I have recently( 2019 ) been talking to Anne and Pamela Watson about their memories of their early life in Netherthong, their mother Louie, and other members of their family tree. On their mother’s side they are connected to both the Charlesworth and Roebuck names, which feature prominently throughout the history of the village. Anne was born in Dalton and lived in a new house her parents bought there. On September 3 1939, the Second World War was declared and her father, Ernest Watson ( Rex) was called up . He was worried about his wife and first daughter, as they lived near the ICI works in Huddersfield which might become a target for the German bombers. So, when he joined the Royal Engineers as a driver, Louie took baby Anne and moved back home to live with her mother Emma and her Auntie Polly at Cliffe View, 90 Thong Lane, a semi-detached stone house in Netherthong, until his return. Pamela Fay was born in the house and baptised in the Parish Church. There was another sister, Netta , and twins, Peter and Jane Their grandmother was Rachel Roebuck b. 23.8.1851, died 17.12.1931.
Both Anne and Pamela attended the National School and can be seen in several of the photographs of school events ( see chapter on schooling). Anne’s school report, both sides, for 1948 is shown below. They also attended Sunday School at the Parish Church and Pamela can remember singing in the choir. Talking to the sisters helped to bring up some interesting memories, Anne said that there was a small stone house on the left hand side of Miry Lane, just past the Vicarage but before the lane to Holmroyd, and a ” character” called Mary lived there with lots of cats. At Christmas she would come out wearing a long white dress and walked to the Clothiers where she used to sing. Anne remembers that her mother played the viola and was part of a music ensemble that played classical music in the school once a week – the leader was a Sally Brook, who lived in St.Annes Square. In my chapter on Music , there are some references to a Netherthong Evening Institute and in, April 1947, it had 76 students and Miss Sally Brook taught instrumental music. This is obviously the group that Louie belonged to.
In the Town Square was Mallinson’s shop, which you can see facing you in the photograph below. When you opened the door a little bell rang to notify the Mallinsons, who lived at the back of the shop. There was only a small space to stand with a high counter on the right hand side. A chocolate dispenser was on the wall and the shop sold many varieties of cheap sweets directed at the children – maybe that’s why the counter was high !!. Among the sweets to tempt would have been sherbert fountains, sweet cigarettes, black jacks, dolly mixture, fizzers, liquorice wood, aniseed balls, gobstoppers, parma violets, love hearts etc- if you are of a certain age , these names will surely bring back memories and you might very well have had your own favourites. In addition the shop also sold comics and newspapers. One unusual memory from Anne concerned the Earth Toilets of Outlane !. They belonged to the Mallinsons and were in a stone building ,which was on the right hand corner of St.Annes Square as you turned into Outlane.. They consisted of a whitewood chest ( always kept in pristine condition ) with two holes and newspaper pieces hung on a hook on the door. There was no flush and Anne could only assume that the Council would have needed to come round regularly to empty. As Anne was good friends with Barbara the Mallinsons daughter, she was allowed to use it if the situation arose.
Their mother, Louie, who can be seen in many of the photographs in this chapter, compiled a very special gift for her family. It combined notes from the Family Bible and long-ago memories and vivid recollections from a childhood spent listening to tales around the fire.When Louie and Rex, living in New Mill, celebrated their golden wedding, Louie , now a great-grandmother, wanted to present her children with something of their history which they could keep and treasure. Each of her five children received a copy and she said this was due to the help of her daughter,Anne, who had them all compiled and copied. The book brought to life all the women in her family, from the time of her own great-grandmother in the early 1800s to the present day .It was divided into four parts. Book One – William and Ann 1808-1871. Book Two – Rachel 1870-1905. Book Three – Emma 1895-1935 and Book Four – Louie 1916 . In the January 13, 1989, edition of the Huddersfield District Newspaper, a full page was devoted to snippets from the various books, along with a family tree and a photograph of Louie and her husband Rex. I’ve taken interesting abstracts from the various books and listed them below..
Book One – William and Ann. 1808 – 1871. . William married Ann, Louie’s great – grandmother and they had three sons and six daughters , all baptised at Netherthong Parish Church. One of his sons was Joseph.
Book Two Rachel 1870-1905.. Joseph became a vet and in 1872 he married Rachel Spenser( Battye) and their first son was born in 1873. Rachel went on to have eight more children, one of them, Arthur, died at six months old. The rest all attended Wilshaw school. Three of them contracted scarlet fever and were admitted to Moorview Hospital, Meltham. Emma suffered the worst and the doctor had to put leeches in a small glass on her neck to draw the poison out. As she was so brave she was given the glass to keep, and this leech glass remains in the family . When Rachel’s husband, Joseph, died in November, 1891 of a massive heart attack at the age of 47, she was advised to sell their farm and move closer to the village. This she did and took over an inn – The Queens Arms in Netherthong,
Book Three- Emma 1895-1935. Emma married Fred Charlesworth who was a master painter and decorator by trade and had started his own business, They lived in the pub with Rachel but when Rachel sold the inn and moved to Cliffe View, Emma and Fred found a cottage near by, They had four children but tragedy struck. Emma’s sister, Lily, died at the age of 27 from a heart attack. Life continued and Emma’s other sister, Alice, developed an interest in bicycles. She was cycling along one day and had an accident, crashing into a wall not far from home. Two workmen on a job nearby saw it happen and ran to help her. They carried her home, as they knew who she was and Rachel sent for the doctor. Alice was unconscious but there was no sign of blood on her anywhere. The doctor came and examined her and tried to remove her hat and found that the hat pin had stuck in her head. He removed it gently but when Alice came round her eyes were absolutely vacant. She didn’t recognise anyone. The doctor said the pin had pierced into her brain. Alice had surgical tests and examinations, but Rachel was forced to have her admitted to Storthes Hall Hospital, Kirkburton, on January 8, 1913. She remained there until her death on 18 March, 1950 – see copy of her Notice of Death. In 1916 her 14-year -old daughter, Helen, was sent home from work at Deanhouse Mills, where she had only worked for one month, suffering from a high temperature, extreme pains in her head and violent vomiting fits, The doctor diagnosed meningitis – the pain the child suffered was terrible and within a few days went quite mad and it was a great relief when she died on May 3, 1916. Five days later Emma gave birth to her eighth child and christened the baby Louie.
