|The Rushden Echo & Argus, transcribed by Jim & Gill Hollis
Wartime in Rushden - November 1941
7th November, 1941
Married Men Taken First
Removal of married men from the boot industry while younger single men remained in the factories was criticised by Alderman A. C. Allen (president) at Monday’s meeting of the Rushden and Higham Ferrers Branch, Boot Operatives’ Union.
Mr. Allen said that married men of 30-35 with families were being taken while men under 30 continued at work. A much fairer way would be to take men in age groups irrespective of operations performed, and to apply the same method when women were called up.
The president also declared that the present haphazard method to taking people out of industry under threat of compulsion was worse than actual conscription of labour because it was more inequitable.
These views were endorsed by the members present.
It was agreed to receive subscriptions at the office for the National Council of Labour’s Help to Russia Fund, to which the Union has granted £250 out of the Central Fund.
The president reported further on the prices fixed for the A.T.S. motor driver’s boot and the W.A.A.F. shoe.
Members learned that the branch has once more become the largest in the Union. The position was lost to Northampton No. 2 for a few months, but Rushden and Higham Ferrers have now gone ahead with a membership of 9,516 (including 1,566 with the Forces) against Northampton’s 9,309. In the September quarter £850 was paid in sickness benefit, £102 in funeral benefit and £47 in unemployment benefit.
Mr. E. A. Mayhew (clickers), Messrs. J. Perkins and C. Smith (lasters), Messrs. W. M. Burgess and W. Ainge (finishers) and Miss D. Tassell (closers) were re-elected to the branch executive. In the case of the pressmen Messrs. W. Hills, H. Lamb and W. Barnes were nominated for the one seat, and an election will be necessary.
The president was supported by Mr. Charles Baxter (secretary), Alderman E. J. Jeffs and Councillor R. W. Abbott (vice-presidents).
7th November, 1941
Fourteen Now On Service
In my last notes, I wrote about the boys who are now taking training in our local squadron, what they have been doing, and what they plan to do during the Winter Term from November 1st to January 31st.
This week, I would like to mention the lads who were with us earlier in the year and who have now been called for service in the R.A.F. Fourteen of them are now “somewhere in England” in various branches of the service, meeting new friends, learning new trades, and preparing themselves for the day when they either go on ops. (operations) or are posted to an operational station as fully fledged members of the ground staff.
I have just received a very interesting letter from one of our ex-cadets who has already successfully completed his Initial Training Wing course and is now at an Air Observers’ School. He has earned his L.A.C. stripe and writes that he is finding his Observer training very interesting. It is surprising the number of subjects that an observer has to master, but the theoretical part of the training is well balanced with training flights under the eagle eye of expert observers.
How life changes! Twelve months ago his life interest was in boots and shoes; now he is flying the skies practising cross-country navigation, bomb sighting and dropping, the handling of aircraft, armament, air photography and air reconnaissance.
Others of our local boys who commenced their R.A.F. training with the A.T.C. have passed on to their advanced training as pilots, observers, wireless operators, mechanics, etc. All of them in their letters pay tribute to the work done by the A.T.C. officers and instructors.
There is little doubt, from results already attained in its short life, that the Air Training Corps is destined to play a part in the new R.A.F. equal to the Empire Training Scheme. Together in the future these two organisations will ensure a supply of new personnel, ready and capable of upholding the highest traditions of the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm.
“England and the Empire expects,” and youth has not been found wanting. The A.T.C. preserves this spirit of voluntary service which has undoubtedly been one of the bed-rock foundations of our R.A.F. successes.
7th November, 1941
Over the Week-End
One of the largest single operations ever undertaken by the Ministry of Food will be completed on November 17th when 30,000 tons of canned meats, canned fish and canned beans will be ready for sale throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland and simultaneously an entirely new system of food distribution by points will be introduced to ensure that it is available in equal shares to everyone who wishes to buy.
