concern about a lack of church co-operation, and to remedy this an appeal would now duly be made. The need had not least arisen because the new Rector of Bletchley, the Reverend John Lloyd Milne, had declined an invitation to join the first anniversary celebrations of the Old Bletchley Baptist Church. Yet despite such animosity, and despite being compounded by the blackout and the general wartime conditions, the churches were still continuing their services, and indeed the month would then close with a day of National Prayer, with members of the Urban Council, A.R.P., firemen and police attending a civic service at St. Mary’s Church. The other churches in the town also offered special prayers, and a combined Nonconformist service was held in that of Albert Street. After 25 years as secretary of the North Bucks. Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Change Ringers, in early June Mr. W. Sear retired, and had it not been for the wartime regulations the bells would have been definitely rung when the first batch of Bletchley B.E.F. men arrived home on 48 hours leave. A Sunday Mass Thanksgiving consequently took place in St. Martin’s Church, and at St. Margaret’s ‘to grace and improve our already dignified Mission Church’ a gift was made of an oak chair and sanctuary carpet. Attracting large congregations, the 132nd anniversary of the Bletchley Baptist Church Sunday School was celebrated in July, and perhaps this was an appropriate time to remember the 17 lads connected with the church who had served during the previous World War. In their honour a new memorial organ had been dedicated on January 12th, 1921, but as for the present World War, towards the Fabric and Heating Fund the Reverend J. Lloyd Milne received gifts from 9a.m. to Monday at St. Mary’s Church. A total of £31 would be raised, but additional funds were still needed, since the stonework required urgent attention as well as the timbers of the Lady Chapel roof, which had been damaged by a variety of beetle. Perhaps also viewed as an undesirable infestation, judging by the Reverend Lloyd Milne’s recent refusal to attend their celebrations, on the evening of Tuesday, June 4th the Crusade Council, representing all the Non-Conformist churches in the town, held a monthly meeting at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church. This was chaired by the Reverend Reid, and towards the end of July the third series of the Bletchley Crusaders’ open-air services, arranged by the Reverend Yates, took place outside the Studio, with the Salvation Army band leading the ‘Hearty singing.’ There was also a hearty attendance when during a Saturday afternoon the Methodist churches of the Bletchley district held a garden fete. On the Denmark Street ground of the Baptist Sports Club this took place in aid of the Overseas Missions, and saying that the Reverend Yates had often written to invite him, the Reverend Tanimo Solaru addressed the gathering. He said that he came from what the children called ‘Blackie-land’, in Western Nigeria, and to maintain an interest in this missionary work Mr. E. Sykes urged everyone to pass on their adopted slogan; ‘Go to it.’ In fact by going to it, the event raised £30. Then featuring no less than the Kettering Salvation Army Citadel Band, ‘of broadcasting fame’, on one Sunday evening in the Studio cinema a Salvation Army Music Festival concluded the month.

During late August the Bishop of Buckingham appointed the Vicar of St. Martin’s, the Reverend Cyril Wheeler, as surrogate for the granting of marriage licences in the Archdeaconry of Buckingham, but regarding those who were rather young for such matters, since it had not been possible to take them on their annual outing the choirboys of St. Mary’s would instead enjoy a tea in the Garden Café, and also, arranged by Mrs. S. Cook, be taken on a visit to the cinema. On Saturday, August 24th, the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church held a ‘Keep Cheerful’ fete on the Denmark Street sports ground, and the events would include a display of country dancing by the infants of Ecclesbourne School, directed by Miss Eden and the teachers. With music provided by the Salvation Army band, the P.A. equipment was supplied by Weatherhead’s, and adding to the entertainment a competition took place to find the man with odd socks! During the past 12 weeks the members had raised £20 by joining a ‘Little Less Luxury’ scheme, but this still left the need for £80, which would be needed to clear a debt of £100 incurred, the previous year, by the purchase of hymn books and other equipment. One Sunday during September Harvest Festival services were held at Bletchley Road Methodist Church, and in fact for the preacher, the Reverend Dick Keen, this was a renewed acquaintance with Bletchley, for during April he had arrived as one of the ‘Crusaders’ who were then visiting the town. As for the work of the Church Overseas, on Saturday, September 28th, at St. Martin’s Hall the parishes in the Bletchley Rural Deanery all joined in an exhibition and bazaar which, as the third exhibition since 1936, was opened by the Hon. Ruth Hubbard. Also during the month another lady of note, namely Mrs. J. Milne, the wife of the Reverend J. Lloyd Milne, was appointed District Commissioner of the Bletchley Area Girl Guides, having until recently been the captain of Old Bletchley Girl Guides. This latter position would now be taken by Miss Kettleton. Given in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church, October began with a Saturday concert for the benefit of the Missionary Society, and indeed Dr. Stones, the chairman, had many years of experience as a Medical Missionary in Africa. Then also during the month, by the presentation of a Benson wristlet watch the North Bucks. Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Bellringers expressed their appreciation to Mr. Walter Sear, who had retired in June. He had been their honorary secretary for 25 years, and although bell ringing may now have been curtailed due to the war, this did little to curb the celebrations for the two Lewis sisters, (the daughters of Mr. & Mrs. Lewis of 30, Newton Road), when they held a double wedding at St. Mary’s Church. As for the bridegrooms, with one being an assistant clerk to B.U.D.C., the other, a Lance Corporal, was in the A.M.P.C., the ‘Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps.’ This had been formed on November 10th, 1939, to recruit men deemed to be too old, (aged 35 to 50), for the fighting line, and they would instead aid the war effort by taking part in such activities as bridge building, railway construction and fortifications.

At the end of the month 11 members of the Richmond Crusaders, who during Easter had spent a successful week in Bletchley, paid a return visit to the town. Local people joined them in a ramble through Great Brickhill woods, and following a tea, served in the Freeman Memorial Church Hall, an especially well attended evening meeting took place in the Senior School Hall, with the Crusaders then conducting Sunday services in all the main Methodist and Baptist churches. Religious meetings were also to be a feature from the beginning of November, when over 20 young local preachers and Sunday School teachers began to meet at the house of the Reverend Yates. Here they would pursue a course of study and so enrich their knowledge, but with her motive being to enrich their funds, Mrs. Webster had now arranged a concert at the Albert Street Methodist Church. In fact before the building of the present church a small tin hut, affectionately known as the ‘Iron Chapel’, had previously sufficed, situated on a site further along the road. With war now raging on many fronts it was time to remember the fallen of the previous World War, and on Remembrance Day amongst the many wreaths would be one from No. 1 Platoon Home Guard, commanded by Victor Goldsworthy. In the parish of St. Mary’s this was placed at the foot of the war memorial, towards the finance of which the transfer in January, 1919, of the balance from the Parochial Soldiers Christmas Parcels Fund had formed a nucleus for the necessary funds. As for those men associated with St. Martin’s Church, shortly after the end of the hostilities they were commemorated by a mural tablet. Costing £112, this had been temporarily placed on display at Mrs. Staniford’s shop, in Aylesbury Street, before then being affixed in the church during 1920. As opposed to the situation during World War One, air raids were now a predominant feature of the present war, and towards relieving the distress of those who were suffering as a result of the Blitz a Saturday collection, specifically for the Dioceses of London and Southwark, was taken at all the Bletchley churches. Understandably, in view of all the ongoing carnage, the follies of war was the theme taken by the Reverend Ken Underwood, (a Richmond College Crusader, who had paid a previous visit to the town), when one Sunday during the month he conducted Sunday services in the Albert Street Methodist Church. In December, it was stated in a report of the Public Health Committee that work to prepare the cemetery extension was complete, and the Clerk would be asked to make an application for the consecration, with a section of the cemetery having been especially set apart for the burial of those members of H.M. Forces, Home Guard and Civil Defence who were killed on active service. However, on a happier note, in an event that raised a welcome £10 for their funds on Saturday, December 21st, the Salvation Army held their Christmas bazaar in the Salvation Army Hall. Yet festive frolics were also afoot for the Reverend James O’Snell, the priest in charge of St. Margaret’s Mission Church, for his marriage to Miss Jean Le Conte of 3, Harbord Road, North Oxford, took place at the Church of St. Michael & All Angels, Oxford, on Tuesday, December 31st. The couple would then make their home at 24, Lennox Road. Having come to Bletchley in 1938, the Reverend Snell would remain in the town until 1943, then moving to Rugeley, and later Dawley Parva, in Shropshire. Nevertheless, he would make the re-acquaintance of the area in November, 1952, when collated as the vicar designate of St. James, New Bradwell. Closing the year, on December 31st the children of St. Mary’s Sunday School were then given a Christmas party at the Rectory, and, as anticipated, this was an occasion which they all greatly enjoyed.



The year began with a visit on Sunday, January 5th, by the Reverend Dick Keen - a ‘Crusader’ from Richmond College, London - to the Freeman Memorial Church, whilst on Monday the Reverend Arthur Yates invited 20 members of the newly formed Girls’ League to a New Year’s meeting, held in the Bletchley Road Methodist Church. Here tea and games were greatly enjoyed by the gathering, and on Saturday, January 19th, it was then the turn of the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist School Hall to provide a local venue, for an evening concert featuring ‘artistes of B.B.C. fame.’ The proceeds were for the church funds, and the following day to commemorate the work of Lord Baden Powell an afternoon service was held at St. Martin’s Church, where a great number of Scouts and Guides not surprisingly attended. As for the Salvation Army, being succeeded by the Ulster born Major David Parkhill, and his wife, at the end of the month Adjutant and Mrs. Reid left for Coventry, following their 14 months stay in Bletchley. They had instigated the Salvation Army Boy Scout Troop, the formal inauguration of which had been performed by Adjutant Warren, Scout Organiser of London, in the presence of members of the Bletchley Girl Guides and the 1st Fenny Stratford (St. Martin’s) Scout Troop. The new Troop would consist of two patrols, with Mr. Parker appointed as the Scoutmaster, to be assisted by Mr. McLelland. On Saturday, February 15th, the annual prize distribution to members of the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church Sunday School was held, although at the annual meeting of the Church it would be a discussion of the finances that proved to be the main topic. Yet for the Baptists a more sombre topic had been the recent death, at 18, Beechcroft Road, of Stephen Woodfield, an evacuee from London. As a member of Ferme Park (London) Baptist Church, he had been a personal friend of the Reverend C.H. Spurgeon, after whom the Bletchley church had been named, and indeed at the proposed construction of the Spurgeon church the Reverend Spurgeon had many years ago offered his encouragement and support, writing; ‘I hope our friends at Fenny Stratford will succeed in erecting a new chapel. They have enjoyed considerable prosperity and need a fit building to meet in.’ Also discussed at the annual meeting were the proposed arrangements for fire watching, and a decision was duly taken for one or two lads of the Boys’ Brigade, aged over 14, to sleep on the premises each night. Perhaps they could then muse on the probability that ‘the modern use of Sunday is not profitable to the spiritual welfare of the nation’, since this had been the theme for a discussion on Tuesday, February 18th, when, at a visit to the Baptist Young People’s Fellowship, the Methodist Youth Circle considered drink problems in wartime.

A better financial position was now reported at the annual meeting of the Saint Martin’s Church Council, held at the end of February. The debt of £19, as outstanding at the beginning of the year, had been transformed into a credit of £16, and this was despite the levy of £12 made by B.U.D.C. for the upkeep of the churchyard. As for Saint Martin’s Hall, although many engagements had been cancelled, evacuees were now using the building as a school, and the Treasurer reported a profit of £55 4s 9½d. This was in contrast to a loss of £13 4s 9d the previous year, and was especially pleasing in view of the additional costs of heating and lighting due to the increased use. Including Mr. J. Searey, who was warden of the bells - which the Vicar found rather puzzling, since no bell ringing was allowed! - the Parochial Church Council officers were then elected, and Mr. Hurst became People’s Warden and Mr. G. Battams the St. Margaret’s Warden. Having attended the Albert Street Methodist Church for 48 years, at the annual prize distribution on Sunday, March 9th, a pair of slippers and some tobacco were presented to Superintendent Mr. Litchfield, whilst in other prizegivings 70 scholars of the Freeman Memorial Methodist Church received their due recognition on Wednesday, March 19th, at the annual ceremony. Being locally held in Saint Martin’s Church, and attended by members of the Council, A.R.P. and fire service workers, at the express request of H.M. the King on March 23rd a National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving took place, and thanksgivings were no doubt also then offered by Stuart Robinson, of ‘Ravenscourt’, Church Green Road, for he had recently been informed of his successful request for military exemption. He was a clerk employed by Mr. F. Bull, the Bletchley County Court Registrar, but the exemption was conditional on his remaining as a Civil Servant. Contending that as a Christian and a member of the Methodist Church he could not perform military service, he had applied for the status on Thursday, March 20th, at the East Anglia Conscientious Objectors’ Tribunal, at Cambridge, and had there declared that he might not always be able to conscientiously obey orders, ‘and would not be able to witness effectively for the pacifist cause whilst in uniform.’ As for any other local residents who were exempt from military service, they would be able to apply for the part time position of caretaker at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church where, in the Hall, the annual concert of the Baptist Church choir took place on Wednesday, March 26th. As the church organist, Miss Gertie Weatherhead - (‘The piano and her are inseparable’) - had especially composed the words and music of one of the solos, ‘When Dawn Breaks Through’, and this was duly sung by Mrs. A. Phillips. In fact the event proved extremely popular, as also did the first meeting of the Methodist’s Brownie pack, held in Bletchley Road Infants’ School Hall on Wednesday, April 2nd. With Mrs. Croney as Leader, the girls were all aged between eight and ten, and under the charge of Mrs. Pitkin a Brownie pack for Far Bletchley girls would soon be started at the Freeman Memorial Church, where, taken by a registered teacher, classes for Bletchley children and evacuees, aged from five to eleven, were being held. Applications could be made during school hours, excepting Wednesday afternoon.

Emphasised perhaps by the general disgust at the amount of litter in the churchyard, the need for a cleaner, male or female, for about 15 hours a week was noted at St. Mary’s Church, and on the evening of Thursday, April 17th, the Rector then presided at the annual meeting of the Old Bletchley St. Mary’s Church Council. This was held at the Rectory, and the financial report revealed that although the year had begun with a balance of £127, it had ended at £84 18s. This was because repairs had been made to the church battlements, by Messrs. Fosters, of Kempston, and an additional expense would soon also be forthcoming, since remedial attention was now needed to the stonework around the windows. However, at least all the necessary costs to ensure air raid precautions had been met, and if incendiaries were dropped then ladders were available to gain access to the roof, where buckets of sand had been placed, as well as a length of hose and a stirrup pump. The first meeting of the newly formed Free Church Council was held in the Albert Street Methodist Church on the evening of Tuesday, April 22nd, and in view of the progress of the war it was perhaps appropriate that the subject of a forthcoming lecture would be ‘Depression and Irritability.’ Following the election of the officers, a unanimous decision was then reached that the council should co-operate with the Anglican churches in the district, and this would especially include St. Martin’s where, for their marks gained during 1940, the Vicar, during the afternoon service on Sunday, April 27th, presented prizes to the junior scholars of St. Martin’s School. Apart from the centres of orthodox worship, Hebrew classes for Jewish children in Bletchley, Winslow, Dunstable and Edlesborough would soon be opened under the auspices of the joint emergency committee and parents, and interested parties were asked to contact the resident teacher in charge, Mr. A. Waxman, at 40, Victoria Road. On a similar theme, to be held at the Social Centre a British-Israel meeting had now been arranged for Tuesday, July 15th, on the topic of ‘The Assurance of Victory’, whilst as for Mr. Edward Berry, of 47, Brooklands Road, he invited ‘All who are in the habit of meeting on the grounds of Matt. 18-20, as the Lord’s return is imminent’, to make his acquaintance at his home address. Presumably the Reverend C. Wheeler would not apply, being no doubt preoccupied not only with a meeting of St. Martin’s Parochial Church Council, at which the presentation of a cheque for £32 was made as the amount of the Easter offering, but also with his presidential duties at the opening of the St. Martin’s Bowls Club season. Also bowled over may have been the congregation of St. Mary’s Church at Evensong on Sunday, May 11th, when they were treated to a return visit of the former Rector of Bletchley, the Reverend Bennitt, and his wife. For the position of gravedigger, applicants were now invited to contact Mr. A. Woods, of ‘Woodstock’, Church Green Road, and now there was perhaps the potential for much extra work, since the Home Secretary had just approved the extension of the cemetery. A petition would be presented to the Bishop of Oxford for the consequent consecration, and, with representatives of B.U.D.C. in attendance, on the morning of Wednesday, July 15th, the Right Reverend P. Eliot, Lord Bishop of Buckingham, duly arrived to dedicate the enlargement. Somewhat ironic, since the ringing of church bells was now forbidden, the North Bucks. Association of Bellringers held their annual service in St. Mary’s Church on Saturday, June 17th, and, attended by a good number of representatives from the local towers, the Vicar of Hanslope gave the address. At the end of the month an ‘effort’ then took place at the Freeman Memorial Methodist Church, in aid of the National Children’s Home and Orphanage. This raised £8, whilst on behalf of the teachers and scholars of St. Martin’s Sunday School, on Sunday, July 13th, a presentation was made to Mrs. Walpole, on the occasion of her recent wedding. Unfortunately the Reverend Arthur Yates had suffered a recent nervous breakdown, but now being fully recovered he returned to his duties after a month of convalescence, and hopefully less demanding would prove his additional duties as vice chairman of the newly formed United Christian Council for Bletchley, of which the Reverend Lloyd Milne was chairman. On Sunday, July 20th, staged appropriately in St. Mary’s Church a festival was held to celebrate St. Mary’s Day, and in further festivities a procession from St. Mary’s, and one from St. Martin’s, then met outside the Studio for the first in a series of open air services, organised by the recently created United Christian Council. Three Scout Troops and a Company of the Boys’ Brigade also paraded, and they were accompanied by representatives of the local Anglican and Free Churches. By the end of July Bletchley had been chosen as the centre for a new Methodist Circuit, and this would be formed the following year with the amalgamation of the Wolverton and Bletchley Circuit with the Wolverton West End Circuit, thereby conserving funds through the creation of a single Ministry. On Sunday, August 3rd, Dick Keen, of the ‘Crusaders’, paid another visit to Bletchley, and preached to a congregation at the Freeman Memorial Church, but on matters less formal on Bank Holiday about 70 children and adults attended the Albert Street Methodist Sunday School annual outing. Elsewhere, with music provided by the Salvation Army band from Coventry, the Salvation Army annual garden party took place on Saturday, August 9th, in the Baptist Tennis Club grounds, and the £30 thus raised would be used to reduce those debts incurred by local work. Outdoor pursuits were also on the agenda for the St. Mary’s Sunday School when, under the charge of the Rector, together with Mrs. Milne and the teachers, on Wednesday, August 20th they departed for their annual outing to Oxford. A trip along the river in a steamer was greatly enjoyed, and also much appreciated was a picnic and a visit to the Colleges. Bletchley Road Methodist Church now had the need for a caretaker. Applicants were to contact Mr. H. Allen, of 25a, Victoria Road, and in other appointments the Bishop of Oxford would shortly appoint the Reverend C. Wheeler, of Fenny Stratford, as the Rural Dean of Bletchley. Thereby he would replace the Reverend Victor Honniball, who, having been for the past 12 years the Rector of Broughton, and the Rural Dean of the Bletchley Deanery for the previous year, had, from Christ Church, Oxford, now accepted the living as Vicar of Great and Little Hampton, near Evesham. In fact this territory would not be entirely unfamiliar to him, for he had been educated at Evesham Grammar School, before graduating from Birmingham University in 1911 as an M.A. He would take up his new position in due course, but a more hurried departure from the ecclesiastical scene surprisingly occurred at the beginning of September when, for seemingly unspecified reasons, the Reverend A. Reid suddenly resigned from his position as pastor of the Spurgeon Memorial Church. He had assumed the role during 1938, having previously held the pastorate of churches at Jesmond, Newcastle on Tyne and Oban, in Scotland. On Sunday, September 7th, on the National Day of Prayer there was a large attendance at all the Bletchley churches. The 1st Fenny Stratford Scouts and Guides marched to the morning service at St. Martin’s, the A.T.C. paraded with the St. Mary’s Guides and Scouts, and over 100 men of the Home Guard marched to St. Mary’s Church, under the direction of their Commanding Officer, Major General Blount, D.S.O. As for Jewish worshippers, they met at the Senior School, where many of their services were held. The local churches were then again well attended for the Harvest Festival, with children of St. Mary’s Day School and the Yeomanry Hall bringing large quantities of fruit and vegetables, which were then sold on Monday evening. However, for this year the St. Mary’s proceeds went not to the church funds but to local hospitals. Raising £37, the Harvest Festival at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church in fact proved to be the largest in memory, and was also memorable since at short notice the Reverend Donald Sutter had presided as the preacher, consequent to the recent resignation and sudden departure of the Reverend A. Reid. For the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund, thanksgiving services were held in the churches of St. Martin’s and St. Mary’s on Sunday, September 21st, with the collection at St. Mary’s amounting to £9. At a meeting held in the Bletchley Road Methodist Church, on Wednesday, September 24th, the Reverend A. Yates then announced the formation of a United Methodist Guild for the Bletchley district, and the first full committee would meet on Monday, October 6th, in Bletchley Road Methodist Church. On Monday, October 13th, a social evening in the Bletchley Road Schools took place, at which Lance Corporal Kay provided a short entertainment as a conjuror. Shortly afterwards, celebrations were then held on Sunday, November 9th, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Bletchley Road Methodist Church. The entertainments included games, competitions and refreshments, whilst meanwhile at the Catholic Church - no. 44 Church Street - a room on the first floor had been registered for solemnising marriage. Also in Church Street, at the beginning of December Major and Mrs. Edgar Harrison, (former officers of the Bletchley Corps, who now held command of the Loughborough Corps), conducted proceedings at the Salvation Army barracks. This was to mark the 55th anniversary celebrations, and included was a message from Colonel Harriet Lawrence, now aged 83, who had opened the Fenny Stratford Corps some 55 years ago. She now lived in St. Leonards, and still remained active in Salvation Army affairs. Regarding a more global experience, on the occasion of the annual Overseas Missionary meeting the Reverend G. Kell then gave a talk on missionary work in India. This took place at the Albert Street Methodist Church, and another who could have given an interesting talk on Indian life would have been the Reverend W. Barry who, having for three years been the curate of Fenny Stratford, had left in 1888 for ‘a lucrative appointment’ as chaplain to the troops in Madras. With the St. Martin’s Restoration Fund now amounting to around £46, on Monday, December 1st, an auction sale held by Wallace A. Foll, in the Social Centre, raised around £20, and although due to the wartime conditions the ‘Fenny Poppers’ could not be fired, the sum might prove useful after the war, since during past ceremonies the explosions had caused superficial damage to the building! Each holding 4ozs. of gunpowder, the present ‘Poppers’, which had been made in 1859 to the pattern of the originals, now expectantly reposed on a shelf in the north porch. Having for 70 years attended the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church, where he had taught at the Sunday School for 55 years, George Bates died at ‘Melbourne’, Denbigh Road, aged 92. He had lived all his life in Bletchley, and of his eight children one of the four sons, Mr. F. Bates, became chairman of the U.D.C. In December, an application was made for permission to bring between 12 and 20 boys into the premises of 7-13, High Street, for training in connection with the Jewish Ministry. However, since this might lead to severe overcrowding, the request was turned down. As for the Salvation Army, under Bandmaster Ashby they performed carols during a seasonal tour of the Bletchley streets on Sunday, December 14th, and the proceeds would be applied to Salvation Army work. An especial treat was now provided for the 70 children of St. Mary’s Sunday School, who were invited to a Christmas party in St. Mary’s C. of E. School. With tea provided by the Sunday School teachers, the children gave charades and joined in games and musical items, and enjoyment was also on the agenda for the young people of the Bletchley Baptist Church, who spent an evening of fun and games in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist School Hall as part of the Church’s Youth Week. Then concluding the year a Watchnight Service was held on New Year’s Eve, in the Salvation Army Hall.




