EPILOGUE ON DAILY PRINT NEWS IN NUNEATON

EPILOGUE ON DAILY PRINT NEWS IN NUNEATON by Nick Husdon

It might have gone unnoticed but for the first time in 127 years Nuneaton no longer has a daily newspaper title.

Reach plc, publishers of the Coventry Telegraph series, has confirmed both its Nuneaton and Warwickshire editions have closed to “simplify” the newspaper’s structure.

The Nuneaton Telegraph was the only dedicated daily with the town’s name adorning its masthead since the company’s forerunner, Trinity Mirror, turned the rebranded Nuneaton News into a weekly publication in 2016.

Nuneaton has enjoyed its own daily title since the launch of the now-defunct Nuneaton Evening Tribune in 1895.

Some 30 years ago, the Trib closed as an evening newspaper and became a free weekly.

But ex-Trib pre-press operative Peter Young brought together former colleagues and redundant workers from the newspaper to form the Heartland Evening News. It was renamed the Nuneaton News after Young sold the title to Iliffe Newspapers.

However, the Nuneaton Telegraph, which has followed many other evening newspapers in the UK and switched to a 5am timed publication, has continued to be available on newsstands in local shops until March 28 when its owners decided to rationalise editions under the ‘Coventry Telegraph’ banner.

It now boasts “all the latest news from Coventry, Nuneaton and Warwickshire” and a Telegraph spokeswoman told industry website HoldTheFrontPage that the all-encompassing Coventry Telegraph edition will “continue to have dedicated journalists working in those areas, for example the legendary Claire Harrison in Nuneaton”.

As a former reporter on the Nuneaton Evening Tribune, this news just confirms that we live in enlightened times with social media guaranteeing instant news.

The advent of TV news in our front rooms began the demise of print and news websites have merely hammered down the coffin nails.

RIP NEWSPAPER PRINT IN NUNEATON . . . AND EVERY OTHER TOWN AND CITY IN THE UK

Name The New Town Centre Development

Help us find a name for the new heart of Nuneaton

The transformation of Abbey Street will create a brand new heart for Nuneaton town centre.

There’s only one important thing missing – a name! And that’s where you come in…

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and their strategic development partner Queensberry,  have joined forces with Nuneaton Memories, to involve local people in naming the new development.

They want as many ideas as possible to help give the exciting new attraction the right feel and help draw in more people.

Nuneaton Memories Facebook group has a truly worldwide reach to Nuneatonians all over the globe, and will feature the appeal for help.

All ideas are welcome that might capture the spirit of the former Abbey Street shopping area, as well as reflecting the central role the area will play in the town’s future. After an initial appeal for suggestions, Queensberry will draw up a shortlist so members of the Facebook group can help identify the right way forward.

The development includes the site of the former Co-op department store, as well as the site of nearby shops in the existing New Century Way and the current Abbey Street car park.

Included in the new development will be a public square for outdoor events, a hotel, cinema, food and drink outlets as well as a multi storey car park.

Nearby shops and buildings will be updated, and North Warwickshire and South Leicester College will also open a new Digital Innovation Centre as part of the development.

The multi-million pound development is funded with assistance from the government’s Town’s Fund and Future High Streets Fund, as well as the borough council’s capital spending.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council leader Cllr Kristofer Wilson said: “We know this development is going to be a big hit helping to draw visitors to the town in new ways. We would love to receive as many helpful suggestions as possible at this stage, and what better way to make sure we reach as many people as we can than by featuring our appeal in Nuneaton Memories’ Facebook group.

“All suggestions will be considered, a shortlist drawn up, and people will be able to let us know which they think is the best one. Hopefully this will be a fun and productive way to generate ideas and involve Nuneaton and Bedworth people wherever they may be in the world.

“The final name chosen will be an important part of the public face of Nuneaton town centre for many years to come. I encourage as many people as possible to get involved. Who knows – it might be your idea that helps give Nuneaton town centre a brand new look and feel!”

Alex Hyams, Senior Leasing Manager, Queensberry said:

“We are already in detailed discussion with a number of occupiers that will contribute to delivering a dynamic and exciting new destination for Nuneaton. The scheme will rejuvenate this part of Abbey Street and the surrounds with a cutting edge mix of uses being brought together to create a place which will be used by all sections of the local community, from breakfast through to the evening. Clearly the name must resonate locally but it is also vital that the identity is attractive to businesses and individuals who don’t know Nuneaton yet. We’re looking forward to seeing all the ideas which come forward.”

Mark Palmer of Nuneaton Memories said: “Nuneaton Memories is all about helping people share their feelings and memories about our town and our borough. We know there are big plans for Nuneaton town centre, and we are looking forward to being part of this important job of finding a good name for the new heart of the town.”

A £50 shopping voucher prize will be on offer for the best idea, and the winner will be invited to take part in an official naming ceremony event during next year.

Anyone can submit a suggested name for the development to towncentre@btinternet.com, but you can follow further information about, and discussion of, the competition by joining Nuneaton Memories Facebook group online by going to https://www.facebook.com/groups/NuneatonMemories

Memories of John Cassidy – A Nuneaton Lad

It is a long read but very interesting

Reginald John Cassidy 1925 – 1950

Ada Ellen Byard, my mother, was born 28.05.1894 the only daughter of a family of six, and was born in Whitecroft, West Dean.  Her mother was Eliza Byard nee Pegler.

Ada came to Nuneaton from Coleford, South Wales, where her father Edward Byard was a Master Carpenter, and in her younger days she worked as a Cook.  This helped a great deal in later life.

My father, John Henry Cassidy, was born on 06.03.1895 at 34 London Road, Hinckley, Leicestershire and was of Irish/Scots parentage.  He was educated at Nuneaton Catholic School along with his brother and two sisters.

He worked as a Railway Porter, then at White & Poppers Factory. 

John Henry served in the Royal Garrison Artillery during WW1 and then after marrying Ada Ellen at St Mary’s Church, Chilvers Coton, Nuneaton in 1919 he worked as a miner.

I was born on the 07.02.1925 at 323 Arbury Road, Stockingford, Nuneaton, Warwickshire.  This was a detached cottage belonging to the Phipps Brewery, Northampton, who co-owned The Royal Oak Inn, next door.

I was, according to all reports, a very small, weakly baby who suffered every childhood ailment it was possible to have.  I was therefore spoilt and pampered as only an only child can be.

Amongst, my earliest memories I can remember having a teddy bear which must originally been bigger than me, and also a big bear on wheels to ride on.

Of course, I also had a toy pedal car, which was when I was about 4 years old.  This had a wooden body and was painted Royal Blue with gold coach lines.  It had padded seats, a dicky seat, gears and a brake. 

A really super toy, which lasted for years and was played with by lots of kids in the neighbourhood.

When I was very small my mum used to take me in the pram to see my Grandparents, Edward & Eliza  who lived in Attleborough.  She would push me in my pram from home, down Arbury Road, down Heath End Road, The Bull Ring, Coton Arches, Avenue Road to Highfield Road, about 3 miles.

Sometimes, she would go shopping in town first and this meant going down Arbury Road, Croft Road, Queens Road and then after shopping onto Attleborough.

Of course afterwards mum then had to walk all the way home to get Dad’s dinner ready for when he got home from the Pit at 3.30 pm.

This journey became much easier when I was old enough to walk as we could travel by bus.

There were 3 main bus routes from Stockingford into Nuneaton Town.

The Midland Red, Kiteleys and Altons but the Red was more regular.  The fare was 1d rising to 2d single and 3d return. 

We would catch Monty’s up to Grandad’s, which was 1 and 1/2 d.

Sometimes we would visit  Great Aunt Jessie who lived in Gadsby Street.  She was  Great Uncle Fred’s wife and they had two children, Vera & Brian.

My other maternal uncles were:

Alex Byard who at that time lived at home and was courting Sarah

Harry & Elsie Byard who lived in Priory Street, Stockingford with their daughter, Ivy

Ernest & Edna Byard

Eric & May Byard who lived on St Paul’s Road, Stockingford with their three children, Winnie, Edward & Jim

Edward (Ted) & Norah Byard lived for a time in Priory Street, Stockingford but moved to Foleshill and then to Holbrooks, Coventry.  They had two sons, George & Ron .

Of course I had relatives on my father’s side too:

Grandad Andrew Cassidy lived at 128 Arbury Road, Stockingford with his son Uncle Michael James (Jim) Cassidy & Florrie (Flo) his wife and Andrew’s daughter, Mary Cassidy.  Jim & Flo had one stillborn son named William and another one named Cyril (known as Mick) Cassidy.  

Aunt Beatrice & Uncle Frank lived in Arley and they had three children, Frank, Gordon & Iris

In those days, there was little danger on the roads,  just a few buses, but most tradesmen had a horse and cart so us children played on the roads and pavements and if we went for a walk to see an Aunty or a friend our parents had no need to worry as someone would bring us home.

As I grew up to five years of age I started school at Stockingford Council School and I found the first day or so a bit traumatic.  Mum would walk me to school and leave me sitting on a chair in the classroom, and then walk home, only to find me sitting on the doorstep having run home the other way.

I got over this in time and soon settled down.

I had a lovely teacher, named Miss Bishop, who later became my daughter Gill’s Headmistress at Stockingford Infant School.

My Headmistress was Miss May Huxley who was a real lady who used to send the children Birthday, Easter and Christmas cards. 

Later we were taught by Miss Hadden  and Miss Handley after which we were ready for the Big School.

We went up the the Junior School at 11 years of age.  The school was in two separate parts, Boys & Girls and never the twain shall meet.  In fact I got caned for consorting with the girls i.e. I was leaning on the railings between the two playgrounds.

Our uniform was a green blazer and a cap with red piping.

We had some very good teachers most who eventually became Headteachers at other schools.

There was:

Mr Smith

Mr Briggs

Mr Arnold

Mr Osbourn

Mr Hamer

Mr Gill

Mr Axon was the first Headmaster and he was very strict.  He used to say he never caned anyone for being late.

However, if you were late he would cane you for something or other.

Eventually, Mr Ernest Randle became Headmaster and he was superb in every way.

We had the usual lessons, English, Writing, Mathematics, Science, Geography, History, Woodwork and Sport.  I managed to hold my own in an A Grade all the way through.

During this period, along with most of the other kids in the school, I had Mumps, Measles, German Measles, Chickenpox and Whooping Cough.  I don’t know how I missed Scarlet Fever and Diphtheria, although possibly this was because Mum was such a good cook and housekeeper.

We had good meals and a clean house whereas some of the other kids were not so lucky, they were often dirty and hungry and quite often left outside in the cold whilst their parents were drinking in the various pubs and clubs.

At this time I remember Grandma Byard dying.  I wasn’t allowed to go to her funeral but I do remember all the coloured ribbons that came off the various wreaths.  Purple, Blue and Black with messages on them in silver and gold.

Our house wasn’t very large and the Brewery, Phipps of Northampton owned it.

We had one large living room, which was about 14’ square with an alcove of about 6’.  In this alcove was a large cast iron cooking range with a large oven on one side and two fairly large hobs on the other side.

We had a coal store under the stairs and with Dad being a miner we were never short of coal and the fire only out once a week.

This was usually Saturday mornings when all the flues and chimney were cleaned of soot and ash. 

The range was then highly polished with black leading.

Dad used to do this job before we got up for breakfast and by the time we were up the fire was, once again, blazing away.

We had a scullery with an ironstone sink and a cold water tap inside, and a WC in the yard that was only for our use.  This put us one up on most of our neighbours who had to share outside taps and earth closets (WC’s) with their neighbours.

Also, in the scullery there was a large cupboard which served as storage and a scrubbed wooden work surface for washing up etc.

Opposite this was a pantry, a real ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of everything edible.

This had three shelves along two of the walls and these held home-made jams, pickles and all manner of preserves.  There was a large thrall which was used to store perishables and a large wooden meat safe with mesh sides to protect the stored food from flies.

Along the rest of the wall space was an area for storing vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, turnips & swedes etc.  These were grown on an allotment and brought in to store.  Fresh vegetables were gathered as required.

The upstairs area of the house was divided into two bedrooms.  The main one being my parent’s room and this was completely private.

The other was a landing room, which led straight off the stairs and was big enough to hold a double bed and a wardrobe.  Privacy was completed by the use of a curtain.

There was no electricity and all our lighting was by paraffin lamp. 

A large one hung in the centre of the living room and there was a small one in the scullery and my parent’s bedroom.  I had a candle.

As I said earlier the lavatory was outside in the yard and was quite a sizeable room of about 8’ x 5’.  If you went out at night you took a candle and a box of matches.

We didn’t have a bathroom but used a large tin bath in front of the fire.  Primitive maybe but the luxury of bathing in front of a roaring fire is something to remember especially on a cold night.

The water was heated in kettles and pans on the fire and the bath was filled and screened off with a couple of clothes horses draped with blankets.

It was usually me first in the bath and then off to bed with a hot drink.

Mum & Dad would then have their baths after which the tin bath was carried outside to be emptied.

In later years we used the Public Baths in Nuneaton.

Next door to us lived an old man named Sam.  He couldn’t read, write or tell the time.  I eventually managed to teach him to tell the time, or near enough.

Sam’s occupation was that of Lengthman on the roads.  He used to see that the  hedges, ditches and footpaths were maintained along the Astley Lane and Ansley Road area.

Although he was illiterate Sam knew lots of things about animals, birds, plants etc  that many people never considered worth knowing.

He would keep me entertained for hours with tales of the surrounding area and the local people.  He had the ability to make up amusing tales of nonsense at the drop of a hat.

