Netherthong and the Wars – Part 4 – WW2


Netherthong and its part in World War 11

   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  



Volunteers are

Urgently required

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

Civilian Evacuation.

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

Savings Certificates

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 1s3d 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, totalled £348  and payments were made of £218 16s 4d

In May the Holmfirth UDC’s campaign to enrol 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.

Holmfirth UDC

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 six 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. 

Warship Week

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

Savings Certifcates

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 additional information. 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 2s6d 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 I wrote 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.


The Stationers

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 humourist 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.

My dad kept a diary of his experiences which can be seen at
go to POW stories then Trooper G Knott.

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

Phil Knott

  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.

Solomon Grundy

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.

‘War Weapons’


‘Wings for Victory’

‘Salute the Soldier’

— and now

the greatest

of them all —


Support your local Thanksgiving Week.

They also printed the following 1/2 page notice in the same month..

Thanksgiving Week

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. He served in WW1 and achieved fame for singing to the troops in France. His name is on the 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 ).





Read more about Netherthong and the wars…

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