Book Four – Louie, 1915 – 2009, Her mother had been widowed at 44, lost a son of four and a daughter of 14 and was left with five children to bring up. She began working at Deanhouse Hospital and the children were looked after by a neighbour. Louie left school at 14,eager to help her mother. Her first job was at Bottoms Mill, at the end of New Road, and she would start work at 7am until 5.30 pm. She hated working at the mill and looked forward to attending the local dances and going to the pictures. It was at the Conservative Blue Ball in Holmfirth that she met her husband, Rex Watson. Rex lived with his sister at the Duke of Leeds Hotel, New Mill and he was a keen sportsman and played golf,tennis,football and bowls. They married on October 29, 1938. She said that she still treasures the heirlooms passed down to her – each of her five children have one each of the five decanters and she has the leech glass which belonged to her mother.
Anne married Albert Tinker in 1960 and bought a little cottage in Scholes. She had two sons, Neil and Ian. Pamela was married in 1962 to Randall Hinchliffe but had no children. Netta who died in 2014, was married twice. The first time was in 1961 to Trevor Moore with whom she had three children, Sharon, Sean and Susan. In 1975 she married John Wright and had a son Patrick. Janet was married twice but had no children. It was left to Peter to continue the Watson name, He had two children, Adele and Daniel. Daniel, who married Marie, had two sons , Alfie and Stanley.
Rex was born in Stairfoot, Barnsley and was very keen on football and, as a schoolboy, received an international cap playing for England. He retained his enthusiasm for the sport as can be seen in the a photo of him in full kit for his team, the 101 Convalescent Depot , Bedford, 1943. He is in the back, second from the right. (It is interesting to note that the player seated at the right in the front row was Kinnear, a Glasgow Rangers Scottish International) .He and Louie were married at All Saints Parish Church in the village – see photos of their wedding certificate and the happy couple outside the Church.After the war was over he lived with his family in Cliffe View – see the family photograph taken in the back garden of their house in Coronation Year 1953. In 1957 they moved to the Duke of Leeds public house in New Mill to run it. They stayed there until 1963 when they moved again to take over the stewardship of Scholes Working Mens Club. Their next move was to buy a house in Cinderhills( Holmfirth ) when Rex went back to wagon driving. Their final move was to retire to Lydgate, near New Mill. There are two great photos showing Rex and Louie celebrating their Golden Anniversary in 1988 – just the two of them together and the with all their children. Rex died on 10 June, 1993 and Louie died, 16 years later, on December 1st. 2009 at the grand age of 93 years.
From the middle of 1938, as the threat of war increased, the Express was the conduit for informing all the residents about the introduction of new rules and restrictions such as black-out times and ration cards. It also included public notices from various Ministries on a large range of subjects which had a common aim – SAVE.
The first notice in October by the Urban District Council of Holmfirth was titled Air Raid precautions and fitting of Civilian Respirators – ” Whatever the state of the International situation the Census and Fitting of Civilian Respirators will be completed. Please remain at home as much as possible this week-end until you have been fitted with your Civilian Respirator.” It the listed the names of the wardens.
Netherthong 1 – New Road, East side of West End to Moor Lane – Mr.Gilbert Bailey ( West End ) & Mr.A.C.Roebuck.( Ox lane Farm ).
Netherthong 2 – Giles Street, Miry Lane, Outlane, Dock Hill, Towngate and Netherthong central – Mr. Wilfred Denton( West End ) and Cllr. Littlewood Hoyle ( Melrose Cottage ).
Netherthong 3- Top houses of Thong lane, Deanhouse, Dean Brook, Har Royd, Thongs Bridge – Mr. Albert Alsop ( 13 Dean Brook ) and Mr.David Birch ( Myra House ).
In July, there was a notice of Air Raid precautions on the night of July13/14 and there had to be a full blackout between midnight and 4a.m. The following month there was a public notice concerning Civilian Respirators . It said that, as far as is known, the distribution of civilian respirators has been completed ( except for babies ) throughout the Urban District of Holmfirth.
Also in August there was a notice on the Discontinuance of Street Lighting. In the event of war breaking out, all Public Street Lighting throughout the district would be discontinued. In September the police published a large half-page notice about Air Raid Warnings. It stated that Warnings of impending Air Raids will be given by a fluctuating or “ warbling “ signal. If Poison Gas has been used , warnings will be given by hand rattles. The ringing of hand bells will announce that the damage from gas has passed.