Most of the new food, all of which is canned, comes from the United States under the generous Lend-Lease arrangements. Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Eire, Iceland, Portugal, Brazil, and the Home Market have also contributed their quotas.
The basis of the new system of distribution is a pink coloured “Points Coupon Book” the “pink un.” It contains a number of coupons all dated and some marked ‘A’, some ‘B’ and some ‘C.’ The four ‘A’ coupons dated November 17th to December 14th are each worth 1 point; the four ‘B’ coupons bearing the same date are each worth 1 point, and the four ‘C’ coupons are each worth 2 points. This adds up to 16 points, so that in the first four weeks of the scheme each consumer will have 16 points to spend.
When she goes shopping the shopper will find that all the items in the new food have been given a value in points. If a woman decides to spend her 16 points on one purchase, she might buy ½lb. of ox. Tongue, 8 points (that is four ‘C’ coupons); 4 ozs. Sardines, 4 points (that is four ‘A’ coupons); and 1 lb. beans, 4 points (four ‘B’ coupons); but the coupons may be spent on more than one day in the four weeks and in more than one shop. So that, although the Ministry cannot guarantee that every item of the new food will be in every shop whenever a shopper asks for it that would be impossible under war conditions if she is not satisfied in one shop she may go to another. Catering establishments will share in the distribution on the basis of main meals served.
The scheme will give the consumer freedom to shop for the new foods where and when she likes. She will not have to register, she will not have to restrict her purchases to one shop, and she will be permitted to spend her coupons how she pleases on a wide variety of foods. Food offices will shortly announce where and how customers may obtain their new books; they should do nothing until they are told.
14th November, 1941
Rushden Fire Guard Progress
An impressive report on Rushden’s voluntary Fire Guard organisation, with its 2,500 members, and 625 stirrup pumps, was received at Wednesday’s meeting of the Rushden Urban Council.
The Clerk (Mr. W. L. Beetenson) reported that about 2,500 Fire Guards had been enrolled, the rotas providing for about 300 to be on duty at each “Alert.” The personnel represented one for every two houses in the town.
Equipment in the hands of the Fire Guards included 220 ladders, 250 long rakes, 280 long shovels and 625 stirrup pumps. With those in use at factories, business premises and in the Wardens’ Service, the estimated number of pumps in the town was at least 1,000.
Half the personnel had been supplied on loan with steel helmets and an order was being placed for sufficient helmets to equip the other half. Armlets were on order.
The War Emergency Committee stressed the importance of all householders making arrangements for water always to be available in buckets or other receptacles.
Air Raid Shelters
In reference to the withdrawal of building labour and its effect on the erection of public air raid shelters, the War emergency Committee reported that it was hoped to finish six 50-person brick surface shelters already in course of erection by utilising the labour of men over 65 years of age.
Six 48-person domestic shelters one each in Blinco-road, Allen-road, Shirley-road and Cromwell-road, and two in Queen-street had been completed.
There had been some opposition to the choice of a site for a third shelter in Queen-street, but the surveyor was instructed to proceed with the work, as the vacant land nearby was wanted for other A.R.P. purposes.
The Regional Officer had been approached regarding a free supply of materials to residents who wished to build their own blast walls, and approval had been given for a limited period in order to see how the scheme operated. An officer had since visited Rushden, however, and suggested that the Council should first go as far as possible with the domestic shelter programme.
Coun. Davies referred to a shelter near the railway station and remarked rather pointedly that the Highways Committee had never been informed where the shelters were going to be put up.
Coun. Paragreen asked if the key to this particular shelter had been handed over to the Chief Warden. The Surveyor (Mr. J. W. Lloyd) replied that the shelter was not quite finished inside, but the key would be handed to the wardens as soon as possible.
First Aid Post
Urged to consider the enlargement of the First Aid Post, the County Controller replied that any proposals involving building or reconstruction would not be approved at present. The Controller added that a neighbouring post could be brought into use if necessary and that in the case of any major incident a mobile unit would be sent from Wellingborough.