Sam was a dirty and unkempt old man really who seldom washed or changed his clothes.  I can remember mum forcing him to buy new shirts and underclothes and then making him have a bath in the wash house.

Then she sent him to the Barbers for a haircut and shave.

Even though his hygiene wasn’t up to much he was a wonderful old man.  He kept pigs and his garden was always well kept and full of vegetables & fruit, which he gave away to anyone in need.

In the early Thirties life changed considerably for us.

There were floods in Nuneaton and to get to Grandad Byard’s we had to go part way by boat!

The water stretched from Queen’s Road up to Lister Street and from Coton Road up to the Railway lines at Trent Valley.

The wooden blocks that formed the surface of the Market Place all came up and floated away.  An awful lot of damage was caused to shops in town.

Also, at this time my dad was involved in a fire and explosion at Griff No. 4 Pit and was off work for a long time.  Because of this we were very short of money and had to apply for Relief which consisted of being granted food vouchers to obtain the essentials.

These were ‘purchased’ from Worthington’s Stores in Arbury Road but with mum’s marvellous cooking and management we were able to survive.

Whereas a lot of others didn’t do so well and had to rely upon the various Charities to clothe and feed themselves and their children.

The local paper, The Tribune, ran the “Tribune Boot and Shoe Fund” so that children didn’t have to go barefoot.  Our family didn’t have to resort to this but studs were put into my school boots to save ‘wear & tear’ on the leather.

We used to stride along the pavements and see who could make sparks and slide the farthest.

After a while things picked up and a fairly normal life was resumed.

Although, we never had much money we always had a good Christmas.

Mother used to save up all through the year so that we had a joint of meat or a chicken for Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings, and a Christmas Pudding with Rum Sauce.

We always had presents in our stockings; a new penny, an orange, an apple and some nuts, usually a game of some sort, chocolate and a special present such as a model plane.

One Christmas I had a real leather football size 5.  It was the only one in our area and we soon formed teams and played in Arbury Road between the Royal Oak Pub and the Hearty Goodfellow.

Then one day we didn’t see the bus coming and the ball was run over.  If us kids could have caught the driver we would have lynched him but alas that was the end of the football until we could afford to take it to Mr Douglas, the cobbler, to be patched.

Dad always had a tin of De Riske Cigarettes and a box of chocolate drops, whilst mum usually had a new pinafore, gloves and a scarf.

Special days were usually something to do with Church e.g. Sunday School Treats or a trip organised by a local Club.

Occasionally we had a day out with the cubs or scouts.

One year on the Armistice Day Parade Dad carried the British Legion Standard and Mum carried the Ladies Standard.  I escorted and carried the Cub Flag.

We didn’t get many holidays as such although I remember one Day Trip by train to Blackpool and once we had a whole week at Scarborough.

We were taken there by Uncle Jim & Aunt Florrie after Dad had been very ill.  I think it was 1936.

Dad was rushed to hospital with gangrene in his stomach (Peritonitis) on Shrove Tuesday and he was just well enough to go on holiday in August. I don’t think we had another holiday other than that one until after the war in 1945.

It was about this time that I learnt to ride a bike.

I hadn’t got one of my own but Lizzie Cooke who lived with ‘Aunt Lucy’ gave me her old one The way we learned was to walk to the top of Church Road by the Round Towers, get someone to hold you upright until you reached St Paul’s Church and then they let you go!

It was literally downhill all the way to Stockingford Station when, if you reached the bottom in one piece You Could Ride a Bike.

Quite a few of us learnt to ride a bike in this way.

About this time friendships were being forged and I think I should mention a few of them here:

Ted Batsford

Aubrey Lawrence

John Hall

Alan Proctor

Billy Willis

Albert Jones

and later Tom Boulstridge came to live at the Hearty Goodfellow Pub.

Ted and Tom became my particular friends and would spend quite a lot of time in our house where mum set about teaching us to sew and darn socks and make rugs. 

I think this is where my initial liking for things culinary began.

When I was about 12 years old I got a part-time job at Lester’s the Chemists in the evenings and on Saturdays.  I ran errands, washed medicine bottles and generally helped the Pharmacist.

I remember going to Dr McDonald’s with some medicines and ringing the doorbell twice.  The Doctor told me off and said “Knock twice, but only ring once!”  I have never forgotten that.

I didn’t sit the Grammar School Entrance Examination, as we couldn’t afford it so I left school at fourteen and went to be an apprentice at BLH, Coventry.

It was an awful job, the wages were 4s 3d a week but it cost me 4s 6d to travel to and from work.  So with the cost of a packed lunch it really was a dead loss.

Before I signed my papers I decided to try something else and went to Lister’s Carpet Manufacturers, Nuneaton to try working there.

It was much more congenial as far as working conditions were concerned and fairly interesting but working in a factory with a lot of women and girls brought a lot of problems.

The girls led us a ‘dog’s life’ but eventually the worm turned!

Three of us got hold of one of the girls who had been tormenting us and we tied her to a Stretching Machine and threatened to turn on the steam and stretch her if she and the rest of the women didn’t leave us alone.

However, the rest of them made such a commotion that the foreman came along and the three of us were sacked.  I suppose we could have appealed but I don’t think it would have helped.

So I set off into town and got a job as an Errand Boy at Worthington’s the Grocers in Abbey Street.

The hours were longer than the factory but most of the time I was out in the fresh air plus the working conditions were very congenial.

The hours worked were:

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday 9.00 am – 6.00 pm with an hour for lunch

Thursday 9.00 am – 1.00 pm

Friday 9.00 am – 8.30 pm

Saturday 9.00 am – until there were no more customers, usually 9.30 – 10.00pm

On Mondays I went out with the Assistant to collect orders all around Tuttle Hill, Camp Hill, Oldbury Road, Hartshill, Ridge Lane, Birchley Heath, Bentley, Ansley and back through Stockingford to the shop.  Then home for a late lunch.

After lunch I would carry on with the shop work, cleaning of weights & scales, the preparation areas, stockrooms etc.  Also, I unpacked boxes of goods and stocked the shop shelves.

Then there was the job of making rook for the delivery of goods due on the following morning, usually two lorry loads.  One mainly tinned & dry groceries and the other provisions i.e. bacon, cheese, butter, lard, margarine, sausages, cooked meats etc.

All this had to be stacked away in order with the provisions either hung up or put onto shelves in the cellar, which was the coldest place in the shop.  This usually took all of Tuesday.

On Wednesday, after cleaning the shop windows, floors and scales etc it was time to start making up the orders for delivery.  These were put up in the back of the shop minus any perishables.

After being checked and priced they were then put on a long bench in order of delivery.  This was a full day’s work and on Wednesday evening this room looked like a Railway Parcels Office.

Some of the orders would be delivered on Thursday morning and the rest on Friday.

Before they could be taken out we had to remember to add the perishables, so first thing Thursday and Friday morning it was a case of slicing the bacon, cutting the cheese and getting butter, lard & margarine etc to put into the correct parcels.

Then it was off with the morning’s deliveries.

Thursdays was usually up Tuttle Hill, Camp Hill Road, Bucks Hill and any Stockingford orders.  That was a good two cycle loads so two Errand Boys set off, rain or shine, for a nice morning’s cycling.

We had a very good relationship with all our customers and were often plied with cups of tea, buns & cakes, a sit by the fire when it was cold and often given a few coppers as a tip.

On Fridays we each went our own way because of the distances to be covered and the time.

I usually did Oldbury Road, Ridge Lane, Bentley, Birchley Heath on my first load and then Ansley Hall, Ansley Village & Stockingford for my second. 

These journeys were planned so that the load got less as you went along and this meant I could usually call at home for my lunch either at the end of my first load or at the beginning of my second.

Our journeys usually ended a the shop about 5.00 pm and then we would have a cup of tea and get on with more work until about 8.00 pm when we would start getting ready for closing.

Saturdays our work was mainly around the shop with the occasional carrying of a load of shopping to the bus or railway station for a customer.  Mainly though it was a case of filling shelves in the shop and helping the Shop Assistants, which was the way we learnt our skills of selling and reckoning the orders.

It was a BIG DAY when the Manager said “Get your a set of whites and help …………………. On the Counter!”

Our uniform in those days was a short white double breasted jacket with green collar and cuffs and a long white apron which reached to the floor.

About 9.00 pm on Saturdays we would start emptying the windows and packing everything away, including the display of provisions and eggs, usually a full two crates.

If we were lucky there wouldn’t be any more customers at 9.45 pm and we would be able to lock up and off to the dance or some other means of entertainment.

Quite a week!

The wages per week at this time were:

Errand Boy – 14/-

Shop Assistant – 17/6d

plus extra pay for various skills e.g. Provision Hand, 1st Hand, Assistant Manager & Manager

Our social life was very dependant on evening classes and the Youth Club run at the school by Mr Ernest Randle, Headmaster.

Occasionally, there were dances held at the Scout Hut or the Church School run by Mr Eric Lucas.

At the Youth Club we had classes in Mathematics and Art and an Open Session on General Subjects.  We even talked about Sex & Birth Control so we were very advanced for those days!

One night per week we had a Social Evening and Miss Payne taught us Ballroom Dancing. 

We had to do it properly:

Go to the lady and bow

Ask if she would like to dance

Afterwards we had to take her back to her seat, bow and thank her

We had quite a lot of fun.

I remember we had a Fancy Dress Ball and I got myself fixed up as The Laughing Cavalier with a crimson velvet tunic & knee breeches, white silk hose and lace collar and cuffs.  I had a black hat with ostrich plumes, a proper sword and buckles on my shoes.

I took all of this to the school in a big bag and got changed.

I won First Prize and my partner, Betty Flanagan, won First Prize in the Ladies Section dressed as a Dairy Maid.

Afterwards I went to get changed and my clothes had gone, bag and all.

So I had to take Betty all the way home dressed as The Laughing Cavalier.  Thank the Lord it was dark and there was the Blackout.  When I got home to 323 Arbury Road there was my bag of clothes on the doorstep.

Some of my ‘friends’ had taken them as a prank.

Sometimes, straight from work we went to the Saturday Dance.  We only had about one and half dancing at the most and funnily enough Pat, my future wife, also used to go sometimes although we never met as far as we could remember.

When news of the War was announced I was helping my dad deliver gas masks and ARP instructions to the people of Arbury Road. 

The War was under way by this time and so a lot of things were curtailed especially in the evenings.

The Youth Club and the Evening Institute classes were still being run so a lot of our spare time was spent at the school.  All the classes finished at 9.00 pm so we were nearly always home by 10.00 pm.

We would occasionally go to the pictures if there was something special showing but most of the girls in the group were expected to be home by 10.00 pm so it was usually the early showing and then walk home.

Our Gang had more or less become a constant mix of members and these were myself and:

Tom Boulstridge

Ted Batsford

Jack Hickey

Johnny Meads

Frank Pitcher

Audrey Lumb

Jean Wincote

Doreen Slack

Jean & Margaret Flowers

Plus friend of a friend to make up numbers

Sundays were the days we all got together and had a good afternoon of walking and talking of plans for events, most of which never happened.

As we grew older we made other friendships usually from our places of work.  I teamed up for a long time with Effie Carter from Worthington’s.  This meant we could go out together for a cycle ride on Thursday afternoons.

Effie had a very strict Chapel upbringing so Sundays were out and so was dancing.  Our relationship ended when I told her I was joining the Scots Guards.  She later joined the WAAF and eventually married an Airman.

When the lads reached the age of 17 (1942) we all joined the Home Guard and used to have one evening and Sunday mornings training.

We had a lot of laughs and enjoyed it immensely.

Also, I used to do one night a week Fire Watching in Abbey Street, Nuneaton.

Our Duty Room was over the Conservative Offices and the Watch consisted of various men from the shops and businesses in the vicinity.

On our team were:

Myself – Grocer

A butcher from Dewhursts

A baker from Yoxhalls

An undertaker from Smiths

We had loads of laughs and plenty of food and drink. 

We always needed the next day off work to get over a night’s duty.

Sometimes the Home Guard had to do a Night Duty at the Abattoir in St Mary’s Road, Nuneaton and that was a ‘different kettle of fish’.

There were always animals about making all sorts of queer noises.  We had to patrol around to make sure everything was okay. 

We took our duties very seriously except for one night when a huge bull got loose!

Discretion being the better part of valour we locked ourselves in the Guard Room and waited until the Abattoir Day Staff arrived and penned him up.

We used to get air raids at night and quite a few nights were spent in the air raid shelter in our garden.

Our worst night of course was when Nuneaton was bombed; it was very frightening.

Then, there was the Coventry Blitz, which we could see across the fields opposite our house.  We could tell which areas were being bombed because we knew where the various places were on the skyline.

Dad would be on ARP Duty at night and at work in Coventry during the day, and like so many others got really tired out.

Anyway we did have some quiet nights too.

During 1942 we kept seeing the chaps who were a little older than us being called up into the different forces and we decided to volunteer so that we could join what we wanted to rather than being conscripted.

Ted & Tom went into the Navy, Frank into the RAF and one Thursday afternoon I went over to Coventry and volunteered for the Scots Guards.

I had my medical on 12th December and they told me I wouldn’t be ‘called up’ before Christmas.  So we settled down to wait and to look forward to having a nice Christmas break.

All was going well and then Christmas Even at about 5.00 pm my mother came to the shop with a telegram.

I had to report to Caterham, Surrey on the 28th December 1942.  I was 17 years old.

This was the end of an Era!

