Raglan in war time, Luke Williams, 1998
HORATIA DURANT MEMORIAL PRIZE ESSAY COMPETITION 1998
RAGLAN IN WAR TIME
BY - LUKE WILLIAMS
Acknowledgements I would like to thank my Gran for helping me with my project, by answering my questions about Raglan during the War and for letting me look through all her old photographs.
RAGLAN IN WAR TIME In the War years 1939-45, Raglan was a very different village to the one we know today. It was much smaller with fewer inhabitants. Raglan was a very friendly place, where all the families knew each other, and helped and supported neighbours and friends. This helped families cope with the war and all the difficulties it caused.
Some of the other streets and places we now know, existed during the war years but they were very different. None of the housing estates were built. High Street, Castle Street, Primrose Green, Crown Square, Wilcoe Terrace and Chepstow Road, made up most of the village. The children went to school in what we call the old school building. The church was a central part of the village.
EFFECTS OF THE WAR ON RAGLAN Raglan like all other places, had families split up during the war. Men and some women,aged over 18, joined the forces or went to war factories. This caused more work for the women and children left at home because they had to take over the men's work.
DEFENCE OF RAGLAN Men who were too old or not fit enough to join the forces, became part of the Home Guard (Dad's Army). Their duty was to defend Raglan in case of an invasion. They were taught how to use a gun and deal with the enemy. They held their meetings in the Billiard Hall, which was situated next to Wilcoe Terrace, but has since been demolished.
A group called the A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions) was formed. Their duty was going around the village checking that there wasn't any windows that were not blacked out in case of air raids. They were trained to deal with fire and bombs. The closest Raglan came-to being hit by a bomb was when one was dropped at troy station.
When they were on duty the A.R.P. used an empty shop on Crown Square. They held their meetings in the Central Hall, which is now the Scout Hut. Many blankets were stored in the Central Hall, for use in an emergency.
Everybody was told to be careful about what they said to anyone 'CARELESS TALK COSTS LIVES'. Hitler had a special group called the Fifth Column, people trained to spy on other countries.
RATIONING During the war everyone had a identity card, and a ration book. They had to use the ration book to buy food, families were only allowed to a set amount each week because of food shortages.
DIG FOR VICTORY. All gardens and allotments were planted with vegetables and everyone shared what they grew. Some kept a few chickens. Farmers ploughed fields to grow corn and cereals and vegetables. Some women met to make jam and bottle fruit at Dell Farm.
LAND ARMY Many young women joined the Land Army, they worked on farms, doing the jobs of men who had joined the forces. There was a hostel for Land Army girls, from various parts of the country, based at what is now Brooks Bungalows, Chepstow Road.
RAGLAN'S CONTRIBUTION TO THE WAR
RAGLAN COMFORT FUND Raglan people organised whist drives, dances and other fund raising events, to buy comforts for the troops. After the war, all the soldiers, sailors or air force men were given a meal in the Jeffreys Hall (building opposite West Lea). They also received a small amount of money from the fund and a certificate.
An original news article about the comforts fund.
RAGLAN - November 13 NOTICE: A GRAND DANCE AT CRAWLEY HALL, BRYNGWYN On Tuesday Nov. 23rd, 8 p.m. To 12
REG STEVENS BAND Admission 2/- H.M.F. 1s. Proceeds Local Forces Christmas Gift Fund
COMFORTS FUND – Raglan Comforts Fund Committee held a whist drive in the Central Room. The M.C. Was Mr. C. Morgan and prizes were presented by Miss Pryce Jenkins to:
Women 1. Mrs. R. Jones, 2. Miss Thomas; 3. Miss M. Norman; consolation Miss S. Knight.
Men 1. Mrs.. Lane; 2. Mr. Lane; 3 Mrs. G. Morgan; consolation Mrs. E. Morgan.
A competition was won by Mr. I. Evans. The fund benefited by £2.18s. A dance was held in the Jeffreys Hall. The M.C's were Messrs. F. Jones and Nabor Crump. Competitions were won by Mr. R. Handley and Howard Shelton. The dance yielded a further £15.5s.
SALUTE THE SOLDIER, AIR MAN AND NAVY On sad days in the village, when someone received a telegram about a relative being killed, wounded or taken prisoner, everyone shared their grief and tried to help out in whatever way they could. Raglan people helped in other practical ways. Many families took in evacuees, mainly from Birmingham area, and some from London. Soldiers were billeted in the Jeffreys Hall, for short stays, on their way to permanent camps. Some people joined the Red Cross, others learned first aid. Raglan women held knitting meetings, making scarves and socks to be sent to the troops.
RAGLAN SCHOOL Raglan school stayed open throughout the war for Raglan children and evacuees. All children had to carry a gas mask to school and they were all taught how to use them properly. Sometimes a convoy of American soldiers in trucks would pass through the village, this caused some excitement because the soldiers would often throw out chocolate bars to the children, something they could not longer buy.
CONCLUSIONS The war was a difficult time for everyone but the people of Raglan worked together to survive. There are a number of people living in Raglan who remember how life was in the village during the war, it is important that these memories are passed down through the generations.
A CERTIFICATE WAS PRESENTED TO SCHOOL CHILDREN AFTER THE WAR.
CONTENTS: TO-DAY AS WE CELEBRATE VICTORY,
I send this personal message to you and all other boys and girls at school. For you have shared in the hardships and dangers of a total war and you have shared no less in the triumph of the Allied Nations.
I know you will always feel proud to belong to a country which was capable of such supreme effort; proud, too, of parents and elder brothers and sisters who by their courage, endurance and enterprise brought victory. May these qualities be yours as you grow up and join in the common effort to establish among the nations of the world unity and peace.
Signed George R.I.
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