In 1542 all Englishmen between the ages of 17 and 60 were required to possess bows and arrows, (although the bow would be finally abandoned as a weapon of war by the English army in 1595), and in 1549 and 1558 Acts would be passed to make preparations, in the event of a national crisis, for military action. With musters set out in every county, archers and pikemen would be included, and with arms, equipment and horses provided, amongst the arms supplied at ‘Veny Stratford’ and ‘Eaton cum Blecheley’ would be ‘harquebutts’, a type of musket fired from a support. As the development of firearms continued, during the Boer war the Bucks. Volunteers was formed, with the Bletchley Company (No. 9) Volunteer Rifles created in 1900, as the ‘I’ Company of the Bucks. Battalion. The local Surveyor, John Chadwick, became the Company Captain, with Lieutenant Oliver, the son of the Fenny Stratford vicar, as his second in command, but in 1907 Lord Haldane’s Territorial and Reserve Forces Act would bring an end to the Volunteers, and the newly formed Territorial Army would take their place. The Bletchley ‘I’ Company, (which was the last to have been formed in the county), was thus disbanded, and in 1908 the 1st Bucks. Royal Volunteer Corps became the Bucks. Territorial Battalion, attached to the Oxon. and Bucks. Light Infantry. With the outbreak of World War Two, on September 3rd, 1939, the National Service (Armed Forces) Act was then passed, whereupon all men aged between 18 and 41 became liable for conscription. However, for those Water Eaton men already on military service, they had now all been sent presents by courtesy of the Water Eaton W.I. The local Territorials had reported to their headquarters in full kit early on the morning of Saturday, September 2nd, and a private bus and the Battery bus then took the first batch of men to a county centre. In fact by noon the whole complement of 98 men and their technical equipment had been moved, and once their training was complete they would then be moved elsewhere. The local move had been made under the supervision of both Lieutenant Delahook and Sergeant Dickinson, of 117, Buckingham Road, and he, having been promoted to Battery Sergeant Major, already held experience of military life, as one who had served as an ‘Old Contemptible’ during World War One.

Major J. Whiteley, M.P., whose home was at The Grange, Old Bletchley, (originally Brooklands Farm), was now on service with his unit as second in command of the 99th Royal Bucks. Yeomanry, in which many Bletchley men served. The ‘99th (Bucks. and Berks. Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery’ had been formed in March, 1921 by the merger of the Bucks. Yeomanry with the Berks. Yeomanry, but with the expansion of the Territorial Army in the spring of 1939 it then reassumed its own identity, and after September, 1939, arrived in France with the 48th Division, under the command of Major General Augustus Thorne. He was a man of considerable military capabilities, and in fact after a distinguished service record at the end of World War One had been appointed as a temporary Brigadier General, at the age of 33. As for those men destined for the infantry, many would join the 1st Bucks. Battalion of the Oxon. and Bucks .Light Infantry, whose members were drawn mainly from the towns of High Wycombe and the surrounding area. Since the outbreak of the war more than 50 reservists in the Bletchley area had been called up, but 18 year old Marine Francis Pratt, of 30, Water Eaton Road, had already joined the Forces in January, and was now awarded the H.M. Special Badge for being the best recruit in his squad.

Plans were being presently approved for new hutments at Holne Chase, for use by the Bucks. Territorial Army Association, but for those troops serving abroad the employees of the Premier Press held a dance partly for the Overseas League Cigarettes Fund for Soldiers, and partly in aid of war funds, in the Conservative Club on the evening of Friday, September 15th. By October 12th 158,000 men and 25,000 vehicles of the British Expeditionary Force were already across the Channel, and during the month a general call up then began, although since some 250,000 men aged over 20 had now been drawn into the armed forces, conscription for younger men would be deferred. Yet except for the clergy, and those in reserved occupations, very few would be exempt. However, for those averse to military service they could ask to have their names placed on a register of conscientious objectors, whilst as for the local men who had seen action in previous wars, memories were no doubt evoked by the Armistice ceremony, at which it perhaps seemed a curious portent that, whilst prayers were being said, a white dove circled above the group assembled around the Far Bletchley war memorial. In fact ex servicemen were now assisting the war effort by providing support through their local branch of the British Legion, the formation of which dated from a meeting of ex-Forces personnel at the Assembly Room at the Park Hotel in July, 1921. Notwithstanding a turn-out of around only 12 members the proposal had nevertheless gone ahead, and with the Park Hotel being chosen as the initial headquarters the Branch now held a meeting here on Saturday, November 4th, 1939. The membership currently stood at a record 300, and since the bank balance presently totalled £51 it was decided that all local men currently serving in H.M. Forces should not only be sent a Christmas present, but should also be excused membership fees. As for those men about to join the Forces, under the Military Service Act on Saturday, December 9th, 70 men aged between 20 and 23 were registered at Bletchley Employment Exchange, including one conscientious objector.



Not surprisingly, enlisted Bletchley men were always foremost in local thoughts, and in early January, at a dance arranged at the Water Eaton Coronation Hall by the Premier Press employees, a part of the proceeds was spent on cigarettes, etc., to be sent to those soldiers serving overseas. A while later this was then augmented by a further 3,000 cigarettes, sent by the Premier Press War Charities Committee, whilst in a further charitable act Mr. Bert Keller, a Wolverton greengrocer, had offered to meet any servicemen stranded at Bletchley station and convey them home. On Tuesday evening, January 16th, Mr. R. Crossman, M.A., an authority on Germany, then gave a lecture upon this subject at the Senior School Hall, and with Captain Ridley in the chair the occasion had been arranged by Mr. E.C. Cook, the Senior School headmaster. In fact unbeknown to the audience all three had connections with the secret intelligence war, with even Captain Ridley’s wife being employed at Bletchley Park. As for Mr. Crossman, as detailed in the book ‘Bletchley Park’s Secret Sisters’ although he would later become a famous Labour politician, during the war he was deeply involved with the secret propaganda activities centred around Woburn Abbey. Regarding Captain Ridley, when the organisation transferred from London he had brought a contingent of the code breaking staff to their new country headquarters at Bletchley Park, and in fact the group had been conveyed under the suitably nondescript title ‘Captain Ridley’s Hunting Party’! Mr. Cook also had connections with Bletchley Park, and not only was he their Food Officer, but on behalf of the code breakers in a specially adapted car he also undertook secret missions to Bomber Command Headquarters, on Salisbury Plain. The Senior School Hall then became the venue for another lecture on January 30th, when the Master of Balliol College, Dr. A. Lindsay, M.A., spoke to the Bletchley Evening Institute on the theme of ‘War Aims.’

A campaign against 'careless talk' was launched by the Government on February 6th 1940, with posters bearing suitable slogans displayed in places of public prominence. - J. Taylor
For whatever reasons, usually religious, some young men tried to avoid joining the armed forces, and in late January a 20 year old clerk at the London Brick Company offices, Mr. William Burridge, of Leon Avenue, was amongst several who were granted exemption from military service. Studying for the Methodist Ministry, another would be William Mead, also aged 20, an outfitter’s salesman of ‘Cainhoe’, Stoke Road, who in early February appealed against a fighting role. Appearing before the Southwark Conscientious Objectors’ Tribunal, in a written statement he then declared that although he was against fighting he would serve as a member of the St. John Ambulance Brigade, or volunteer for non-combatant duties in the R.A.M.C., and for the meanwhile the Tribunal adjourned the case, pending a reply from the War Office. As for those facing the actual prospect of combat, knitted garments were being made by the St. Martin’s Working Party, which had been registered as a local depot for ‘comforts for the Navy.’ They met every Tuesday in the Parish Room, and with the wool being obtained ‘for official requirements’ from H.Q., the finished items were baled and sent to the Admiralty for distribution to warships. Additionally, ‘if the wool could be made available’ the members of the Water Eaton Women’s Institute had also expressed a willingness for similar duties, and ‘comforts’ were also knitted on some afternoons in the Salvation Army Hall where, as a source of great fascination to the children, the refreshment breaks would involve tea being poured from a large teapot with two spouts! Beginning with the younger men, during the month in view of the continuing call up 85 Bletchley men, aged between 20 and 23, were registered at the Bletchley Employment Exchange for military service. Locally this proved to be the largest number of any batch so far, and with the procedure requiring them to give details of their occupation, those amongst the intake were asked to state a preference for either the Army, the Navy or the Air Force. With two conscientious objectors, a few of the conscripts volunteered for the R.A.F., and two or three for the Navy, but with most stating a preference for the Army they were therefore probably destined for the 99th Regiment which, as now a part of the 48th Territorial Division, was during the month sent to France. Soon afterwards they were then transferred to the 2nd Division, with whom they duly remained. At the end of the month a report was given at the annual supper of the British Legion, which revealed that 84 members of the Bletchley branch were now serving in the fighting forces, or Civil Defence. A cigarette enclosed in a small envelope was next presented to each guest, who were asked to place a contribution in the envelope towards the cost of games, and also a wireless set, for the benefit of a Bletchley man and his colleagues, who were presently billeted in a French farmhouse. Indeed, being appreciatively received a radio set was duly purchased with financial assistance from the Bletchley Co-op. Radio communications were of course essential for the code breakers at Bletchley Park, with most of the decoded intelligence gleaned from intercepted German wireless signals, and in view of the intense secrecy it was perhaps just as well that from February 6th the Government launched a ‘careless talk’ campaign, printing posters emblazoned with such slogans as ‘Walls Have Ears’ for display in offices, shops and other suitable locations.

As mentioned, concerning the activities of Bletchley Park one of those sworn to secrecy was the headmaster of the Bletchley Road Senior School, Mr. E. C. Cook. Not only had he been appointed as the Food Organiser for the Park, but since he had a working knowledge of Europe before the war, (having organised trips for teachers to visit their opposite numbers in German cities such as Halle), he was also engaged to give lectures to Bomber Command at the H.Q. on Salisbury Plain. Therefore he became an ideal choice for the ‘dapper’ Colonel Fillingham, when tasked to convey sensitive messages to the H.Q. Exuding the appropriate image, not least with his ‘neatly trimmed moustache’, as a member of the regular Army the Colonel was in command of the Shenley Road Military Camp, where the Army personnel of Bletchley Park were accommodated, and since the messages could not be entrusted to alternative means of communication, Mr. Cook’s car, especially camouflaged, and equipped for the purpose with heavy duty tyres, had a special metal cylinder hidden ‘somewhere in the engine’, into which the covert messages could be hidden. It was during one such journey that whilst taking two visiting generals from Bletchley Park to the Salisbury H.Q., Mr. Cook, with the nodded agreement of his passengers, stopped on the road leaving Oxford to pick up a hitchhiking soldier. Clambering gratefully into the vehicle the soldier duly settled into the front seat and, being unable to look round and notice the generals, because of the equipment pack strapped to his back, he then began to enthusiastically berate the military hierarchy; “These bloody Generals have no idea what a miserable time we have. We never know where we’re going to next and our lives are one long bloody misery, and we can do nothing about it!” Unable to stem this tirade Mr. Cook therefore felt greatly relieved when the soldier reached his destination, after which a stony silence then ensued. However, in a welcome relief of the tension the generals burst out laughing. “What he said is quite true”, said one. “We live in a different world from them.” “Yes, we know nothing about how they live”, said the other, “that was an eye-opener”!

In mid March another conscientious objector, Victor Adkins, aged 23, of ‘The Indus’, Buckingham Road was summoned before the relevant Tribunal. An outfitter’s salesman at the Bletchley Co-op, he said that having been a member of the Methodist church for all his life he would not serve in the Forces, or munitions factories, but he would be willing to undertake any other non-combatant role, and the Tribunal duly agreed with his wish. Members of the Conservative Club now had the opportunity to practice their shooting skills on the range of the Rifle Section, but when in March he presided at the annual meeting Mr. A. Marshall expressed disappointment at the attendance, and declared that the balance sheet now showed a deficit of £1 2s 4d. Yet matters seemed less disappointing for the British Legion, and as office bearers in the Bletchley branch during mid April Mrs. E. Chappell, and Mrs. E. Felce, received invitations to attend a conference of the British Legion Women’s Section in Queen’s Hall, London. There they would receive certificates from the Queen for 10 years’ continuous service, and in fact Mrs. Chappell had been the secretary since the re-forming of the organisation in 1929. At Bletchley station the new Y.M.C.A. canteen opened on Thursday, April 25th, and with a large mug of tea costing 1d, and poached egg on toast 4d, £50 would be taken during the first fortnight. Being provided for the benefit of the many service personnel the canteen also offered sleeping accommodation, should anyone have the misfortune to miss their train. Then ending the month, on Sunday, April 28th, a concert featuring Roger Quilter, ‘with Artistes from London’, took place at the Studio, and the proceeds would be applied to the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Association. During May, 112 men of the ‘27s’ class registered for military service at Bletchley Employment Exchange although Mr. Cyril Evans, who, until taking a recent appointment in Shrewsbury, had been a Bletchley Road Junior schoolmaster, was already in the R.A.F. as a P.T. instructor. When home on leave service personnel could now enjoy certain benefits in the town, and, following a decision by the Angling Section of the Fenny Stratford & Bletchley Working Men’s Social Club, these would include permission to fish for free until the duration. By now the working party in the Vicarage Parish Room had produced for the Navy numerous ‘comforts’, including 22 helmets, 15 pairs of mittens, nine scarves, eight jerseys and four pairs of socks, whilst on matters regarding the Army, many Bletchley soldiers who fought with the B.E.F. at Dunkirk had sent messages home. Their relatives duly travelled to see them at the weekend, and amongst the arrivals was a former employee of Rowland Bros., Victor Bowden, who, following subsequent military service in India and Burma, would after the war take over the licence of the Shoulder of Mutton. Also returning was Major Whiteley, M.P., of ‘The Grange’, whilst amongst those who had been wounded was Phil Groom, of ‘Rosemary’, Water Eaton Road. He had bomb splinters in his arm and neck, and another casualty, Richard Odell, of 11, Tavistock Street, was in hospital with chest injuries. However, on recovering he would continue in military service, and fight into Germany with the 21st Army Group after the D Day landings. Indeed, as a sergeant in the Oxon. and Bucks. Light Infantry he would be mentioned in despatches for ‘gallant and distinguished service’ in North West Europe. As for conscientious objectors, on condition that he took up agricultural or forestry work, or full-time ambulance work, 20 year old Harold Brandon, of 19, Oliver Road, was now registered for non-combatant duties by the South East Local Tribunal at Southwark. No doubt he had been assisted in his application through being not only a Sunday School teacher but also an officer in the Boys’ Brigade, and in addition he had been a Methodist lay preacher for the past 18 months. In June, John Whitfield, aged 26, of 19, Lennox Road, was also registered as a conscientious objector. Having resigned as a local bookshop manager, he became an auxiliary fireman in January 1939, and it was now recommended that he should join the R.A.M.C. At the Tribunal he had declared that ‘I believe that the State has no right to ask of me to take life, but I am quite prepared to give my life for the State’, which seemed quite prophetic, for he would be one of the first of the local men to be killed by enemy action.

On June 18th, in a radio broadcast de Gaulle had called on the French to resist the Nazi occupation, but this seemed rather optimistic since, one Sunday in mid June, the first batch of Bletchley B.E.F. men arrived home from the Dunkirk retreat on 48 hours leave. A Mass of Thanksgiving duly took place at St. Martin’s Church, but sadly not attending would be Peter Eric Meadows, the first Bletchley man to be killed in the war. The son of Arthur and Nora Meadows, of ‘Bradley’, Eaton Avenue, during the previous November at the age of 22 he had volunteered for service in the Navy, but as an Ordinary Signalman in the Royal Naval Patrol Service he was killed on May 20th when H.M. Trawler Rifnes, the 431 ton vessel to which he had been posted, received a direct hit. The Royal Naval Patrol Service had been developed from the pre-war Royal Naval Reserve Trawler Section, and although at a later stage men from other occupations would be included, at the outbreak of war men from those trawlers and drifters requisitioned for patrol work formed the personnel, with Lowestoft being their wartime depot. A tennis player for the St. Martin’s club, and also a keen stamp collector, Peter had been employed before the war in the Bletchley postal staff, before moving to the Civil Service Engineering Department at Reading. There he would stay for two years, and since it was whilst at Reading that he first became involved with Toc H, it was now announced that a photograph taken of him wearing naval uniform would be hung in the clubroom. At Bletchley he had been engaged to Joan Pincher, of 3, Clifford Street, and today is commemorated on the Lowestoft Naval Memorial. Following the Fall of France, Italy’s opportunist entry into the war lead to an increasing number of attacks in Britain on Italian shops, many of which unsurprisingly were ice cream parlours. However, no such hostilities were launched against the ice cream shop in Aylesbury Street of Mr. Golding who, being the winner of numerous awards for his secret recipes, had demonstrated his patriotism by becoming a reserve constable. As for the Italians, with many of them eventually being taken as prisoners of war they would prove most useful in maintaining the output at the Fenny Stratford gas works. Created in 1916, National Savings were now again an important means to finance the war and launched by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Kingsley Wood, a campaign with such slogans as ‘Hit Back with National Savings’ began in the autumn of 1939 - it being rather ironic that the swastika adopted by the Nazis, (the left handed version, signifying good luck), had been used on the lilac coloured 6d national savings stamps issued during World War One. As for World War Two, the residents of Bletchley were encouraged to participate when, in June, Bletchley witnessed the arrival of a National Savings van, equipped with office accommodation and ‘cinema talking film projector apparatus.’ In fact on raising the back of the van a cinema screen was revealed, on which stirring films could be shown to encourage contributions. Indeed, the population’s participation now seemed increasingly urgent, since invasion was anticipated at any moment, and across the Channel the German army had even been issued with English phrase books. In measures to counter the threat, the call up of men for military service continued, and at Bletchley Employment Exchange 101 men, aged 28, were registered for military service one Saturday in mid June. As for the more seasoned personnel, speaking of those Bletchley men who under his command had already seen action, Major J. Whiteley, M.P. - now home on a short leave - gave high praise; ‘There was never an instant when men failed to do their duty.’ Having suffered heavily on May 27th in support of 6th Infantry Brigade, at St. Venant on the La Bassee Canal, the Regiment, of which the Bletchley men formed a part, had seen continuous action for three weeks, and with the invasion of Belgium they were then engaged on the Belgian border. Immediately they moved forward to hold a line beyond Brussels, and ‘with good gun work’ staged a retreat towards the border. Supporting the 6th Infantry Brigade, during the next few days they then defended Tournai and, with a number of the guns eventually brought through and used in the defence of Dunkirk, the troops retired to a village to rest, only to find that this now lay in enemy hands. From close range the Battery’s guns then destroyed a number of approaching tanks, and with the men conveyed throughout the ensuing action on their own transport, the drivers coped well despite the overcrowded roads, and an absence of lights. Nevertheless, one driver managed to ditch his lorry when taking a non-existent turn, and the passengers then had to perch precariously on the gun towed by the next vehicle. At the end of the month a further 115 men, aged 29, were registered for military service at the Bletchley Employment Exchange, but Douglas Cowlishaw announced that he had now joined the R.A.F.V.R., and in consequence thanked all his customers for their past support. However, the business would continue as usual at The Men’s Shop, 7, Bletchley Road. With so many Bletchley men now joining the Forces casualties became inevitable, and news soon arrived that on May 28th 34 year old Frank Nursaw, of 61, Duncombe Street, had been killed on the Western Front. Unmarried, he was the third son of Mrs. Kate Nursaw and her late husband. Born in Simpson, he had attended schools in Simpson and Bletchley before joining the Oxon. & Bucks. Light Infantry, and he duly served for eight years in the Army, before returning home in 1931 to begin work on the railway. Called up as a reservist at the outbreak of war, he had been sent to France during October. At the beginning of July several Bletchley men of the B.E.F. were also officially reported as missing. They included the only son of Mr. & Mrs. G. Campbell, of 12, Brooklands Road, Private George Shackleton Campbell, of the 4th Battalion Oxon. & Bucks. Light Infantry, and also Corporal Jack Wise, aged 21, the only son of the late Mr. Warren Wise, who had practiced as a dentist from premises in Bletchley Road.

