Raglan at War, Anne Bastille, 1998

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HORATIA DURANT MEMORIAL PRIZE ESSAY COMPETION 1998

RAGLAN AT WAR

By ANNE BASTILLE

Contents

CHAPTER 1 - RAGLAN AT WAR

When the British Government appealed to the men to fight for their country, the men (aged between 21 and 40) left their farms in the possession of their relatives. Teenagers, women and older men managed the farms. This changed Raglan in the way that women had to give up their normal lives to work the farms. Some teenagers didn't go to school so they could help on the farms. Many people worked on farms to feed Raglan and surrounding area.

CHAPTER 2 - HOME DEFENCE

The Home Guard or LDV's (Local Defence Volunteers) were made up of teenagers and men above 40. Those in between were expected to go to war. The LDV's did their normal jobs in the day but at night they sat in pill boxes and other such defence positions.

Pill boxes were made of stone or brick with narrow slits in the walls. They were also quitelow so they were harder to see. Pill boxes were placed on river banks, rail and water bridges, main roads and junctions. There was a pill box on the Monmouth road at the edge of Raglan.

When the men went off to war, women took over almost all of the jobs they did. The women that worked the farms and surrounding land were called W.L.A. (Womens Land Army) or Land Girls. Most were city women billeted to farms in the country. There was accommodation for the W.L.A. In Raglan where the industrial units on Chepstow Road are now.

Most of the W.L.A. Had no experience with farming but their job was very important as they replaced the farm workers who were at war. Without the W.L.A. Shortages of food would have been much worse.

CHAPTER 3 - EVACUEES

In 1939 almost all children from major citys around Britain were evacuated to the country. These children were called evacuees. During a nine month period when there was no fighting in Britain (this was called the Phoney War) a lot of children were sent back to their homes.

Most evacuees to Raglan came from Birmingham. Some of the evacuees had lice. Others were home-sick which often led to bed wetting. Some children hadn't had a bath their whole lives.

When the country folk came to pick an evacuee they could look at a line of evacuees and pick the one or ones they liked best, or look at the children being led around the village.

CHAPTER 4 - RATIONING

The British and German Government brought rationing in at the beginning of the war to save food and materials plus it made sure everyone got a fair share. Everyone was given coupons. You had to give the coupons with the money you would pay for that item. The coupons proved what you were doing was legal. You would have had so many coupons to last you a year and less as the war continued. With coupons you could get food, clothes and petrol for your car (if you had one). Everyone had a ration book. This contained the coupons. The colour of the book depends on how old you were. Over 18 would be cream and under 18 blue.

DIG FOR VICTORY

The Government's slogan Dig for Victory meant if you have a flower garden, dig it up and plant vegetables. It was a way of getting the British public to help with the war effort. Every spare piece of land was used for cultivation purposes.

CHAPTER 5 - THE RED CROSS

The Voluntary Aid Department (V.A.D.) or better known as the red cross, was made up mostly of women during the war. They were taught basic first aid and how the know the difference between gasses by smell. If they smelled any of the gasses they would blow their whistles which meant 'put on your gas masks'.

Everyone had to have a gas mask with them at all times, even people who lived in rural communities which weren't likely to be gassed like Raglan. The masks were made of rubber with little glass windows that steamed up quickly. They came in cardboard boxes with string attached so you could hang it on your shoulder and had instructions of how you should put it on.

CHAPTER 6 - BARRAGE BALLOONS

At night from Raglan you would have heard the bombs exploding in Cardiff and have seen search lights in the blackout.

You would also have seen barrage balloons. They were normally shaped like a cigar, silver and were always very big. The 'balloons' were attached to the ground by huge steel cables – which would slay dive bombers. They made good target practice for bombers and if a 'balloon' landed on a city, it would do almost as much damage as a bomb.

THE END OF THE WAR

When the war had ended the people of Raglan, and indeed the whole country, celebrated. By having races and placing skittles and making food like fruit cakes and blancmange, it made it like a party. Also the remains of the Raglan band played for the people of Raglan.

RAGLAN AT WAR – SOURCES

BOOKS

  • What They Don't Tell you About World War II, Fowke. R.
  • The Blitzed Brits, Deary. T.
  • Home Life in Grandma's Day,Gardener. F.
  • Family Life in the Second World War,Smith. N.
  • The Home Front: Evacuation, Reynoldson. F.
  • Daily Life in a War time House, Wilson. L.
  • War Boy: A Country Childhood, Foreman. M.
  • When I was Young – World War II, Thompson.
  • Britain Since 1930, Ross.S.

INTERVIEWS

  • Mrs. Anna Tribe
  • Mrs. Osmand Williams
  • Major/Mrs. R. Medley

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