I spent the next three days visiting all my close relatives and friends to say good bye to them and in spending as much time as possible with my parents.

All too soon Christmas was over and it was on the 28th when a very apprehensive young man set out to make the journey into the unknown.

I had to catch the 9.20 am train from Trent Valley Station to London.  I had never been to London before so didn’t know what to expect. 

I was in uniform as being a member of the Home Guard I had to take my battledress with me and when I arrived at Euston it was a whole new world to me.

I had never envisaged anything like it.

A huge station with hundreds of people milling around and I had to find my way to London Bridge.

Anyway, I saw a Military Policeman and he told me to go down to the Underground and also which train to get onto, how many stations it would stop at etc.  He was very knowledgable.

So armed with this information I set off and soon got to London Bridge.

There were a lot of military people about, all very smart & shining and all very, very efficient.  So fearfully approaching one of them I said

“Excuse me Sergeant could you direct me to Caterham Barracks, please?”

He let out a roar to someone in the distance.

“Another on here for Devil’s Island.”  And pointed me in the direction of an electric train which was rapidly filling up with other bewildered people.

I got on board and silently the train drew out of the station.  It was a strange feeling, no noise of a locomotion, no steam, no smoke just a light rumble.

It didn’t take long to get to Caterham but the time was spent in a strangely subdued jumble of young men.  All slightly in awe of each other and all slightly frightened and apprehensive of what was going to happen.

When the train arrived at Caterham we were ushered out into the station approach and put into khaki painted buses and the short journey to ‘Devil’s Island’ began.

Up the hill there was a big building surrounded by a wall all around it.  The NCO in charge told us that it was the old barracks but now a Lunatic Asylum where most of us ought to be for joining the Guards.

Then, right next door was the barracks and we were debased and ushered inside the gates and into a hut which I learnt was the Guard Room of the Gates of Hell.

Here we were counted, names written down, and counted again. 

Then in small groups we were dispatched, in the company of an Orderly, to various parts of the camp.

Seemingly, I must have been the last of my squad to arrive because I was sent with an Orderly, on my own to join Sergeant Barker in the Scots Guards Reception.

The Orderly set off at a fast pace, down the road, arms swinging like windmill sails with me in the rear with all my luggage.

When I suggested he slowed down a bit all I got was “Don’t talk, just keep going.”

We passed groups of men in various modes of dress and undress and the only thing that was similar with them was that they were all in a hurry.

Little did I know that I should soon also be in a hurry!

We arrived at a hut and the orderly opened the door, marched in, banged his feet down and shouted “ Recruit Cassidy”, he pushed me towards and elderly sergeant who was the Receiving Officer for the Scots Guards.  

This ‘gentleman’, the last I was to see for sometime, welcomed me to the Regiment and introduced me to the other 20 or so young men in the hut and showed me where to put may luggage.

We were taken to another huge building which I now know was the NAAFI and we were supplied with tea, sandwiches and Wads (buns) and allowed to chatter amongst ourselves.

Most of the talk was, where we came from, were we a 4 & 8 a 7 & 5 or the lowest of the low, a conscript.

After tea we were shepherded back to the hut and our introduction began.

We would not stay in this hut, it was too clean, tidy and warm.  We were now to be known as Squad 24c and would go to Hut 3.

“That is your bed, your floor space and your locker – keep them clean!”

Then outside for a haircut from a ‘Trainee Sheep Shearer’ pretending to be a barber.  Luckily, I was used to having short hair and I only needed a trim but one poor Scots boy had lovely long blonde hair and off it came.  He was almost in tears.

Next to the Stores for a palliase and pillow, followed by a trip to the Straw Shed to fill the palliase and pillow with clean straw.  This was our bed so we filled them up well enough.

Back to the Hut then to the Stores again.

3 blankets, pillow slip and then our uniform of 2 blousons, 2 trousers, 2 caps, 3 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of boots, 2 pairs of plimsolls, 3 shirts, 1 PE vest and a pair of shorts.  Plus seeing as how it was winter, 2 woollen vests and 2 woollen pants, which we could wear until April when they would be exchanged for cotton ones.

Also, 1 Greatcoat, 1 groundsheet, 1 Gas Cape, 1 respirator, 1 housewife kit, 2 boot brushes, 1 brass brush, 1 button stick, washing & shaving kit, knife, fork, spoon, mug, holdall, set of webbing and 1 kit bag.

Thus laden we returned to our Hut to put away all of our kit until tomorrow when after a medical, to see if we were fit enough for the Guards, we should have a visit from a Tailor to see if our uniform could be made to fit us.

Now it was time for our first Army meal. 

Fall in outside our Hut holding our knife, fork, spoon and mug in our left hand and MARCH to the Mess Room where our meal was served.  I can’t remember what it was but it wasn’t too bad.

Fall in outside MARCH back to Hut 3, sit on bed and talk and get to know one another.

On one side of me was Jack Barrand 1351 and on the other side was John Adams 1350.  I was 1352.  These two were to become my real mates for a long time.

Amongst the others were:

Harry Forshaw

? Ramsbottom

? Wilson

? Eastlake

? McCallum

In all, including the Trained Soldier to look after us, 24 in total.

During the evening we had a visit from L/Cpl Pointon who was to be our Corporal.  He was like a broomstick and we would later find out why.  It was a very subdued Squad that was put to bed that night at 9.30 pm.

Lights Out was sounded at 10.00 pm and that meant BE QUIET!

I had gone from a kind, loving home where I was cared for and cosseted to somewhere I was just a number to be shouted at and told to do things, and be expected to do them right first time.

What did tomorrow hold for us? What would we do? How would we do it?

We were soon to know.

6.30 am Reveille. A strange wailing noise – Bagpipes. 

Outside in our PE Kit to run around the Huts and back inside. 

Back outside, wash, shave etc and back inside.

Make our bed, sweep the floor and dress for breakfast. 

Outside again.

MARCH to Mess Hall, eat, MARCH back to Hut.

Clean Hut, get dressed for Medical.

MARCH to M.I Room.

Strip off, stand in line for inspection by Medical Officer.

Move to line for vaccinations, get dressed and move line for Dental Inspection.

MARCH back to Hut.

Find one poor blonde Scots boy packing up his Kit because he had failed his medical.  Never even got to find out his name.

Thus started our first day at “Devil’s Island’.

It was very bewildering at first but one soon got used to the rushing around, and the ‘do this’, ‘do that’, ‘come here’ and ‘go there’.

We had our visit from the Tailor during the morning and surprisingly enough most of our uniforms did actually fit, just a few modifications to be made and our life at Caterham could start.

Days consisted of periods of DRILL, WEAPON TRAINING, DRILL, P.E. & more DRILL.  All of which had a different dress so we learnt to  change from one to another in a couple of minutes.  Everything was done in a hurry.

Outside activities usually ended about 3.30 pm and then it was back to the Hut to light the fire and settle down to Lectures on a variety of topics.

These included:

Regimental History  i.e. Battle Honours, VC winners etc

Officers Bugle Calls

Pipe Calls

Whilst this was going on we also learnt how to clean the Hut, how to fold our clothes & blankets, how to lay out our Kit for Inspection as laid down in Regimental Tradition and how to clean the Hut and equipment to the NCO’s approval.

A word about this equipment.

There were two coal buckets, one large coal bin, 4 fire buckets, 2 tables, 4 benches, a sweeping brush, deck scrubber & shovel.

When they were issued to us they were dirty so the coal bin and buckets had to be polished inside and out.  The fire buckets painted white inside and red outside whilst the table, benches and brushes had to be scrubbed until they were bleached white.

The hut floor was scrubbed on Saturday mornings and every other day dry scrubbed and all the windows were cleaned at least once a week.

To do all these tasks a rota was made so that everyone had a bash at everything in turn.

On Saturday afternoons there was always fatigues to be done i.e. coal deliveries to the Huts & Married Quarters, Cook House duties, NAAFI fatigues, cleaning of the Training Areas etc.  So any misdemeanour during the week meant extra work at the weekends and in some cases in the evenings after dinner.

We all did our fair share of the jobs and some like one thing more than others so we very often swapped.

In the evenings, after we had cleaned our kit and had our meal we would write letters, make do & mend, and, if we could afford it sometimes go to the NAFI for a drink and sometimes a bit of supper.

I earned many a supper by being able to darn socks and other simple sewing jobs.  Darning a pair of socks nicely meant a pie and mash in the NAAFI.  Some of the chaps had never seen a needle before let alone used one.

I used to write a letter almost every night to someone; Mum & Dad, Effie Carter, Uncle Alex or Mum’s Uncle Harry in Cardiff.

We weren’t allowed out of Camp for the first four weeks until we could walk and behave like Guardsmen. 

We had to Pass Out on the Parade Square by marching across it and saluting properly to the left, right and front and if we were successful we were allowed out until 10.00 pm plus Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

After we had learnt how to march properly we were issued with our rifles and had to learn Arms Drill, which made life a little more interesting. 

It also meant something else to clean!

All the rifles in the Squad would be polished to the same colour but the use of Kiwi and they would shine like glass.  The bayonets were polished too and the scabbards painted black.

The inside of the rifle would be inspected daily and God Help anyone with a dirty barrel.

I had a respite from Duty after about a month by way of a cold. 

I felt really rough and a couple of us went down to the Fox Pub, which was outside the Barracks.  I had a couple of whiskeys.

When I went to bed I was feverish so they sent for the Medical Orderly who took my temperature and ordered me to hospital.

I was taken to the Caterham General, the only soldier in there.  It was smashing.  Nothing was too good for me, the best food & drinks whenever I wanted them. 

It was hard going back to the Barracks but I didn’t want to be Back Squadded so I was once more in the fray.

After we had Passed Out and were allowed to go out of the Barracks we used to go into Purley to the cinema or the Skating Rink which was as far as we could afford to travel.

Three months into our training we really started to be put through our paces.  We had one month before our final Passing Out Parade and no one wanted to be put back a squad or leave at this stage.

Our Saturday morning Adjutant’s Parade became the important one of the week and we used to be on the Parade Square a good couple of hours being drilled by the Superintendent Sergeant Major.

In the week we had extra Foot Drill and Arms Drill and extra questioning but our Officers during cleaning sessions.

Finally, the great day arrived and we were on the Square looking, in our minds, like real Guardsmen.

After showing off for two hours the RSM said that he thought we might make Guardsmen eventually.  The Commanding Officer agreed that we could be let out into the unsuspecting world not as recruits but we could be called GUARDSMEN.

Many were the big sighs of relief that morning and then all weekend was spent packing our kit ready to go to Pirbright but before that we had ten days leave to look forward to.

On the Monday morning we were fallen in, in full marching order and marched to the station to get on the train for Brookwood.  We were all very excited and feeling very pleased with ourselves.

On arrival at Brookwood we got into our troop carriers to go to Pirbright and we were fallen in on the big Square and detailed into Companies that we would spend the next eight weeks training in.

I was in ‘P’ Company along with Jack Barrand, Harry Forshaw and J Adams.

We were taken to our Quarters and told to leave our kit on a bed, give the Storeman 2/- to see to it for us and collect our Leave Pass and Travel Documents to go on Leave.  Never have so many walked to Brookwood Station so quickly.  We were on the train and into Lon don before we could get dusty.

It is funny how different things can be, or appear to be, after one has been away for a time.  I was really looking forward to being at home and it was nice to be with Mum & Dad again but there was something missing. It is only afterwards that one realised what it was – the comradeship.  We had been made into a team in just 4 short months!

Anyway the ten days leave soon passed and once again I was back at Pirbright.

Training took a different shape now.  We were being trained into different things.  Some were earmarked for Infantry, others as Motorised Infantry and some as Tank Troops.  We had many different tests during the 2 months.

We were taught to drive all sorts of vehicles from motorcycles to 3-Tonne Trucks and from Jeeps to Tracked Vehicles.  I passed as a Driver Mechanic and was posted to the Guards Armoured Division Training Wing in the Black Huts at Pirbright.  It was an entirely different form of life.

Our dress was a pair of overalls known as a Tank Suit plus a black beret.  We were taught to drive tanks; Crusaders, Centurians, Honeys & Churchills.  Long hours were spent in lectures and doing practical work on maintenance, gunnery and radio operating.

We would spend 2-3 days away from Camp on exercise and learnt how to live and work as a Crew.

A Crew was made up of a Tank Commander (Officer or NCO), Driver,

Co-Driver/Gunner. Gunner and Radio Operator/Loader.  One of the advantages of this training was that we had the weekends free and could get Leave Passes about every three weeks.

I was lucky because I could get home in about 4 hours.

On one of these weekends I took Jack Barrand home with me and we decided to go dancing at the Co-op Hall on the Saturday night.  We teamed up with a couple of young ladies and at the end of the night we walked them home to Attleborough.

The one I walked home was Pat (Florrie) Thompson and while Jack was taking Marie home I stayed and talked to Pat.  We arranged to write to each other and to meet again whenever possible.

Thus started the finest thing that ever happened to a man, a friendship that was to last over 30 years.  The date being 12.12.1943.

Letters soon started to pass between us and when I was granted leave over Christmas & New Year our friendship blossomed into romance.  Pat visited my home and Mum & Dad took to her immediately.

I visited her family and there was a family.  Ken, Joan, Cynth, George, Joyce & Roy.

We had a lovely Leave and when it ended we were at the Station saying goodbye when my Uncle Alex arrived and said

“I haven’t come to stay.  I will leave you young married people alone.”

Thus started a joke that was to have a funny twist in the year to follow.