War was officially declared on September 3. 1939
A further notice issued in September is shown below
To supply motor cars and drivers
For First-Aid work
And to act as Stretcher Bearers
( men over military age )
The Express also printed the details of the Emergency Instructions Pamphlet which was issued to all households throughout the country. These included :
a) carrying of identity labels
b) air raid warnings
c) lighting restrictions
d) fire precautions
e) closing of places of entertainment – all cinemas , theatres, dance halls and places of public entertainment will be closed until further notice
f) instructions to drivers of vehicles and cyclists
g) traveling by road and rail
h) telephones and telegrammes – do not use the ‘phone except for very urgent messages
i) food supplies
j) payment of pensions
k) National Health Insurance
l) General instructions – always carry your gas mask, avoid waste.
The pamphlet ended with the exhortation “ Keep a good heart. We are going to win through.
National Registration Day was also in September.
At the start of 1940 the Netherthong War Service Association Comfort Fund organized Whist Drives, Supper and Dance evenings once a month. Throughout the year other organizations also held events to raise money for this fund and other worthy causes. In March a Whist drive and Carnival dance, promoted by Mr.& Mrs.Hart of the Clothier’s Arms, was held at the Council School and raised £16. Other events included a concert by the Netherthong Male Voice Choir in April and in June the Holme Silver Band, under the conductorship of F. Chantry, gave a concert in the National School. Also in June an early-morning-sing was held in a field near Oldfield Road kindly lent by H.Pennington and it brought together many people and the singing was led by the Netherthong Male Voice Choir. 25/- was raised for the Holme Valley Hospital.
Thomas Dyson whose Lantern Lectures were a regular feature of the Netherthong scene gave one in December titled “ Beauty Spots in Derbyshire “ in aid of the Comfort’s Fund.
On March 9, 1940 all men who had reached the age of 24 in 1939 were required to register for service in the armed forces. Also that month there was the first notice in the paper about the saving of waste paper and collections would start on March 27.
Rations were cut and, on 27 May 1940, sugar was reduced from 12oz to 8oz and this was followed on June 3 when butter dropped from 8oz to 4oz.
In May the War Emergency Committee for the Holmfirth area ( which included Netherthong ) was formed.
Sphagnum moss ( bog moss ) was in demand as it could be dried and used as dressing for wounds. Both the Boy Scouts and Girl Guide Associations asked their members to collect it when they went hiking on the moors.
The Express in October ran the following large notices about the evacuation of civilians to the District.
Holmfirth Urban District Council
400 mothers and children are being sent to the district
from London under the Civilian Evacuation Scheme.
Mothers and children have to be housed……….. but overcrowding of houses cannot be permitted.
The Government allowance payable to the householder for lodging only is 5/- for the mother and 3/- for each child.
Clerk to the Council
In November the new Ration Book was issued and residents had to apply for it.
As the war continued to impact on people’s lives, the Ministry of Labour said that there would be no Bank Holiday on Boxing Day – War workers were asked to take one day off only.
Inhabitants were continually being exhorted to help the war effort and in January 1941 it was decided that Holmfirth UDC would have a War Weapons Week ( January 25 to February 1 ). The Express had a ½ page notice with a map showing the boundary of the Urban District with all the villages marked.
Aim to raise the cost of 6 tanks £150,000
Invest all you can in :
3% Savings Bonds ( 1955-1965 )
2 ½ % National War Bonds ( 1946-48 )
3% Defence Bonds
Make your money fight = Hit back at Hitler
There was a full programme of events with a big parade and an opening ceremony. Up to February 1, £242,000 had been raised for the War Weapons and the Express printed a list of the donors.
Fundraising for the Comforts Fund continued and regularly included whist drives and dances and in April 1941 the committee reported that the total amount raised for the Fund during the winter amounted to £63 8s 2d. In May, Madame M. Hirst’s concert party “ The Will – do- Wells “ gave a high speed variety entertainment at the Zion Methodist school and the proceeds of £3 14s 3d went to the fund. The 21st. Annual Music festival , held in the Parish Church in June raised £9 for local charities and the Comfort Fund. In August the Comfort Fund committee organized a Grand Field Day and tea. It opened at 3pm and tea was at 4pm with the Hepworth Prize Band in attendance. The numerous attractions included various sports and the day finished with a Grand Concert held in the school at 8pm. The artistes were ; Mrs. Norman Ellis – soprano ; Mrs. Walker – contralto . Fred Dickinson – bass. Clifford Garner – entertainer and Mrs. Hedley Brookes as accompanist. The admission was 1/3 for the field and tea and 6d for the concert. Almost £90 was raised and the Express carried a long report. In December the Fund’s progress for the year was given and it detailed the receipts from all the fund raising activities. These , including a balance of £123, totaled £348 and payments were made of £218 16s 4d
In May the Holmfirth UDC’s campaign to enroll 1000 blood donors exceeded the target and they ended up at 1,258.
Whilst the war was raging unabated , many aspects of life continued unchanged. The theatres in Huddersfield were very busy with big stars, such as Elsie and Doris Waters, appearing regularly. The Valley Theatre, Holmfirth and the Palladium at Honley showed films.
The cricket season resumed on April 19th. and each week the Express devoted a full page to the results. The Rugby and Football leagues started up in August. There was a thriving local darts league with 12 teams including two from the Clothiers’ Arms.