In contrast to the situation during World War One, for conscientious objectors the Government had relaxed the ‘requirement’ to include political and philosophical grounds, as well as the more usual claim of religion, and this was reflected in the 60,000 persons applying for exemption in World War Two, as opposed to the 15,000 in World War One. Nevertheless, objectors had to persuade a Tribunal that their motives were genuine, and this was a fate which befell Edwin Staniford, aged 27, of ‘Athelston’, Staple Hall Road. He was a newspaper editor and proprietor, and his case was hardly helped when he was charged with sanctioning articles in his newspaper alleged to be ‘intended to produce defeatism and dismay among the public.’ This was especially unfortunate, since as part of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, of May, the emergency regulation of June prescribed imprisonment or a fine for any person convicted of circulating ‘any report or statement relating to matters connected with the war which is likely to cause alarm and despondency.’ At his subsequent appearance at the South East Local Tribunal, Mr. Staniford was ‘severely questioned’ by Judge David Davies, for with the other members selected from a wide cross section of the community, during World War Two it had been decreed that a County Court judge should chair such Tribunals. Yet in contrast to the situation that prevailed during World War One there was no representative of the War Office, and although Mr. Staniford’s application to register as a conscientious objector was rejected, he then lodged an appeal, stating not only that for 12 years had he been a member of the Baptist church, and a deacon for four months, but that also since the beginning of the war he had voluntarily worked for 10 hours a week at the A.R.P. Report Centre. He was also captain of the Bletchley Company, Boys’ Brigade, but in case this implied a pacifist impression the members swiftly sent a communication to the local Press, washing their hands of this possible insinuation. Meanwhile, soldiers in the town had acquired their own washing facilities, and, apart from the use of the shower baths at the schools, by courtesy of several householders they were being offered the use of bathrooms for one day a week. As part of the ongoing call up, another 108 men were registered at Bletchley Employment Exchange during July, but amongst those already on active service was 21 year old Sapper Frank Cheney, of the Royal Engineers, who had now been reported as missing. A former member of the 1st Bletchley Company Boys’ Brigade, and the Boys’ Brigade Old Boy Football Club, his home was at ‘Woodstock’, Stoke Road, and having lost a leg in military service, (as had his father in World War One), he was taken prisoner in hospital at Dunkirk. Sent to Lille, in Belgium, he then became a prisoner of war in Germany at Stalag 8B, but since a ‘good school’ had been established here he duly took the opportunity to study languages and accounting, and even managed to pass the R.S.A. Stage 1 exam in French, after studying with the help of the Red Cross. The Red Cross were also instrumental in sending and receiving the mail for P.O.W.s, with the Germans each month allowing the prisoners to have four postcards, 12cm.x 8cm., and two seven line letter cards, 12cm.x 26cm., marked ‘Kriegsgefangenenpost.’ The mail was handed in each day, and being censored a month later was sent to the International Red Cross in Geneva, for despatch to Marseilles, in Vichy France. Via Lisbon, in neutral Portugal, the mail then arrived in Britain, and after being censored was finally posted to the stated address. The whole procedure took around three months, whilst for the post sent to the P.O.W.s the reverse of the process applied, with the mail being received by the Red Cross in Geneva before being sent to the various camps.

In addition to the sacrifice of those men on overseas service, a tragic incident occurred during July, when Private Alf Garner died in a South Coast hospital from a gunshot wound. Whilst they were hanging blackout curtains he and his close friend, another young private, heard someone approach, and when his companion accidentally fired his rifle the shot ricocheted off the passage wall, and caused the fatal injury. Alf had been born in Water Eaton, but later moved with his family to Walnut Tree Cottage. With many friends and relatives in the Bletchley district, he had been chauffeur to Major Ramsey, of Newton Longville, and after enlisting in October, 1939, had seen action in France. His funeral took place at St. Mary’s Church. For the recreation of military personnel it was now suggested that at a flat fee they should be allowed the use of the tennis courts for 1s per hour. As for additional exercise, for men aged between 18 and 35 classes in recreational physical training were now to commence at the Senior School Hall. Beginning in early July they would be taken by Mr. H. Rees and Mr. B. Langdon, both qualified P.T. instructors of the evacuated St. Paul’s School, Islington, and were to be held on Wednesdays and Fridays from 7.30p.m. until 9p.m. The idea was a response to a recent Government appeal, and in fact proved so popular that Mr. ‘Dick’ Barnwell wrote to express due appreciation on behalf of his Home Guard platoon. Also for the benefit of the Forces, every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday - by permission of the Conservative Club Committee - the Bletchley Branch of the British Red Cross Working Party met in the Conservative Hall, and, with a requirement for more workers, they had already made over 1,000 articles. As for Major J. Whiteley, of Bletchley Grange, he was now awarded the O.B.E., (military division), in recognition of his Army service. Born on January 7th, 1898, at Mafeking, South Africa, he had been educated at Shrewsbury and the Royal Academy, Woolwich, and served with the Royal Artillery from May 1916 until being severely wounded in August 1918. In 1923 he was elected to the County Council, and two years later he married Miss Amy Tetley. He transferred to the Life Guards the following year, and then to the Reserve in 1928 when, as Major, he joined the 393rd (Royal Bucks. Yeomanry). Made a J.P. in 1931, he gained election to Parliament in a by-election of June 1937. The end of July witnessed 114 men ‘of the 1907 class’ registered for military service, followed soon afterwards by 120 men of the 1906 class. However, Carl Moser, the Bletchley representative of the North Bucks. Times, was already in the Forces, and since the previous office at 7, Clifford Avenue, had therefore been closed, the Bletchley address of the newspaper now became c/o Mr. W. Turner, newsagent, Bletchley Road. On leaving Banbury County School, Carl had started work with the Banbury Advertiser, but in 1933 he moved to the Observer, in Leighton Buzzard, and in 1934 came to Bletchley as the representative for the North Bucks. Times, in which employment he would then remain until his call up.

Educated at The Cedars, Leighton Buzzard, Norman Ellingham, of ‘Magnolia’, Old Bletchley, had before the war been one of the six assistant postal inspectors with the London postal service. However, at the outbreak of hostilities he was then assigned to the Royal Engineers Postal Section, and news would be received in August of his promotion from Second Lieutenant to Captain. In fact he was the ‘right hand man’ of Colonel Roberts, who having picked a violet at the Menin Gate, near Ypres, then sent the flower to Mr. Ellingham’s parents at 78, Church Green Road, with the message ‘Keep this, and one day we shall back from the Army to collect it.’ In fact both men were evacuated from Dunkirk, but a few days later Norman returned to France in an attempt to retrieve some of the lost weapons. Landing at Cherbourg, he and his company duly travelled some 200 miles inland but, having lost most of his men, he was soon forced to pull back, and with the speed of the German advance only just managed to escape from Cherbourg. During the war he would be subsequently posted to West Africa, India and then the Continent, and at the end of the war he became Assistant Director of Army Postal Services with the British Army on the Rhine, later progressing in his career to the position of Controller of postal services in Nairobi. Mr. & Mrs. G. Campbell, of 12, Brooklands Road, had now received official notification that their only son, Private George Campbell, of the Oxon. & Bucks. Light Infantry, was being held as a P.O.W., whilst Mrs. Robinson, of 102, Buckingham Road, also received a similar notice, stating that her son, Private Douglas Robinson, of the Oxon. & Bucks. Light Infantry, was a prisoner in Stalag XXA 3A. Then Mrs. Souster, of Pavilion Lodge, Bletchley, received a letter from the Red Cross saying that her husband, Sergeant W. Souster, R.A., was probably imprisoned in Stalag XXIB. At an open air investiture, during the month on a Wednesday in the quadrangle at Buckingham Palace Major J. P. Whiteley received his O.B.E. This was ‘for distinguished service in the field’, and immediately afterwards he rejoined his regiment. Another award would then be that of the Military Medal, made to Lieutenant Corporal D. Crane, of 10, Leon Avenue. He was serving in the Field Security Corps, but regarding those men who were now German P.O.W.s, at the end of the month Mrs. Plumb, of 27, George Street, received a postcard from her husband, Signaller John Plumb who wrote to say that ‘I hope you and all the folks at home are well. I have been admitted into hospital and am now doing well . . .’ In fact he had lost an arm. Reported as missing on July 13th, he had been taken prisoner at St. Valery, and afterwards was subsequently moved from camp to camp. Also receiving a card was Mrs. Adney, of 25, Osborne Street. This had been sent by her husband, Gunner William Adney, who had been taken prisoner at Cassel, in France, on May 29th, and from Stalag VIIIB he duly wrote that ‘I am comfortable.’ He would be even more comfortable from September, 1944, when he was eventually repatriated. Employed before the war as a stores clerk for the L.M.S. Railway, at Wolverton, he had joined an-anti tank regiment of the Royal Artillery, and by a fortunate coincidence he would meet up with another Bletchley P.O.W. in the prison camp, Private Leslie Green, the son of Mr. & Mrs. Green of 124, Western Road. He had been captured whilst serving with the Bucks. Yeomanry in France, and also in the camp was Henry Mason, the son of Mr. & Mrs. G. Mason, of ‘Alva’, Newton Road. As for those men who had escaped capture, one ‘old soldier’, Mr. E. Dowsett, (who had come to Water Eaton from Linslade in 1938), was invalided out during the year, and, with the rank of Lieutenant, he would later command the Home Guard at Water Eaton. From September, in anticipation of an enemy invasion the 99th Field Regiment was deployed in the East Riding to defend Filey, but for those troops stationed in Bletchley, they had the home comforts at the Albert Street Methodist Church of the ‘Methodist Canteen and Recreation Centre for Troops’, which was presently open every week night from 6.30p.m.

Service personnel who were going on leave, or returning from leave, could now benefit from a scheme known as the ‘Get-you-Home’ service, arranged between the War Office and the Petroleum Department. Formerly this had applied only to those members of H.M. Forces serving overseas, but had now been extended to Auxiliary Services both at home and abroad. Car drivers willing to use their vehicles to convey personnel from railway stations to their destinations, or vice versa, would consequently receive petrol coupons for the journey, but only ‘providing that they keep a record of their journeys on a form “J”, which will be issued to them.’ At the beginning of October the Girl Guides’ District Commissioner, Mrs. J. Lloyd Milne, enrolled five new members of the St. Martin’s Girl Guides, who were hoping to adopt the crew of a minesweeper and supply them with knitted garments. As for the welfare of the local Forces, a weekly ‘Sunday at 7.30’ concert had been started in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist School Hall on Sunday evenings and, with 21 soldiers attending the initial gathering, community singing proved especially popular amongst the several entertainments. In memory of those who had died during World War One, wreaths for the Flanders Poppy Day were now available from the local organiser, Mrs. E. Chappell of 1, Osborne Street, and with a Remembrance Service held at St. Mary’s Church, amongst the wreaths was included one from No. 1 Platoon Home Guard. However, of those who were to pay the ultimate price in the present conflict, in November Mr. John Whitfield, of Lennox Road, was reported killed by enemy action on Merseyside. Formerly the manager of Wyman’s local bookstall, he had served in the A.F.S. before joining the R.A.M.C., and left a wife and son. He had registered as a conscientious objector, and there would be another with such beliefs amongst the 69 men, born between July 1st and December 31st, 1905, and July 28th and November 9th, 1920, who now registered for military service at Bletchley Employment Exchange. As for Edwin Staniford, the newspaper proprietor, his appeal to the Central Conscientious Objectors’ Appellate Court - against the refusal of a lower court to grant him exemption from military service - had brought the desired result, but only as long as he stayed in his present occupation. This he did, being officially appointed by the Home Office ‘as the editor in charge of a district newspaper in the event of an emergency.’ He was consequently issued with a press pass but, when a bomb fell in the grounds, he was nevertheless given short shrift by the authorities whilst trying to report from Bletchley Park.

Engineer Commander G.H. Chappell, of Bletchley, who was reported last week to be missing.
Official notification had now been received that a 44 year old Bletchley man, Engineer Commander G. Chappell, who had married Gladys Facer, of Duncombe Street, was amongst the missing on H.M.S. Jervis Bay. Educated at Bletchley Road Council Schools, and once a member of St. Martin’s choir, he had been employed for many years in the offices of Rowlands Brothers, before transferring to the L. & N.W. locomotive sheds as a fitter. During World War One he served as an engineering officer aboard transport ships, and at the outbreak of World War Two became chief engineer of the S.S. Matakana. He then volunteered for the Navy, and was posted to the ill-fated H.M.S. Jervis Bay. Built to carry emigrants to Australia, the Jervis Bay had originally been a liner of the Aberdeen and Commonwealth fleet, but in August 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted for wartime use as an ‘A.M.C.’, an Armed Merchant Cruiser. Carrying an armament of seven ageing six inch guns, and displacing 14,164 tons, she had a crew of 255 men, mostly reservists, and the afternoon of November 5th found her in mid Atlantic, acting as an escort ship to a convoy of 38 merchant vessels. Suddenly, at around 4.50p.m. an enemy ship appeared on the port side and, from a range of about eight miles, opened fire with her 11 inch guns. As a ploy to draw fire away from the vulnerable convoy, despite her inadequate armament the Jervis Bay immediately turned to engage battle, and although projecting a protective smokescreen she sustained many hits. Ablaze, holed below the waterline, and with her steering gear damaged, she then sank after about three hours. Yet by this act of self sacrifice the other ships managed to escape, and eventually 33 would reach the safety of port. As recalled by one of the survivors ‘It was a cosy little scrap’, but on November 13th in the House of Commons Winston Churchill paid a more eloquent tribute. At the end of November, No. 1 Platoon, Home Guard, held a whist drive in the Yeomanry Hall and, with one of the prizes donated to the Y.M.C.A. railway station canteen, the event raised over £4 for P.O.W.s. However, more Bletchley men were now being reported as casualties, and amongst their number was 20 year old Charles Arthur Essen, the eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. Charles Essen, of 21, Duncombe Street. Having lived with his parents for 17 years, he joined the colours at the outbreak of war as a member of the Oxon. & Bucks. Territorials, but after a few months he transferred to the Royal Engineers as a sapper, and it would be whilst serving with 159 Railway Construction Company that he was later reported as a P.O.W. In fact he had been killed on June 17th, but his parents were not immediately informed. He lies buried in Pornic War Cemetery, France. In happier news, contradicting an earlier report that he was missing news arrived in December that Stuart Douglas Stevenson, of the Fleet Air Arm, was now in hospital as a P.O.W. However, less fortunate had been his 23 year old elder brother, John Douglas Stevenson, who was amongst those lost at the sinking of H.M.S. Duchess the previous December. Tragically his body could not be retrieved, but for those members of H.M. Forces, Home Guard and Civil Defence who gave their lives on active service, a section of the cemetery was to now be set apart for their burial.



With Britain now standing alone to face the Nazis, and with much of Europe under German occupation, any means to fight back against the enemy was to be welcomed, and it was by the suggestion of a Belgium commentator that, in a radio broadcast for Belgium, the ‘V for Victory’ campaign began during January. This combined the first letter of the French word for victory with that of the Dutch word for freedom, and the campaign would prove very successful. Also as a means to raise morale, throughout the war regular entertainments were staged in Bletchley for the benefit of both civilians and military personnel, and, continuing an ever popular series, at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church School Hall a ‘Troops’ Concert’ took place on Sunday, January 5th. Commencing at 7.30pm, this included Cockney sketches by Mr. W. Webster, and Lancashire monologues by Peggy Sharpe whilst for many other local events Fred Groom and his band, from Leighton Buzzard, were often the choice to provide the music. Indeed, on Saturday, January 11th, they performed at a dance held in the Social Centre, (admission priced at 2s, or for ‘H.M. Forces in uniform’, 1s 6d), and regarding other entertainments, especially at darts matches troops and ‘civvies’ often came together in various friendly competitions, with one example being that which took place between W. O. Peake’s and an Army team, with the latter proving victorious by nine events to eight. As the war progressed, entertainments became increasingly necessary to raise a local optimism, and not least when people from the town were included amongst the inevitable casualties. In fact an early fatality was Sergeant Pilot Gordon Downs Bushell who, on December 31st, 1940, at the age of 24 had been killed on active service with the R.A.F. Having been mentioned in a despatch on November 25th, 1940, ‘for gallant and distinguished service as a fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain’, this had been for an encounter when, at 22,000 feet, his squadron engaged over 100 enemy aircraft south of the Isle of Wight. The Squadron Leader was forced to bale out, but when he was attacked during his descent by three Messerschmitts, Sergeant Pilot Bushell warded off the enemy aircraft, destroyed one and, by radioing the coastguard, allowed the downed pilot to be safely rescued. The only son of Mr. Joseph Downs Bushell, a leading Bletchley businessman, and President of the Bletchley Chamber of Commerce, (who, in 1912, had established a provisions business at 39, High Street), Gordon had been educated at Mrs. Fry’s private school, (now the ‘Small Shop’), in Church Street, and then attended the Bletchley Road Schools and Magdalen College School, Brackley, where he became top boy. Intending to take up tea-broking, towards this ambition in January, 1937, he was presented with his certificate in the Guild Hall, but having joined the Volunteer Reserve of the R.A.F. in November, 1938, he was then called up at the outbreak of war, and would take an active role in the early air battles. Flying Hurricanes, as part of 13 Group his squadron, 213, had moved to Leconfield, Yorkshire, on November 29th, 1940, and on the day that he was killed he had been due for an interview with the Station Commander for a commission. Conveyed with full military honours from his home station on a gun carriage, his body was cremated on Saturday, and his ashes were then brought to Bletchley for burial. Since he had been a former member of St. Martin’s choir, a service was then held at St. Martin’s Church on Wednesday, January 8th, at 2.45p.m.

The grave of Sergeant Pilot Gordon Downs Bushell.
The son of a well known Bletchley businessman, he was mentioned in a despatch for his active service during the Battle of Britain, which ended on September 15th, 1940. However, he would tragically be killed whilst on flying duties on December 31a, 1940, and another local victim of the air war would be Sergeant W.T. Ellis D.F.M., of 82 Squadron. On August 2nd, 1941 whilst flying Blenheim V6026 UX-M he was shot down by return fire whilst on anti shipping duties off Den Helder, and is buried in Kiel War Cemetery. As for William Calver, a former apprentice at Premier Press, he had volunteered for the R.A.F. just before the outbreak of war, having resided in Bletchley with Mrs. B. French of Shenley Road. He was posted missing, presumed killed, in a bombing raid on North Africa on May 21st, 1941. - J. Taylor.

Tragedies closer to home were also an unfortunate reality of the war, and during the blackout two soldiers from the Hussars were killed when, on the Watling Street, near Bletchley, their vehicle collided with the rear of a stationary lorry. A while later from ‘East View’, Newton Road, 22 year old Corporal Peacock, of the Military Police, was then killed on March 31st, when his motorcycle collided with a car between Nottingham and Mansfield. Employed at the London Brick Company, he had served in the Territorials prior to being called up in September 1939, and would subsequently see active service in the retreat from Dunkirk. Having transferred to the Military Police, he had been on despatch duties when the accident occurred. Men from all walks of life were now being called up for the Forces, and on Friday, January 17th, a master at St. Paul’s Road junior school, Mr. H. Rees, a frequent football player for the Fenny Juniors, left the staff to join the R.A.F. Then a while later 58 men born between January 1st and June 30th, 1904, were registered for military service at Bletchley Employment Exchange. As for those already on active service, Captain Walter Edwards, R.E., the son of Mrs. M. Edwards, of 29, Water Eaton Road, would receive a mention in despatches, for his service with the B.E.F. from January to May 1940. Educated at the Bletchley Road Council schools and Wolverton Secondary Modern, before the war he had been employed at the General Post Office headquarters as an Investigative Officer. During active service several Bletchley men had been taken prisoner, and in order to raise funds for their welfare Miss Yvonne Dunbar presented another concert in the Bletchley Road Senior School Hall. This was held on the evening of Sunday, February 2nd, and local soldiers were amongst those contributing their talents. Also doing their bit - working three afternoons a week in the Conservative Hall, which had been especially loaned for the purpose - was the Bletchley Red Cross Working Party, which by now had sent over 2,000 hospital garments and knitted comforts to the various H.Q.s. In order to fill those vacancies caused by men leaving for the Forces, women were now invited to apply for positions ‘of national importance’ at Fletton’s Ltd., Water Eaton, with applicants being asked to contact Mr. G. Barrett. Meanwhile the national call-up continued, and on Saturday, February 22nd, 88 men aged 19 were registered at the Employment Exchange, including a number of conscientious objectors. As for ‘Civilian and Service needs’, an appeal was now launched for blood donors in the town. A blood group test would be consequently held on Wednesday, 5th March, or Thursday, 6th March, at the Clinic, between 10.30a.m. and 7.30p.m., and in fact over 2,000 blood transfusions would be given throughout the course of the war. An application had been recently made by the Military Authorities at Rhondda House to use the garage accommodation at nearby Ropley House, and the Council thus considered a report by the Surveyor concerning the use of the carriageway. However, the application would be turned down, and measures would instead be taken to fence off the two premises, to respectively prevent access by the children of Ropley House, and to curtail the damage now being caused to the carriageway by Army trucks, which used the route as a short cut to Rhondda House.

Despite the depletion caused by men leaving for military service, the population of the town had substantially increased due to the influx of evacuees and, with 50 men of their own staff now in the Forces, cash sales were accordingly up at the Bletchley and District Co-op, where a dividend of ½d in the £ was presently recommended. As a result of various dances and whist drives, the Far Bletchley Home Guard Platoon had now raised sufficient money to send parcels of cigarettes and tobacco to those local men held as P.O.W.s. Therefore any relation or friend having the name and address of a qualifying P.O.W. was asked to contact Mr. Chandler, at Far Bletchley Post Office, in order to send a package. As for Bletchley women, they became incensed when Mrs. Prudence Neill, a War Office official who was trying to recruit 6,000 women for the A.T.S., gave an interview to a London newspaper. This revealed that large black rings on a map of England indicated at the War Office those areas where supposedly hundreds of girls and women refused to do anything for the war effort, and this implied that Bletchley ‘and a Midlands’ town were within this category. Seemingly during her travels Mrs. Neill had gained the impression that Bletchley girls spent most of their time in cafés and cinemas, but to redress this inaccuracy it was firmly pointed out that, having been employed at a company which was now under closure, the female workforce were in fact awaiting redeployment to a Leighton Buzzard firm. With the allegations of ‘draft dodging’ thus dispelled, it was now the turn of Stuart Robinson, of ‘Ravenscourt’, Church Green Road, to conscientiously plead his case for military exemption. Contending at the East Anglia Conscientious Objectors’ Tribunal, at Cambridge, that being a Christian and a member of the Methodist Church he was unable to perform military service, his argument was accepted, although only on condition that he continued to work as a Civil Servant in the employ, as a clerk, of Mr. F. Bull, the Bletchley County Court Registrar. (In fact after the war Bucks. County Council would decide to reinstate all their employees who had registered as conscientious objectors, but only for as long as ‘rendered obligatory by statute.’) For men of military age, certain ‘industrial service’ occupations made them exempt from military service, and this was the category represented at the intake of the 58 men, born after December 31st, 1897, and before April 6th, 1900, who were registered at Bletchley Employment Exchange on Saturday, March 29th. They would therefore undertake home based occupations, but regarding those who had overseas experience, having at the age of 18 joined the Army some 12 years ago the recently promoted Captain Sid Clarke, of the Royal Artillery, had already spent seven years in India. He was the eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. Clarke, of Manor Road.