We, that is Pat & I decided to play a joke on Jack Barrand and pretended that we had married over Christmas.  Pat wrote me a letter saying To My Darling Husband, and filled it with all sorts of nonsense, so I could show it to Jack.

It caused quite a stir, but when the lads started to have a collection for a Wedding Present I had to own up and tell them it was all a joke.  All of them knew except one, Bill Ferris, who was still on Leave.  More about this later.

Meanwhile, our Training had come on a pace and we were soon to be tested in our various skills.  I became a Qualified Driver Mechanic/Gunner and was eventually posted to the 3rd Battalion who had just moved to Thoresby Park, Nottinghamshire.  So this pleased me no end as it was nearer home.

On arrival I was put into ’S’ Squadron and we were living in Nissen huts in the grounds of Thoresby Hall.

It was a lovely setting all in amongst the trees of Sherwood Forest and at night the deer used to come around the huts on the scrounge. 

There was also a lot of Highland Cattle in the park and if we had been out to Ollerton for a drink it was a bit alarming to meet a beast with huge horns on the path back home.

There were gentle enough really!

There was also a large lake and our P.T. Staff soon had us running around it in the mornings.

The Coldstream Guards and Grenadiers were in the same area at Rufford Park and Welbeck Abbey and the three Regiments became the 6th Guards Tank Brigade together with other Units such as the Royal Artillery, REME & Royal Army Medical Corps.  In fact we were beginning to look like a fighting unit.

H.M. King George visited the Brigade whilst we were at Thoresby, so you can imaginge what the main activity was ……………. BULL.

The tanks were all cleaned and painted, and I must say they looked very good.

Whilst were at Thoresby I met up with two more Nuneatonians,

Sgt Dick Watts and his brother Doug and although we didn’t spend much time together we did occasionally travel home on Leave in one another’s company.

However, I was soon on the move again.

I was posted to the Forward Delivery Squadron at Eckington, nr Sheffield where we were to train on Recovery Work and more Mechanical Training.  We were billeted in various buildings around the village and had a great deal of freedom.

Our social HQ was the White Hart Pub kept by Mr & Mrs Speed.  We arranged for Mum & Dad and Pat to come up for a weekend and stay in the Pub.  This proved to be an eventful weekend.

They arrived on Friday while I was doing a job on a Tank and Pat just kind of materialised at the back of this it.  I jumped down and flung my arms around her forgetting that I was covered in oil & grease and she had an oatmeal coloured fur fabric coat on.  It had a lovely pattern of two handprints on the back of it for the whole of the weekend.

We got engaged that weekend and had a right old party at the White Hart Pub.

I was drinking Black Velvet most of the evening and can’t remember going back to the billet.  I loaned one of the chaps 10/- and luckily he was honest and repaid me.

Pat had a strange happening.

Whilst she was getting ready in her room at the Pub the light bulb fell out and although the Landlord tried to put a new one in the holder it wouldn’t stay in.  So Pat had to dress by candle light.

After the party she went to bed and someone called her name.  She thought it was me but the voice kept calling Pat, Pat, Pat.  She called to Mum & Dad to see if it was either of them, but they said not.  Things quietened down and everybody went back to sleep.

Next morning Pat mentioned it to the Landlord and he laughed and explained that the ghost of Charlie Peace, the murderer, reputedly haunted her room.  Rather strange as Pat’s Grandmother’s name was Peace!

That morning the whole Detachment was to be on Parade at HQ to be inspected by Field Marshal Montgomery but I managed to get a Pass signed by 3rd Lieutenant Fleming enabling me to be excused and so spend the whole weekend with my family.

Things were really beginning to happen now and we were hurriedly returned to our Units and everything was packed up and put ready for the big move. 

I managed to have another break though; I developed a boil on a very awkward part of my posterior and was sent to the Military Hospital at Osberton Hall where I spent a rather uncomfortable week.

At least it was a lovely place and the gardens had the most wonderful Magnolias I had ever seen.

When I came out of hospital I went back to Thoresby but the Battalion had gone and no one knew where.  So I got a Travel Warrant to Pirbright, via Nuneaton of course, and returned to the Guards Armoured Training Wing.

I hadn’t any kit and no one knew where to send me so I was put on the

Specialist  Waterproofing Course, issued with some kit and sent to Slough.

We were waterproofing tanks, lorries, jeeps, carriers etc ready for the Invasion.  I was working 12-14 hour days in a big orange marquee.  It was interesting but very hard work.

The Officers were messing in a Sports Complex along with a lot of Italian Internees and they asked me if I would take charge of their messing arrangements, which I did willingly.

There were about 6 Officers, and my duties were to look after their meals, mail, do any shopping they required and supervise the Mess for their evening meals.

It was a doddle.  After serving breakfast I was free until about 5.00 pm then free again after dinner was over at about 7.30 pm.

I used to got to the Community Centre and use their Library, have a drink and bite of lunch, back to the billets for a rest and then get the Mess ready, serve their meals and then out to the Centre again to a dance or play darts, snooker or just sit and talk and have a snack. 

It really was the Good Life!

This soon came to end though as one morning loads of aircraft started going over whilst it was still dark and then the radio announced the 2nd Front had started.

Once again I was on the move, this time to Bovington, Dorset where there was a huge gathering of troops. 

We were put under the control of the Guards Armoured Corps Holding Unit ready to go to Normandy.

Just before D Day we were limited to our particular areas i.e. we could go into London but no further.  So how was I to get home for a weekend?

Well, we went up to Waterloo for a start, and then onto the Underground to a station on the outskirts.  Watford was the best as there were no MPs about.  Then we got a ticket from Watford to Nuneaton; the only problem being was having to change at Rugby.  The place was crawling with Redcaps so we had to dive off the train and into the Refreshment Room to wait for our connecting train.

When it was due I went back onto the platform only to discover the connecting train had left from another platform.  To rub salt into the wounds the MPs had gone too.

Next train wasn’t due until 10.15 hours, TOMORROW!

So I decided to hitch the last 20 miles to Nuneaton.  Trouble was that there were no signposts and nobody to ask either so it was a case of ‘Trust to Luck’ and keep walking.

I kept hoping for a lift but after 4 hours I got to a big roundabout and tossed a coin, chose the road and eventually got to Coventry.  Everything looked so different in the Blackout and with the bomb damage.

Finally, I came upon a Policeman standing outside Coventry Police Station and asked if I could have a drink of water.  He sent me inside to see the Sergeant who asked me where I was going and where I had come from.

He accepted my story  and got me a cup of tea and a bit of bread & cheese.  Then he rang the Ambulance Station to see if they had any vehicles going to Nuneaton but no luck.

So I continued my walk.

I remember getting to Longford and my shoes were killing me so I took them off and walked to Bermuda Turn in my socks.  I put them back on to walk through Bermuda because of the sharp chipping and got through onto Heath End Road and then off with the shoes again and the last mile in my socks.

I arrived home at 323 Arbury Road at 6.00 am on the Sunday morning.

My feet were red raw so had to soak them in Permanganate of Potash and the only good thing was that Pat was there for the weekend.  I had about four hours sleep and then was able to go out for a drink with Dad and his mates.

A bit more rest with my Pat and I remember telling her that if anything happened to me and I was badly injured  or whatever she was to give me up and make her own life.  But God Bless her she promptly replied that if I was good enough for her as I was then I would be good enough if I was damaged.  That if I couldn’t look after her she would look after me.

That sort of thing kept many men going through the war.

Anyway, all too soon I had to put my shoes on again and I caught the 18.20 hours train back to London. 

There was no bother going back and I got into Slough without any trouble.  Although, I had to take a taxi back to camp as my feet were in a terrible state, but I had seen my folks for a few hours before I went abroad.

Whilst I was there I got a letter from Ted Batsford telling me he was stationed at Poole Harbour.

We were confined to camp so I wrote and suggested he tried to get to see me, and sure enough he turned up.

We went to see the RSM of the Irish Guards and he gave me permission to go out to Wool, the nearest village, where Ted & I started to paint the town red.

We’d had quite a lot to drink when a lorry turned up with some Military Police and I was escorted back to camp.  It was a good job I had a Pass as I had about 3 hours to pack my kit and get some sleep before being put on a lorry again.

We were driven along the coast some way and then onto an airfield where we were loaded onto Dakotas for the trip across the Channel.  My first sighting of the enemy was being shown some vehicles and men down below us and being told “those are Jerries.”

We landed somewhere near to Bayeux and were hurried into trucks and driven into the countryside near to Caan where we were told to bed down as best we could.

We couldn’t light any fires or make any noise as the enemy was only a few hundred yards away.

Shortly, afterwards we were collected together and we formed the Forward Delivery Squadron of the 6th Guards Tank Brigade attached to the 3rd Battalion Scots Guards. 

I was Home, not very sweet but Home!

I am not going to try and write the history of WW2.  Anyone who wishes to read all about the various battles should read The History of the 6th Guards Tank Brigade by Patrick Forbes.

The following are various memories of my own, not necessarily in any particular order but to the best of my memory.

The biggest memory to me, I think, was the scenes of death and destruction that appeared wherever one looked.  Buildings shattered and burned, cows and horses in grotesque attitudes along with the smell and the flies.  It was little wonder that Dysentery was rife.

We were so mobile in these early days of the Advance that proper latrines were almost impossible. I was struck down by Dysentery and although I have laughed about it since it was no joke at the time.

If you can imagine going to the loo about 60 to 70 times a day and the loo is just a pole over a hole in the ground.

We did have a luxury loo.  That was a ladder over a long trench.

It was rather funny in that every time I was there, there was a Coldstreamer there too.

After a couple of days we had time to pass the time of day and discovered we knew each other.  It was Ron Garner  who kept the Hairdressers by Stockingford Station.

We were removed to hospital together after having spent a night in the rain together, and except for a sudden Advance we would have been repatriated to Blighty.

The treatment for Dysentery was Sulphate Quinnodine Tablets.  Treatment started at:

24 tablets and 1 quart of water

Four  hours later – 20 tablets and 1 quart of water

Then, 18, 15, 12, 9 and 6 tablets and water over the next 24 hours.

Then it was 4 tablets and a quart of water until the Doctor thought you had, had enough.  I have never drunk so much water either before or since.

We were in a tented Hospital run by American Nurses and it was very funny at one time because one of the local farmer’s daughter’s was taking their Bull to visit a Cow.

These nurses had never seen or heard anything like it before so we had to explain all about it.  I think they thought milk came naturally in tins.

When Ron and I left hospital I went to ‘B’ Echelon of ’S’ Squadron.  That was driving an Ammunition Truck and delivering ammo to the tanks up at the Front.  This was usually at night, but not always.

After delivering a load we would go to a dump in the rear and reload the truck.  Then back to Base to sleep on top of the truck until we made another delivery.

Sometimes we were mortared or shelled but still slept on top of 3 tons of high explosives or maybe a load of petrol.

Things were moving quite fast these days and we were never very long in any one area so didn’t get to know much about any of the towns.  I do remember Caen, St Martin, Falaise, Les Andeley but mainly only as names.

About now I spent further time as a Tank Driver, driving a Recovery Tank.  That is one without a turret or any main armament capability but fitted with a jib for lifting.  They also had heavy chains and cables for towing.

The crew consisted of 3 personnel.  Driver Mechanic, Co-Driver/Radio Operator and a Technical Sergeant  of the REME.

We actually had quite a good time because the Advance for Brussels took place and the Front moved so quickly that I actually drove for 3 days and nights almost non-stop.  Stopping only for fuel and food and the basic essentials of life.

We entered Brussels with the Guards Armoured Corps and I am sorry to say saw very little of the City or of the people. 

It was press on to the frontier and Holland.

On some of the short breaks during this mad rush we learned how to get fresh bread and mushrooms and how to make a good, quick meal.  A tine of bacon, eggs, mushrooms and bread.  Lovely!

The way to get bread and eggs was to swap a tin of Salmon or Sardines/Pilchards from our Ration Packs with the locals.  They really loved any tinned fish and we nearly always had some in our Rations.

We were slowed down at this time by the Battle of Ardennes.

Having gone beyond this area we had to turn around and help the Americans out in the Battle of the Bulge.  The weather was very cold and quite a lot of snow fell.  All those old fashioned ideas of lovely snowy landscapes went by the board pretty sharpish when one had to sleep in it.

Eventually, we did cross the Dutch border and amongst the first people we saw were Dutch Boy Scouts wearing orange armbands.

We really were hailed as the conquering heroes.

We spent a short rest period in a village name Nunen/Boorde and lived on a farm above the cow byre, which was the warmest place on the farm.

During the day we would help the farmer’s daughters in ‘plucking turnips’ that was digging up swedes and mangolds to feed their cows.

We enjoyed this brief respite and the family made a great fuss over us.

From here we moved up to St Hertogen Cosh and Helmond where we were first of all billeted in a Rope Works, part of the Wrights Ropes Company of Birmingham.

Then once again my tummy played up and I was moved into the owner’s house and cared for, for a few days, by Mrs Wright who had stayed in Holland during the War and had married the owner of the Rope Works.

Later I was admitted to hospital and was cared for by Nuns and Army Nurses in a Dutch Hospital that had been taken over by the Military.

I spent Christmas 1944 in there and all the Nuns & Nurses came all through the Wards singing carols and carrying little candle lanterns. 

There were many a tear stained face in the Wards as all our thoughts were of home and our loved ones.

However my treatment here was, to my thoughts, very drastic!

I was given huge enemas followed by even bigger washouts in order to purge my stomach of any filth.  My rations consisted of 1/2 pint of milk three times a day.  This went in one end and straight out the other.

