Monday 22 May 2023

World War 2 Eighty Years On - Wings for Victory Week 1943

 Saturday.  May 22nd - 29th.  

Eton and district "Wings for Victory" week, a War Savings drive to raise £500,000 to buy aircraft.  Eton Wick opened their week with a Saturday night dance at the village Institute; followed by a lively concert on Tuesday evening, given by local artists and concert groups.  This show was enjoyed by the audience that filled the Methodist Hall (Alma Rd.). The next afternoon (Wed.) the Wheatbutts  resounded with joy and laughter as a village fete got underway in spite of the many wartime shortages and restrictions.

Various fund-raising activities, including a Sports Day held in the school garden enabled the children and staff of Eton Wick school, with the support of their parents, to raise £300 for the fund.

A board showing a hanging sword displayed the daily results of each of the eighteen parishes involved in the Eton District Wings Week.   Eton Wick showing a total of £2,567 for the week.

Later in the year (October) the Eton Wick and Boveney W.I. received an accolade on the Sunday evening National Savings Achievement Radio Broadcast following a report that their Savings Group had reached £8,000. The broadcast gave an impetus for the Group to exceed their target of £500 before the end of 1943. 

This special ‘Wings for Victory’ savings week closed with the biggest parade held in Windsor during the war and a unique experiment was tried on the day which prove successful.  A flight of Typhoon aircraft flew over the gathered spectators on Castle hill from one of which the pilot broadcast a message to those watching.  This was done with a hook-up from his aircraft radio transmitter to a receiver and amplifier system on Castle Hill.  The aircraft carried out a manoeuvre zooming over Thames Street  and back over the Castle before departing.   

The Hawker Typhoon was manufactured at Hawker’s Langley factory along with the Tempest, Fury and Sea Fury.  The Langley factory also produced many of the Hurricane fighters.

The establishment of anti-aircraft gun sites and other camps in the area brought an increase in trade to the local village pubs. American servicemen of the 9th USAAF stationed in camps at Bray, Maidenhead, Ascot and Windsor became a familiar sight in the village pubs. The Three Horse Shoes, managed by Amy Buck, had a spirit licence and supposedly a supply of whisky and became a congenial drinking haven for off duty American service men. Stories and memories have been told of their reluctance to leave at closing time, but when the sirens sounded they would make a very quick exit into their Jeeps and away to camp. 

Albert Bond with decorated cart
Wings for Victory Parade . Eton Wick


News was received by Mr and Mrs Borrett of Alderney Farm, Eton Wick from their son, Major Borrett serving with the Royal Engineers, that he was a prisoner of war in Germany. Major Borrett was on his way home from service abroad when the ship in which he was a passenger was torpedoed.  Major Borrett was picked up by the U-Boat and spent twenty-eight days as their prisoner including Christmas '43 and the New year before reaching land and internment.

Enemy air raids on London and other towns in a series of "Little Blitz". attacks brought about revived interest in Fire Guards. The successful meeting held in July at the village Institute by Eton Council, who were responsible for organizing Fire Guards, resulted in 40 people enrolling. A local organization of nine sections, with three being in Eton Wick, was set up with a programme of regular training.  Mrs Edie Miles recalled that her fire watching duties were around the houses in Vaughan Gardens. This group, reporting to Bill Cobourn landlord at the Shepherds Hut Public House, found that the arrangement that had a certain appeal for some of the fire watchers.  One night a week they took a duty watch in Eton. Other groups had different arrangements, as Eileen Cook.

Wings for Victory Parade - Salute taken by King George VI
March past by Wren’s of H.M.S President III D.E.M.S. Service

Remembered that Mr Clark, her group leader, held the view that it was not right for young ladies to be out at night and therefore they signed the book and then went home. Her Grandmother, Mrs Dace, also a fire-warden in charge of the group located near to the Eton Wick Post Office had different ideas and kept every one of her group on duty.  Wartime regulations made consistent failure to report for fire watch duties without adequate reason a chargeable offence. 


These special saving weeks to raise sums of money for the war effort had named targets for war equipment and specified sums to aim for. There had been national Spitfire weeks in 1940, war weapons weeks in 1941, Warship weeks 1942, Wings for Victory 1943 and Salute the Soldier in 1944.

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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