In July the Ministry of Food placed a notice about the New Ration Books telling people that they must register between July 7 – 19 . “Failure to do so will mean that you may not get your rations when your new ration Books and your new registrations start on July 26.”
Blackout times were very important and the penalties for showing lights were severe. The Express always gave details of the times for the forthcoming week. In August it said that blackout time would be 10.35 p.m. but, owing to the end of Double Summer Time and the abolition of the extra ¼ hour concession ,which had been made in April, the blackout time would now be 9.18 p.m.
There was no let-up as the public continued to be exhorted to help the war effort and in August the Holmfirth Urban District Council decided to have a two week salvage drive.
Salvage Drive 1941
September 6 – September 20
Your Front is the HOME Front
Your Country need them
You can supply
Your Council will collect
Netherthong people and organizations were among those contributing to the “Help for Russia “ fund organized by the Holmfirth Trades and Labour Council. The Netherthong Co-Op gave £2 2s 0d and the Parish Church £5 2s 6d.
In December there was a public notice from the Ministry of Information. They were giving free film shows and all the films had to do with the war including “ From the 4 corners “, “ Salute to the Soviet “, “ Sinews of War – about the S.A. War Effort “ and “Beaverbrooks Battle Cry”. They were shown on Wednesday, December 18 at the National School.
The start of 1942 saw a National Paper Salvage Contest throughout January to increase collections.
Also in January the Holmfirth UDC issued a Public Notice about snow clearing. It said that as the Council had little labour for clearing snow it was requesting inhabitants ( men, women, children ) to help on clearing snow from footpaths and adjoining water channels.
Following on from the successful War Weapons Week in January 1941 that had raised money for 6 tanks , it was decided to organize another one in February to try to raise £210,000 towards the cost of a destroyer. The Express ran a half-page notice.
February 7 – February 14 1942
Invest all you can in :
3% Savings Bonds ( 1955 – 1965 )
2 ½ % National War Bonds ( 1949 – 1951 )
3% Defense Bonds
Post Office Savings Banks
Our Objective : A destroyer
Our Aim ; £210,000
Many social events such as Whist Drives and Dances continued to be held throughout the district to raise monies for the Fund.
On February 14 the Express reported that £190,000 had been invested for Warship Week and listed many of the contributors including Netherthong Co-op for £500 and the Netherthong Comforts Fund with £467. On February 21 the paper proudly announced that a grand total of £231,754 had been raised. I received, ( May 2015 ), the following additionalinformation. To celebrate the achievement, Holmfirth was presented with a ship’s plaque – this plaque still exists and will be the central exhibit at a war weekend in September 2015. The destroyer, named HMS HERO, was credited with sinking four U-boats and is mentioned as being the 1st. ship on the scene when a Sunderland flying-boat found U 559 in the Mediterranean in 1942. The code books from that submarine were sent to Bletchley and were instrumental in Alan Turing’s work.
The Express published a notice from the Ministry of Food about Soap Rationing.
From Monday, February 9, soap may only be bought against a coupon or buying permit. You will have 4 coupons in each 4 – weekly period and each coupon will entitle you to ;
14 oz. hand soap
or 3 oz. toilet soap
or 3 oz. soap flakes
or 6 oz. soap powder No. 1
or 12 oz. soap powder No.2
or 6 oz. soft soap.
In March the size of the Express was reduced by 10% to comply with the order issued by the Ministry of Supply.
The Holmfirth UDC placed a notice in the paper requesting the services of 800 Salvage stewards to help the Council do some real work “ in your immediate neighbourhood “ It organized a series of meetings and the one for Netherthong was held in the National school at 7.30 on the 28th. April. The paper reported that the meetings had been poorly attended.
Another new issue of Ration Books was issued in May and Netherthong residents had to go to the Holmfirth Food Office to obtain them.
Many members of the Forces from the Netherthong area had written expressing their deep thanks for the parcels from the Comforts Fund. Once again names were not given and instead the Express printed – an RAF man wrote ……. Another RAF man states …….. A girl in the Forces writes ……… a second lieutenant writes ……. A driver writes …….
The tone in each one was similar and can be summed up by the words from one of them … “ just a few lines to thank you for your lovely Christmas parcel which I received yesterday. I feel very proud to receive such a nice gift and I am sure that all the other lads who got similar presents will feel the same.”
Entertainment continued to be plentiful and, as an example, in the issue of the Express for January 24 1942, there were notices for 25 Dances, Whist Drives and Concerts many of them being for fund raising. The cinemas in Holmfirth and Honley showed the latest films and the theatres in Huddersfield were able to attract the big stars .
As they had done so successfully during the First World war, the local inhabitants set up a number of associations and organized fund raising activities for them. They were often competing for funds.
These included the Christmas Parcel Fund, the Netherthong War Service Association, the Netherthong War Memorial Association and the Holme Valley Comforts Fund . Netherthong was part of this last fund which posted items to local men serving in the forces. The Express listed the contributions to the Fund from all the local villages.
Weekly sewing meetings were held weekly in aid of the Netherthong War Service Association. In November a whist drive was held in the home of Mr. Sykes of Towngate and £1 3s 6d was raised in aid of the Christmas Parcel Fund for the servicemen of the Netherthong Parish. Mr. Thomas Dyson gave a lantern lecture on Shakespeare’s County – Warwickshire in the National School and the proceeds of £2 1s 6d went to the Christmas Parcel Fund.