The medicine I was given was Opium based and I don’t think it did me much good at all.  I can say it was the quickest way to lose weight as my weight dropped to 8 stone 12 lbs.

However, the infection or whatever it was cleared up and I was allowed back to a Convalescent Camp at Burg Leopold before returning to the Battalion at Helmond.

One evening I was going out for a walk around the Town when a young Dutch boy stopped me and asked if I would like to visit his family.  I did, and a friendship was struck up with the family. 

Doctors van Luewen, Nikki, Ricky, Deeni, Tini, Momma & Poppa.

They all spoke English to a fair standard and I had some very enjoyable evenings with them.

Nikki eventually joined the Dutch Airforce and went to England to train.  He visited Mum & Dad and Pat for me on one of his short Leaves.

We were now preparing for another push and set off for Eindhoven and our first lager area was in some woods near to Geldrop.Most of the lads wanted to explore the nearby villages and so off they went. 

I volunteered to stay with the vehicles and during the evening there was a lot of noise and vehicles moving around in the woods.  I thought it was another Unit moving in but I later learnt it was actually a German Unit moving out.

I had been alone in the woods with dozens of Germans!

Another funny thing  happened in that Wood.

We had dug our Latrines, a long deep trench and put a couple of poles across to sit on, screened it all off with camouflage netting so it was all very nice.

It had been in use for a couple of days when we suffered a Mortar Attack.  One of the chaps had just gone to the loo when a mortar shell dropped right in front of it.

We all rushed over expecting to pick up the bits when a voice said “Get me out of here”.  The explosion had blown him right into the Trench.

Talk about ‘covered in it’. PHEW!

We moved up from here to Tilborg and then joined in the Push for Arnhem.  It was a very frustrating time.

There was the spectacle of seeing all the planes and gliders with the Paratroopers dropping onto Arnhem but then we came to move up and couldn’t get over the Bridge.

I have often wondered if the War would have finished any sooner if we could have joined up with the 6th Airborne at that time.

We were pulled back to Tilborg, and then right back to help the ‘Yanks’ re-establish the Front from the Ardennes onwards to Germany.

The Lines of Communication were stretched so far by now that every available lorry and driver were called on to run convoys from Antwerp Docks to the various Fronts.

We certainly built up some mileage and we were grabbing sleep whenever and wherever we could grab it.

Nearly all our food was eaten on the move and a stop for a brew up was a real luxury.

On one of these runs we were pulling in to have a break and to grab a bit of shuteye and I left my mate to park the truck.  I had just got my trousers off and rolled into a blanket on top of our load of ammunition when we were strafed by a German plane.  I dived off the truck and into the ditch at the side of the road.

After a few minutes we were ordered to move off and so I jumped into the truck, started off thinking it was only going to be for a short time.

However, we drove all night and the morning found us pulling into the German town of Celle.  We stopped right in the centre and there was a Cooks Wagon with hot tea and sandwiches and everyone made a Beeline and there I was starving but in my short drawers and socks.

I had to get to the back of the truck to get my trousers and boots.

The German population must have wondered what the Conquering Army was coming to.

Soon after this our Section was returned to our own Unit and once more I was with ’S’ Squadron.

During this period I was witness to one of the worst sights I have, or will hope I ever see.  The opening up of Belsen Concentration Camp.

The cruelty and wickedness that had gone on in that place, and as I learnt later others, is beyond description.  If ever we needed a reason to win the war that was it!

I had another short spell of dysentery and was in a Field Hospital for a few days.  When I was discharged I was walking along the street to the Squadron Office when a window opened and I was asked if I was Cassidy.  I said yes and was asked inside.

When I got inside there was Major Munn of Left Flank Squadron and he said “I hear that you cook?”  I replied, “Yes, a bit.” He asked me if I would consider coming to Left Flank and looking after him and his Officers.  This meant seeing to their food etc.  I agreed and he told me to go and collect my kit.

Transport was arranged and this started the happiest period of my time in the Army.

I was officially a driver of a Half-track in ‘B” Echelon under the Quartermaster’s charge but my job really was to see that the Officers’ meals were ready for them whenever and wherever they could stop and have them.

I had a spare driver with me and we were allowed to more or less what we wanted.

Well, we fitted a stove in the truck for a start and then liberated some silverware and tablecloths, saucepans, a radio and anything else that we came across that could be of use, such as bottled fruit and vegetables found in a cellar.

We were allowed to draw 14 man Ration Packs so we soon had a good stock of food in the lockers and we were really in business.

There were four officers and the Sergeant Major to look after and we were told where the Unit would be staying for the night and left to get on with it.

A specimen menu:

  • Soup of the day
  • Baked Salmon with Duchess Potates
  • Peas
  • Dessert of fruit pie or pudding with custard
  • Tea

This was usually served on a table with a white cloth and candles with liberated cutlery and glassed.  Plus we usually managed to find a bottle of something to drink!

We built quite a reputation and very often we would have a guest for the evening meal.

Sometimes, we would spend 2 or 3 days in one place and occasionally a whole week with the Officers returning to base every night.  So the amount of comfort would vary a great deal.

The Half-track sometimes looked like a Mobile Snack Bar and sometimes like a travelling Butcher’s Shop depending on what we had been able to scrounge.

We managed to carry on like this until one night the Officers were away at the Front and I was having an early night.  I was woken up by one of the Pipers with a mug in his hand and he was saying “Cass, have a drink.  The War is over.”

The news had come over the radio that the fighting had ceased.

We we soon found some Rum and Schapps that had been in the QM’s truck and meant for the Officers Mess.

We celebrated extremely well if not too wisely!

The next morning was officially V.E.Day (08.05.1945) and the senior Sergeant Major decided that we should Parade and be like Guardsmen once again.

Well he was ready but we were not.

I could find only half my kit and only one of our lads was sober enough to stand on Parade unsupported.  So we were all put on a Charge for Being Drunk & Disorderly whilst on Active Service.

The penalty must have been a Firing Squad at least.

We were all under arrest but there was nowhere to lock us up and we were feeling very sorry for ourselves.

Then, Major Mann arrived and seeing us sitting very dejected asked us what the matter was.  When we told him he exploded and sent for the Sergeant Major who was told in no uncertain terms what Major Mann thought of him.

He was told to keep out of our Squadron area and to look after his own mob.  So we were reprieved, for the time being anyway.

It was peace time now and we were Guardsmen so out came the Blanco and the Boot Polish and we were soon smartened up.

All the proper sections were set up and our our little Mobile Officers Mess was dissolved and I became Cook in the Squadron. 

This was a very different ‘Kettle of Fish’.

For a start there was about 150 to feed and a new system of doing things.  Luckily, Sergeant Cook Jimmy Hewitt was a good cook and organisers, and he had the respect of all the staff.

So we soon had a good rota in force and if one was on Early Duty one finished after Lunch, so with 5 of us we only did Earlies once very 4 days with an early finish every 4-5 days.

We started at 05.30 hours to light all the fires and boilers, make a bucket of tea for the Guard and start the porridge.  Then cups of tea for all the Cooks to wake up to, and then start getting Breakfast ready.

Usually, tinned Bacon, Dried Egg, Fried Bread, Bread & Butter, Jam and Tea.  All of this for about 150 and ready for 07.30 hours.

After we had served the men we could have our breakfast before tidying our Quarters, making beds & tidying kit. 

Then, it would be time to start getting the midday meal ready, usually consisting of:

  • Meat & potatoes
  • Vegetables
  • Gravy
  • Pudding & custard
  • Tea

The meat varied.  Sometimes we were lucky and had fresh meat but other times it would be tinned.  The vegetables were usually tinned or dried so we had a lot of thinking to do to make a good looking, good tasting and nourishing meal.

Puddings ranged from Jam Roly Poly, Spotted Dick, Fruit Pie, tinned fruit and Rice pudding.

We always tried to have a good variety and our Q.M was a very good scrounger, so we managed to get sugar & fresh yeast from a local Brewery to make fresh bread rolls.

Our first Cookhouse was in a commandeered Beer Hall with our Quarters above.

The Sergeants Mess was in a Schloss and their Cook lived in the Mess.

However, he was a ‘bit of a drinker’ and soon became too drunk to do his duties.  As he was due for release he was allowed to stay and I was sent to do the cooking for the Sergeants Mess with about 18 meals in total which was much better as far as I was concerned.

Although, I never seemed to be off duty until after the Evening Meal I enjoyed it.

We were moved to Cologne soon afterwards and our Squadron’s Cookhouse was in a double garage on the ground floor of a large house.  The remainder of the ground floor was the Dining Room.  As before we lived above.

It was difficult for the troops as there wasn’t a NAAFI available in the area.  So Major Mann took over a fair sized house nearby and turned it into a Club for Other Ranks.

I was put in charge of the Corporals Mess and had a German Chef ‘Willie’ to do the work.  He was from the Grand Hotel, Berlin so you can imagine we had some really good meals.

In the afternoons I did the baking for the Club, making cakes, buns, tarts & bread rolls etc. 

It was a really good Club and we had a Polish couple to keep it clean.  We also had our own Barber Shop, a German hairdresser who had been captured by us, before the War ended, ran it for us.

We fitted him up with a Salon with driers, sinks etc and we could make appointments to have our hair cut.  Before anyone went on Leave they made an appointment for a shampoo and cut.  The Works!

Leave had started by now and the Regular Soldiers were all granted End of War Leave.  I got all my dates worked out and arranged with Pat to get married on 27.10.1945.

I left Cologne on the 24th to travel to Ostend to get the boat on the 25th but when I got there there were severe gales in the Channel and all sailings were cancelled.

We were allowed to send telegrams home to let them know but mine was never received.  We could do nothing but ‘kick our heels’.

I was with another chap who was also going home to be married, so we went to the cinema at the Canadian Forces Club. 

The film was ‘The Quiet Wedding’ and as you can imagine we nearly got thrown out swearing.

Eventually, we managed to sail.

I was going to the Midlands to get married and then to Newquay, Cornwall for my Honeymoon whilst my mate was going to Newquay to get married and to the Cotswolds for his Honeymoon.

I arrived in Nuneaton in the early hours of Monday morning and dashed to Attleborough to see Pat.  She was getting ready for work having heard nothing from me at all.

We soon got ‘things’ sorted out and re-arranged our Wedding for the 30th October.

It was a very hectic two days arranging for the Church and letting everyone know. 

As I hadn’t turned up on the Saturday the Reception had been held as arranged so frantic preparations were ‘put in hand’ for a second Reception.  God knows where the food came from but it did, and a great amount of it too.

I went to Uncle Jim’s (128 Arbury Road) and we (myself and Cyril/Mick Best Man) were just ready to go and meet the car when he arrived home from the Pit in his pit black.  He told us to wait for him whilst he had a quick wash & change, look in the paper at the Horse Racing page, wrote his Betting Slip and then we went off.

When we got to the Conservative Club, Arbury Road,  Uncle Jim disappeared inside to find the Bookie, then onto the Royal Oak Pub Car Park where the car was to pick us up.  It arrived and we were just getting in when Jim realised he hadn’t got a Buttonhole.  So out he gets and goes into Harry Shepherd’s garden to find a Rose and some fern.

Phew! Off at last, arriving at the Catholic Church (Coton Road) just in time.

I had not met the Priest and he asked me to accompany him into the Vestry and was asking me if I was sure I wanted to get married and all sorts of other questions when I heard the organ playing ‘Here Comes the Bride’.  I said “Shouldn’t I be out there, Father?” and rushed out into the Church, forgetting the steps.  I slid up the aisle towards the Bridal Party.

Hastily brushing myself off I took my place at the Altar.

Everything now seemed to be going fine until the Priest asked for the ring and 2/6d for the Gold & Silver.  I’d got the ring but hadn’t got Half a Crown, neither had my Best Man nor the Bride’s Father or my Dad.

So, in the end I got my darling Pat for the bargain price of 2/-.  The best Two Bob’s worth any man ever had!

The next amusing bit was when the Priest blessed the Bridal Party at the Altar.  None of them had been to a Catholic Wedding before and the Priest liberally sprinkled us all with Holy Water.  This set the Bridesmaids a tittering.

Then onto the Second Reception!

There were lots of funny things happening but I particularly remember Aunt Florrie carrying on to Uncle Jim for coming to a Wedding in his ‘Pit Dirt’ and not having a bath before putting on his white shirt.

The following morning we left on our Honeymoon in Newquay.  It was a long journey by train from Birmingham.

We had a marvellous week by the sea and some lovely food at our Hotel but all too soon it was over and time for me to return to Germany.

I got back in time for the disbandment of the 3rd Battalion and saw our Colours leave under escort for England to be laid up in the Tower of London.

We were now to become the 2nd Battalion and eventually to be stationed in Hamburg but first of all we had a lot of things to do.  All our tanks and Armoured vehicles were to be handed over and we had a list of duties to complete first.

One I remember was on Christmas Day 1945 and we were On Duty in Cologne Jail.

We had our Christmas Day and Boxing Day and what a day that was.  There were geese to be cooked along with baked & boiled potatoes, peas, carrots, stuffing & gravy.

We had made Christmas Puddings beforehand and had Rum Sauce and plenty of drink.

We held our party in a local Beer Hall and it went on well into the evening.

Our move to Hamburg went very smoothly and we were stationed in a huge barracks just outside the City.  Opposite us, in another barracks, were the Irish Guards.

In the evenings we used to go by train into Hamburg, the station being about a mile from the Barracks.

