Friday, 26 April 2019

World War 2 - April 1939

Britain re-introduced conscription on April 26th 1939 for men aged twenty to twenty one years to undertake six months military training.  Many  of those  called under the act went for training with anti-aircraft and searchlight regiments.  During the months prior to the outbreak of war, recruitment of volunteers for the Air Raid Precaution (A.R.P.) service was stepped up. Eton Urban District Council (E.U.D.C.), under the authority of Buckinghamshire County Council, became responsible for the local air raid precautions which were administration and directed from the Council Offices at Barnes Pool Bridge, Eton.   


Harry Chantler’s Post Office and Grocery Store — 1960
Eton Wick volunteers to the local A.R.P. units included  Arthur Codd; Harry Chantler; Albert Bond; Ernie Drake; Walter Elkins;  Mr Gregory; and Reverend Morris.  Mr Codd, then  employed as the manager of the E.U.D.C. Bell Farm sewage beds, became Chief Warden.  A.R.P. Messengers for the village were Frank Bond and Ken Weller.   Bill Akers and Harry Johnson with others joined the Auxiliary Fire Service.  Two A.R.P. Posts were  established in the village, one at  Clifton House,  the Post Office and Grocery Store of  Mr Chantler, the other at the Red House, the home and office of Burfoots, the local builder.  These business premises were chosen as being equipped with a telephone and someone always present to receive calls during air raid alerts. 

Establishment of an A.R.P. wardens’ post at Harry Chantler’s shop involved  shoring up the back room with bulks of timber and sand bags against bomb blast.  The job was so well done that when Harry married, he was unable to take delivery of his new furniture due to the obstruction.   This added protection raised another problem  for Mr an Mrs Chantler when the evacuees arrived in the village.  Upon inspection of their home they were told by the London County Council (L.C.C.) Headmaster,  Mr Cawsley, that their premises were not suitable to take children.  

The loan of the Coach House in Hogarth Road, (now part of Victoria Road). free of charge by Mr Nottage to the Eton fire Brigade for the duration of the war,  allowed for the establishment of an auxiliary fire point at Eton Wick and was agreed on the  condition that the council undertook the insurance  of the building.


Coach House. Eton Wick.  Wartime auxiliary fire point
Additional  protection of the building against bomb blast was needed requiring the reinforcement of the external walls; the addition of this extra walling was carried out by Burfoots including an office at the Eton Fire Station at a cost  of £142 - 5s.

Responding to the call  by the County Police Authority for men to train as Special Constables, Mr Morrell, Johnny Bell, Bob Friend, Edwin Buckland, Ernie Thomas. Ernie Prosser and Norman Lane  volunteered and were sworn in carrying out their duties at Eton and Eton Wick.  David Bryant with Eddie and Ernie Bond joined as police messengers.  At first their reporting post was the surface shelter located in the garden of the police house, Moores Lane, until such time as other facilities became available at the Wheatbutts Scout Hut.  The average duty rosta was two nights per week unless an alert sounded, then every one reported for duty which often became an all night stint. Night duty by civil defence volunteers was not an acceptable excuse for absenteeism from work the following day.   Persistent offenders working in factories engaged in the production of military equipment or in public transport risked being summoned to appear at court to explain their action and possibly face a court fine. 

This is an extract from Round and About Eton Wick: 1939 - 1945. The book was researched, written and published in 2001 by John Denham. 

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