Miss Wilson, the secretary of the Fund, stated that the following items had been sent to the servicemen. 21 pairs of socks, 34 scarves, 25 pairs of mittens, 16 bandages, 13 night shirts, 13 vests, 4 pairs of pants and 105 Dorothy bags.
Money was also being raised for the Netherthong War Memorial Fund and an American Tea given by Mrs. Bevan and Miss Floyd raised the princely sum of £25 3s 6d.
Mrs.L.Hoyle’s Melrose Cottage was the nerve centre of the Netherthong War Service Association and forwarded 22 parcels to the men of the district. Each parcel contained the following – shirt, socks, wool helmet, scarf, mittens, biscuits, chocolates, sweets, chewing gum, cigarettes, Christmas cake, mending outfits, handkerchiefs and stationery. It also included letters from Miss Floyd ( President of the Association ) and the Rev. Black.
It was reported that a number of letters from local men in the forces had been received expressing their deep appreciation of the Christmas parcels sent to them.
At Easter 1940, the War Service Association sent 35 2/6 postal orders and greetings messages to the Netherthong servicemen. Many of the recipients acknowledged their receipt.
In May, a War Emergency Committee for the Holmfirth Area was formed.
Later that year in August a Field day was held by the Netherthong War Service Association in a field opposite the Council School. The proceedings began with a procession led by Hade Edge Silver Prize Band. There were songs, sports, competitions, bring – and – buy stalls, donkey rides etc. Tea was served to 400 people in the school. The day finished with a concert by the Male Voice Choir plus friends and over £100 was raised.
The Association organized a whist drive, supper and dance at the Council school in October. Ken Bailey’s Band provided the music for dancing and £31 11s 3d was raised. It also sent Christmas parcels to 57 of the men from the Parish serving in the forces. Each parcel contained a 5/- postal order, postage stamps, cigarettes, sweets, comforts etc. Letters of thanks were received from many of the servicemen but, as I mentioned earlier, names were never included, instead the paper said .. a bombardier writes … a driver writes … a cadet pilot writes …. A Netherthong lad … etc etc. Compare this with the First World War when the paper always printed names and details of the soldiers.
In this 21st. Century, cigarettes and smoking are generally frowned on ( since Iwrote this chapter six years ago, frowned would now seem to be rather tame expression), but it is worth remembering that in those early days of the 20th. century, cigarettes were very much a way of life and an essential ingredient in the well-being of servicemen. A large advertisement on the front page of the May 18 1940 issue told its own message.
For the Forces
Let us send “ smokes “ to the lads for you
Wherever they may be. We have special
Facilities for dispatching to the B.E.F. and
Other units who are entitled to receive their
Cigarettes and tobacco duty free.
Victoria St. Holmfirth
On the same theme, in 1944 the Express ran a number of Public Notices entitled “ Salute the Soldier “ which were in verse form, generally from the various theatres of war. One was slightly different and titled “The Fag “ .
T’was as black as your hand when we landed,
We silenced those posts to a man.
Then a dog started barking – the rockets went up
And that’s when the party began.
We busted his radio station
The Major’s lot smashed his HQ,
Then his ammo went up – oh boy, what a roar!
Then I stopped one – and then we withdraw
I was done for if Bill hadn’t found me
And poulticed me up with this rag.
I wouldn’t have missed it for thousands !
And now – well , thank God for a fag.”
The Express reported in their June issue that the first local man to lose his life in action of the present war was thought to be 21 years old Aircraftsman 1st. Class Henry Robinson of Shaley Wood, Thongsbridge. He was killed in a plane crash in Egypt.
In the same month , the paper published the following Public Notice by the Urban District Council .
Auxiliary Fire Pump
Two-man manual pump.
Training . Netherthong Wednesday 7.30p.m.
A Deanhouse man, Gunner Arthur Bontoft of the Royal Artillery, writing from “somewhere in England “ sent the Express the following verse under the title of “ The Rout of the Nazi “.
“ The bombers came droning out of the sun
They peppered the harbour with bomb and with gun,
And then, in the cowardly way that is theirs,
They treated the town to the rest of their wares.
But out of the cloud-banks our Spitfires came
( Whose pilots have won them such glorious fame ),
Undaunted, courageous they hurtled right in
Relentless the battles as fiercely they spin.
In sheer desperation the Nazi dog runs —-
He flies from the Spitfire’s invincible guns
And some of the enemy, eager to flee
Are brought crashing down to be drowned in the sea.
So people of England, be all of good cheer,
The Spitfires are sweeping our native skies clear
No feelings of panic or tremulous woe
And we, all united, shall conquer our foe. “
Also in February Mrs. Willis of Journey’s End, New Road , received news that her husband, Sergeant-Pilot Lionel Richard Willis, who was reported missing in January, had been interned in occupied France after making a forced landing with his plane. The Willis’s had only moved to Netherthong a few months before. However Lionel returned back to England in June and, after being given sick leave for three weeks, was sent back to flying duties.
Early in 1942, ACI Benjamin Wilson ( 22 years ) had not been heard of since the fall of Singapore. The Air Ministry said that some RAF officers had got out of Singapore and reached Java or Sumatra but there was a report that he might have been in a ship that was attacked by the enemy although they had no further news. Benjamin attended Netherthong C of E School and was connected to the Parish Church where his father had been sidesman and vicar’s warden for about 45 years.