We did not stay long in Hamburg but whilst I was there I managed to get a trip to Copenhagen as a Driver for 3 Officers who were having a short leave there.

It was a very nice trip and Copenhagen was a very nice city but very expensive.

We stayed in a hotel reserved for visiting British Troops and there was no shortage of food.  There was a cafe in what was named The English Corner, where one could get delicious ice-cream and a typical dish was fresh raspberries, covered in ice-cream and then topped off with fresh cream.

What with this and visiting the local lager Brewery by the time I got back to Hamburg I had another dose of Dysentery.

I had about a week in the General Hospital but it didn’t clear up properly and I had to see my own Medical Officer who put me into Sick Bay and promised he would cure me!

He brought me a glass of Castor Oil and made me down it.  Sure enough after a couple of doses I had managed to pass wind without having to change my trousers.  It was a marvellous feeling.

After three days I was, to all appearances, cured and able to return to duty.

One night I had been into Hamburg for the evening and upon arriving back at Barracks found there was a huge queue to book in.  No one seemed to know why but when we got to the Guardroom we were only allowed in one at a time.  We were searched by a member of the SIB (Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Corps of Military Police) but still no one told us what was happening.

I went to see my old friend, Jack Barrand, who a QM in one of the Companies.  He told me that one of the lads had ‘gone berzerk’ in Hamburg and had shot a taxi driver and stolen his taxi.  He later killed himself by crashing the car.

We were all confined to Barracks for the remainder of our stay in Hamburg.

We were going home to Windsor, a Guards Barracks in a Guards Town, and I was a member of the Advance Party who set off a long time before the Main Party. 

When we arrived at Windsor Station there was the Band to meet us and all our kit was loaded onto trucks so we were able to march to the Barracks with a ‘bit of a swank’ and show that we were real Guardsmen.

It was very strange being in a town where everyone spoke English.

The only bad thing, I found, was that the report of the trouble in Hamburg had got back to Windsor before we had.  In fact according to all reports we had been in a caged camp for months, we hadn’t seen a woman for months and we were no better than animals.

When we walked into a bar everyone moved out of our way. 

It was very embarrassing and it didn’t improve until the Padre took a hand and the local Clergy spread the word that we were after all HUMAN.

We had a few weeks of easy life getting the Barracks sorted out and ready for the arrival of the remainder of the Battalion and I managed a long leave almost every weekend.

When the Battalion arrived I was put into the Motor Transport Section under the command of one of my old officers, Captain Campbell, and our old M.T. Sergeant so things worked out pretty well.

I only got detailed for one Royal Guard during my remaining time in the Army and being an old soldier I had my contacts.  Therefore, I was able to borrow a new set of webbing and a shiny bayonet & scabbard plus a nice well-fitting uniform.  It was no use having a pal as a QM if you couldn’t profit from it.

So when we lined up for Inspection I was picked as Stick Man and so didn’t have to Mount the Guard only hold myself in readiness whilst the Guard was on duty for 48 hours.

The most exciting time we had was during the Floods of 1947 when we had to go out in our 3 Tonners and rescue people who were trapped, and to transport food & animal feed to the areas that were cut off.

It was quite good fun in a way but could be rather tricky when one came across a huge expanse of water in an area one didn’t know and so didn’t know where the roads or the rivers were.

We had a few cases where drivers went around a bend and found themselves in four or five feet of water.  Lots of times they had to be rescued.

After this period we were all practising for the Trooping of the Colour.

The first one since the War ended and for most of us the first one we had taken part in.  It was a case of Drill, Drill, Drill and trying to remember all the intricate movements that would have to be carried out on Horse Guards, a bigger Square than any of us had been on before.

There were a lot of tense moments you can be sure.

It is surprising how, when you are under pressure, you can’t remember which is your right or your left but it always came right in the end.  Well it did for me.

My release came through before the Parade and I was soon handing in all my kit except for my Battledress & Beret.  So there was at least one Guardsman walking around Windsor, improperly dressed, for about a week.

Then it was off to Woking to the Demob Centre to get my civvy suit, raincoat, hat, shoes, socks, tie and shirts.

Then Home Sweet Home as plain Mr Cassidy!

I had 28 days Paid Leave due to me and so there wasn’t a mad rush to find a job.  So Pat & I decided to have a little bit of a holiday in Rhyl with Mum & Dad as a celebration.

Upon our return there was a letter from the Regiment inviting us to The Trooping of the Colour and enclosing two tickets.  Needless, to say we accepted and so on the Saturday we were at Nuneaton Railway Station at 05.20 to catch the first train to London.

Pat was really excited, only having been to London once before, for the Britain Can Make It Exhibition – November 1946.   

We got to Euston and found the place crawling with Policemen and soldiers checking everybody because of an I.R.A. Bomb scare.

We went to Picadilly and had breakfast at Lyons Corner House then had a good walk around before getting to Horse Guards at 09.30 to secure our places.  We had brought a small fishing stool with us and Pat sat at the front of the guests, right on the edge of the Parade Square.With HM the King being ill the Salute was taken by HRH Princess Elizabeth.  The first one of many she would take as our new Queen.  She passed within a yard of Pat which made it a really memorable day.

Pat & I spent the whole day in London, visiting many places and when we finally got home to Nuneaton at about 21.30 we were really tired but what a wonderful day it had been.

Now, it was time to decide what I was to do with my life.

My first choice would have been to emigrate to New Zealand either as a member of the NZ Forces or into The Forestry Service but I decided that I couldn’t really desert my parents.

Being an only child has its problems and I had been told that mum’s heart wasn’t so good, so that was out.

I had, had some training as a welder but I didn’t really want to work in an factory.   I couldn’t make the Police Force’s requirements when I was in the Army so I turned to the Fire Service.

I called into Nuneaton Fire Station and was asked to attend at Birmingham for an interview and examination.  So off to Birmingham I went and had a very successful interview and exam.

I also had a satisfactory medical and was accepted as a recruit in the National Fire Service to be stationed at B1 Nuneaton as 273779 Fireman Cassidy R.J.

I spent about 8 weeks getting used to the Station and to catching a machine whenever there was a SHOUT! 

I learned how to get dressed on the move, and how to use the many, many items of equipment that were carried on the various engines.

I had to learn the differences between a Pump, a Pump Escape, a Water Tender, a Turntable Ladder, a Hose Reel Tender and a Trailer Pump.

All these were very new to me and they all had different uses and different outputs in Gallons of water per minute that could be delivered at a fire. 

There were different methods of priming the Pumps, some fast some slow and a multitude of small items of equipment all with different names and uses.

It was all very interesting and the excitement of turning out for a fire and speeding along with the bell ringing is something that has to be experienced.  It was a mixture of excitement, fear and apprehension with the heart thumping away.  It all added up to what must be the boyhood dreams of many a young lad.

During these first few weeks I was always in the care of a Leading Fireman and sometimes a Sub Officer so I couldn’t get into trouble or do anything to endanger the lives of the other men.

We worked long hours, 24 hours on Duty and 24 hours off.  That meant that one week we would be away from home for 96 hours and the other week for 72 hours and although this sounds very hard we all liked it.

Our actual working time was very good with a 09.00 hours start,

11.00 – 11.15 break, 13.00 – 14.00 hours lunch, afternoon break 15.15 – 15.30 hours and a cease to actual work at 17.00 hours. 

At this time we were stood down and we could do almost anything provided we were always ready to turn out.

Tea was about 17.30 hours and Supper whenever we wanted.

We were allowed to rest between 22.00 – 07.00 hours and if we didn’t get a fire we had a good night’s sleep.

07.00 – 09.00 hours was spent cleaning and having breakfast and getting ready for the oncoming Watch.

Once you got into the way of this system it was a very good way of life.

After my initial 8 weeks I was sent to the Regional Training School at Sutton Coldfield for a very hard 12 week Training Course.  It was a residential course but we were allowed home at weekends from 12 noon on Saturday until 08.00 hours Monday.

After I had been there for about a month, and finding the travelling by bus a bit difficult some ‘idiot’ suggested cycling.  It was after all only 20 miles or so and I had got a new bike.  So I decided to give it a go!

The Monday morning arrived and I set off early at 05.45 hours to do the  twenty or so miles.  Three hours, no bother at all.

However, when I got to Atherstone it began to snow, but I pressed on, it wasn’t too bad.

By the time I reached Mile Oak there was at least 4” of snow on the road and it felt like 4’!

When I eventually reached Sutton Coldfield there was at least 6”.

I got to the gate of the Training School at 08.45 hours and hadn’t got the strength to pedal into the grounds.  I just fell off my bike and onto Parade and then had to go and change all my clothes, even my jackets was wet through with sweat.  Everything had to be hung up to dry.

Luckily, the weather being so bad all our work was in the classroom so I was able to gather my strength and by teatime I was OK.

The next day work was as usual and we carried out our drills and ladder work in the snow as our Instructor said “The Fire Service doesn’t close down because the weather is bad.”

It wasn’t too bad when one got warm but I did feel extremely sorry for one of our squad; he was from Delhi Fire Brigade and the only snow he’d ever seen was in pictures.

On the Saturday the whole squad gathered to see me off on my bike again.

Little did they know that I only went as far as the Railway Station and travelled back by train.

Come Monday it was back on the bus again.  05.30 hours from Nuneaton, 06.20 hours from Coventry to Birmingham and the 07.40 hours train to Sutton Coldfield than a quick walk through the park and that was it.

The time at Training School passed very quickly and the exams came along and I passed with flying colours and was posted to Nuneaton, much to my relief as it could have been any of six stations.

The pay at the time was £5 and 5/- per week for a start with a rise to

£6 and 12/- at the end of the 2-year probationary period.  Obviously, everyone was short of money and just about everybody found a second job.  The easiest way to do this was to team up with someone on the opposite Watch and in this way two of us could do a full-time second job between us.

There was a lady cook employed to cook the midday meal but otherwise we had to cater for ourselves.  So one person on each Watch was elected as Caterer.

Stan Upton was ours and when he was off I used to stand in for him.  We had some very good meals and Stan was a good caterer.

He did all the shopping and we worked out the monies between us and then the bill was divided up between the number of men on the Watch.  I think it used to be about 10/- a week but this was only because we grew a lot of our own vegetables and were well in the with the Butcher as his son was on our Watch.  Also, a couple of the lads did delivery work as their second jobs.

At the weekends we did our own cooking so Stan & I were the cooks on our Watch and we always had a roast joint, roast potatoes, vegetables, gravy and a cooked pudding & custard.  In fact some of the lads were fed better at work than they were at home.

At this period Pat was also able to work and she got a job at Courtaulds as a Progress & Wages Clerk in the Sizing & Warping Department so we were able to set up our home at 62 Victoria Street, Nuneaton.  Pat’s mum (Frances Thompson) bought the house and we rented it off her.

We had lots of fun getting it to our wants.

There was no electricity upstairs so Ted Howard (one of the Firemen) and myself put in electrics.  We had a bit of bomb damage repaired and a new fireplace fitted.  I don’t think the chimneys had been swept for many years and when we had a new range fitted in the Living Room there was enough soot for our own garden and some left over for the Station Allotment.

Coal was a bit short at this time and the allocation was only about 4cwt per month so we had to use some coke when we could get it.  I used to pop over, in my uniform, to the Gas Works on the other side of Queen’s Road and get a couple of cwt whenever I could.

Also, when we went to Attleborough to see Mam & Dad Thompson we would bring a full trucky back.  We had to wait until it was dark so that no one saw us leaving Dad’s with part of his Allowance or the Pit would have penalised him and stopped his Allowance for a month or two.

We had some funny neighbours; the Shutes at No. 64 used to own most of the houses in the street and also the Cinema in the Market Place but Mr Shute, who had been a fine carpenter, had taken to the bottle very early in life and had drunk away most of his family assets.  All they had left was the house they lived in.

We only used to see Mr Shute about twice a year, once during the summer and either on Christmas Day or Boxing Day when he used to insist on us having a drink with him.   On these occasions his drink was beer mixed in equal quantities with Port so you can imagine the effect it had on him.

Mrs Shute had very badly impaired vision and their daughter was not too bright but could be quite rational at times.

I came off duty one morning and was asked by one of the other neighbours as to what had happened to Mrs Shute during the night.  I didn’t know but was told that she had set fire to herself. 

Well we at the Fire Station knew nothing about this and the information was passed to the Officer in Charge who phoned the Police and Ambulance Services.

We found out that she had gone to bed with a candle and that she had, somehow, set fire to the bed and she had been badly burnt and had been taken to the George Eliot Hospital.  She later died in hospital.

The led to an investigation and the Police attended the house and were appalled in general at the state of it and in particular the state of Mr Shute.

They had him removed to the hospital to be cleaned up and the house was fumigated and cleansed by the Council’s Environmental Department.

When the hospital finally got the old man clean and fit to be sent home the Council provided him with new bedding and clothing but insisted that he lived & slept in the downstairs Front Room so that he could see and be seen by people.

The effect of this clean up was amazing to say the least, and it was the first time a lot of people had ever seen him clean and sober.

With Health Visitors coming to the house regularly the house itself was cleaner than it had been for a very long, long time.

Their daughter was married, although I can’t remember how or when and her husband was employed on the Railway as a Track Layer.  His parents lived in Liverpool and when they died he was left a large house and considerable amount of money.

He promptly started to gamble it away and within about 18 months they were once again virtually penniless.

Our other neighbour, Mrs Evans, found the house was too big for her and she moved to a flat and so we had new neighbours, Mr & Mrs Johnson & family.  Next to them were The Cliffords who were about our age and they became our friends for many years.