As a means to raise investment in war bonds, through businesses and individuals, the Government had introduced a War Savings Campaign, and, being formed at District Council level, each year a week or week’s fund-raising would duly be organised. Each year would have a different theme - 1941, ‘War Weapons Week’, 1942, ‘Warship Week’, 1943, ‘Wings for Victory’ and 1944, ‘Salute the Soldier’ - and regarding the current theme, one evening in early April Mr. J. Smith, the chairman of B.U.D.C., called a public meeting to elect the necessary sub-committees. Bletchley War Weapons Week aimed to raise £30,000 towards the purchase of bombers, and with Mr. Cook, the Gas Company manager, presiding, matters took off a few days later when the various committees met to map out the preliminary work. Mr. W. Holloway, the Publicity Organiser, duly presented suggestions for discussion, and these included whist drives, boxing tournaments, processions, sandwich boards, a house-to-house delivery of handbills by local school children and the adoption of an advertising scheme. Selling centres would be established to relieve the work at the Post Offices, and during the Week to display the daily total Messrs. Rowlands agreed to fix an indicator. This would register up to £30,000, with the inclusion of a separate fixture to read up to £6,000. At the suggestion of Mr. Holloway it was also decided to print and include slips for wage packets, asking the public to contribute money, whilst as for other fund-raising efforts in the town, with Mr. C. Collins, of 43, Water Eaton Road, as the honorary secretary, the Conservative Club Savings Group, (which had begun the previous April with five members), now totalled a membership of 92, with £1,002 3s having been so far collected. In fact Mr. Collins had taken over the position from Mr. A. Marshall who, after 13 years as the secretary of the Conservative Club, (indeed from when it first opened), had been obliged to resign on the orders of his doctor. On Saturday, April 19th, 149 girls, born in 1920, were registered at the Employment Exchange for work of ‘National service.’ Further interviews would then determine their preferred type of task, and on Saturday, May 3rd, a further 128 women, born in 1919, were registered under the new ‘War Work’ scheme. With £41 having been collected the previous year, on Thursday, May 8th, the R.N.L.I. bridge drive took place in the Conservative Club, and also on a nautical theme Commander Pursey, R.N., a veteran of the Battle of Jutland, had recently given a Sunday lecture in the Studio cinema. This was on the theme of ‘How the Navy does its job’, and no doubt proved of especial interest to the Bletchley Senior Schools, who had now adopted the S.S. Chelwood through the Ship Adoption Society. The vessel was commanded by Captain Wright, and no doubt at his recent visit to the school he greatly enjoyed the lunch given by the headmaster, Mr. E. Cook. However, a seafarer to gain a more permanent acquaintance with the town was Mr. Alex Martin, who had successfully applied for the position of local lock keeper. A widower, he had spent 15 years in the Navy, but having served in the first armed convoy of the war he was invalided out in 1940, and now, from his home at the Lock House, in Simpson Road, spent his spare time making useful household knick-knacks. From pieces of wood fished out of the canal these were fashioned in a workshop on the premises, and in fact he had built most of the equipment himself, constructing his first lathe from bits of bed iron and a sewing machine! Not surprisingly he was a member of the R.N. Old Comrades Association, of which he now hoped to start a branch in Bletchley. As for landlubbers, the Sunday ‘concerts for troops’, held in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist School Hall, ended with a request programme at the close of the winter season on Sunday, May 11th. Promoted by Reg Snelling and Robert Storey, 29 concerts had already been given, averaging an attendance of between 50 and 60 soldiers, and also on soldierly matters Major Whiteley, O.B.E., the M.P. for North Bucks., was now appointed Commander of his regiment, with his promotion to Colonel being scheduled to take effect in a month’s time.

Of the 101 men of the 1902 group who, on Saturday, May 17th, were registered for military service, only one claimed the status as a conscientious objector, and this was certainly not Robert Storey, of Newton Road, who, as a member of the Volunteer Reserve of the R.A.F., had just received his call-up papers. He was therefore to report for duty the next Monday, but in fact this would be deferred at the last moment. As Collecting Officer to B.U.D.C., Robert had first came to Bletchley in October 1937, being promoted to the position of Assistant Clerk in August, 1940. On Saturday, May 17th, 102 women born in 1918 were registered for national service at the Labour Exchange. They were then followed by a further 111 men, born in 1901, on Saturday, May 31st, which would ominously be the date that Charles William Tomkins, of the Royal Marines, was killed during the fighting in Crete. He left a widow at their home at 57, Windsor Street. Men leaving for the Forces had now caused an increasing number of vacancies at the brickworks of Fletton’s Ltd., and women were consequently invited to apply for the positions, which offered a ‘congenial occupation under healthy conditions.’ After a hard day in the brickfields they could then presumably do with a good bath, although perhaps not at the Bletchley Road Schools, where the shower bath facilities were presently being used by the troops. On Saturday, June 14th, at the age of 97, Eleanora Ann, Dowager Countess of Ypres, widow of the first Earl, died in London at The Lodge, 32, Sheldon Avenue, Highgate. As one of the ‘Eight Belles’ - the Selby Lowndes daughters from ‘Elmers’, at Old Bletchley - she had married, (as his second wife), John French in 1880, and the couple made their early home at Bracknell House, in Fenny Stratford. As a Cavalry commander John gained national renown during the Boer War, but during the First World War his military reputation was then tarnished when he tried to employ such sweeping tactics to the trench conditions of the Western Front. This caused such avoidable carnage that he was quietly phased from the scene and transferred to home duties, being created 1st Earl of Ypres in 1922. The body of Eleanora was cremated in London and, assisted by the Reverend J. Lloyd Milne, Rector of Bletchley, on Wednesday, June 25th the Reverend E. Selby Lowndes, the Rector of Whaddon, conducted the funeral proceedings at St. Mary’s, with the ashes interred in the churchyard. As detailed in the chapter ‘Keeping the Peace’, a disturbing incident took place on the evening of Saturday, June 14th, near Woughton, when an unknown man made off after firing a gun at police constable Snarey, of Bletchley. Immediately an extensive search was launched by the military and Home Guard, and the Home Guard were also locally involved in another firearms incident when, near Stony Stratford, they opened fire on a speeding car. The occupants had disobeyed an order to stop, and as a consequence a passenger in the vehicle, Miss Joan Spittles, aged 20, received a wound in the shoulder. On Saturday, June 21st, 53 men, born between July 1st and December 31st, 1900, were registered for military service at the Labour Exchange, and could thereby perhaps soon qualify to join the ‘H.M. Forces only’ cast who, on the same day, gave a good show during the evening in Bletchley Road Senior School Hall. Despite all the participants being amateurs, a very original programme was provided under the title ‘Blue & Khaki’, with Lieutenant Brooks and the Pioneer Band providing the instrumental music. Yet on a more melancholy note, notification was now received by the relatives of Driver Albert Davies, of the R.A.S.C., that he had been reported missing since April 28th whilst serving in the Middle East. Fortunately he would later be confirmed as a P.O.W. The son of Mr. & Mrs. E. Davies, of 100, Buckingham Road, he was aged 29, and before the war worked as a chauffeur/gardener in Bletchley.

As the military call up continued, 126 women, aged 24, were registered at the Employment Exchange on Saturday, June 28th for ‘work of national importance’, together with 120 men, born between 1888 and 1889, who had not already been registered for munitions work. Yet of those presently serving in the Forces, despite having several times been engaged in aerial combat a tragedy occurred on Tuesday, July 8th, when, whilst serving with 17 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Sergeant Pilot Leonard George May was killed in a crash, when practising new flying tactics. Aged 20, he was the only son of Mrs. A. Stokes, (who had come to live in Bletchley with her husband 18 months ago), and having been married for seven months, he left a widow, Ivy. He lies buried in St. Mary’s churchyard. As equally tragic was the death of Vincent Barber, aged 26. He was the only son of Mr. & Mrs. Herbert Barber, of ‘Kingsley’, Lennox Road, who, whilst serving as an acting sergeant in the Intelligence Corps, had been killed on July 8th in a raid on Southampton. Educated at Wolverton Secondary School, Vincent had become a local newspaper correspondent in Central Europe, and having attended the English College at Saraspatak, Hungary, at the outbreak of war he then returned to England and gained a B.A. degree in history, at Reading University. Received at St. Martin’s by the Reverend C. Wheeler, his body was brought by road from Southampton on Friday, July 13th, for burial in the cemetery. As another loss to the town, having formerly been employed by the London Brick Company, Marine Charles Tompkins was now posted as possibly killed in action, in the Middle East. Aged 28 he had lived in Windsor Street, and was married to a daughter of Mrs. Coker, of Newport Pagnell. Yet such ongoing gloom was at least partially lightened by news of the marriage in Bournemouth on Saturday week of Captain Walter Edwards. He was the only son of Mr. & Mrs. Edwards, of 29, Water Eaton Road, and whilst serving with the B.E.F. in France had been mentioned several times in despatches. It was now announced that the Bletchley Road Schools had raised £221 7s 6d during War Weapons Week, and also ‘doing their bit’ were members of the school staff, since Mr. Ken Davies and Mr. Hinton were already in the Army and another member, Mr. Puryer, would shortly join.

As the nephew of Mr. and Mrs. Bates, with whom he had stayed at 32, Church Street, for 11 years, Sergeant Observer William Ellis, of 82 Squadron, had now been awarded the D.F.M. Aged 29, he had been on many operational flights, and on one occasion brought his plane safely back after the pilot had been mortally wounded. On Saturday, August 16th, 89 men, born in 1897, were registered at Bletchley Labour Exchange for national work, followed on Saturday, September 6th, by the registration for military service of 51 men born between July 1st and December 31st, 1922. However, of those men who were already serving Mr. Linnell was presently home on leave from the Navy, which proved an occasion for Mrs. Linnell, a teacher at the Bletchley Road Senior School, to be excused duties on September 8th, as had also been the case on May 7th, when he returned on leave from the Near East. For the benefit of those personnel serving in the Forces £73 10s 7d had been raised by the Fenny Stratford division Flag Day, in aid of the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Association, whilst the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund came to benefit by the sum of £9, raised through various collections. The Thanksgiving services for the R.A.F. were then held on Sunday, September 21st, in the churches of St. Mary’s and also St. Martin’s, and with it now having been a year since those climactic days of the Battle of Britain, as a means to raise funds for the R.A.F. a feature of the war would be the exhibitions of the Battle staged throughout the country. However, for one event staged in Bletchley a rather strange episode occurred, following the set up of a display in the Senior School Hall. On the night preceding the opening, Mr. Cook, the headmaster, and a member of the teaching staff, Mr. Alcwyn, (or Alquin), Jones, were staying on the premises for fire watching duties, but having retired to their camp beds they were suddenly awoken by a terrific crash. Immediately they rushed to the Hall, and there to their dismay found the fine centrepiece of the display, an especially made model of a Spitfire, especially on loan from the R.A.F., lying in smithereens on the floor. The incident had occurred even though the school had been carefully locked, and the windows secured, and, with there seeming no obvious reason as to why the model had fallen off the display table, Mr. Cook hurriedly phoned police inspector Calloway, who lived opposite the school. Yet despite the subsequent investigations no explanation was ever found, although since the school had been possibly built on the burial pits from the Plague, many local residents thought there may well have been a supernatural association. Regarding more material matters, tragic news now arrived that during an air raid on ‘a South East coast town’ Sergeant Fred Wells, the second son of Oliver Wells, of 56, Albert Street, had sustained a fractured rib and damage to his spine. Also on worldly matters, during August in a shipboard meeting off Newfoundland Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt signed the Atlantic Charter, for ‘the final destruction of Nazi tyranny’, and in another alliance at Saint Martin’s Church the marriage took place on Thursday, September 25th of an Army corporal to a W.A.A.F. corporal. Then as a further cause for celebrations the ‘Sunday Night at 7.30’ entertainments, for members of H.M. Forces, re-commenced in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist School Hall on Sunday, October 12th, and they would no doubt become of subsequent interest to not only the 132 women born in 1913, who, ‘for work of national importance’, registered at Bletchley Employment Exchange on Saturday, October 25th, but also the 140 women, born in 1912, who registered on Saturday, November 8th. By now many local youth leaders were away on military service, and although all the members of the Rover Crew had joined the Forces, the 1st Fenny Stratford (St. Martin’s) Scout Group was nevertheless still performing many useful tasks which, during the summer, had included haymaking. In the early course of the war the manager of the Studio cinema, Mr. J.E. Taylor, had joined the Army, but after witnessing military action in France his service was now complete. Therefore in late November he returned to his previous occupation, and so took the place of Mr. William Beatty, who during the course of his own Army career would rise to the rank of Lieutenant.

'' Yes, Admiral, I know it looks a little unorthodox, but
the original model was made by a Cabinet Minister at a meeting of the War Council.''

The increasing number of vessels sunk in the U-boat campaign critically threatened the lifeline of essential supplies from America. Planned in 1941, the Bletchley Warship Week hoped to raise sufficient funds to buy a corvette, but to make good the shipping loses all maner of ideas was considered! Men Only.

Agreement had now been reached for the Bletchley Warship Week to be held from March 21st to 28th, 1942, and for a discussion of the proposed events a meeting at the Council Offices was to be called on Wednesday, December 17th, at 8p.m. Hopefully £120,000 would be raised as the cost of a corvette, but if £55,000 was collected for the hull, then this amount would allow plaques to be exchanged with the crew. Apart from a need for warships, a need for people was also a continuing priority, and in the ongoing call up 119 women, born in 1910, were registered on Saturday, December 6th, to assist in the national war effort. Assistance was also being sought for Russia, and in a competition to benefit the ‘Help for Russia Fund’ bars of American chocolate were offered as a prize. These had been brought home by Mr. R. Tunks, the soldier father of Jean Tunks, aged nine, of 18 Railway Terrace, and the lucky winner would be Margaret Loveridge. However, no prizes were apparent for the marshalling skills of a tragic group of soldiers, who were engaged in tank manoeuvres on the early evening of October 1st, about half a mile from Weasel Lane, Buckingham Road. In charge of the vehicles was Lieutenant Robert Hare, who, having stopped his tank, then began to reverse into a gateway. Lieutenant Wilkinson was detailed to watch for traffic and although he duly stopped a Post Office van, immediately afterwards there was a resounding crash, and Lieutenant Wilkinson was found lying beneath the tracks, with a civilian motorcyclist laying prone nearby. Tragically the Lieutenant died from his injuries, and at the inquiry Corporal Brierley stated that the motorcycle rider, Bernard Archer, a 32 year old clerk of the White Hart, Simpson Road, had come round the bend while the Lieutenant was directing the traffic Despite driving normally he then collided with both the Lieutenant and a van driven by James Nicholls, of Mount Pleasant, Bletchley, and in a subsequent statement Archer said that he daily motorcycled to and from his work at Little Horwood, and had no idea what happened. Nevertheless, he was fined for careless driving, with his licence endorsed. Earlier in the war a rumour concerning another tank tragedy had been circulating that, whilst rumbling into the car park of the Swan Hotel, a tank had run over several soldiers who were sleeping in the open. In fact whether this was just a fanciful story, or whether the episode was hurriedly ‘covered up’, still remains one of the wartime riddles of Bletchley. On December 6th, with implications that could perhaps not have been foreseen at the time the ‘Manhatten Project’ - to attempt the building of an atomic bomb - began in Chicago and Los Angeles. However, of the more orthodox methods of warfare on December 9th the National Service Bill rendered all single women in Britain, between the age of 20 and 30, liable for military service. As for men, with the upper age limit being set at 50 the call up age was now lowered to 18½, and during the middle of the month 37 men of this group were accordingly registered at Bletchley. However, amongst those already on military service the ‘99th’ now moved from their anti-invasion duties in the East Riding of Yorkshire to Tewkesbury. This was prior to embarkation overseas, but now returning for a visit to the town was Aircraftsman H. Dawe, a former master at the Bletchley Road Schools, who duly conducted the service at the Bletchley Road Methodist Church on Sunday, December 14th. Especially in view of recent news, that off the east coast of Malaya the warships Prince of Wales and Repulse had been sunk by Japanese aircraft, entertainments in the town became increasingly important to lift morale, and by more than £7 the local P.O.W. Fund came to benefit through a concert held in the Conservative Club on Saturday, December 13th. Then, attracting large audiences for the ‘Tanks for Russia’ fund the second ‘Blue & Khaki’ revue, given by the Army, W.A.A.F. & W.R.N.S., took place in the Bletchley Road Senior School Hall on Friday and Saturday, December 20th, and 21st. Items included sea shanties sung by a private, and ‘Night Club Special’, which provided an opportunity for everyone to enjoy ’good dancing.’ As for the entertainment of his regiment, in the event of the men being posted overseas the newly promoted Lieutenant Colonel J. P. Whiteley was hoping to build up a library of ‘easily portable books.’ Suitable examples - ‘Penguin or similar’ - could be sent to The Grange, and no doubt would then add to the heavy Christmas post in the town which, including the many letters and cards which were now being sent to men serving overseas, required 10 soldiers to assist on the station platform, since the loads had proved too heavy for the regular porters.




Protected by sandbags, the Clinic, in Bletchley Road, had now been declared a first aid centre. However, for Ivor Liebiski, of Vicarage Road, following a fall one Saturday evening in the playground of the Leon Recreation Ground he would need more specialist treatment, and his head injuries were duly tended at Northampton hospital. Aged seven, he was an evacuee from Islington, and indeed on the first Monday morning of the war over 60 children received treatment at the Clinic for minor incidents. With some of the mothers also receiving attention at the Clinic, four qualified nurses, under the charge of Mrs. Vaughan, helped to provide a 24 hour service, and this was an arrangement that had been made by an ex railway employee, Mr. W.J. Brown. An expert in ambulance work, he initially became interested in first aid whilst at Rugby, when he took a man with a broken arm two miles from the station to the hospital, and on moving to Bletchley he then continued to expand his medical knowledge by attending an ambulance class which, in 1900, had been commenced by the County Council in the Freeman Memorial schoolroom. During the following year when a railway class was begun he became the secretary, and in further progressions he would be admitted in 1916 to the Order of St. John, being promoted to an officer in 1933, and then a member of the Grand Council two years later. On the formation of the Bletchley St. John Ambulance Brigade he became the first secretary, but despite such responsibilities he nevertheless remained in his railway employment as a power controller until his retirement in 1930. As for his wife, Sarah, (the matron of the first aid post), she was the only daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. T. Warr of 23, Bedford Street, and after education at the Bletchley Road schools, in 1919 she joined the staff of the London Hospital, to undergo training in nursing and midwifery. On October 3rd, 1934, at St. Phillip’s Church, Stepney, she then married Mr. Brown, a widower, and the couple would live firstly at Mr. Brown’s home in Western Road, before later moving to Bedford Street.

By the voluntary efforts of Lady Leon and, amongst others, Mrs. Katrine Williamson, the original Bletchley Infants Welfare Centre had been founded at the Temperance Hall, in George Street, in 1920. In March of that year Lady Leon duly opened the facility, (where nine babies were the first to receive initial attention), but subsequently the Centre would have to endure a nomadic accommodation including the Methodist Hall and, having been lent by Mr. Holdom, also premises behind which the gas showrooms would later be situated. Yet for the provision of a permanent Centre various money raising schemes had been employed, although it would not be until the County Council assumed responsibility that the Clinic, in Bletchley Road, would be built. Here, from September 4th, 1939, with assistance in the morning from a fully trained nurse a county nurse was added to the wartime staff, and by the middle of the month in conjunction with the motor ambulance service an allowance was agreed - of a sum not to exceed 2s 6d - for voluntary nursing staff to obtain a meal whilst on journeys outside the district. In fact it was due to the voluntary work of the St. John Ambulance Brigade that nursing staff were provided for the ambulance which, being an Austin of the latest type, was fully equipped for the role. Indeed it by now had certainly proved its worth, having during 1939 attended 123 cases, involving a distance of 4,065 miles. Consideration was now being given to the position of a temporary Medical Officer, and the person appointed would thus take the place of Dr. Critchley, the occupant of the role since 1935. Having now joined the Army he would subsequently see action at Dunkirk and in the Middle East, whilst by acting as Medical Officer to Winslow Rural District Council his wife would also contribute to the war effort. Eventually, at a salary of £800 Dr. Robert Stones would be appointed as the new Medical Officer, and he thereby became not only the temporary Medical Officer of Health for Bletchley and the borough of Buckingham, but also the temporary Assistant County Medical Officer. For 28 years he had been a medical missionary for the C.M.S. in different parts of Africa, and although he was understandably anxious to return to his home in Uganda, he took on the Bletchley contract subject to three months notice either side. As for other medical considerations, towards the end of the month the North Bucks. Joint Hospital Board met one Wednesday in the town to assess the demand for more isolation hospital accommodation, and this was a contemporary need which, in view of a possible increase in the number of infectious diseases brought by evacuees, proved especially necessary. Indeed, the continuing menace of disease would be sadly emphasised during December, when Jean Northwood, aged six, of 9, Tavistock Street, died at the Grove hospital, Linslade, from diphtheria. However, as equally tragic was the incident attended by Dr. Dorothy Lufkin of The Gables, Bletchley, at 6.10p.m. one Tuesday at The Haven, in Tavistock Street. Here, the two year old son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Pulley, of Mount Pleasant, Aspley Guise, had stumbled into the goldfish pond, and despite Dr. Lufkin’s desperate efforts he could not be revived. During the last week of October a Red Cross working party began in the town, and with the materials provided everyone was welcome. In fact they would shortly hold a working party for several days in the Conservative Hall to make ‘medical comforts’, and thereon the Committee would meet three times a week, with Mrs. J.P. Whiteley as chairman. The Red Cross also came to benefit by a Saturday collection at the County Cinema, and the £4 2s 1d so raised would be applied to both the Red Cross Fund, and the Lord Mayor’s Appeal for the St. John Ambulance Brigade. Engaged in weighing the babies of evacuated and Bletchley mothers, by now Nurse Plant and Nurse Sinfield were in charge of work at the Infant Welfare Centre at the Clinic, whilst by the end of November near the Clinic the A.R.P. organiser had arranged a temporary garage for the A.R.P. ambulance, at 3s a week.