In October 1943 it was reported that among the casualties from the crew of the Charybdis, a light cruiser, that exploded and sank after being torpedoed in a Channel fog was Ord/Tel Maurice Ramsey Froggatt ( 19 ) son of Mrs.Froggatt of St. Anne’s square. She had initially received a telegram to say that he had been killed on active service but then received a further telegram saying he was missing as it was known that some survivors had been taken prisoner but will no other details. Maurice had only joined the Navy 12 months previously and before he joined up he was known as an amateur stage artist and excelled as a humorist and a pianist. He appeared in many concerts for the Comforts Fund. He was a staunch worker for the Netherthong Wesley Chapel and after being educated at the Council School was employed at Deanhouse Mills.
At the end of the year Private Frank Moorhouse ( 26 ) of 26 Outlane sent his parents a postcard to say that he had been transferred as a prisoner- of – war from Italy to Germany. On September 2014 I received the following letter from Phil Knott that adds more information about Frank Moorhouse and other P.O.W.s.
I am very interested in the entry on your website for POW F. Moorhouse in WW2. My father was a POW and was captured on 21 June 1942 at Tobruk, Libya. He spent a short time at Benghazi before moving to another camp at Tarhuna. He was transferred to PG85 at Tuturano and then PG70 at Monteurano – both in Italy. When Italy surrendered he was moved to Stalag 4B at Mühlberg, Germany for several weeks and then to Stalag 4F, actually to a lead mine in Freiberg to the west of Dresden. My dad’s POW number was 253068 and F Moorhouses’ was 252900.
There were only around 250 POWs at the mine and from what I have found their POW numbers were only from 252800 to 253200 so as far as I’m concerned that places F Moorhouse in the same work camp! Also there is a photograph on the above website of my dad making his way home with a Cyril Randall who is mentioned in his diary, his POW number was 252899 and he was in the East Yorkshire Regiment. Consecutive number with F Moorhouse means they were next to each other in the queue when registered at Mühlberg and had probably been good friends in Italy. I am very interested if any relatives are still living.
A further missive from Phil is given below.
Diaries were banned and it is the only one I have come across written by someone in a work camp. I have done many years research and have many documents. My dad named the mine in some documents written later and it still exists today. I actually visited the mine in 2008. If you are interested please contact me on my email address and I will show you some of what I have. If there are any relatives of F Moorhouse alive, I would be VERY interested. Regards Phil
In September 1944, Trooper Hubert Jackson, Reconnaisance Corp of the RAC, from Dock Hill was wounded whilst fighting in France and was sent to hospital in Ormskirk. His younger brother, Harold Jackson,was taken prisoner in Libya.
The Salvage Scheme was still very much in force and in September 1942 the Express listed the various collecting points in Netherthong. All salvage was to be collected on Friday afternoons from the Mistal ( Mr.Sykes ) , the shed on the tip near to Mrs. Gledhill’s house , Deanhouse Dam hut and Deanhouse Ins Building.
There had been considerable discussion at the Holmfirth UDC meetings about providing meals and on November 27 there was the official opening of two British Restaurants , one in Holmfirth Wesley Methodist School and the other in Honley Co-op Hall, by Mr. Raft, MP for Colne Valley Division. They were both decorated in blue and cream and could accommodate 100 people. A 3-course meal would cost 1/- and the meals were brought from Denby Dale cooking centre in special containers. Not surprisingly the restaurants and the food provoked a number of letters to the Express both for and against. There was however no denying they were a success and the statistics for the first 14 weeks from 27 Nov to 26 Feb 1943 were :
Holmfirth ; 11,695 main courses ; 12,803 sweets ; 6,274 soups and 6005 teas.
Honley ; 12,583 main courses ; 14,848 sweets ; 5,891 soups and 5,016 teas.
Main courses cost 5d, sweets were 1 ½ d and soup was ½ d.
Residents in Netherthong, being located half-way between the two restaurants, had their choice of which one to visit. In June 1943 it was reported that the restaurants were not doing as well as hoped and near the end of the year the Holmfirth UDC acknowledged that they were running at a small loss. In February they were still losing money as for the nine months to December 1943 Holmfirth had lost £141 and Honley £93. As a result the HUDC decided to change the supervision of the restaurants, However by March the situation had still not improved and the HUDC said that unless the Ministry of Food objected, the Holmfirth restaurant would be closed on April 1st. and Honley could also follow suit. At Holmfirth the average number of customers had dropped from 200 to 44. However the Ministry intervened and HUDC had to reverse its decision to close them. An official said that instead of obtaining food from the Denby Dale Cooking Centre it would cook the food on the emergency cooking apparatus already installed at Holmfirth Restaurant. Honley would continue to be supplied from Denby.
Finally on September 22nd. they were closed after the HUDC received a letter from the Ministry stating that they were no longer serving any useful function.
Each week the Express carried a range of public notices , more often than not from the Ministry of Food. These gave advice to farmers to improve milk yield, rearing rabbits, growing vegetables and in January 1943 they requested people to cut down on bread and use potato as a substitute. Their notice said :
Flour costs ships
Use home-grown potatoes instead
They gave recipes and advice on how to cook them and one of their favourites was Sponge Pudding made with potato.