My career had progressed and I became a Qualified Fireman and Pat & I decided it was time to start a family.  Our first efforts ended in Pat having a miscarriage but eventually we had a baby on the way.

Owing to the nature of my work I had to book my holidays and we worked everything out and decided that the last week in July and the first week of August was the due time.

This was duly booked and my holiday started.

Pat was fine and we went to the August Show in Riversley Park.  By this time we had Tisha (Staffordshire Terrier) to keep Pat company whilst I was at work.

The first week passed by and nothing seemed like it was happening.  The Doctor (Dr Muirhead) was coming in regularly and the Midwife (Nurse Bourne) popped in every time she went by.

The Prospective Grandparents were regular visitors but the Prospective Father was getting more worried by the day.  6 days before I was due to go back to work, then 5, then only 4 and it happened.

Run for the Midwife; inform the Doctor, get the kettles boiling and all the clean clothes ready.  Clean sheets, baby clothes, nappies etc, life was one big whirl.

The Doctor and Nurse were upstairs with Pat and Tisha and I sat on the bottom step of the stairs.  I smoked more cigarettes that night than ever I smoked during the War and then in the early hours of the 6th August there was a cry and Master Ian John Cassidy was born.  All 10.5 lbs of him.

After the initial rush of things to be done I was dispatched to tell the Grandparents.  The bike simply flew up to Stockingford and then down to Attleborough and back home, all in about 45 minutes.

Next it was tell the neighbours, there was only need to tell one set as the news spread like wildfire. 

By this time Pat was hungry so I made a quick breakfast for her.

The Doctor from the Maternity Department was due to come in sometime during the day to see Pat as she needed stitches as Ian was such a big baby.  Everything had to be just so, so I got the dinner prepared, a casserole of Beef followed by a pudding.

The Grandparents visited, it seemed as if there had never been a baby born before. 

Then I cooked the dinner and made sure Pat had all she needed, must make sure the new mum was fed so she could feed the baby.  Cleared away and tidied up then put the first load of nappies in to soak.

Then I had a little breather.

The Doctor arrived to put some stitches in and then says I think she can have little light lunch now.  I didn’t have the heart  to tell him that Pat had already had a big plate of meat and vegetables followed by a big helping of Damson Pudding & Custard.

Then I had to go and collect the pram.  It had been ordered for quite a while but it couldn’t be brought home until after the baby was born.

Dr Muirhead had been to see The Child, as she put it, but really she came to see her dog Tisha to make sure that she (the dog) had met Ian and understood that he was her responsibility in the future, and by jove he was! No one would have dared to touch him without her consent.

The next couple of days passed in a kind of blur and it was soon time to return to duty and a lot of ribbing about not being able to reckon up.

I was put on Kitchen Duty for a week and never has there been so much shopping to be done.  It was a case of pop to so and so’s, and call at

No. 62 on the way back .

However, things soon settled down and life returned to its normal course except there were more of us.

I got a new part-time job offer.

I had been helping out at the Co-op Funeral Department on a casual basis but Cyril Mann and myself were asked if we would like to do a taxi driving job share.  It was regular and brought in more cash so we did this and on our days off duty we would do a full day’s work on the taxis.

It was quite good fun at times and if we has a busy night on duty we didn’t do so much on the taxis next day, so we could catch up on our sleep.  Two other chaps at work did the same for another firm and there was a lot of friendly rivalry between us.

One warm day Paddy was having a sleep in his car waiting for the next train to arrive and we pushed his car up onto the old Fish Dock.  He slept right through this and on until he was late for duty.

I went on a Breathing Apparatus Course and passed and so became an even more efficient Fireman.

It was whilst on this Course at Leamington Spa that we were blindfolded, turned loose in the yard and had to find our way out.  We then had to describe where we had been and what we had SEEN or rather felt.

I had felt a hose reel by an open door and inside the room had bumped into a very solid table.  When we later took off our blindfolds and were shown where we had been I found I had been in the Mortuary and the table I had felt was the Post Mortem Bench, complete with body. 

It was a good job I hadn’t felt on top of the table or there would have been two bodies!

When I was demobbed from the Army I was talked into helping with  the Boy Scouts and became Assistant Scout Master to the 4th Nuneaton Group. 

Arthur Brown was the GSM (Group Scout Master)

Geoff Grain was SM (Scout Master)

Pat was CM (Cub Mistress)

Jean & Sheila Craydon as ACMs (Assistant Cub Mistresses)

Pop Lawrence was the Rover Scout Leader

My first camp was to Talybont, nr Harlech and it was quite an adventure.

Skipper was going down in his car.  Geoff was in charge and we were due to leave from Abbey Street Station at 8.00 am.

There were two Senior Scouts, Ron Tooby and Trevor Grimes but they were cycling down.

So about 7.00 am we all assembled with our kit and started to load the Trek Cart with all the tents and camping equipment.  There was no sign of Geoff though and at 7.30 am his mother turned up and told us that he was ill and that I was in charge of the three patrols of boys.

So there was nothing more I could do than set off to the Railway Station.

The train arrived on time and we loaded our kit into the Guard’s Van and off we set.  When the train got to Saltley it stopped an we were there for nearly 20 minutes, which meant we were late arriving at Birmingham New Street Station.

It was 9.00 am and our train left from Snow Hill Station at 9.10 am.  So all the kit was lashed onto the Trek Cart and we ran all the way to Snow Hill.  Onto the platform, where we could see our train, down two steps with the Trek Cart, bump, bump, bump and piled into the Guard’s Van which luckily was almost empty.

We were no sooner aboard than the train set off.  It took a while for us to get our breath back and to gather our wits about us.  I called The Roll and was relieved that no one was missing; checked everyone’s kit and that was all there toon.  Panic over!

We could then start to enjoy our adventure which for most of the boys it was their first trip away from home.

After a long journey we arrived in Barmouth and crossed the estuary very slowly.  It was a strange feeling as we were in the train and yet all around us was water.

After this we only had a few miles to go before we arrived in Talybont.

Off the train and kit on our backs then with the laden Trek Cart off we set up the road to find Mrs Jones of Ty-Iso Dairy Farm about half a mile away. 

We soon found our Campsite and lo and behold there was Skipper Brown already settled in.  We told him about Geoff not being with us and he calmly said, “Oh well it will be good training for you” and left me to organise things.

He did at least tell us where to pitch the tents, kitchen and toilet areas.

Luckily, I had got John Daniels with me as a Trainee Leader and we soon had things sorted out and, most importantly, a meal on the go.

During the week a lot of training was carried out but one day was set aside as a free day.

The boys were given an allowance to buy themselves a meal and they were then allowed to go off and do their own thing for the day.  John & I decided to go to Caernarvon as John said “It’s only round the next headland.”

So we set off to hike it.

After walking for far too long I said we wouldn’t be there in time to come back so we must get some transport.  We luckily managed to get a lift to Blaenau Ffestiniog and from there caught a bus to Caernarvon.

We visited the Castle and saw The Crowning of the Rose Queen, all very impressive.  Then we had a bit of lunch and explored a bit more before setting off back to Blaenau to have our evening meal there.

We found a cafe with an upstairs dining room and up we went, ordering Fish & Chips with peas and bread and butter plus a pot of tea for two.  The waitress went over to the dumb waiter, stuck her head into the shaft and shouted out our order in Welsh.  John jumped to his feet and said that he hadn’t ordered that at all.  The place erupted into laughter. 

I could have killed him, there we were in our Rover Scout Uniforms sticking out like sore thumbs.  I was so embarrassed.

Anyway we had a smashing meal, and very reasonably priced too.

Off we set to catch the bus back.  It went through Barmouth and was an old Bedford 32 seater.

Well it was the last bus in that direction that night and was full when we left Blaenau.  It stopped at every village and/or crossroads to pick up people going to Harlech and anywhere else in that direction.

The system seemed to be that all the men had a seat and then had someone on their laps, who had someone on their laps.  We had quite a load.

When we arrived in Harlech it was a case of everyone get off and the people waiting for Barmouth got on and then everyone else got back on and sat on the Barmouth passengers laps.  It was hilarious.

We got to Talybont about 9.45 pm and Skipper had been out and got us a bottle of beer each.  It was very welcome.

All the boys had returned safe & sound and had all had a good time.  So all in all it was a very satisfactory day.

This week gave me an insight into Scouting and what it was all about.

We left camp the day before Ian’s first birthday and Mrs Jones, the farmer’s wife, sent him a birthday present of a big block of fresh, farm butter which was very acceptable as we were still on rations.

Miscellaneous information:

Cassidy Family:

Grandma Byard nee Eliza Pegler born Wales died Attleborough 1930

Grandad Byard – Edward

Mother Ada Ellen Cassidy nee Byard

Born: 28.05.1894 Whitecroft, West Dean, Gloucestershire

Died: 18.10.1967

Father John Henry Cassidy

Born 06.03.1895 20 London Road, Hinckley, Leicestershire

Died 29.06.1956

Aunt Ett & Uncle Rob and various cousins

Haines Sweet Manufacturers, 80 Eign Street, Hereford

Aunt Agnes Worral, Cox Street, Gloucester

Uncle Harry Byard, 79 Carlisle Street, Splott, Cardiff, Wales

Cousin Len Niblett, Cam Pitch, Cam, Dursley, Gloucester

Thompson Family:

Hazel died aged approx. 11 years of age

Wife Florence Lilian (k/a Pat) Cassidy nee Thompson

Marriage: 30.10.1945

Born: 05.03.1920. Died: 30.01.1976

Christine Mildred Cassidy nee Bolton

Marriage: 22.10.1977

Born: 21.04.1926.  Died: July 1996

Cars:

1931 Austin 13-9 (MG 388)

1947 Ford Prefect Estate (EOL 509)

Morris Minor

Triumph Herald Estate

Austin A60 Estate

Reliant 10 cwt Van

Austin Caravanette

Daimler 2.5 (OHP 520)

Mercedes 220 SE (LEO 256)

Moskovitch Estate

Triumph Herald Convertible

Vauxhall Estate

Triumph 2.5 Estate

Skoda

Citroen

Morris Minor Estate

Abbey Street Development

Help us find a name for the new heart of Nuneaton

The transformation of Abbey Street will create a brand new heart for Nuneaton town centre.

There’s only one important thing missing – a name! And that’s where you come in…

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and their strategic development partner Queensberry,  have joined forces with Nuneaton Memories, to involve local people in naming the new development.

They want as many ideas as possible to help give the exciting new attraction the right feel and help draw in more people.

Nuneaton Memories Facebook group has a truly worldwide reach to Nuneatonians all over the globe, and will feature the appeal for help.

All ideas are welcome that might capture the spirit of the former Abbey Street shopping area, as well as reflecting the central role the area will play in the town’s future. After an initial appeal for suggestions, Queensberry will draw up a shortlist so members of the Facebook group can help identify the right way forward.

The development includes the site of the former Co-op department store, as well as the site of nearby shops in the existing New Century Way and the current Abbey Street car park.

Included in the new development will be a public square for outdoor events, a hotel, cinema, food and drink outlets as well as a multi storey car park.

Nearby shops and buildings will be updated, and North Warwickshire and South Leicester College will also open a new Digital Innovation Centre as part of the development.

The multi-million pound development is funded with assistance from the government’s Town’s Fund and Future High Streets Fund, as well as the borough council’s capital spending.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council leader Cllr Kristofer Wilson said: “We know this development is going to be a big hit helping to draw visitors to the town in new ways. We would love to receive as many helpful suggestions as possible at this stage, and what better way to make sure we reach as many people as we can than by featuring our appeal in Nuneaton Memories’ Facebook group.

“All suggestions will be considered, a shortlist drawn up, and people will be able to let us know which they think is the best one. Hopefully this will be a fun and productive way to generate ideas and involve Nuneaton and Bedworth people wherever they may be in the world.

“The final name chosen will be an important part of the public face of Nuneaton town centre for many years to come. I encourage as many people as possible to get involved. Who knows – it might be your idea that helps give Nuneaton town centre a brand new look and feel!”

Alex Hyams, Senior Leasing Manager, Queensberry said:

“We are already in detailed discussion with a number of occupiers that will contribute to delivering a dynamic and exciting new destination for Nuneaton. The scheme will rejuvenate this part of Abbey Street and the surrounds with a cutting edge mix of uses being brought together to create a place which will be used by all sections of the local community, from breakfast through to the evening. Clearly the name must resonate locally but it is also vital that the identity is attractive to businesses and individuals who don’t know Nuneaton yet. We’re looking forward to seeing all the ideas which come forward.”

Mark Palmer of Nuneaton Memories said: “Nuneaton Memories is all about helping people share their feelings and memories about our town and our borough. We know there are big plans for Nuneaton town centre, and we are looking forward to being part of this important job of finding a good name for the new heart of the town.”

A £50 shopping voucher prize will be on offer for the best idea, and the winner will be invited to take part in an official naming ceremony event during next year.

Anyone can submit a suggested name for the development to towncentre@btinternet.com, but you can follow further information about, and discussion of, the competition by joining Nuneaton Memories Facebook group online by going to https://www.facebook.com/groups/NuneatonMemories

Former Mayor Passes Away

Words Nick Hudson

A RECORD-BREAKING council dignitary who brought mirth and merriment as well as sartorial elegance to civic life in Nuneaton and Bedworth passed away earlier this week after a long battle with cancer, aged 73.Former Councillor Brian Hawkes is the only man in the borough’s 47-year history to play civic ‘Mr and Mrs’ – having been “mayoress” to his wife Di’s 2000-01 term as mayor.