Mr. Leo Durran
After military experience during World War One with the R.A.M.C., (as optician to the Military Hospital at Great Yarmouth), Mr. Leopold Durran had long been established as an optician in Bletchley. He was also an amateur watch mender, and regularly advertised his practice at 77, Aylesbury Street, where he lived ‘with numerous dogs and cats in a haunted house with a kitchen door, which they would never go through, and a window full of spectacles.’ Also as perhaps something of an eye-opener, in early February a Friday dance was held in Water Eaton Hall by the Bletchley Division of the St. John Ambulance Brigade, and the profit of £3 15s would be applied to the Equipment Fund. Whilst the North Bucks. centre of the St. John Ambulance Association had been founded in 1889, the origins of the local St. John Ambulance Brigade, or Corps as it was then known, dated from January, 1891, when a meeting had been held in the Bletchley Road Mission Room. Following a series of lectures by Dr. McGachen all the candidates then passed their exam, especially pleasing since this had been under the scrutiny of Dr. Squire, of Harley Street. In July, 1926, two ambulance centres and a medical comforts depot were opened in the town by Lady Leon, and with the funds having been raised through voluntary contributions, (via a Committee), one ambulance station would be at St. Martin’s Hall and the other at the police station, in Simpson Road, where, because of the access to a telephone, the wheeled litter was kept. As for the medical comforts depot, this was situated at St. Martin’s Hall and allowed even the poorest people to obtain, on production of a certificate from a medical practitioner, medical appliances for a few pence a week. The balance of the funds was now to be applied towards purchasing an ambulance, and although it was hoped to obtain the vehicle before January, it was in 1932 that the first motor ambulance of the St. John Ambulance Brigade was dedicated, at Simpson church. Regarding the Nursing Division of the Brigade, following a meeting in 1928 this was formed in 1931, and the classes were subsequently held in the senior boys’ school until 1939. A prominent role in the formation of the Division had been played by Mrs. E. Vaughan, of 27, Bedford Street, and indeed she would become the Superintendent, having originally gained her first aid certificate in 1911, and her nursing certificate two years later. Another lady who would have a long association with nursing in Bletchley was miss Gwenfra Amor, the sister of George Amor, who in 1936 had come to Bletchley to live in Water Eaton Road with her father, Ralph, whose wife had died two years before. A native of Devizes, in Wiltshire, Mr. Amor had moved to Buckinghamshire to join the county constabulary, and completed 25 years of service with the Force when he retired in 1929. As for his daughter, at the outbreak of the war she joined the Nursing Division through the Civil Defence. She then became a part time physiotherapy worker at the Clinic, and would remain in this position not only throughout the war but also for several years after. On Wednesday, February 7th, at 7.30p.m. the Bletchley Hospital Contribution Scheme held their A.G.M. in the reading room of St. Martin’s Hall, where Mr. S. Wilkins gained election as the chairman, and Mr. H. Tranfield as the Vice-chairman. With the membership now standing at over 1,400, also during the month the Bletchley and District Hospital Control Scheme held their annual meeting. Having jointly founded the Scheme with her husband, Mrs. G. J. Campbell presided, and from the credit balance of £708 18s 4d, £562 3s 5d had been paid to hospitals. As for the town’s mobile hospital unit, emergency rooms had now been provided both at the High Street schools and the Yeomanry Hall. During the month Mr. S. Maycock, secretary of the Bletchley branch of the N.U.R. Approved Society, then gave his report at a Sunday morning meeting, and stating that in 1939 £285 9s 7d had been paid to members he announced that this not only included benefits for sickness, disability and maternity, but also for dental and optical work, surgical treatment and appliances. However, on the wider scene welcome benefits were now due for women since, by legislation passed on February 21st, they would be granted an old age pension from the age of 60.

Back Row, standing left to right: Mr J Underwood, Mr W Stapleton, Mr Vaughan, Mr Basketfield, Mr E Holderness, Mr R Peerless, Mr F Cave,
Mr Tattam, Mrs W J Brown, Mr W J Brown, Mrs Scott-Evans, Mr Scott-Evans, county secretary.
Second Row, seated: Mrs A Elliott, Mrs E Clarke, Mrs Stapleton, Mrs Garner, Mrs Vaughan, superintendent.
Third Row, on ground: Miss Garner, Miss M Scobie, Mrs M Pollard, Miss I Tarbox, Miss A Underwood.
St. John Ambulance Brigade, the dedication of the first motor ambulance at Simpson church, 1932.
As early as 1919a scheme had been proposed to provide a motorised ambulance for North Bucks., and with two members of the Council attending a consequent meeting 'with power to act', by August 1920 a vehicle had been obtained. As for the St. John Ambulance Brigade, founded in 1930 the Nursing Division held their classes at the Bletchley Road schools until, with A.R.P. responsibilities, a move was made to the Clinic in 1939. This then continued as the headquarters until 1960, when the Division transferred to a hut in Westfield Road. During the war a medical comforts hut had been provided behind the Clinic, and in 1962 a new facility was then provided on the site of the proposed St. John Ambulance Station headquarters, which was to be built by Mason and Elliott in Sherwood Drive. In preparation for the headquarters members had been voluntarily clearing the site at weekends, and the building dulv opened in 1962, made possible bv a legacy from the estate of Mrs. C. Brooks. - B.C.H.l.

From a Sunday concert arranged by the employees of Premier Press, £49 14s 5d had been received for the Red Cross Fund, whilst for the other local organisations they came to benefit when the monies in hand, before the Urban Council had taken over the ambulance service, were distributed by Mr. J.D. Bushell, as chairman of the now defunct Bletchley Motor Ambulance Committee. In fact the ambulance service under the Order of St. John had terminated on September 21st, 1938, and, incurring some 3,632 miles of travel, since then 132 patients had been taken to hospital. After the payment of expenses the sum remaining now stood at £101 16s 4d, which, with the remainder being allocated to the Associated Medical Comforts Depot, was applied as £20 to the St. John Ambulance Brigade, (Bletchley Division), and £20 to the St. John Nursing Division. The money also helped to meet the cost of a new hut for ‘medical comforts’ which, at a nominal rent, had been erected on a site in Bletchley Road at the Welfare Clinic. In fact it would remain in service until 1962, being then replaced by a new facility opened on Monday, March 5th, on the site of the planned new St. John Ambulance Station H.Q. in Sherwood Drive. Concluding the ambulance matters, in March Fletton’s Ltd. offered to lend their ambulance to the Council whenever the official vehicle was otherwise engaged, and the final report of the Bletchley Motor Ambulance service, under the Bucks. Joint Committee of the Order of St. John and the British Red Cross, would be presented to an evening meeting on Friday, August 16th. Of the various doctors in the town, the cigar-smoking Dr. Carter, and his wife Kathleen, a well known local nurse, had come to the town in 1929 with Nurse Barbara Curtois. Previously they had been at a practice in Soham, Cambridgeshire, and at Bletchley would take over from Dr. Edgar Nicholson, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., making their home at the Red House, in the High Street, when Dr. Nicholson retired to Northampton. In fact there he would die, aged 80, on January 7th, 1945. A Yorkshireman, from Whitby, Dr. Nicholson had trained at Middlesex Hospital, and being mainly concerned with the Fenny Stratford aspects, he came to work at Bletchley in 1896 in partnership with Dr. Deyns. In 1933 Nurse Curtois opened a nursing home at the back of the Red House where, with a temporary building erected as an extra ward, Mrs. Carter would become greatly involved during the war in dealing with the many cases. Born in Lincolnshire, the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Curtois, of Branston, being granted the Lady Ampthill Scholarship Barbara became a V.A.D. during World War One, and in 1919 trained as a midwife at Rotunda Hospital, in Dublin. After World War Two, following Dr. Carter’s retirement in 1952 she then continued to work with his son and successor, until the maternity home finally closed in 1956. With all the expenses to be paid, the Council now sanctioned Dr. Stones, the Medical Officer, to attend a course of lectures at the Falfield Training School, but also in need of a few lectures seemed the Nursing Sisters, for in a darts match held at the Clinic they had just been defeated by the women A.R.P wardens! A kick in the teeth perhaps, as was possibly also the sentiment felt by the local schoolchildren when sent to see the school dentist - ‘some foreign chap’ - who operated from a small room in the Clinic. As for the adults, their dental needs could be attended by Mr. Ernest Copeland who, in 1927, had taken over the practice of Mr. Saunders. At first Mr. Copeland worked from premises in Aylesbury Street, but he later moved to accommodation over Lloyds Bank in Bletchley Road, and then to 77, Bletchley Road. A keen cricket enthusiast, he continued in dentistry until 1949, then retiring due to ill health. Eventually moving to Linford, he died there in 1952, leaving a daughter who was the wife of Jack Haynes, landlord of the King’s Head along the Watling Street.

Red House
Dr. W. Carter
Nurse Barbara Curtois

On the afternoon of Tuesday, April 23rd, Mrs. B. Reynolds presided at the annual meeting of the Bletchley Nursing Association, held in the Board Room of the Bletchley Road schools. Yet the news received from Mrs. Theobald, the treasurer, was hardly a tonic, for a balance of £339 5s 8d at the beginning of the year had now been reduced to £294 6s 2d. However, matters were more optimistic for the Bletchley Red Cross Working Party, for during the six months until the end of April they had completed over 700 articles, to include 26 pairs of bedsocks, 48 bed jackets, six helpless case shirts and 78 ‘many tailed’ bandages. These had either been made by the members at home or otherwise at the Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon meetings held in the Conservative Club, and the finished articles were then sent to the H.Q. By the end of May, Bucks. County Council had increased the availability of auxiliary ambulances by purchasing old but serviceable cars, of sufficient horse power, that were no longer in use by their owners. Two were proposed for the Bletchley A.R.P., and might no doubt have proved useful in such incidents as that which occurred in mid June when, whilst riding near Hollingdon, Dr. Maddison was kicked by his companion’s horse. His right leg was broken below the knee, and the Bletchley ambulance then took him to Northampton hospital. In years gone by Dr. William Bradbrooke had been a well known doctor in the town, but during the month he sadly died at Sutton Courtenay, aged 81. A renowned local historian, although later building a house next to the Wilberforce Hotel he had commenced his medical duties in 1894 at 29, Bletchley Road, and eventually the practice was taken over in 1929 by Dr. Morphy. During July, in measures to deal with potential air raids the teachers in the town received instruction in first aid. If necessary, the Newport Pagnell Urban District Council could provide the emergency use of a mobile first aid unit, and this could be set up either in the High Street Schools, Fenny Stratford, or the Yeomanry Hall, at Old Bletchley. Also from Newport Pagnell was Dr. Douglas Morris, who during the month had taken area charge of the ‘mobilising units and forces’, to include the First Aid parties. In order to gain an insight into the readiness of these emergency services an exercise was then staged near to the Council Offices, and in the aftermath of a supposed bombing raid with Dr. Morris watching, and with the old and the new ambulance, plus the first-aid car, having been summoned, the rescue squad and fire brigade brought out five casualties. These were then placed on the grass outside the Offices, where two Bletchley First Aid parties administered medical treatment. Early in the war Dr. Morris had volunteered to carry out the training of First Aid parties in the county, and during June and July apart from his Bletchley visit he had also travelled to every district, to give both lectures and demonstrations. He was then preparing to arrange a two day Leadership Course on consecutive Sundays for 25 to 30 members of the First Aid parties, but with approval for the courses having just been approved he then suffered a breakdown through the exhaustive strain, and would be unable to resume his duties for a month, or possibly three.

If a gas attack was launched on the town, in order to take samples the Gas Identification Officer, Mr. R. Long, of the Gas Identification Service, would be collected from his home at ‘Pinewood’, Bow Brickhill, by Mr. L. Cook, a Special Constable who lived at ‘Kynance’, Denbigh Road. As for anyone contaminated by gas, a corrugated iron lean to shelter served as a decontamination room at the Clinic, where contaminated clothing could be removed before entering the shower bath room. At the Clinic were also kept 15 steel stretchers and blankets, and to emphasise their possible need during a couple of evenings in late September films were shown on the means to deal with incendiaries, and also the methods to be employed to effect rescues from damaged buildings. Also in the Clinic, again towards the end of the month the St. John Ambulance Brigade & Nursing Division held their annual meeting. With Mr. B. Roland Reynold as president, those present included Dr. Lufkin, the Divisional Surgeon, (appointed by the Council in consultation with the B.M.A.), but fortunately her skills would not be required the following month, when although two lorries collided in the High Street, causing damage to the wall of Dr. Carter’s house, no injuries would result. The full time ambulances for Bletchley U.D.C. now comprised an Austin, two converted Ford V8s with canvas hoods, (loaned by the County Council, and able to hold four stretchers), and a Morris 12, which was owned by the Council and would be kept in reserve for contaminated casualties. Other vehicles were also available for ambulance work and these included ‘FBH 136’, owned by B.U.D.C., and, owned by the County Council, ‘ANM 961’, which would be driven by Mr. P. West, of Windsor Street. As for part time transport, the Bletchley Co-op could supply ‘BKX 149’ with a driver, and Mr. J. Ramsbotham could supply ‘MJ 8977.’ For casualties who were able to sit, Mr. W. J. Brown volunteered the use of ‘CBH 624’, to be driven by Mr. F. Tebbutts, of 20, Leon Avenue, and with their own driver ‘EKX 367’ was made available by the Bletchley Co-op. Driven by Miss W. Boyes, of Westfield Road, ‘CLM 128’, owned by B.U.D.C., and ‘CXC 699’, driven by Mrs. H. Faulkner, of Staple Lodge, would provide the First Aid Party cars. At the beginning of November an appeal then began for the owners of saloon cars, of 12h.p. or above, to place their vehicles at the disposal of the Council during air raid warnings. With offers to be made to Mr. Arthur Bates, the A.R.P. District Sub-Controller, these would thus reinforce the quota of First Aid Party cars, whilst in other measures the L.M.S. Ambulance Class now met every Tuesday in the Bletchley Road Clinic.

At the beginning of December around 60 members of the A.R.P. service watched a film dealing with A.R.P. and first aid work. This was shown at the Clinic, where each night two nurses and two ambulance men were stationed in readiness, and if a ‘Yellow’ message was received then two more nurses and two men would be called out to complete a first aid party. In addition, another ambulance driver would be detailed to stand by as well as a first aid party car and driver, in case help was needed outside the district. In fact on hearing the siren a third of the personnel would report for duty, although the remainder would only attend if an actual raid was reported. Concerning the use of the North Bucks. Joint Hospital Board’s smallpox hospital, which was situated off Denbigh Road, having been in discussions with amongst others the County Medical Officer, during the middle of the month the Medical Officer, Dr. Stones, advised the Public Health Committee regarding isolation accommodation for those people diagnosed with an infectious disease. The Committee recommended that the Council should ask the North Bucks. Joint Hospital Board for the use of the building, and this would be on condition that the Council bore responsibility for the payment of all outgoings, and further bore the costs of maintenance. Paying a nominal sum for the use, when hostilities ceased, or the Council no longer required the premises, or should they be required for the original purpose, then they would hand over the building in the same condition. The recommendation was duly adopted.



Throughout the year, although under increasing difficulties the sale at privileged prices of food and other essentials for children would be carried on at the Bletchley Infant Welfare Centre. This was situated at the Clinic, and here the Medical Officer made a visit every first and third Tuesday in the month. With Nurse Plant in charge of the premises, diphtheria inoculations were then given from 1.30p.m. to 3.30p.m. on Wednesday, January 22nd, and thereafter they would take place at the same time on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. As for more personal nursing, at Staple Lodge Mr. Hubert Faulkner now required a reliable person ‘to take entire charge’ of an elderly lady, but for those tragically beyond care, on Saturday evening, January 25th, two soldiers from the Hussars were killed when their vehicle collided in the Watling Street with the rear of a stationary lorry. However, the driver was rather more fortunate, and would be taken to the Clinic to receive medical attention from Dr. Maddison. Working for three afternoons a week in the Conservative Hall, which had been especially loaned for the purpose, the Bletchley Red Cross Working Party continued their activities in the town. By February they had managed to send more than 2,000 hospital garments and knitted comforts to the various H.Q.s, and by the middle of the year this total would increase to 2,870. As a result of the wartime conditions, at the annual meeting of the Bletchley Hospital Contributory Scheme on Wednesday, February 5th a relaxation of the rules was made, to allow benefits to be drawn by those evacuees who had contributed to similar schemes elsewhere. This was regarding Rule 13, whereby ‘subs’ had to be paid for five months before members became eligible for benefit, and perhaps due to the evacuees the membership had now increased from 1,400 to 1,600. Since the bank balance now stood at £866, £100 was then voted for the reduction of the ambulance fares, and this would be duly confirmed at a special meeting held at the Social Centre on Wednesday, March 19th. In fact it would be shortly announced that within a 25 mile radius of the town all members of the Bletchley Hospital Contributory Scheme were to have free ambulance facilities, although this would only be on the production of a medical certificate.

Mrs. E. Vaughan
Mrs. A. Mead

On Monday evening, February 24th, accompanied by the Deputy Director, Dr. Ellison, Dr. Brewer of Luton, who was the Director of the North East London & Home Counties Blood Supply Depot, attended a meeting of the St. John Ambulance workers. The discussions were regarding their work, and in fact by the end of February so many Bletchley residents were giving blood at the Leighton Buzzard clinic, to which free transport was provided, that a proposal was made to start a local depot at the Bletchley Road Clinic. Therefore with Mrs. E. Vaughan, of 27, Bedford Street, as the organiser, an appeal for blood donors in Bletchley and district ‘for Civilian and Service needs’ was launched, and with pamphlets and enrolment forms being distributed by the St. John Ambulance workers, a blood group test was duly arranged for Wednesday 5th March, or Thursday 6th March, to be held at the Clinic between 10.30a.m. and 7.30p.m. In her duties Mrs. Vaughan was to be assisted by Mrs. A. Mead, (nee Elliott), of 82, Eaton Avenue, and she had been a member of the St. John Ambulance division since its formation. In fact she became the first divisional officer, and would retain that position until 1951 when, by passing her superintendent’s exam, she succeeded Mrs. Vaughan as the Superintendent. A Sunday School teacher since 1924, and a staunch worker for St. Martin’s Church, she would eventually be made a Serving Sister of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. During the previous century the Guardians of Newport Pagnell had been responsible for the appointment of a local medical officer, who would cover the parishes of Bletchley, Fenny Stratford and Water Eaton, and this position carried a not insubstantial salary of £65 p.a., ‘exclusive of authorised fees for surgical and Midwifery cases.’ However, the selection now lay with B.U.D.C., who would be disappointed to receive the resignation of Dr. R. Stones, the temporary Medical Officer of Health, subsequent to his appointment to a hospital position in Malta. Described as a man who ‘gets on with the job without talking a lot about it’, in explaining his decision Dr. Stones said that he had more of an aptitude for surgery and medicine, and his place would be taken by Dr. Janet Ronaldson, M.B., D.P.H., of Wolverhampton. She thereby became not only the temporary Medical Officer of Health for the Borough of Buckingham and the Urban District of Bletchley, but also the temporary Assistant County Medical Officer. As for other matters to occupy the Council, the Finance Committee now considered the offer of £100 from the Hospitals Association for the use of the ambulance and with the work being voluntary, it was accordingly agreed to provide the use of the ambulance - limited to hospitals within a 25 mile radius - for another year. Presently various entertainments were being regularly held in the town to raise money for those organisations associated with medical need, and on Saturday, April 12th, as a ‘Special Easter Attraction’ a grand dance was staged in the Senior School Hall. The monies would be applied to the St. John Ambulance Brigade, whilst regarding the Red Cross they came to benefit on Sunday, April 20th through an ‘Evening Variety Concert.’ This was held at the same venue, and additional monies were gratefully received when Mrs. Whiteley, and the Committee of the Red Cross Working Party, accepted the contents of the Red Cross boxes. These had been previously distributed throughout Bletchley, and the sums included 2s 5d from the Wilberforce Hotel, 19s 1½d from the Lantern Cafe and 3s 6½d from the County Cinema. On Saturday, May 31st the St. John Ambulance Brigade also received extra funds when, between 8p.m. and 12 midnight, a grand dance was held at the Social Centre. Then as a result of a revue given on July 4th and 5th by the Bletchley Park Drama Group, a further £31 5s 3d would be forwarded to the British Red Cross Society.

As detailed in the chapter ‘Far From Home’, during mid May B.U.D.C. decided to establish a child psychology clinic in the town. This would be for the treatment of ‘difficult children’, and also on the subject of difficult matters on the afternoon of Thursday, June 5th, Mrs. B. Roland Reynolds, whilst presiding at the annual meeting of the local Nursing Association, voiced a complaint on people’s spending priorities. She said that whilst some people would not spend a penny a week on subscriptions, they would quite happily spend 6d on Sunday newspapers, and ‘It makes one feel inclined to give up the whole thing.’ She further stated that it seemed disgraceful that ‘a flourishing town of this size’ could not support two nurses, and indeed it seemed that assistance was sorely needed for Nurse Morrish, who had to spend most of her time cycling to the patients throughout her extensive area. This covered Newton Longville and Water Eaton, and already she had made 1,097 visits. Understandably, in her attempts to raise funding Mrs. Reynolds felt that she was flogging a dead horse, which was hopefully not the sentiment behind Dr. J. Hodson’s request to erect a stable at the back of 139, Bletchley Road, since planning permission had now been granted. In June, the chairman of B.U.D.C. welcomed Dr. Janet Ronaldson as the new Medical Officer for the town. She was the first woman to hold this position, and in the course of her duties would find everything satisfactory at Ropley House, excepting the case of a child billetee who, having developed whooping cough, had since been removed to live with her mother at the Rest Room. Yet the circumstances were greatly more tragic at the end of the month when Pauline Halford, aged 11 months, of Hillcrest, Church Green Road, died after swallowing a small piece of an ebonite rattle. The fragment had not shown up on an X-ray taken at Northampton hospital, and in another unfortunate incident, on Thursday, July 24th Mr. Henry Wright of 24, Park Street, an L.M.S. railway worker, suffered a badly crushed foot in an accident on the line. He was rushed to Northampton hospital, but the extent of his injury proved so severe that his right foot had to be amputated. Thankfully matters took a happier turn when a dance was held at the Senior School Hall on Saturday, September 13th. With the occasion lasting from 7.30p.m. until 11.55p.m., a special engagement had been made of Reg. Heckford’s Rhythmists (Watford), plus two vocalists, and proceeds were for the St. John Ambulance Brigade. With music by Vera Stapleton’s band, in aid of the Red Cross Fund another dance was then held at the same location on Friday, October 10th, from 10p.m. to 12p.m., and with all this nifty footwork it was perhaps just as well that the chiropody skills of Miss D. White, of 28, Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, were now available, with her clients being able to arrange a home visit. For duties at the Bletchley first aid posts, in October the A.R.P. Department urgently required 30 male volunteers aged over 15, and on Monday, October 6th with Dr. Lufkin presiding the annual meeting took place at the Clinic of the St. John Ambulance Brigade & Nursing Division of the Brigade. Here, Miss M. Scobie reported that the strength had now increased from 26 to 29 members, and uniforms had been purchased for £66 13s 10d. With a course of home nursing given by Dr. Lufkin, following an examination conducted by Dr. Bull all the students successfully gained their Home Nursing certificates, whilst on other matters the recent provision of a hut had proved most useful. Presenting the annual report of the St. John Ambulance Brigade, Mr. John Vaughan, the divisional secretary, then said that financially the balance in hand was now £66 13s 7d, as opposed to £52 19s 2½d at the beginning of the year, and regarding the personnel the total strength was presently 27, (18 in uniform). In fact the Brigade had now carried out 2,610 A.R.P. post first aid duties, and attended 13 road accidents.