April saw the start of another major fund raising activity which ran from 10th. to 17th. This time it was to raise £200,000 for 40 Spitfires by investing as much as possible in all the various Savings Bonds. In addition there were lots of fund raising events. At the end of the week a total of £215,000 was raised which was the equivalent of £12 per head of population. The savings details were broken down as follows
Nat. Savings Certs = £40,797
Deposits in Post Office = £3,298
Defence Bonds = £26,345
Savings Stamps = £1,197
21/2 % War Bonds = £103,500
3% Savings Bonds = £38,200
Free Gifts = £263
Scrap recovery of almost everything continued to be an important part of the war effort and in August 1943 it was the turn of books.
Book Recovery and Salvage Drive
21st. August – 4th. September
Our Target – 30,000 books
Each 8,000 bomb needs 4lb. of paper
How many bombs can you equip?
At the autumn of 1943 as the war reached new heights the Ministry of Fuel and Power placed some hard hitting notices about saving fuel. This was the first :
Save Fuel for Battle
A warning by Fuel Watcher
“ We are using too much gas in the home”
Don’t save coal in one form to squander it in another.
Remember Electricity is Coal too.
And in December the pressure was stepped up.
5lb. of coal saved will produce
100 bullets for a bren gun.
How many bullets a day will you produce
Save Fuel for Battle
In January 1944 it changed to :
5lbs. of coal saved in one day by
Each household will provide enough
Coal to make 13 bombers.
How much will YOU save to make bombers?
Save Fuel for Battle
Yet another notice at the beginning of 1944 was :
5lb. of coal saved in one day by
10,000 homes will provide enough
Fuel to build a Churchill Tank
Save Fuel for Battle
And at the end of January it changed once again to :
The Coal, Gas & Electricity you save
Help to build Merchant Ships
There was a continual insatiable demand for salvage and in March 1944 at the request of the Government, the HUDC with the aid of the WVS held a salvage drive for waste paper, bones, metal, rags and rubber during the period Mar 16 – Apr 1. The HUDC notice stated that “ your salvage steward will call upon you but, according to a shortage of stewards, it will not be possible to visit every household and your co-operation is required. In addition , the Salvage Van will be in your neighbourhood as follows.
Netherthong, Thongsbridge, Woodland and Wooldale – Wednesday Mar 22 for paper and Mar 29 for rags. “
The Express printed the HUDC war time record for the collection of salvaged material. For the 3 years to 31 Mar 1943 :
Newspaper: 170t ; other paper 478t ; textiles 33t ; metals 167t ; bottles 4t ; bones 12t ; black scrap 58t.
There was a total of 922t collected which made a profit of £1091
May 1944 saw yet another issue of new Ration Books and in the same month the Holmfirth UDC had decided to have yet another major fund raising campaign as detailed below.
Salute the Soldier Week
June 3 – 10 1944
Our Target £150,000 to clothe and equip
3 Parachute Battalions.
He stands between YOU and NAZI TYRANNY
On June 2nd. the Express reported that it had been cancelled ( no reason given ) but the UDC hoped that £50,000 could be raised in small savings by the end of July. Eventually £60,729 was raised.
Also in June the UDC published a notice saying that the Collection of Household Refuse and Kitchen Waste was to be suspended due to the men and vehicles being required for other work.
Reading through the Express in its coverage of both the major wars putting thoughts etc into poetry seemed to be very popular. Many of the poems would have caused classical poets some anguish but they came from the heart and got their message across. I have printed some in this history but have to include this very long one for reasons that will become clear as you read.
It was written by Frank Roebuck of Ludgate House early in 1944. Frank had formerly worked at Albion Mills and was closely connected to the Netherthong Wesley Chapel. He had written it from the Middle East and prefaced it by saying that ‘ he had written many times and was now at a loss for words and to prevent his thanks from getting stale. I have now put my thoughts into rhyme but do not profess to being a poet’.
I’ve written many times before
Maybe a dozen – maybe a score
Of letters to convey my thanks
For gifts you’ve sent us – all ranks
And so I find it hard to pen
My thanks sincere yet once again
So now I’m sending you this time
Acknowledgements in verse and rhyme.
To all of you who have a part –
Miss Floyd I’ll mention for a start
She’s president and together
Keeps the folks in village Nether
Miss Wilson is the local sec.
All arrangements she has to make
She taught to me my ABC
And therefore capable, you’ll agree.
Mrs. Roebuck tends the money
And you’ll find her just on t’Broomy
So if you have a bob to spare
Just kindly place it in her care.
To Thomas Dyson falls the lot
To sending gifts to Smith or Stott
There’s many more names on that list
Thanks to efforts, the likes of whist.
No little task is this, his job
Of packing parcels for the mob
Of soldiers, sailors, airmen too
Who’ve gone away, a job to do.
He sends them near, he sends them far
To wherever the Thong lads are
And he’s given many a lecture
Scenes of new and varied texture.
These few officials, you will agree
Are quite well known to you and me
Still t’is a noble part they play
In helping bring that glorious day
They may not be in battledress
And yet they’re fighting none the less
By sending comforts by the ton
To help us beat the dirty hun
But also helping in the fight
Are Thongites who, with all their might
Are giving, working round yon spire
Thus they raise our morale higher.
At Mrs. Hoyle the ladies meet
To knit us socks for marching feet
Helmets, stocking and mittens too
I’ll bet they’ve done a tidy few.