The-wise cracking former health and safety officer at Tile Hill College and ex Standard worker will ever be remembered for announcing a famous puppet would be fronting his charity campaign in aid of the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance during his 2014-15 year in office as mayor.There were smiles all round at the launch of his civic appeal when he produced a Wallace lookalike to bring levity to proceedings in the council chamber.And for a moment Wallace even got comfy in the best seat in the Council House – the mayor’s seat – which witnesses all the important business conducted by the local authority’s political rivals.The ex-councillor went on to enlighten the assembled with how he came to prominence in terms of civic duties.It was back at the turn of the 21st century that the Labour stalwart was happy to be referred to as “mayoress” to his wife Di’s role as number one citizen of Nuneaton and Bedworth.Fast forward to May 2014 when Brian Hawkes became the first person to hold the post of mayor and consort in Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council’s history – he hit upon the idea of bringing Wallace out of retirement.

He explained to his civic appeal launch guests that the puppet had a soft spot in the couple’s affections.Tongue-in-cheek, the Coventry-born civic head referred to a previous borough council chief officer who he insisted had asked him and his wife to “sit po-faced” in the back of the mayoral limousine – believing a touch of solemnity was the key to carrying out civic duties in public.”I wanted to inject some humour into proceedings – so we introduced Wallace to the borough,” said Mr Hawkes. In their first year in office in 2000-01, ‘Di and Bri’ kept their part of the bargain by playing it straight while Wallace waved and smiled to the adoring public from the safety of the car’s back window as the pair attended countless engagements.With the civic roles reversed, Mr Hawkes wheeled out Wallace to help promote his charity – but within three weeks of taking office he was dealt a life-defining blow when doctors told him he had a form of blood cancer called myeloma.

Mr Hawkes took the brave decision to announce on the council’s website that he would be absent from duties while receiving treatment for his cancer diagnosis.After a number of weeks away from civic duties in mid-2014 – missing the town’s carnival, 70th anniversary D-Day services and a Bramcote Barracks open day – Mr Hawkes made the first tentative steps to “returning to normality” by officiating at a Nuneaton Lives pageant which was a tableau tribute to a trio of Warwickshire legends – Nuneaton-born Victorian novelist George Eliot and town ‘golden boy’ benefactor Reginald Stanley plus Coventry’s medieval heroine-of-the-people Lady Godiva.The celebration was primarily for the two Nuneaton greats with the 20-ft high mechanical model of Godiva choosing to join in the town’s inaugural Nuneaton Lives festival of art, dance and music rather attend her own festival which was going on in neighbouring Coventry.George Eliot, arguably the nation’s greatest 19th century novelist, and gold prospector turned brickyard magnate Reginald Stanley were brought to life in the day-long show by Alex Hackitt-Anwyl and Dave Leach respectively.The tableau, paying a modern-day tribute to Nuneaton’s great past, started off by the United Reformed Church in Chapel Street and got a huge welcome from the mayor in Newdegate Square, by the George Eliot statue.

Family Statement in relation to the passing of Brian Hawkes

Date: 31st July 2021 Release: Immediate

Heartfelt thanks for the kind messages of condolence.

Since the sad passing this week of a devoted husband and loving father the kind messages, tributes, phone calls and sympathy cards which we have received have been most appreciated during what has been a very difficult and emotional time.

From these, we the family, have taken a great deal of comfort and for that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

We are sure that everyone will appreciate that along with managing our grief there are a lot of arrangements that need to be made and the family would appreciate the time to handle these arrangements in private.

The family will provide details of the plans to celebrate the life of a much loved husband and father as soon as everything is in place.

Thanking you in anticipation of your consideration and compassion during this difficult time.

The Family of Brian Hawkes.

Where The Bombs Fell

Heath End Road

Where the Bombs Fell

The bombing of Nuneaton started on August 25, 1940 and the last air-raid was on July 28, 1942. In this two-year period many people were killed or injured with much damage to properties in the town. In several cases it has not been possible to indicate where a bomb fell with complete accuracy, but in most cases it is accurate. It is also possible to trace a stick of bombs, although they could not be recorded as they have dropped.


1940

August 25:

1. Coventry Road/Gypsy Lane. 1 incendiary bomb.

August 27:

2. Weddington Lane/Caldecote Lane corner, opposite school. 9 high explosive, 20 incendiary, 2 UXB.

August 28:

3. Weddington Road near Post Office. 1 high explosive, 3 killed, 9 injured.

4. Co-op Farm (Hill Farm) canal side.

5. Boon’s (Judkins) quarry, Tuttle Hill.

6. Between water tower and spinny.

October 21:

7. Gypsy Lane, near Sterling Metals.  

October 28:

8. Gypsy Lane.

9. Railway line near canal.

10. Marston Jabbett.

11. Home Park Road.

October 29:

12. Hill Farm, Griff. Incendiary bombs.

13. Cherry Tree Inn, Westbury Road. Stockingford. 1 high explosive, 2 killed. 1 injured.

14. Crow Hill allotments. 1 UXB.

15. Arbury wood. 100 incendiary bombs.

16. Griff Hollows. 1 UXB.

17. Griff House Cottage. 2 incendiary bombs.

18. 367, Heath End Road, damage to six houses. 1 high explosive.

19. Field between Higham Lane and Brookdale Road. 1 high explosive.

20. Hinckley Road. 1 high explosive.

21. Gypsy Lane. 3 high explosive.

22. Gypsy Lane, near Sterling Metals. 1 UXB.

November 11:

23. Between Weddington and Caldecote. 150 incendiary bombs.

November 14:

24. Round Towers, Stockingford. 50 incendiary bombs.

25. Gypsy Lane toward Bulkington. 3 high explosive.

26. Regal Cinema, Lister Street, Attleborough. 1 high explosive, 1 killed, 2 injured.

November 15:

27. Heath End Road, near Griff No.4 Pit. 5 high explosive.

28. Trent Valley Station marshalling yards. 1 high explosive, 2 killed, 1 injured.

29. Gypsy Lane, house damaged by AA shell.

30. Harefield Road car park (bus station). 1 UXB.

31. Railway mainline near Gypsy Lane. 1 UXB.

32. Galley Common. 1 UXB.

November 19:

33. Bermuda Village. 1 UXB.

December 4:

34. Boon’s Quarry (Judkins). 4 high explosive, 2 injured.

35. Tuttle Hill. 50 incendiary bombs.

December 12:

36. Kem Street.

37. Coton Road.

38. Hinckley Road.

39. Pingles.

40. Lutterworth Road.


This was the last raid of 1940, with 23 high explosives and over 1,000 incendiary bombs falling. Ten people were killed and 15 injured with damage to houses from AA shells.


1941

April 11:

41. Anker Street.

42. 29, Attleborough Road. 2 high explosive, 1 killed.

43. Gypsy Lane.

44. Haunchwood Brick and Tile Co., near Stockingford Station. 2 high explosive.

45. Coton Road, near Roman Catholic Church. 1 high explosive.

46. Church Road, Stockingford. 1 high explosive.

47. Engineering works, Tuttle Hill.

48. Daimler Works, Seymour Road. 1 killed.

49. Riversley Park. 1 UXB.

May 17:

50. Chapel in Coton Road. 1 incendiary bomb.

51. 193, Coventry Road. 1 incendiary bomb.

52. Deacon Street. 1 high explosive.

53. Coton Road, junction with Edward Street. 1 high explosive.

54. Arden Road. 4 delayed action high explosive

55. Edward Street, opposite Harold Street.1 incendiary bomb.

56. Higham Lane, near Sands Farm. 1 high explosive.

57. Weddington Road, near Weddington Hotel. 1 high explosive.

58. Near ARP Warden Post No. 25 (not known). 1 incendiary bomb.

59. Tunnel Road. Galley Common. 1 high explosive.

60. Haunchwood Colliery, Galley Common. 1 incendiary bomb.

61. Brookdale Road. 1 incendiary bomb.

62. Caldwell Farm (now Caldwell Estate). 1 incendiary bomb.

63. Nuneaton Timber Company. 1 incendiary bomb.

64. Trent Valley Railway station.1 incendiary bomb.

65. Castle Road, Weddington. 1 incendiary bomb.

66. Tribune Offices, Church Street Vicarage Street. 1 incendiary bomb.

67. Princes Street. 1 high explosive.

68. 6, College Street. 1 high explosive.

69. Attleborough Road, opposite Attleborough Parish Church.1 high explosive.

70. Griff Colliery. 1 incendiary bomb.

71. Tomkinson Road Recreation Ground, near to canal. 1 high explosive.

72. Tomkinson Road/Clifton Road. 1 high explosive.

73. Croft Road/Greenmoor Road. 1 high explosive.

74. Stretton Road. 1 high explosive.

75. Tuttle Hill. 1 incendiary bomb.

76. Fife Street.1 high explosive.

77. Marlborough Road. 1 high explosive.

78. Pool Bank Street. 1 high explosive.

79. Frank Street. 1 high explosive.

80. Bondgate. 1 high explosive.

81. Alexandra Street, rear of Palace Cinema (demolished). 1 high explosive.

82. Corporation Street. 1 high explosive.

83. Harefield Road. 1 high explosive.

84. Newtown Road. 1 high explosive.

85. Graham Stree/Central Avenue/Bath Road. 1 high explosive.

86. 12. Attleborough Road. 1 high explosive.

87. Midland Bank. 1 high explosive.

88. Kingsbridge Road. 1 high explosive.

89. Pingles. 1 high explosive.

90. Manor Court Road/Manor Court Avenue. 1 high explosive.

91. St. Mary’s Road. 1 high explosive.

92. Park Avenue School.1 high explosive.

93. Dempster House, Church Street. 1 high explosive.

94. Monty’s Bus Garage, Attleborough Road. Damage reported by owner.

95. Heath End Road Post Office. 1 high explosive.

96. Windsor Street/Alexandra Street. 1 high explosive.

97. Fitton Street School. 1 high explosive.

98. Glebe Road. 1 high explosive.

99. Heath End Road, near Chapel. 1 high explosive.

100. Heath End Road, near Bermuda Road. 1 high explosive.

101. Albion Works, Attleborough. 1 high explosive.

102. Carmichaels, King Edward Road. 1 high explosive.

103. Merrick’s shop, Queen’s Road, opposite Marlborough Road. 1 high explosive, 10 killed.

104. Seymour Road. 1 high explosive.

105. 12, 14 & 16, Ventnor Street. 1 high explosive.

June 5:

106. Griff Lodge Farm.1 high explosive.

107. Field on Arbury Estate. 3 high explosive.

June 12:

108. Field on Arbury Estate. 1 high explosive.

July 5:

109. Field 200 yards south of Bramcote Hospital. 1 high explosive.

August 13:

110. Gypsy Lane, 200 yards from Coventry Road. 2 high explosive.

1942

January 19:

111. Graham Street/Central Avenue. 1 killed, 14 injured.

112. Whittleford Road. 32 injured, 18 trapped.

113. Briars Close, off Hinckley Road.

114. CIifton Road.

115. Frank Street School (now Nuneaton Mosque).

116. Norman Avenue.

117, Riversley Road.

118. Higham Lane School.

119. Gadsby Street.

120. Weddington Road.

121. Kingsbridge Road.

122. Princes Street.

123. Blackatree Road.

124, Stockingford Railway Bridge.

125. Haunchwood Road, near Cherry Tree Inn.

126. Whittleford Road blocked, 3 houses demolished.

127. Cross Street, between Eadie Street and Haunchwood Road.

128. Norman Avenue.

June 25:

129. Hill Top.

130. Deacon Street.

131. Earls Road.

132. Midland Road.

133. Camp Hill.

134. Trent Valley Station. Incendiary bombs started fire.

135. Nuneaton Dye Works (Drams), Newtown Road (MFI).

136. Abbey Green/Midland Road/Manor Court Road.

137. Ritz Cinema, Abbey Street.

138. Plough Hill Road.

139. Coton Road, near Catholic Church.

140. Blackatree Road, near Vernon’s Lane.

141. Brookdale Road.

142. Whittleford Road.

143. Corner of Coventry Road and Shepperton Street.

144. Mancetter Road area.

145. Beaumont Road, opposite Manor Park School.

146. Bridge Street.

147. Coton Road, near Riversley Road.

148. Near top of Tuttle Hill.

149. Heath End Road.

150. Stanley Road.

151. Plough Hill Road.

152. 49, Bracebridge Street.

153. Ensor’s Quarry.

154. Trent Road.

155. Field off Hinckley Road

156. Hill (Hughes) Farm, Caldecote.

157. Camp Hill Road.

158. Rists Wire and Cable Factory, located in Courtalds factory.

159. Sterling Metals.

160. Tryan Road.

161. Smith’s Undertakers, Coton Road, opposite Ex-Servicemen’s Club.

162. 56, Willington Street.

163. Nuneaton Central Recreation Ground.

164. Chilvers Coton Station.

165. Arthur Street.

166. Railway line, half-mile from Midland (Abbey Street) Station.

167. Park Farm, Plough Hill Road.


This was the penultimate visit of the Luftwaffe, but it was the second worst air-raid the town had. It claimed the lives of 18 people and injured 42 more. A total of 36 high, explosive and over 6,500 incendiary bombs were dropped.


July 28:

168. Coton Road, opposite bus garage.

169. Coton Road, London Laundry.

170. Gadsby Street.

171. Attleborough Fields Farm.

172. Brookdale Road. 1UXB

173. Pingles. Incendiary bombs.


There were no more air-raids after July 28.