Despite the outcome of the war being as yet far from certain, during October in the House of Commons the Minister of Health said that the matter of post war hospital policy, and reorganisation, had ‘for some time been engaging the attention of the Government.’ The aim was to provide free hospital treatment for everyone after the war, and this was part of the remit of an interdepartmental committee of civil servants appointed under Sir William Beveridge. They were to survey the existing national schemes of social insurance and then make due recommendations, towards providing benefits sufficient to maintain a minimum level of subsidence. Such wide ranging questions apart, as a Bletchley A.R.P. ambulance driver Mrs. Hubert Faulkner had good reason to appreciate the more immediate work of the hospital service when. on Monday, October 6th, she was hurt in an accident at Houghton Regis crossroads. Colliding with an Army vehicle, the car had been driven by her husband, the well-known building contractor of Bletchley, and sustaining severe injuries, including a fractured leg, she was then rushed to Luton & Dunstable Hospital for treatment. Originally from Ivinghoe, she had initially come to Bletchley in 1919 to work as a secretary at Rowland Bros., and would lodge in Fenny Stratford until her marriage. A staunch member of the Bletchley Road Methodist church, she played a prominent role in the work of the St. John Ambulance Brigade, and her recent need for hospital treatment well emphasised the importance of the Red Cross Penny a Week Fund to which, as a means of providing reserve stocks of ambulance supplies, Bletchley housewives were now being asked to contribute. Major Parkhill, of the Salvation Army, occupied the role as secretary, and Mr. F. Bates as chairman, and in fact during the whole of November the Bletchley Committee of the Red Cross and St. John Penny a Week Fund received a total of £82 4s 8d, with further medical funds then being raised by a bridge drive, held in the Conservative Club in aid of the Nursing Association.




At her home in Victoria Road, Mrs. Lucy Hunt died on Monday, September 25th. Her husband had been the famous jockey William Hunt, whom she often accompanied to his races, and at one time the town also played host to a similarly renowned sports personality, Charles Constable, a cross country runner. In fact by winning the Surrey A.A.C. cross country championship in 1923 he continued the tradition of another local runner who, having been bet £5 in 1880 that he could not run a mile in five and a half minutes, covered the distance in five minutes and 25 seconds! The town would also be acquainted with a prominent cyclist, whilst as for those wishing to improve their sporting prowess their ambitions would be encouraged by a provisional grant of £100 from the National Playing Fields Association. This was towards the cost of providing two additional hard tennis courts at Central Gardens, but with the outbreak of war the grant was withdrawn. Also withdrawn was the grant for the new swimming pool, and this consequently meant that local swimmers either had to use the ‘pond’ at Water Eaton Mill, which for the unwary posed perils by reason of a deep section towards the middle, or otherwise brave the hazards of the Denbigh pits. In fact before the gravel excavations the site had been greatly favoured for sporting activities, through being one of the flattest meadows in the county, and as implied by the name, ‘Flannels Meadow’, had on one occasion even hosted a match between the All England cricket team and ‘the top hatted Gentlemen of Bucks.’ For recreational swimming, many years ago the Urban Council had ‘rushed’ into providing a ‘bathing place’ for the town, and with a site chosen at the river in Fenny Stratford, near the Watling Street, the adjoining land was duly rented and a bathing shed erected, complete with steps. On a large board at the entrance from the Watling Street a set of elaborate rules was then painted, and for a while this facility then sufficed. However, the facility gradually deteriorated until the Council schools were established, with the Education Authority then being eventually empowered to institute school swimming classes. In consequence in 1919 Lady Leon and educational representatives met at the site, and decided that if the floor of the shed was concreted, and a partition put in place, the standard would prove temporarily adequate for school swimming classes for both sexes. Divided between the Education Authority and the Urban Council the cost amounted to £30, and it would be the ultimate intention to raise funds for the construction of a purpose built swimming pool. However, such plans were now indefinitely delayed by the outbreak of the Second World War, whilst as for the Bathing Station, owing to flooding at certain times of the year a refund would be made of the rental paid for grazing rights in the Bathing Place Field. In conclusion of the story, at the end of the war with it being decided that the fencing should be removed, and the shed dismantled, the corrugated sheeting and other materials were then sold off to the highest bidder.

The mill and mill pond, Water Eaton.

The mill has been converted into private housing, but is remembered, during World War Two as a facility which was much enjoyed by swimmers, especially in times of good weather. However, contemporary weather forecasts were never given in newspapers, in case the details might prove of use to the enemy, and in fact any reference had to made only after a delay of 10 days. - J. Taylor.



At the start of the year, with the winter of 1940 proving harsh the Albert Street sports ground resembled little more than an expanse of frozen mud. Yet nevertheless the beginning of January witnessed a League football match between Bletchley Old Boys and Winslow United, with the latter proving victorious by two goals. As for indoor pursuits, at Water Eaton in the Bletchley League on Monday, January 15th, Water Eaton ‘A’ played the Co-operators ‘B’ at table tennis, and won by 14 games to 6. On March 13th, at 7.45pm. the final was then held of the Bletchley Temperance Hall open billiards tournament whilst as for table tennis, with the clubroom situated at the rear of the Temperance Hall the Saxon Table Tennis Club had previously opened on October 17th. Subscriptions were set at 3s 6d per season, and billed as a ‘Special Sporting Attraction’ enthusiasts could also enjoy the Bletchley Table Tennis League Championship Finals, which took place, admission free, at the Co-op Hall in Albert Street. However, on Thursday, March 21st at the opening of the miniature golf course season at Central Gardens a round, with tickets supplied by the firm of H. Booth Ltd., would cost 3d, and the further expense of a penny would be incurred if the participants wished to afterwards spruce up by using the hot wash and towel facility. During the same month the Bletchley Bowls League met to recommend that four competitions in the coming season should be played by the four local clubs. These were Bletchley Town, St. Martin’s, the Conservative Club and London Brick Company, yet regarding the latter due to the continuing call up invitations were being made for non L.B.C. men to play, and eventually several matches would even be arranged against American teams. As an employee, Jack Beech, of Duncombe Street, would often organise the football and cricket matches of the Company, (the sports club of which had managed to so far survive the outbreak of war), and in other activities Jack was a renowned local boxer. Another local boxer of note was Jack Millburn, the Bletchley and Leighton middleweight, who at a Wednesday evening event towards the end of March defeated Reg Hunt, of Watford, on points. The six round contest was held at Watford, with the fight even broadcast on a Forces programme. During April, at their annual meeting the Fenny Stratford Cricket Club reached a unanimous decision to continue the Club into the coming season, and also continuing was the Bletchley & Fenny Bowls Club, the green of which opened on May 1st at 6p.m. - ‘help yourself to forget the worries of the war.’ The St. Martin’s Tennis Club then re-opened on Saturday, May 4th, and during the same month a good financial position was reported at the annual meeting of the Baptist Sports Club, with more than £15 having been cleared off the ground debt.

Founded on February 16 , 1928 the Bletchley Town Cricket Club enjoyed . the use of the Bletchley Park ground by kind permission of Lady Leon, although her renowned generosity was sadly abused in 1930 when, whilst she was attending a meeting of the local Council, thieves stole a large quantity of jewellery, furs, and other items from Bletchley Park. On acquiring Bletchley Park the Leons had laid out the grounds with a maze, lake, ornamental trees, and - complete with a cricket pavilion - a first class cricket pitch, although this has been recentlv built on. - B.C.H.I.

The Public Health Committee now received an offer from the matron of the Civil Defence first aid post, Mrs. Sarah Brown, of 23, Bedford Street, to present four flowering shrubs to Central Gardens, in memory of her mother. However, this was not recommended for acceptance, although the Council did authorise an expenditure of £15 on a fence of trees adjoining the back gardens of the houses in Western Road. In further horticultural enhancements, by early May about 100 trees, including mountain ash, flowering cherry, maple and birch, together with various shrubs, had been planted, and just in time for the opening of the miniature golf course extension on Whit-Sunday. Yet due to the constant theft from the coin boxes, the weighing machines in the public conveniences had now been removed by the operating company, with a consequent and much lamented reduction in the rental revenue for the Council. Gangs of boys were also proving a nuisance, by gathering on Sunday afternoons to cause wanton damage, but generally the local children remained respectful of the Gardens ‘with its roses, flowers and some apple trees’, and they never walked on the grass - ‘it had a notice on it.’! Yet as rather a disappointment for the children the Council had now decided that because the revenue was outweighed by the amount of litter, no permits would be granted for selling ice cream in Central Gardens during the coming summer. As perhaps a concession, they did however agree that children on holiday could use the tennis courts during the mornings at half price, whilst for their further entertainment towards the end of the month the Surveyor was asked to prepare a scheme for a ‘children’s’ corner’ in Leon Recreation Ground. No doubt this was much needed, since the little blighters had been otherwise amusing themselves with large bows and arrows tipped with steel!

The London Brick Company Cricket and Tennis Sections had now decided to play during the coming season, whilst at the A.G.M. Mr. E. Cook reported that the same sports would also be organised by the Bletchley School Sports Association. The Parents’ Association had already paid out £59 5s 2½d for the sports club equipment, and for cricket competitions the Bletchley and London schoolchildren were advantaged by being able to play at the Bletchley Park ground, where it was also hoped that matches could soon be arranged for the men from Bletchley Park. At present they had to be content with the Park Hotel Field, for by permission of Lady Leon only one club presently enjoyed permission to use the Bletchley Park ground. This was the Bletchley Town Cricket Club, which had been founded on February 16th, 1928, with Lieutenant Colonel Deynes presiding, and Mr. E.C. Cook as the first captain. At the rear of the Bletchley Road Post Office, at 43, Bletchley Road, the green of the Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Bowls Club opened on May 1st at 6p.m., with Mr. J. Freeman as the honorary secretary. The Reverend Wheeler had opened the St. Martin’s Bowls Club a few days before, and the Bowls Section of the Conservative Club then commenced on Wednesday, May 8th, with a match between the captains and vice captains. As for fishing, a Government order to the Angling Federation had banned the use of ground bait, cereals and paste, but with Mr. J. Parriss presiding, in May the Angling Section of the Fenny Stratford & Bletchley Working Men’s Social Club decided to nevertheless continue their activities, and competitions would be duly arranged. It was also decided that for the duration of the war those members serving with H.M. Forces could fish for free and whilst fishing may not have been a pastime of Mr. G. Brett, of the outfitter’s shop in Aylesbury Street, in his younger days he had taken full advantage whenever the local ponds froze over, by ice skating. In fact at this he excelled, and would become a county champion. Yet at the age of 84 he was now the oldest of the local traders, having during his earlier years taken over the business of Mr. White, his former employer, at premises on the corner of Aylesbury Street and Denmark Street. With the bowls season now under way, towards the end of June the Bletchley Town Bowls Club beat Bletchley Conservatives by 65 shots, and a few weeks later in the final of the Bibby-Watson Bowls Challenge Cup, played before a large crowd at the Conservative Club, Mr. H. Perry, of the Conservative Bowls Club, defeated Mr. E. Matthews, of the Bletchley and Fenny Bowls Club. This proved especially significant, since Mr. Matthews had held the Cup for the past three years. In 1887 an Archery and Lawn Tennis Club had been locally formed, whilst as for the Bletchley Lawn Tennis Club this had commenced following a general public meeting at the Park Hotel, with courts laid out in a paddock at Bracknell House, served by a private entrance from Denmark Street. As for the present time, charged at 1s each person, per hour, per court, by the end of June the Baptist Tennis Club daily offered the hire of their two grass courts, (which were available between 9a.m. and 6p.m.), and in July it was suggested that members of H.M. Forces should be allowed to use the tennis courts for a flat fee of 1s per hour. Then also on tennis affairs, at 2.30p.m. on Saturday, August 17th, a Tennis Tournament Mixed Doubles match took place at W. O. Peake’s sports ground on Denbigh Road. This had been organised by the Rodexicon Social Club, and with each couple being charged 4s - ‘tea included’ - the event raised about £3 15s, with agreement reached to hold another. On a Saturday at the end of August the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church held their fete on the Sports Ground, and not only was a display of country dancing included by the infants of the evacuated Ecclesbourne School, directed by Miss Eden and the teachers, but also a competition to find the man with odd socks! The Salvation Army band provided the music, and Weatherhead’s the P.A. equipment. During the past 12 weeks the members had raised £20 by joining a ‘Little Less Luxury’ scheme, and this left £80 needed to clear the £100 debt incurred the previous year through the purchase of hymnbooks and other equipment. Local sporting activities then came to a close at the end of October, when around 30 members of the four clubs attended the final meeting of the season of the Bletchley Bowls League.



Many local men of a sporting persuasion were now being summoned to the Forces, including a medal winning cyclist of national renown. He was L.A.C. Eric Wilkinson, of 13, Victoria Road, who would answer the call by riding his bicycle all the way from Bletchley to his R.A.F. station at Mettlesham! Also destined for the R.A.F. was Mr. H. Rees, a master at St. Paul’s Road Junior School. He had often played football for the Fenny Juniors who, at the end of the month, held a Friday evening fund raising dance at the Social Centre. Then at the end of February a decision to open the green on Wednesdays was made, at the annual meeting of the Bletchley Bowls Club. With Mr. E. Staniford presiding this was held in the Pavilion, but having been formed shortly after 1912 the Club was originally housed at the rear of the Bull Hotel, before then moving in 1937 to a site behind the sub Post Office in Bletchley Road. As for the St. Martin’s Bowls Club, a few weeks later with Mr. J. Wicks presiding it was decided at their annual meeting in St. Martin’s Hall to open their season on April 30th. For those persons more partial to tennis, they could now apply to join the St. Martin’s Lawn Tennis Club, with particulars available from Mrs. V. Lingard, at 9, St. Martin’s Road. However, there was little likelihood of extending the courts at Central Gardens, since due to the wartime conditions the adjoining land was to be left as a hay crop for another year, and therefore would not be used as allotments. In April, by charging adults 2s 6d, and boys 1s 3d, for the right to fish in the Westfield Road gravel pits, Miss Boyes had managed to send £2 14s to the Mansion House Red Cross & St. John Fund, whilst in the middle of the month a general meeting of the L.M.S. Cricket Club, chaired by Mr. S. Tetlow, made arrangements for the coming season. Indoor games then featured at the end of the month in the L.B.C. canteen, when the Transport Department earned the right to meet the ‘Drawers’ by defeating the ‘Setters’! Apart from providing local amusement, during Bletchley War Weapons Week sports and games would be an essential means to raise funds, and at a Monday meeting the Entertainments Committee duly arranged a full programme of events, to include lawn tennis, golf competitions, football and cricket matches. In addition the Council granted the use of the Central Gardens putting green and tennis courts where, on Saturday, May 24th, an ‘All American Tennis Tournament’ would take place. Therefore it was perhaps just as well that the need was now advertised for a youth, or young lady, to be employed as an attendant for the Bletchley Central Gardens putting green and tennis courts, and in order to remedy another need for the tennis courts the Water Engineer suggested that a two inch main from Cambridge Street, passing through Mr. Sharpe’s coal yard, could be laid to improve the inadequate water supply.

At the beginning of May, Mr. W. Crisp presided over a good attendance at the Bletchley Council Schools Sports’ Associations where Miss Mary Timpson, the secretary, reported that with the three lawn tennis courts on Bletchley Park Sports Ground nearly ready for use, tennis tournaments with other Bletchley clubs would soon be arranged. As for bowls, the Bletchley Town Bowls Club played their first home game of the season on Saturday, May 10th, and among some fine bowling ‘The tussles on pinks one and four proved very exciting.’ No doubt this duly proved good practice for the forthcoming match in which they would beat Luton Cocoa Works by 17 shots. Then in the middle of the month the Fenny Stratford and Bletchley Bowls Club opened their season on a Wednesday, and a match between the teams, raised by the captain and vice-captain, culminated in a victory for the former. At the beginning of July the youth organisations of Bletchley then made a representation to the Council about the inadequacy of the local bathing facilities. Mr. Wells said that a letter had been received from the Service of Youth Committee regarding the lack of suitable facilities for bathing, as distinct from swimming, but due to the wartime conditions, and a consequent shortage of labour and materials, nothing could at present be done. In fact it was said that Bletchley did have a bathing pool, of sorts, but the Medical Officer had closed this some while ago, following a condemnation of the water. As for the Fenny Stratford pool, built at the wrong angle, this was ‘a bit of a joke’, and was therefore in need of considerable finance to effect any remedial attention. No doubt appealing to the Bletchley rector, the Reverend Lloyd Milne, who accounted fishing amongst his several sporting pursuits, angling opportunities appeared more promising, and with a maximum entry of 500 participants Fletton’s Ltd. Sports Club held a Fishing Match on Sunday, July 13th, from 9.30a.m. until 1p.m. With the proceeds applied to the Red Cross, tickets, priced at 2s, could be obtained from Mr. Austin, in Bletchley Road, or else Mr. E. Cross, at 30, Duncombe Street. The 1st prize was a cup, and a reel and line, and first place went to Mr. A. Hilson, whose catch totalled 4 lbs. 7ozs. 4 drams. However, a watery theme was far from welcome during the middle of the month, when all weekend bowls and cricket matches in the town had to be cancelled due to the weather.

With one of the buildings already in use, hoping to eventually have a football and netball pitch the Bletchley Youth Organisation would soon take over the Albert Street football ground which, for many years, had been the venue for all the Bletchley Town football matches. The ground was rented from the Bletchley Co-op, and under the Service of Youth Scheme the rent and rates would be paid by the County Council, in exchange for the Organisation accepting responsibility for the upkeep. In consequence, as a means to undertake ‘national service’ the regular youth organisations now aligned themselves with the Youth Service Squads and formed a Working Party, with their objective being to transform the old Town football ground into a youth headquarters. Under the chairmanship of Mr. C. Pendrid labour would be found by the Repair Committee, and would not only transform the Pavilion into a comfortable clubroom, but also prepare the field for winter sports. With about £50 needed to start the work, the money was to be hopefully raised by public appeal, and Mrs. W. Brown being elected as the leader, the Entertainment Committee was additionally tasked to raise money by dances, concerts, etc. In fact by the end of October £5 had been raised, and the public appeal would produce contributions from Dr. Maddison, Dr. Lufkin and Mr. Gillis (Bletchley Hebrew Classes). Yet elements of the local youth seemed little impressed with these sporting endeavours and towards the end of the month five boys, (four of them evacuees), aged between 9 and 12, were summoned for causing damage estimated at £10 to the Pavilion. Mr. C. Flack, of Buckingham Road, the Society secretary, said that although in June the Pavilion had been in fairly good order, by August 105 panes of glass had been broken, and the inside panelling and a stool damaged. At the juvenile court the boys duly admitted the crime and, despite good reports being given by the School Attendance Officer and Probation Officer, they were bound over for two years, being each ordered to pay 14s. Perhaps a lesson from the 35 year old local boxing champion, Jack Beech, of Duncombe Street, might have been a suitable alternative, for despite his opponent at 11st. 4lb. having been 7lb. heavier, he had recently gained a points decision at Harpenden over Bob Eggleton, who had taken the place of Freddy Baxter, (West Hartlepool), at the last moment. A few weeks later Jack then defeated Cash Hawkins, of Battersea, at Watford, although in the eighth round he had to be rushed to Northampton hospital with a suspected fracture to a hand. Of more gentile pursuits, in mid October the season’s prizes were handed out to members of the Bletchley Conservative Bowls Club, on the occasion of their annual meeting and supper. Despite being aged 79 Mr. Charles Brooks, of 79, Bletchley Road, won the Allder Cup competition, and apart from being a keen and well known bowls enthusiast he could also trumpet other skills, having for many years been the solo cornet player of the old Fenny Stratford Town Band. Married in 1912 to the only daughter of Mr. Pacey, the ironmonger, he had spent his working life as a painter and decorator. In mid December the Council gave their official blessing to the local Service of Youth Movement, and hoped that once the initial £200 had been subscribed the Committee would become self-supporting. In fact the secretary had already appealed to the Council for a sub towards this sum, necessary to lay out the sports ground and repair the Pavilion, and although the Council could not provide the money, they suggested that local employers might oblige. The rent and rates would be paid for a year by the County Education Committee, but only on condition that the Youth Committee was willing to do something themselves.




