A selection of memories from the second world war, Sam Rowlands, 1998

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HORATIA DURANT MEMORIAL PRIZE ESSAY COMPETITION 1998

A SELECTION OF MEMORIES FROM THE SECOND WORLD WAR

BY - SAM ROWLANDS

INTRODUCTION In School we have been doing a project on Raglan in war time and I have gathered information from libraries and people who lived in Raglan during the Second World War. This project is based on World War II and I have found out quite a lot about Raglan in war time. Adolph Hitler the leader of Germany invaded Poland and, Britain and France declared war on 3/9/39 at 11 a.m. Raglan church rang its bells just like churches all over the country.

FORCES STATIONED IN RAGLAN At the big house at Clytha Indian Soldiers and later American Soldiers were stationed. Lots of military traffic passed through Raglan on the way to Abergavenny and West Wales, as there was no bypass in Raglan then. One day an American tank did not stop at the halt sign which was outside the Crown Inn, and drove into 3 cottages. This was where the Police Station now is and one of the cottages was a cobblers. American Soldiers also threw gum to the children as they came through.

Upon the Warrage Road near the Cuckoo club a Searchlight Battalion was stationed. They shone a light up into the sky so that they could pick up the enemy aircraft and then the aircraft would be shot down. A lot of aircraft came over Raglan during the war and one lady said that you could tell the enemy or British aircraft by their sound. A siren which was at Usk would go off and be heard in Raglan, and as not many people had air raid shelters in the village, they would go under the stairs until the all clear would sound.

Bombs were dropped on Raglan and people thought they were trying to hit the railway station. They missed the station but hit a cottage on Tremorgan Common which is the first house on the right as you go towards Kingcoed. Later in the war incendiary bombs were dropped in a line between Llandenny and Raglan.

As a lot of men were away fighting, women took on a lot of their work. This includes working at the Royal Ordnance Factory at Glascoed. They were taken there by bus from Raglan. About 13,000 people worked there during the war from all over Monmouthshire. In the daylight enemy aircraft would fly over looking for the factory and one Thursday lunch time on a dull misty day they dropped bombs on the R.O.F. Not a lot of damage was done and the factory kept working. In the evening residents of Raglan heard Lord Haw Haw saying that the R.O.F. was bombed.

At the back of the Crown Inn used to be the Community hall which was called Jeffrey's Hall.The Veterinary Corps was billeted in this building, wash rooms were built on the side. Horses were stabled in the Crown and Beaufort stables.

The Home Guard was a voluntary group of men (like Dads Army) who were trained basic soldiering in case Britain was invaded. In Raglan H.Q. was based in a house on the Monmouth Road.

All road signs were taken down in Raglan just as they were all over the country. Posters also warned people to be careful who they gave information to. The Red Cross which had about 15-20 women members used to help out in Monmouth Hospital and Newport Hospital.

In 1940/41 the enterprise park just outside Raglan was built. In 1942 this housed the Land Army. These were 25-30 girls from mostly Liverpool and London who came to help farm the land to help produce food for the country during the war. Lorries would take them to the farms in the morning and take them back in the night. A matron looked after them. On the corner of Castle Street opposite the church was a cafe run by a Mrs. Lumley. Land girls would go to the cafe and play the piano in the front room.

BLACKOUT Blackouts are a period of darkness enforced as a precaution against air raids. Because a lot of German planes came over Raglan people had to blackout their windows at night. Dark blankets,blackout paper and roller blinds were used in Raglan so that lights would not shine out of the windows and show the Germans where people lived. Also cars had a metal plate over their lights with slits in so the light was harder to see at a distance. If they did not do this they could be fined by the air raid warden. (Raglan did not have electricity until 1952).

EVACUEES These are children who during the second world war were evacuated from dangerous areas such as cities that were liable to be bombed. Children from London, Birmingham and Folkstone were sent to Raglan at the beginning of 1940. They arrived in Raglan by bus which had brought them from Abergavenny railway station. These children were my age and younger and have been taken away from parents for safety. All they had was a suitcase and a gas mask. They were taken to Jeffreys Hall and the Red Cross sent them to different families (any family that a spare room). These families were given an allowance for their keep. These children stayed until 1944/45.

RED DRESS

The station arched like a grimy church echoing with voices, trains shouted steam around my legs. My bundles hung like tumours gas mask, satchel, suitcase. My Mum cried. 'Be a little man,' she said, her red dress vanishing into the crowd like a drop of blood into a sponge. All I remember of the journey was the heat the quarrels and Clarrie Armthwaite throwing up on Mrs. Lyle. After the train, the long walk from the station between the freeness flowing like water before the wind. Rabbits skittered sideways, the first I'd seen not upside-down and dripping blood. The colour of my mother's dress. More echoes. Quick, light Welsh voices flickering round a cavernous hall, eyes flitting like moths. One by one, they went first the girls, still neat (except for Carrie Armthwaite) and then the other boys. Led meekly away to tidy Welsh homes.

SCHOOL Arrangements with Monmouthshire Education Committee were made and split times were made for the children to attend School.. Evacuees went in the morning, village children in the afternoon and they would alternate every week. A few teachers came with the evacuees, one teacher from Birmingham and one from Folkstone. Children would go out of school potato picking. I was told some were even paid.

RATIONING Rationing is regulating how much of an item someone gets of something which is in short supply. This is what the government did during W.W.2. People were given ration books and they took them to the shops to get supplies. The shopkeepers would cut the coupons out of the book. Every week people were allowed:-

1/2lb. Sugar (this was what was most short)

2oz. Lard

2oz. Butter

1/1lb. Tea

2oz. Cheese

15s.2d. Worth of meat.

1lb. of jam was allowed every month.

Bread, sweets and clothes were also on ration.

Although this seemed very hard people who lived in Raglan were much luckier than people who lived in cities. Villagers had their cottage gardens and kept poultry from which they got eggs and meat. Farmers were allowed to kill 2 pigs a year from their own use. When it was time to reap the corn, villagers and children went out with dogs and sticks. When the corn was being reaped the rabbits got frightened and ran out and people were waiting for them. From these they made stew or roasted them after they were skinned.

REFERENCES Date of War - E. Musto 97 Stories of Raglan, Mrs. Lumley, Mrs. Chilcott, Mr. Bill James (Butcher) Definition of Rationing, E. Musto 97 Sample of Blackout paper, Mrs. Chilcott Royal Ordnance Glascoed, Mr. Rowlands Ration books and Identity Card, My Great grandmother. Red Dress, Poem by Jenny Sullivan “Say that again”. Land girls Hostel, from “The Gwent Village Book”

Thanks to the people who helped in this project, Mrs. Lumley, Mrs. Chilcott, Mr. James and my Mum for helping me with my project (helping get the information).

SAM ROWLANDS

Topic: Raglan War time 1914 – 1918

                                                              1939 -  1945

Date: To be completed by Summer half term. Length: about 2/3 sides (250 works) in own handwriting. Presentation: Title page – headings – neatness. Reference Paragraphs: Devote each paragraph. Organisation. Illustrations – drawings – photos.

SAM ROWLANDS

RAGLAN IN WAR TIME

FOOD DEFENCE – RAGLAN – RURAL Shortages Air raids. Rationing Dads Army? - Home Defence “Dig for Victory” Signs “Careless talk costs lives” SCHOOLS CONTRIBUTION How did people help? Soldiers,Sailors, Red Cross, Women, Salute the Soldier Raglan Church and its Graveyard, Gina Haines, 1991


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