The War Emergency Committee expressed their disappointment and instructed the Clerk to ask for the provision of properly adapted wooden huts in extension of the post.
Congratulations were extended to the Rushden first aid party which represented Northamptonshire in the Regional A.R.P. competition at Nottingham and was awarded sixth place. The County M.O.H. reported that the team performed very well indeed and merited high commendation.
The Clerk reported that at the request of the tradesmen he had recommended certain closing hours for shops during the winter months, and the County Council had already made and advertised an Order fixing the hours as follows: Barbers and hairdressers, Saturdays 8 p.m., other days (except the half-holiday) 7 p.m., other shops, Fridays and Saturdays 7 p.m., other days (except the half-holiday) 6 p.m.
Coun. Roe said he thought these hours were very satisfactory to the majority of the trades people, but he wondered whether it was necessary to inform the tradesmen of them by means of half a column of legal phraseology which nobody understood. They did not want all the “wherefores” and “so-and-so’s.”
Coun. Capon: Perhaps the shoppers could understand it if the shopkeepers didn’t.
Coun. Weale said he would like to know if in the fixing of the hours the shoppers had been considered as well as the shopkeepers. He found there was very little chance for many of them to do their shopping before six o’clock on a weekday, and he wondered if the shopkeepers were taking into consideration their customers and clients.
Coun. Roe replied that the Act made reference to shop employees but did not ask the shopkeepers to take the customers into consideration.
Coun. Davies spoke strongly on the need for a canteen in the town to ease billeting problems, and Mrs. Muxlow mentioned in connection with the proposed day nursery that the County Medical Officer had inspected suggested temporary premises in the town.
In his salvage report the surveyor said the first three weeks of October yielded five tons of paper, but Salvage Week produced ten tons, making 15 tons for the month the highest yet. Paper was still coming in more freely than usual, and every effort would be made to collect as much as possible of this vitally important war material.
Other salvage during October included 4 ton 17 cwt. of iron and 1 ton 17 cwt. of kitchen waste. The value of the month’s collection was £73 15s. 6d.
A Heated Discussion
A smile spread round the table when the Chairman read a letter from the Minister of Mines (urging all possible economy in the use of fuel) and suggested that councillors and Press would do all in their power to convey the message to the public.
Dr. Davies explained the smiles. “Well,” he said, “I think the Council should set the example. This room is very hot!”
“It may not be the fuel,” contended Mrs. Muxlow, “it may be scientific stoking.”
It was resolved to prepare a portion of the Council’s depot in Newton-road as a district centre for the decontamination of food affected by gas. The contract for the work, amounting to £51, was given to Messrs. T. Swindall and Sons, after Coun. Swindall evidently to the amusement of his colleagues had made the necessary declaration that he was an interested party.
The Librarian (Miss M. Perkins) reported that 25,734 books were issued in the September quarter an increase of 4,271 compared with the third quarter of 1940.
Membership was 4,850 (an increase of 225 since June). New books numbered 647 and cost £130, in addition to which 44 had been presented, 29 of these being from the library of the late Miss Mary L. Pendered.
Library hours for the issue of books were now : Mornings 10 to 12.30, afternoons (except Thursday) 3 to 7.
Mrs. Muxlow noted that the membership included 664 evacuees.
Building plans were: Food store off Rectory-road, Miller Stain and Polish Co.; garage at “Greenways,” Hall-avenue, Mr. L. H. Mead.
Mr. S. Starmer, of Kettering, was appointed as chief clerk in the surveyor’s Department.
Employees in the Highway Department have been subjected to the provisions of the Essential Works Orders, 1941, controlling their right to leave, the Council’s right to discharge them, and cases of absenteeism.
Railings and Gates
A circular from the Ministry of Supply made it clear that no gates, stiles or railings should be scheduled as “unnecessary” if they served a useful function and, if removed, would require replacement by some other form of material.
It was reported that Couns. Weale and Cox with the Clerk and surveyor had attended a conference of local authorities with a view to securing uniform action in the scheduling of ironwork.