During the 1920s the Reverend Arthur Dalton, and the deacons of the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church, had discussed the possibility of forming a uniformed youth organisation in the town, and in mid 1926 they settled for the Boys’ Life Brigade, which was due to be amalgamated with the Boys’ Brigade within a few months. Functioning for the first year with the Girls’ Life Brigade, the 1st Bletchley Company of the Boys’ Life Brigade was thus formed on September 27th, 1926, and with 11 boys enrolled it duly amalgamated with the Boys’ Brigade at the beginning of October. Two captains were elected, Miss Smith and Fred Mead, with the latter, a member of the choir, employed as a carpenter at Rowlands. Activities for the Brigade would include first aid, signalling, pioneering and P.T., and Thursday had been chosen as the meeting night. Around 1929 a bugle band was then formed, and Joe Underwood, of the Papworth Trio, would be appointed to train the drummers. From the contingent of around 30, at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist School Hall on Thursday, September 21st, five Life Boys, having reached the age limit, were transferred to the 1st Bletchley Company, Boys’ Brigade, and with the Company now numbering around 50 members, efforts would be made to start a platoon at Old Bletchley. As for the evacuated boys of the 45th London Company Boys’ Brigade, of Salters Hall Baptist Church, Islington, under the enthusiastic command of their captain, Charles Ricketts, they were run as a separate group, and held their meetings in the Temperance Hall. However, on Sunday, October 29th they would join the 1st Bletchley Company for the annual enrolment service at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church, and in fact especially for the occasion a number of those boys who had remained in London travelled down by coach with their parents and friends. For those mothers visiting their evacuated children, by December the Bletchley Girl Guides had provided a room in the Social Centre on Sundays, and from Thursday, December 14th boys aged 12 and above had the opportunity to join the new 2nd Bletchley Company Boys’ Brigade which, in connection with the Methodist churches in the town, held an inaugural meeting in the Bletchley Road Methodist Recreation Hut. Until transferring to the Yeomanry Hall, subsequent meetings would then be held in Newton Road in a ‘hut’ which, around 1936, had been erected to accommodate the congregation of a newly formed church.

Several boys from the 45th London Company The Boy's Brigade were
evecuated here and became integrated into the Bletchley Company.
The photo is of a wartime parade outside Bletchley Station. B.C.H.I



Following the Christmas holiday, the Wolf Cub pack, under Cubmaster Miss Elliott, re-commenced its activities and would meet every Wednesday at 4.15p.m. in the Vicarage Room. This also served as the headquarters for the Scouts, who held their meetings on Mondays at 7.15p.m. As for the Rover Scouts, their ‘den’ lay in Westfield Road and, with the Reverend Snell as the chaplain, they met on Mondays and Thursdays. Including six companies from London, during January nine Boys’ Brigade companies were represented at the New Year party of the 1st Bletchley Company Boys’ Brigade, and with Mr. E. Staniford acting as M.C. this was held in the schoolroom of the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church. About 100 of the boys had been evacuated to the surrounding district, and especially for the event they were collected by car. With blood tests to be arranged by the Royal Bucks. Hospital, at the end of the month the Bletchley Rover Scout Crew offered their assistance in the blood transfusion scheme, and in consequence Mr. Victor Adkins, who had volunteered the use of his car, took five members to the hospital. Here blood grouping and tests duly took place, and also assisting the war effort were the Junior Imperial League who, on March 9th, held their ‘social’ for Red Cross funds. For the 1st Bletchley Company Boys’ Brigade there would soon be a well deserved prestige when, for the first time in 14 years, the King’s Badge was awarded to a member of the Company. This was the highest honour possible, and was presented to Colour Sergeant Douglas Garratt, of Westfield Road. During April the annual inspection and display of the Company then took place in the Senior School Hall, and, with the evacuated boys having contributed to the programme, the assembly paraded under the direction of the Captain, Mr. E. Staniford and Mr. Ricketts, Captain of the 45th London Company. The end of the month then witnessed a meeting of parents and other interested parties to organise a Group Committee for the newly formed 1st Fenny Stratford (St. Martin’s) Scout Group. Including Mr. Grainger Cox, the officers were duly elected, and a while later the Group held a camp at Great Brickhill in camouflaged tents. On St. George’s Day the Scouts, Rovers and Guides then attended a communion in St. Mary’s Church, where they publicly renewed their vows to keep the Scout and Guide laws, and in fact in keeping with these ideals the Rover Scouts had been busy re-decorating the vestry of St. Margaret’s Church. On the evening of Saturday, May 10th a surprise awaited the officers and N.C.O.s of the 1st Bletchley Company Boys’ Brigade when they visited an Inspection and Display of the 45th London Company (Islington). This was held at the Newington Green L.C.C. school, and at the close of proceedings on behalf of the Company the Captain, Mr. Ricketts, unexpectedly presented the Captain of the Bletchley Company with a silver bugle, on which had been suitably inscribed; ‘Presented to the 1st Bletchley Company as a mark of appreciation for the helping hand given to their evacuated brothers of the 45th London Company.’

Towards the end of the month the Girl Guides of the 2nd Bletchley Methodist Company gave a concert in the Salvation Army Hall and, unless there were serious air raids on the country, it was now announced that during July the 1st Bletchley Company Boys’ Brigade would camp at Aldwich, near Bognor Regis. However, this had to be cancelled when the Government announced a ban on all camps within 10 miles of the sea, and although as an alternative a camp site in South Buckinghamshire would be initially considered, in the event the 16 officers and boys instead spent 10 days at a wooden chalet by the River Ouse in Pavenham, Bedfordshire. With swimming and games adding to the enjoyment two hired boats found a constant use, and great entertainment was caused when one fully clad officer managed to fall off a punt! At the end of the month the Colours of the newly formed 1st Fenny Stratford Scout Group were dedicated in St. Martin’s Church, whilst for the companies of the Boys’ Brigade the captains had now arranged for their members to receive instruction in home defence. The beginning of August witnessed the formation of a company of Girl Guides and Brownies for St. Mary’s Church, with Miss Herbert, an assistant at Elmers Grammar School, elected to be ‘Brown Owl.’ The Brownies met at The Rectory on Wednesdays, and the Guides on Fridays, and in early October the Girl Guides District Commissioner, Mrs. J. Lloyd Milne, enrolled five new members of the St. Martin’s Girl Guides who, as part of their activities, were hoping to adopt the crew of a minesweeper and supply them with knitted garments. In a race across fields, woods and streams, on Wednesday, August 21st members of the 1st Bletchley Company Boys’ Brigade competed with members of the 1st Fenny Stratford (St. Martin’s) Boy Scouts, in a contest that ended in a victory for the Boys’ Brigade. In fact the winner, Clifford Healey, had endured a handicap of 1½ minutes. On Christmas morning a Bible class was held by the Boys’ Brigade, and so began a tradition whereby a Boys’ Brigade Bible was presented to every member who had reached their second year in the Company. Indeed many would then take their Bibles with them when they joined the Forces. Towards the end of the year the annual ‘week’ of the Boys’ Brigade realised the sum of £23 3s in collections, and Thomas Allen of 10, Saffron Street also had something to be proud of when he received the Parchment of the Royal Humane Society. He was a Patrol Leader in the 1st Fenny Stratford (St. Martin’s) Boy Scouts, and during August had saved nine year old Cyril Ellis, of 31, Saffron Street, from drowning when he got into difficulties whilst bathing in the Mill Pond, at Water Eaton. Concluding the year, on Saturday, December 30th, with the Guides and Brownies as their guests the 1st Fenny Stratford (St. Martin’s) Boy Scouts Group held their first annual party in St. Martin’s Hall, and accompanied on the piano by the Rover chaplain, the Reverend J. O’Snell, Private Douglas Cliffe, ‘an old Scout’, gave a ventriloquist act and further entertained the audience with his various impressions.



On behalf of the 2nd Bletchley (Methodist) Girl Guides, on Thursday evening, January 2nd, Captain E. M. Munday and Lieutenant M. Cook arranged the entertainment for 25 members of their troop in the headquarters, where games were played and refreshments served, and tea and games were again on the agenda in early January, when the Reverend Arthur Yates invited the 20 members of the newly formed Girls’ League to a New Year’s meeting in the Bletchley Road Methodist Church. Then in commemoration of the work of Lord Baden Powell a Sunday afternoon service took place towards the end of the month. With a large turnout of Scouts and Guides this was held in St. Martin’s Church, and at the Scouts headquarters in February in emphasis of their worthy ideals Sir Walter Carlile, the County Commissioner of the Boy Scouts Association, presented a well deserved medal for gallantry to Tom Allen. As previously mentioned he had rescued Cyril Ellis from drowning, and whilst that might have been an occasion needing a stiff drink, the problem of drinking in wartime was just one of the topics debated at the end of the month by the Methodist Youth Circle when, one Tuesday evening, they paid a visit to the Baptist Young People’s Fellowship. No doubt the subject posed an intellectual challenge, as also would perhaps the probability that ‘the modern use of Sunday is not profitable to the spiritual welfare of the nation.’ It had now been decided to form a youth organisation for the town, and with Mr. E. Cook presiding the meeting resolved that this would be solely for those not involved with the present movements. Representing the Boy Scouts, amongst those elected to the committee was John Oliffe, and responding to the many enquiries from boys the chairman said that he had now asked the Air Ministry to form an A.T.C. squadron in the town. Thus on February 28th this was duly formed as Bletchley Squadron No. 356, and with Flying Officer E.C. Jones as the Commanding Officer, for details and an enrolment form boys aged between 16 and 18 were to apply to Mr. E. Cook, the Senior School headmaster. Established less than two years before the war, in fact the ‘Air Defence Cadet Corps’ had originally been the creation of the secretary General of the Air League of the British Empire, Air Commodore J. Chamier, and was intended to provide an organisation ‘which would combine service to the country with practical instruction.’ Cadets would receive training to include airmanship, drill, technical instruction and discipline, and as for the Bletchley squadron, having with regards to a commission attended an interview at Oxford on May 14th, Flying Officer Jones would remain as the Commanding Officer until October 23rd, 1942, when promoted to a headship elsewhere. For a short while he would then be replaced by Flying Officer Bliss, until his promotion to Postmaster at Wokingham.

At the beginning of March members of the Bletchley Girl Guides and 1st Fenny Stratford (St. Martin’s) Scout Troop attended a ceremony at which Adjutant Warren, Scout Organiser of London, formally inaugurated the Salvation Army Corps Boy Scout Troop. Assisted by Mr. McLelland, Mr. Parker was appointed as Scoutmaster, and there would be two Patrols. Also during the month, at a Tuesday evening meeting of the newly formed Bletchley Section of the Youth Organisation ‘Service organisations’ were formed, and with Ken Healey as the chairman the leaders were elected to form the ‘Service Squads.’ In these youths under the age of 20 would register at the County Education Offices for any type of national work, and in fact one of the squads had already promised to provide help in the gardens of those men who were engaged on national defence work. Attracting a good attendance, on a Friday in mid March the newly formed Youth Organisation then held its first dance in Bletchley Road Senior School Hall, with music provided by a radiogram, operated by Mr. John Oliffe. The Bletchley Scout Troop met in Bletchley Road Infants’ School Hall on a Monday towards the end of the month. With assistance from a number of local people the Troop, for boys aged 11 and above, had been formed by the Reverend Yates, with himself as the Scout Master, and plans were now announced by Mrs. Croney to create a new Cub Pack for boys aged 8 to 10. On a Monday evening this duly met for the first time at Bletchley Road Infants’ School Hall, which was also the venue for the first meeting of another venture by Mrs. Croney, the Methodist Church Brownie pack, for girls aged between 8 and 10. As for another Brownie pack, this was soon to commence at the Freeman Memorial Church under the charge of Mrs. Pitkin, and would be for the benefit of those girls in Far Bletchley. The end of April witnessed a good attendance at the Saturday evening Boys’ Brigade annual inspection and display. This was directed by their Captain, E. Staniford, and, with a display of semaphore signalling included amongst the activities, a stirrup pump party demonstrated the procedure for dealing with incendiary bombs. On the evening of Wednesday, April 30th, members of the new 3rd Bletchley Company of Guides were enrolled at the Freeman Memorial Church, to which the Company was attached. Mrs. J. Lloyd Milne, the District Commissioner, presided, whilst one Saturday evening the first display of the 1st Fenny Stratford (St. Martin’s) Scout Troop and Wolf Cub pack was given in St. Martin’s Hall. Based on the theme of ‘a day in camp’, the display included jungle dances, and afterwards a ceremony took place to transfer five Cubs to the Scouts. During the first week of July, Scouts of the 1st Fenny Stratford (St. Martin’s) group began regular weekend work on local farms, helping the farmers on whose ground they camped, whilst as for other activities, in the middle of the month the 2nd Bletchley Scout Group enjoyed a successful, if damp, Saturday hike. Then towards the end of the month 15 members of the Boys’ Brigade left on a Wednesday for a 10 day camp at Pavenham, and others would follow at the weekend, to enjoy not only various boat trips but also visits to Bedford.

At the end of the month about 20 Scouts repeated their promise of duty before both the Scoutmaster, the Reverend A. Yates, and his assistant, Mr. D. Holt, and at an investiture service held in Bletchley Road Infants’ School they were lead by Patrol Leaders John Sipthorp, John Tolton and James Aldridge, all of whom were members of the 2nd Bletchley Methodist Troop. On Sunday, July 27th, the first of a series of open air services was then held, initiated by the United Christian Council. Three Scout Troops and a Company of the Boys’ Brigade paraded with representatives of the local Anglican and Free Churches, and the two processions, one from St. Mary’s and one from St. Martin’s Church, then combined for a service outside the Studio. For his impending departure in August, (to join the R.A.F.), Assistant Scoutmaster Jack Lambourne was presented by the 1st Fenny Stratford Boy Scouts with a book and fountain pen at St. Martin’s Vicarage. Otherwise, the boy’s time was increasingly being taken up in helping to erect the Morrison indoor shelters, which were now being distributed to local householders, whilst regarding boys of other youth organisations, during the month about 75 members of the 48th Hampstead and 64th Paddington A.T.C. Squadrons spent a fortnight in Bletchley, sleeping in the Bletchley Road Schools and helping with the harvest and farm work. On more recreational matters, members of the 1st Fenny Stratford Scouts then enjoyed a weekend camp at Water Eaton over the weekend of August 15th, 16th, and one Saturday at the end of the month three of the Scouts passed their test for the Swimmers Badge. In early September the Bletchley Youth Organisation took over the Albert Street football ground. For many years this had been a venue for the Bletchley Town football matches, and with the facility owned by the County Council, subject to the Youth Organisation accepting responsibility for the upkeep they allowed a rent free agreement. As a means to comply with their requirements for national service, the regular youth organisations now lined up with Youth Service Squads to create a ‘Working Party’, which, with one of the buildings to be used as a Youth Organisation club, would then transform the old ground into a youth headquarters. Labour to convert the Pavilion into a comfortable clubroom, and to also prepare the field for winter sports, was to be found by the Repair Committee, under the chairmanship of Mr. C. Pendrid, and donations for the work included contributions from Dr. Maddison, Dr. Lufkin and Mr. Gillis (Bletchley Hebrew Classes). As for the Entertainments Committee, with Mrs. W. Brown as the leader this aimed to raise funds by dances, concerts, etc., which by the end of the month had realised the sum of £5. Elsewhere, towards the end of September a new Methodist Scout Group had been formed and, including the Guides, there were now four active groups. A fifth would start shortly, as also it was hoped a Rangers Group. Good progress was also being made with the A.T.C., and there were now 69 members. As for other activities, in mid October a three months patrol competition, between the Fenny Stratford and St. Martin’s Scout Troops, culminated one Monday evening in the presentation of a bronze statuette to the winners, the Owl Patrol, (with Alec Barrett as Patrol Leader), and a week or so later the 1st Bletchley Boys’ Brigade then had a hoot at Witney, Oxon., where on a Sunday they underwent an intensive training course.

With the arrival of November, it had now been nine months since the formation of the Salvation Army Life Saving Scout Troop, and this now met on Mondays in the Salvation Army Hall. Including eight brass instrumentalists, there were 24 members and among the leaders were included an ex-R.A.F. pilot, a solo cornetist and a chaplain! A Meccano Guild Club was also being run in conjunction with the Troop, and it was thus hoped to attract boys aged between 11 and 16 to the art of model building. As for the formation of a Salvation Army Troop of Guides, Miss E. Whatley arranged a Wednesday concert in the Salvation Army Hall. Scouts of the 1st Fenny Stratford (St. Martin’s) Group enjoyed an exciting exercise on Saturday, November 1st, when acting as enemy parachutists a patrol took one of the defenders hostage and then remained in hiding until eventually discovered. New recruits were always welcome, and during a short investiture in St. Martin’s Church before the assembled Troop five new members of the 1st Fenny Stratford Scout Troop repeated the Scout promise. Despite the leaders of the Scout Group being in the Forces, as also were all the members of the Rover Crew, the Group nevertheless continued to perform many useful tasks such as haymaking, and as a break from their labours they had been away on several weekend camps. Of a more novel activity, as a substitute for the usual outdoor campfires on Wednesday, November 12th Scouts of the 1st Fenny Stratford Troop held a ‘Radio Campfire’ in St. Martin’s Vicarage Room, with each patrol performing a number of skits on popular radio features and old camping choruses. In Bletchley Road Methodist Church, at the end of the month the Reverend A. Yates, Group Scoutmaster, then held a Sunday service for the presentation of flags to the newly formed 2nd Bletchley Scout Troop. Due to the blitz on Coventry, having been housed in a city church the colours of the Coventry Battalion of the Boys’ Brigade had been destroyed, and the 1st Bletchley Company Boys’ Brigade now set about funding a replacement. £20 had been raised by personal contributions, and the auction of foreign stamps and other valuables, but since the silk needed to manufacture a replacement could not be obtained, a cheque was instead paid to the Coventry Brigade. In fact after the war the first silk to be made ‘not for export’ would be allocated to the Coventry Battalion, and in July, 1950, at a ceremony in the city one Tuesday evening the new colours would be dedicated, in the presence of three officers and the staff sergeant of the Bletchley Brigade. During early December, one Saturday a rally of Bletchley Girl Guide companies was held in the Bletchley Road Infants’ Hall. This had been organised by Mrs. J. Lloyd Milne, the District Commissioner, whilst a few days later N.C.O.s of the 1st Bletchley Boys’ Brigade attended Luton Technical College for a weekend training course. Bringing the year to a close, in summing up the recent Civil Defence and ‘invasion’ exercises Mr. A. Bates, the A.R.P. Controller, said in an interview that he was well pleased with the way in which they had been conducted. From aerial bombing to a land invasion various scenarios had been presented in the town, and with the Home Guard platoon having sent scouts to discover the ‘enemy’ position, while they were away Boy Scouts helped trail the ‘invaders’, and thus provide vital information to the Home Guard.


(1938 - 1941)

Shortly after the outbreak of war, by the abduction of two British Secret Service agents near Venlo, on the border between northern Holland and Germany, the Germans gained a great deal of information about the British Intelligence service, including the whereabouts of the Government Code and Cipher School at Bletchley Park. Fortunately the Germans overestimated the security of their codes, and no deliberate bombing of Bletchley Park took place. However, as if in a belated reprisal on February 25th, 1944 bombers of the Ninth U.S. Air Force attacked the Luftwaffe airfield at Venlo, although not without tragic loss. - U.S.A.A.F.

The confidence of the Germans in their Enigma coding system would cost them dear, despite their early knowledge that the Government Code and Cipher School, ‘G.C.& C.S.’ was located at Bletchley. This had been revealed following the ‘Venlo incident’, which some two months after the outbreak of war had occurred when two British agents, Major Richard Stevens, and Captain Sigismund Payne Best, drove in the company of a Dutch Army intelligence officer from The Hague to an afternoon rendezvous at the Café Backus. This was situated a short distance from a customs post near Venlo, on the border between the neutral Netherlands and Germany, and although the agents had been advised not to go, they disregarded this warning and proceeded to the meeting, which was supposedly to be held with a German general plotting an alleged coup against Hitler. As they approached the Café their German contact acknowledged them with a wave, but in reality he was a Major in the S.S. and suddenly a car, on the running boards of which men firing machine guns were standing, pulled in front of their vehicle. With the Dutch officer mortally wounded the British agents were then hurriedly bundled into the car, and driven at speed over the border into Germany. During subsequent interrogations, although they were never tortured the two agents revealed a wealth of information regarding the British intelligence service, and in fact in a subsequent German intelligence summary prepared for Operation Sealion - the proposed invasion of Britain - regarding the British code breakers the ominous mention was contained that ‘Stevens says most of the staff have moved to Bletchley.’ Yet in confirmation that the Germans paid little attention to the revelations no mass bombing was ever launched, and the bombs that Bletchley did endure caused no substantial damage to the Bletchley Park huts. Indeed it was just as well that Bletchley was spared from such attention, for many of the local brick kilns would be used as a storage facility for mountains of ammunition!

Sir Herbert Leon.

The Leon family, of considerable wealth, came to England - supposedly from Spain - in 1790. By the early 19* century they had made their home at Brighton, and they increased their fortune by becoming early members of the London Stock Exchange. In 1883 the estate of Bletchley Park and Home Farm was purchased by Herbert Samuel Leon. Born on February 11 th, 1850, he was the second son of George Leion, of Portman Square, London, a 'stern' Jewish financier who had founded the stock exchange frim of Leon Brothers. Probably privately educated, Herbert married in 1873 but his wife, by whom he had two children, (a son and daughter), died two years later. In 1880 he then married Fanny Hyam, aand with two children born of this union - Reginald and Maggie -the couple made their home in London, and also Linslade. However, on purchasing Blechley Park the family dispensed with the Linslade address, although they later acquired properties in Broadstairs, Kent, and Ballater, in Scotland. On acquiring Bletchley Park, Herbert, the head of Leon Brothers, in Throgmorton Street, took a keen interst in farming, and apart from keeping sheep he purchased a number of shorthorn cattle in 1900. Soon his enterprise at Home Farm became very successful and, earning an international reputation for cattle breeding, in 1916 with his entry of a shorthorn bull calf, appropriately called 'Bletchley Promise', he won a first at the Buenos Aires International Exhibition. Despite the family spending much of their time in America, during their ownership Bletchley Park was architecturally much extended , and indeed the pillars in the entrance were even bought from Italy. Pursuing political ambitions, Herbert became the Liberal candidate for North Bucks, in 1891, and, by 436 votes, he was successful in the General Election of 1892. - Bletchley U.D.C.