The men you’ll find too,do their bit
With true and noble grit
For when it’s a gala day
You’ll find them right there in the fray
And so to all of you at Thong
My thanks sincere to you belong
For scrap and paper – all the lot
But chiefly ‘cos we’re not forgot.”
The balance sheet for the Comforts Fund in October 1944 for the last 12 months showed that they had spent £164 11s, £126 of which was sent to servicemen, but they still retained a balance of £276 5s 7d. Receipts had been £440 16s 7d with £76 from the Field day and £100 from the Garden Fete. In November a successful entertainment was sponsored by the Clothiers Arms in aid of the Comforts Fund. The artistes were the Coronation Concert Party.
At the start of 1944 and carrying through into 1945 the Express was printing an increasing number of public notices from various Ministries exhorting people to save even more money, save even more waste materials, use even less, grow their own vegetables etc. In addition there was also a series of notices, normally in poetic style with pictures of soldiers, sailors , airmen etc all designed to focus peoples minds on the need for solidarity during these critical months.
This is one example from early 1945.
Rich on Monday
Spent some on Tuesday
More on Wednesday
Poor on Thursday
Worse on Friday
Broke on Saturday
Borrowed on Sunday
Where will he end?
Old Solomon Grundy
BUY National Savings Certificates
May 8th. 1945 was VE day – Victory in Europe . A United Service was held in the Parish Church and the Rev. S. Black praised God for their wonderful deliverance and said that the profound fact of peace was difficult to realise.
Later that month a new ration book was issued which served as a reminder that the hardships and shortages were still to be faced.
Private F. Moorhouse ( aged 27 ) ,who was a native of Netherthong and attended the National School, joined up in January 1940 was taken prisoner in North Africa on June 28th. 1942 and was kept in a camp in Benghazi for a while before being transferred to Italy. When Italy capitulated he and other prisoners took to the hills to try to get freedom but the Germans found them and took them to Germany.First stop was Stalag 4B and then onto Stalag 4F where they were forced to work in a lead mine. Later they were marched to Czechoslovakia and then to Dresden where they met German soldiers going in the opposite direction and ended up by turning round and marching back to where they had started. That was when they decided to do a “bunk ” and when they arrived at Launstein they saw white flags flying and were told the war was finally over. They carried on walking until they found a point manned by Americans and eventually arrived back in England.
Although the war was over there was still a big demand to help the peoples displaced in Europe and a national appeal called ” Save Europe Now ” was well supported. Miss Floyd, in conjunction with the Netherthong Parish Church, the Wesleyan Chapel and the Zion chapel had organised a collection of clothing in the village, Deanhouse and Oldfield district and over 600 articles were obtained.
In September 1945 plans were being made for the homecoming of the Netherthong members of the Forces. The issue of the Express for September carried the following full page exhortation.
‘Wings for Victory’
‘Salute the Soldier’
— and now
of them all —
Support your local Thanksgiving Week.
They also printed the following 1/2 page notice in the same month..
Holmfirth Urban District Council
October 6-13 Target £100,000
Give thanks by Saving
A large range of activities were organised in all the villages. By the beginning of October nearly half of the target was subscribed before the opening ceremony. In the five major savings campaigns, the Holmfirth District raised £1 M (actual was £1,025,834). The long list of contributors included the Netherthong Co-op with £1,000. In the same September month a meeting was held to wind-up the Comforts Fund. It was decided to share out at Christmas the total money in hand of £430 to those qualified to receive grants. Mr.W.Gledhill and Mr.W.Hinchliffe were elected to serve with the ladies committee to work out the final details. Tributes were paid to Miss H.Floyd for her untiring efforts.
In May 1953, Bombadier Ernest Richards was the senior member of a group of four men chosen to represent the 578 Heavy A.A. 5th. Duke of Wellington’s Regiment ( TA ) in the Coronation procession. He had 15 years service in the Regular Army and 3 years in the TA.He was 33 years old and lived in Queen Anne’s Square and was employed as a centre lathe turner. In November 1949, the Holmfirth war Memorial to the fallen of the Second World War was unveiled. It took the form of two tablets added to the memorial to the men who died in the 1914-18 war. It contained exactly 100 names covering the whole of the Holmfirth Urban District and was unveiled by Colonel Keith Sykes OBE,MC,TD,JP of Honley.
The Home Guard was operational from 1940 to 1944 and was set up by the British Army. It’s nickname Dad’s Army was due to the average age of local volunteers who signed up and were ineligible for military service usually because of age. They were originally called Local Defence Volunteers or LDV, and their role was to provide a local defence in case of an invasion. There was a Holmfirth Home Guard. Haydn Boothroyd told me his father, Max, was a member from its beginning until it was disbanded – he did not pass his service medical exam because of severe varicose veins. The ‘battery’ was in a field alongside the lane behind the Ford Inn. His father told him he could throw a hand grenade the furthest in the squad. The photograph shows the volunteers with Max on the far left in the top row. Others named in the photo are Hildred Dyson ; Frank Dickinson ( officer) -( he was born in 1882 and died in 1958. Heserved in WW1 and achieved fame for singing to the troops in France. His name is onthe WW1 Roll of Honour in the Parish Church).; Stanley Hepworth ; Clarence Daniel ; Stanley Turton : Harold Hinchliffe 😕 Ellis. Mr. Roberts ( he could be Herbert Roberts born in 1884 who was a private in WW1 and his name appears on the Roll of Honour in the Parish Church ).