The sale of growing crops at the sewage farm made £54 a considerable reduction on last year’s figure.
On the instructions of the Health Committee the Clerk was instructed “to endeavour to purchase a suitable black gown for the use of the cemetery caretaker at funerals.”
“I don’t know how we are going to get on with regard to the coupon business,” said Coun. Davies, “but we shall do our best.”
It was agreed to pay the war-time wage increase of 3s. per week recommended for all workmen employed by Councils.
The cost of a new carpet selected for the general office of the Clerk and Accountants was given as £13 19s. 6d.
An invitation to next Sunday’s big rally, when Lord Elton will speak, was received from the Youth Service Corps, and the Chairman asked the members to join him at the Ritz Cinema, promising that they would be well rewarded.
Members in attendance were Couns. T. W. Cox, J.P. (chairman), W. J. Sawford (vice-chairman), A. H. Bailey, J. Roe, A. Allebone, J.P., C.C., F. Green, J.P., Dr. R. W. Davies, J. Allen, Mrs. O. A. H. Muxlow, W. E. Capon, A. F. Weale, J. George, T. J. Swindall, J. Spencer, J.P., J. H. J. Paragreen, E. A. Sugars and J. T. Richardson, J.P. An apology for non-attendance was received from Coun. H. Waring.
Mr. Richardson, happily recovered from his accident, received a hearty welcome from the Chairman on his return after several months’ absence, and in reply thanked his colleagues for their kindness and good wishes.
21st November, 1941
Thanks from Navy and R.A.F.
Another glowing account of Canada’s welcome to the R.A.F. comes from a Rushden airman, Pilot Officer Howard B. Morris, in a letter to Mr. E. Bennett, hon. Secretary of the Rushden Serving Men’s Parcels Fund.
Pilot-Officer Morris was formerly hon. Secretary of the Rushden Players A.D.S. He writes :-
“I arrived over here towards the end of August after a little stay in Iceland, and am now instructing in navigation under the Empire Training Scheme. Canada is a grand country and the people very kind to us. As a fresh batch arrive from England they are adopted by one of the towns near (40 or 50 miles away), given a civic reception and banquet, and then introduced to hosts who take them into their families during their stay here. Our station is actually twelve miles from the nearest town and about forty from the nearest place of any size, but one’s idea of distance undergoes a pretty big change out here.
“It’s funny, but no matter where one goes there is usually someone from Rushden. Even in this station I met one of the lads from Washbrook-road Keys, the trumpet player; and it is good to talk over places, people and things in common. In Iceland I met a sailor I forget his name who had lived in Harborough-road and, I believe, married a Rushden girl, a Miss George; whilst one of the pilots out here comes from Northampton. So the world is truly a small place, and the people of Rushden can rest assured that no matter what part of the world it is, somebody is thinking about them and talking over the local affairs just as they are.
“I have just received their last two gifts; the 10th July and 11th September. I am sure I am echoing the thanks of all the Rushden men and women in the Services when I add my thanks to theirs.”
“The Same to You”
And here is a reply in kind to the author of the verses and the senders of the gifts. It comes from Ord. Telegraphist G. E. Morrice, of the Navy, and is given in somewhat revised form:-
The Legion’s poem brings to mind
You call to mind the days of yore
When we’ve done what you did before
So while we’re far from Rushden town
28th November, 1941
Steel Shelters for Rushden
Morrison table-type steel shelters for use inside the home are now available to Rushden residents, who can apply for them at the Council Offices.
The Clerk to the Council (Mr. W. L. Beetenson) informs us that the shelters are supplied free of charge to applicants whose income is not more than £350 per annum, a higher limit applying in households where there are more than two young children. They can also be purchased, and the price at present is £7.
A Morrison shelter will accommodate two adults and one or two children. Measuring 6ft. 6in. in length, 4ft. in width and 2ft. in height, it can also be used as a table. The Council offers free delivery and will supply full instructions for assembling the parts.