The country estate of Bletchley Park had been purchased in 1883 by Herbert Leon, later created Sir Herbert Leon. He was a London financier, and after his death in 1926 his widow, Lady Fanny Leon, would remain at the mansion until she died in 1937. The Bletchley Park estate was then put up for sale, and early in 1938 Lot 1, including the mansion, was purchased by a local syndicate headed by a local builder, Hubert Faulkner. He often played a prominent role in such local projects and in fact off Denbigh Road he had started the gravel works, which would appropriately become known as the ‘gravel pits.’ Hubert, (employing his father for a while), had between the wars been responsible for building many houses in Bletchley, including examples in Water Eaton Road and Eaton Avenue, whilst regarding his current interest in Bletchley Park the syndicate proposed to demolish the mansion and redevelop the area as housing. However, with the imminence of war the Secret Service was investigating suitable locations to accommodate the Government Code and Cipher School, as a refuge from the expected bombing of London, and with excellent road and rail links to the Capital, as well as the branch railway lines to Oxford and Cambridge, (the Universities of which were the preferred source of graduates), soon Bletchley became of increasing interest. In consequence, with the cost underwritten by the Chamberlain Government Bletchley Park was privately bought by Admiral Sir Hugh ‘Quex’ Sinclair, ‘C’ of the Secret Service, and being fully aware of the threat posed by Hitler he would shortly write a 15 page assessment of the Fuhrer. Compiled for the Foreign secretary and the Prime Minister, indeed the content was not far removed from the truth, and included the passage that ‘Among his characteristics are fanaticism, mysticism, ruthlessness, cunning, vanity, moods of exaltation and depression, fits of bitter and self-righteous resentment; and what can only be termed a streak of madness.’ Therefore it was just as well that shortly before the Munich Crisis of September, 1938, a series of trial runs to Bletchley Park from the code breakers headquarters at Broadway had been made, with the true nature of these journeys masked by the personnel pretending to be ‘Captain Ridley’s Hunting Party’ - he being the man in charge of the move. Yet it was soon realised that vast numbers of personnel would be required for the code breaking task, and for their accommodation additional premises would be urgently needed. Thus on November 25th, 1938, Captain Ridley, representing the Government, paid an afternoon visit to Mr. E.C. Cook, the headmaster of the Bletchley Road Senior School, and asked for an appointment to be made for the following Tuesday, when a deputation would arrive at the premises ‘in order to ascertain its full accommodation, as in case of war it could probably be required for other purposes.’ Mr. Cook duly directed the matter to the secretary for Education, and in consequence when on the afternoon of November 29th Captain Ridley and a senior official again visited the school they were handed a letter, and following their departure no more was heard about the matter. As for Bletchley Park, (codenamed, at least initially, ‘Station X’), a move proper from Broadway then took place in August, 1939. The staff travelled down in three motor coaches, branching off at Heath and Reach for the final leg to their new accommodation, and with the subsequent declaration of war the immediate future of the code breakers was assured.

The former Crown inn, Shenley Brook End.
Once run by the farming Emerson family, from whom the estate of Emerson Valley in Milton Keynes takes its name, dating from the late 1700s the pub closed in February, 1959, since the modest custom could not justify the expense of updating the toilet facilities to the required standard. Nevertheless, certain features still remind of the original trade and serving on occasion as barman for much of the war the Crown provided lodgings for Alan Turing, whose achievements proved essential for the success of the Bletchley Park code breakers. In the early days of the war, with the threat of a German invasion Alan had devised a cunning plan, and converting his savings into silver bars he loaded them aboard an old pram and trundled off to bury his loot in the local countryside. Unfortunately, after the war he was unable to remember the location. - J. Taylor.

Having in 1936 developed the idea that all solvable problems could be calculated using algorithms - a concept which would have a significant influence on the development of computing - Alan Turing reported for duty at Bletchley Park on September 4th, 1939. He would be billeted at the Crown Inn, at Shenley Brook End, but his career might have suffered an early demise when bombs fell not 100 yards from his lodgings. Fortunately he was away at the time on a visit to Cambridge, having left the day before, and although no harm came to anyone, the elderly Mr. & Mrs. Roberts had to leave their village home and stay at the inn, since the explosions had caused their ceilings to fall in. Alan Turing became instrumental in the success of the Bletchley Park operation, and indeed he claimed some association with the local area, since the family had moved to Bedford following his father‘s death. Alan Mathison Turing was born on June 23rd, 1912, in a Paddington nursing home, the son of Julius Turing, the rector of Edwinstowe, and perhaps as an indication of his inventive mind at an early age he had a novel idea to encourage his toy soldiers to grow, by planting them in the ground. In his future education he would study under Einstein, and at Bletchley Park he soon became known as the ‘Prof', wild as to hair and clothes and conventions.’ In fact this proved a trait common to many of the personnel of the brilliant ‘professor type’ and perhaps Professor ‘Josh’ Cooper, of the Air Section, could be said to best personify the type, ‘the archetypal absent-minded academic - slightly deaf, incredibly unkempt in dress, dark hair flopping over his face, hair which he constantly brushed back with a vaguely irritated gesture.’ Yet mention must also be made of those French and Polish intelligence personnel who were not able to escape at the start of the German onslaught, for although many were caught and subjected to brutal interrogation, despite their substantial knowledge of the code breaking activities not one gave away any hint that the Enigma secret had been compromised. In fact following the Fall of France a German investigation into French code breaking would conclude that there was no cause for alarm. Yet unbeknown to the Germans they did have cause for alarm, since at the French organisation in Paris the first wartime breaks into Enigma had been made towards the end of 1939 by the Poles, with the help of G.C.& C.S. With the Fall of France the Paris organisation then rapidly dispersed, but fortunately the first British built ‘bombe’, an electro mechanical device designed earlier in the year to hasten the code breaking process, became ready by the end of May, 1940. The work was undertaken by the British Tabulating Machinery factory at Letchworth, and the models constructed were not only more powerful than the Polish type, but also differed in design. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge would provide the most suitable personnel for Bletchley Park, but this would prove rather a mixed blessing for most of the infamous Cambridge spies would come to have, in one respect or another, wartime associations with the code breaking centre. Yet this was possibly not surprising, since in the view of MI6 ‘Anyone who was not pro-German was all right for us!’ Anthony Blunt had talent spotted the John Cairncross, a Glaswegian, whilst teaching him at Cambridge, and in 1942 because of his fluency in German Cairncross found employment at Bletchley Park as an editor in Hut 3, dealing with air intelligence intercepts. During his career, via Blunt he would then covertly supply his Soviet masters with a mass of deciphered information. Amongst the others with Soviet sympathies was Kim Philby, an economics graduate from Trinity College, but although he applied to join the Bletchley operation he was turned down, on the grounds that the position offered insufficient money! Nevertheless, having separated from his first wife he then became romantically involved with a ‘fiercely patriotic’ young lady, who worked with the Bletchley code breakers.

For the while the British remained blissfully unaware of these unwelcome infiltrations, and from the radio interceptions made at various locations - from the North of Scotland to Dorset - the first decodes of operational value became available during the Norwegian campaign, in 1940. More traditional methods also proved of benefit to the Bletchley code breakers, and the agent ‘Cynthia’ would even manage to infiltrate the embassy of Vichy France, seduce the Press Officer, and then secure his assistance in copying the cipher books from the embassy safe. Of the five widely spaced interception sites the most important for the monitoring of Enigma traffic became that of the RA.F. ‘Y service’ at Chicksands Priory, Bedfordshire, and as the information from Bletchley became more copious, urgent intercepts were sent by teleprinter to London, with the rest being rushed through by despatch rider. The term ‘Ultra’, as applied to the Bletchley information, had been the name first given to the old Admiral’s Code at Trafalgar, but for the Prime Minister the intelligence was known as ‘Boniface’, since the early decrypts circulated in Whitehall were said to have been reports received from an agent of that name. Maintaining the secrecy of the real source was of course paramount, and when distributed the decodes were invariably prefixed with such feints as ‘recovered from a waste paper basket’, or ‘from a reliable source.’ From uncertain beginnings the subsequent intelligence proved of incalculable value, and in early 1940 the different Enigma systems, referred to by colours, were divided amongst the chief cryptanalysts. They were allocated huts in the grounds outside the Bletchley mansion, whilst those sections dealing with translation and interpretation were accommodated in other huts. In fact the previously mentioned Hubert Faulkner would be much involved in providing this accommodation, (a role for which he was afforded the military title of Captain), and continuing his building interests after the war, in 1952 he would negotiate the sale of a site in Bletchley Road for a Woolworth’s store, which maintained the Bletchley Park tradition by being initially housed in a pre-fabricated building!

Elmers School, (now the site of the Elmers Park housing development), was the victim of wartime bomb damage, as were several other properties in the area.
Having remained derelict following the ravages of a fire, Elmers was demolished during recent years but was nearly demolished through enemy bombing during World War Two. The imposing residence had originally been the home of the Selby Lowndes family and of the children of Richard Selby Lowndes, whose tomb may be seen near the porch of St. Mary's church, a son, Reginald William, was born at Bletchley Cottage in January 1853. Unfortunately he did not survive infancy. Of the eight daughters, who became known as the eight belles, (from which the nearby pub - previously known as the Old Bells - took its name), Eleanora became the second wife of Sir John French, 1st Earl of Ypres. In June 1920 Elmers came up for sale by the direction of Mrs. Richard Selby Lowndes, who was leaving the district, and the substantial premises, which accommodated 13 bedrooms, four reception rooms and 'a park like meadow' of seven acres, were bought for use as a school by Professor Alfred Holloway. He had previously dispensed education from a building in Bletchley Road which, built in 1891, after being purchased from Mr. Holloway for £1,250 became a centre for the Conservative Club, founded in 1930. Then being used by the code breakers at Bletchley Park, Elmers suffered damage including that to a classroom during World War Two, when on November 20lh, 1940 high explosive bombs were dropped in the vicinity, damaging several houses in Church Green Road. In fact rather ironic, since it was here that at 'Linthorpe' lived Arthur Bates, the A.R.P. Officer and District Sub Controller. The bombs brought down telephone wires and an electric standard, which fell blocking the road, and as a cause for further apprehension on other occasions bombs were variously dropped near the town including a high explosive bomb at Borough Farm, Newton Longville, on September 8lh, 1940. This damaged 10 yards of hedging, and in early October four high explosive bombs fell on open fields, with incendiary bombs dropped later in the month at Galley Lane Farm and a field next to the Pulman Cafe. Then on November 15*, 1940 two high explosive bombs fell a mile south east of Bletchley, causing slight damage to glass. Insurance against war damage had been prudently stopped by the insurance companies two years before the outbreak of the war, and in consequence in 1940 with the cost of the payments to be recouped by an Inland Revenue scheme the War Damages Commission was set up. This would provide financial compensation to those people who had suffered damage to their land and/or buildings through enemy action, and the local authority was directed to categorize the extent of damage into four sub headings; a) Total destruction b) Damage so severe that demolition was necessary c) Severely damaged but capable of repair i) still usable ii) evacuated or to be evacuated d) slightly damaged (excluding broken windows only). Four copies of the report were then to be made - one to be kept, one for the District Valuer of the area, one for the Ministry of Health, and one for the Regional Office of the Ministry of Health. Taking charge at the scene of any 'major occurrence' would be Incident Officers, supplied by the police, and they would fully assess the situation so as to be able to provide guidance to the arriving emergency services. An Incident Officer's post would be marked by a blue and white check flag and two blue lamps, set one above the other, and in the event of a severe disruption to communications the A.R.P. service would be able to use the organised system of the police, which enabled the delivery of urgent messages by car to the Regional Headquarters at Reading. Two routes were routinely available, but contingency plans were always in place for alternatives.

In January, 1940, the first tentative breaks into the German air force Enigma were made but ironically this was because the War Office had undertaken the interception in the mistaken belief that they were Army traffic. Nevertheless, as one of the initial achievements Ultra would provide details of the speed of the German advance, and so allow time to organise the ‘little armada’ for the evacuation from Dunkirk. At this most crucial period of the war Ultra now began to confirm the policy of Reichsmarschall Hermann Goring to send large formations of fighters over Britain, and so entice the RA.F. into the air and destroy more of their dwindling numbers. In fact on ‘Eagle Day’, at the height of the Battle of Britain the decodes via Hut 6 revealed the seven airfields threatened, and so allowed Air Chief Marshall Dowding, the Commander in Chief of Fighter Command, to preserve his main strength by meeting each challenge with just a squadron or two. With his lonely knowledge of the Ultra secret he could not of course explain the reasons for this tactic, and so for many years was misunderstood, and sadly not afforded the due recognition for his achievements. Had a German invasion taken place, the buses which stood constantly ready at Bletchley Park would have taken the key personnel to Milford Haven, and thence by warship to the United States. However, it would be the Americans who came to Bletchley Park, for in the summer of 1940 Bill Donovan, the envoy of the President of the United States, paid a visit, unaware that the code breakers could read, or would shortly be able to read, the ciphers of the U.S. State Department, at least until Pearl Harbour. In fact many Americans would eventually be employed at Bletchley Park, with the intelligence division, (the 6813th Signal Detachment of the U.S. Army, under the command of Major William Bundy), being provided with off duty accommodation at the since demolished Manor House at Little Brickhill. From mid 1940 British military intelligence attached a small traffic analysis team to G.C.& C.S., thus enabling the personnel to work at the point where the traffic was intercepted, and this proved of such benefit that demands for the whole of the traffic analysis staff to be accommodated at Bletchley Park were made. However, the proposal met firstly with objections on the basis that the operation should remain a cryptographic operation, and secondly - since some 70 officers would be involved - because suitable accommodation was not available, with some of the present personnel having to be billeted as far away as Bedford. Yet the cryptographic needs remained paramount, and in emphasis of this importance the decoding of a report from the Vichy French naval attaché in Athens, on October 9th, 1940, revealed indications that the Yugoslav General Staff feared German action to be imminent, against both Yugoslavia and Greece. Then by November, 1940, a sufficient mastery had been achieved of the air force Enigma to reveal the forthcoming policy of the enemy to launch large scale raids on Britain’s industrial areas, the ‘Blitz’, and in a further advance, in December, 1940, the breaking of the hand cipher of the Abwehr revealed clues about the German intent to invade Russia.

As for the naval Enigma, with the decodes of the Italian traffic having been reduced to a meagre flow the German naval intelligence, initially investigated by Alan Turing, working alone in Hut 8, proved difficult to break, and at first G.C.&C.S. made little significant progress with the naval ciphers. Yet more optimistically, in February, 1941, G.C.&C.S. then broke a variant of Enigma used by the German railway administration which, combined with the air force Enigma and other sources, then gave timely warning of the attacks on Greece and Crete. In fact during the attack on Greece decrypts at Bletchley Park of the Italian air force ciphers revealed the targets for the following day, and transmitted direct from G.C.&C.S. to R.A.F. headquarters in Greece, these enabled fighters to be waiting on station above the threatened locations. As opposed to the electro mechanical sophistication of Enigma, at first the British had transmitted the decoded information by means of the ‘one time pad’, but later the Typex machine was employed which, with strict operating procedures in force, proved so secure that the Germans stopped trying to read such traffic in 1941. Nevertheless, for obvious reasons of security only summaries of Ultra would be transmitted. A word for word transcription could well have compromised the entire secret, and also for reasons of security standing instructions forbade any personnel with knowledge of Ultra to place themselves in a situation which might result in their capture. Yet having contravened this rule a Major of the U.S. Third Army became a prisoner of the Germans, and was only prevented from revealing the Ultra secret under an imminent interrogation when killed during an Allied bombing raid.

In February 1940, Enigma equipment had been retrieved by the British from the U-Boat U33, which, first launched on June 11th, 1936, had been sunk on an operation to lay mines. Success against the Italians then came on October 18th, 1940, when, after a hunt which lasted a day in the western Mediterranean, the destroyer Wrestler depth charged the Italian submarine Durbo to the surface, and before the vessel sank the signal books and secret charts were retrieved from the control room. However, a special effort was now mounted by Naval Intelligence and G.C.&C.S. to seize a complete German Enigma machine and settings, and in consequence U-Boat U110 was captured on May 9th, 1941, with not only the cipher equipment intact, but also the special settings for ‘officer only’ signals. As for the capture of the armed trawler ‘Krebs’, this enabled G.C.&C.S. to read the whole of the traffic for February, April and much of May, 1941, but since this was in the so-called Home Key, (Home Waters), the Foreign Key still remained elusive. Nevertheless, the study of the deciphered information led the naval section at Bletchley Park to realise that weather ships were being kept on station by the Germans, both north of Iceland and in the mid Atlantic, and although their routine reports were transmitted in the weather cipher, the ships nevertheless carried the full naval Enigma machine. Therefore for this reason the weather ship ‘Munchen’ was captured on May 7th, 1941, and with the Enigma and settings subsequently recovered, G.C.&C.S. could now read almost all of the June traffic. Then to retain this ability, towards the end of June the destroyer ‘Tartar’, accompanied by a cruiser and another destroyer, sailed in search of the weather reporting ship ‘Lauenburg’, which was supposedly situated in the general direction of Jan Mayen island. Indeed, the vessel was discovered on June 25th, 1941, and with practice shells fired to burst above the ship, this caused the Germans to hurriedly abandon the vessel. Many papers were then recovered by a boarding party, and this information allowed G.C.&C.S. to read the whole of the traffic for July. Not surprisingly more cryptographic staff were now being recruited for G.C.&C.S., and with six ‘bombes’ available by the end of June, one was always available for naval use. The Germans also used aircraft to gather weather information, and they radioed their data back to their base in a code that was known to the British. However, on a regular basis this was then retransmitted in the more advanced code employed by seaborne operational units, and thus by comparing the two versions the current settings of the Enigma machines could be gleaned, and so enable messages of a greater importance to be unravelled. It was for this reason that German aircraft on weather missions were never molested!

The mansion, Bletchley Park.
'To look at you, one would not think you held so many secrets, but I know better and I am proud of you.' So said Winston Churchill when addressing the code breakers on a wartime visit to Bletchley Park, which now being of international renown attracts visitors from all over the world. Indeed, seen sporting traditional headgear Alan Russell whilst on an extended visit from Australia samples a spell of guard duty in a surviving sentry box. The mansion represents a variety of architectural styles and on the width of the grand and ornate staircase the ghost of Lady Leon is said to sometimes appear, maintaining a benign vigilance over her former home. Actually not an apparition, the 'presence' on the stairs in this photograph is Mr. Russell, continuing his tour of Bletchley Park. - J. Taylor.

By now Bletchley Park had become so important that the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, paid a visit, and using the bole of a tree as a platform he gave a pep talk to the cryptanalysts gathered around. In fact his reception was rather more respectful than that afforded to a previous Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Herbert Asquith, when, in August, 1909, he came to speak on behalf of a parliamentary candidate at Bletchley Park. Yet not only did he have to suffer the interruptions of ‘Votes for Women’ activists, who declared their message through speaking trumpets, but also the antics of an agitator who chained herself to a tree. As a result of this disturbance several of the women were locked up for a few hours. Following Churchill’s more inspirational visit, some of the staff at Bletchley Park felt that a ‘Bletchley council’ could run the organisation rather better than the existing regime, and as a consequence four of the key cryptanalysts met at the Shoulder of Mutton pub, Bletchley, and decided that a petition, outlining their grievances, should be sent directly to Churchill. On October 21st, 1941, the letter voicing their concerns, both at the lack of clerical staff and the delays that this deficiency caused, was duly written, and they further made known that the call up of skilled male staff engaged in the British Tabulating Co., and the Bletchley huts, was imminent. Inevitably the loss of such a combined talent would prove irreplaceable, and the signatories also stressed that the W.RN.S. should take over the ‘bombe’ testing duties, and so release staff for other purposes. By train, the letter was taken directly by one of the signatories to Downing Street, and the day after receiving it Churchill issued instructions to ‘Make sure they have all they want on extreme priority and report to me that this had been done.’ When news of this unauthorised action reached the intelligence hierarchy they were far from pleased, yet nevertheless all the desired needs were now rapidly met.

The Shoulder of Mutton, now demolished.
As the wartime billet for some of the Bletchley code breakers it was here that the Bletchley Park code breaker's 'letter of discontent' was written to the Prime Minister. As another less direct connection with Bletchley Park, one evening a contingent of military personnel hurried into the pub and urgently asked if any of the drinkers knew the way to Whaddon Hall. (As detailed in the book 'Bletchley Park's Secret Sisters', Whaddon Hall was in fact a radio communications centre for the Secret Service, with responsibility for transmitting the information decoded by Bletchley Park to the military commanders abroad.) When one of the customers in the pub said that he knew the way to the Hall he was bundled into a waiting car to give directions, and confined to the vehicle at all times after a while he was then driven back from the Hall to the pub, with no word of explanation given! In 1921 Mr. and Mrs. Bowden had taken over the pub, which being owned by the Ampthill Brewery Co. was purchased in 1927 by Greens, who extended the premises. Mrs. Bowden was born in Torquay and she met her husband, a butler, whilst in service. In 1907, shortly after their marriage the couple then moved to Bletchley and for 10 years were employed by Sir Herbert Leon. During November 1951 the licence of the pub was then transferred from Mr. Bowden to his son, Victor, and outside the premises as a popular amenity for Londoners for several years Mr. and Mrs. Harvey ran a weekend cockles and whelks stall. Enduring several narrow escapes, during the war Mr. Harvey had served with the heavy rescue of the Civil Defence in London during the Blitz, and with the couple having previously lived in a London shelter for 8 months, Mrs. Harvey came to Bletchley in 1942 to escape the bombing. In 1961 at the junction of Buckingham Road and Newton Road the Flowers Brewery was offered a site on which to build a new pub opposite the Shoulder of Mutton, which was scheduled for demolition due to a road widening scheme. In March 1962 the old pub duly closed and on the following day the inn of the same name opened across the road. Mainly it consisted of the greatly rebuilt Manor Farm and although the old fireplaces were retained the new premises had the benefit of central heating. In fact no doubt the new facilities soon proved especially more convenient for both the landlord and the customers, since the previous pub had no bar and all drinks were sold through a basement door! - B.C.H.I.


The staff of the Local Studies Centre, Aylesbury, Bucks.
The staff of Bletchley library, and the reference section of Central Milton Keynes library.
Tracy Whitmore and volunteers from the Bletchley Community Heritage Initiative.

George Brinckley, David Eastaff, Alan Kay, Glyn Lewis, John Meuleman, Keith Norman, Stan Osborne, Greg Redman, Peggy Sharpe, George Young

For information regarding Ecclesbourne Primary School in Islington I am indebted to Stewart Ross, Writer-in-Residence, Troy D. Ellison, formerly Year 5 teacher at Ecclesbourne Primary School, and Pat Farrington, Project Manager, who worked with children in Years 5 and 6 to produce a short history of their school from 1886 to 2004. This was under the aegis of the Writers in Schools Project, which is funded by Cripplegate Foundation.

Thanks are also especially due to the late Mrs. Celia Duncan, for invaluable information regarding Bletchley and her late father, Mr. E.C. Cook.