The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History

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SECOND WORLD WAR (1939-1945)


Updated:  10 January 2013 

January 1941

Meat rationing was reduced from 1s 10d to 1s 6d on Monday January 6th 1941.  [1]

In January 1941 Plymouth City Council was renting the Tothill Recreation Ground out to the Ministry of Mines for use as a coal dump.   The rent was £150 per annum, which the Council refused to lower.  [2]

The 247th alert occurred on Friday January 10th 1941.  Although the press reported that two people were killed in Portland Place, Devonport, only one, 17-years-old Mr George Cyril Finch, the son of Mr Sydney C and Mrs Winifred E Finch, of 9d Cannon Street, Devonport, is listed in the civilian casualty list.   He was injured during the raid and died later the same day at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Plymouth.  [3]

An unexploded bomb was removed on Saturday January 11th from Wolsdon Street.  [3]

Children from St Peter's Emergency School wearing their gas masks, circa 1941.

School children from Saint Peter's Emergency School
wearing their gas masks as they walk to the shelters, circa 1941.
© Plymouth & West Devon Record Office.

Three women were the only casualties in a raid on Sunday January 12th 1941.  They were Mrs Mary Anne Hooper, aged 71, and Ms Margery Hurst, aged 29, both of 6 Verna Road, Saint Budeaux; and their next door neighbour, Mrs Ellen Jane Pomery, aged 59, the wife of Mr John Pomery.  [3][4]

During the night of Monday January 13th/Tuesday January 14th 1941 there was an air raid on Plymouth, described by Pat Twyford as a "nightmare".  It was the City's 256th alert.  The raid lasted for three hours from 6.30pm and killed 24 people, seriously injured 55 and slightly injured 62.  Most of these came from an air raid shelter in Madeira Road, opposite Phoenix Wharf, which received a direct hit.  Four members of the Edgerton family died: Mrs Sarah Agnes Edgerton, aged 40, the wife of Mr Albert Edward Edgerton of the Royal Citadel; their two daughters, Miss Ida Edgerton, aged 19, and Miss Grace Edgerton, aged 14; and their 9-years-old son, William Edgerton.  [3][4]

At 11pm, while the raid was at its height, the decision was taken to abandon trying to print the following morning's "Western Morning News" at Frankfort Street and transfer the type to the "Express and Echo" building in Exeter.  The type that had already been set and the remaining "copy" was loaded into a fleet of cars and rushed up the main road to Exeter, where production resumed shortly after Midnight.  [3]

It was in this raid that the first of Plymouth's churches was seriously damaged, an honour befalling Sherwell Congregational in Tavistock Road, Plymouth.  The gas works at Coxside was badly damaged and the Corporation electricity works at Prince Rock put out of use.  Electricity supply was restored during the afternoon of the 14th, thanks to the national grid, but the Plymouth end of the City remained without gas for some three weeks (SEE January 27th 1941).  The railway lines at Friary, Devonport and Turnchapel were damaged.  [3]

Two members of the Auxiliary Fire Service won George Medals during this raid.  An unspecified oil tank caught fire and 29-years-old Patrol Officer George Henry Wright, of 71 Neath Road, Lipson, and Leading Fireman Cyril George Lidstone, aged 28, of 54 Durham Avenue, Lipson, were detailed by Divisional Officer R M Easton to deal with it.  If it had exploded it would have burned for days and provided a target for the German raiders.  The roof of the tank was quite low in the frame that surrounded it and the fire was in the sealing ring between the roof and the tank itself.  Ro get at it, the two men had to haul their apparatus up the external stairway and then clamber down 32 feet to the top of the tank.  Patrol Officer Wright went down first but the water supply failed and he had to climb back out again because of the heat.  All this time there was a risk of the tank exploding.  Once a water supply had been restored, he once again climbed down and started to play foam on the fire.  Leading Fireman Lidstone then followed to assist him.  High explosive bombs were falling all falling all around them as the air raid was at its height.  The two men were ringed by a wall of fire from the the seal but they did eventually manage to extinguish it.  Half-blinded, they then were able to clamber out again, a very serious disaster having been averted.  As Mr Wright put it afterwards: 'I simply took the job in my stride.'  In April 1941 Patrol Officer George Henry Wright, who had been a house decorator before the War, and Leading Fireman Cyril George Lidstone, a plasterer by trade, were awarded the George Medal for gallantry.  [5]

In the same raid the City Hospital at Freedom Fields was damaged, killing one young patient, 9-years-old Miss Lilian Rose Stephens, the daughter of Mr Alfred and Mrs Priscilla Frances Stephens of 88 Warleigh Avenue, Keyham Barton.  Two of the wards at Greenbank Hospital were also damaged, injuring two nurses.  Island House on the Barbican was also damaged.  Cinema performances were suspended.  [3][4]

Amongst those killed during the raid on the night of Monday January 13th 1941 was Mrs Joan Dorothy Bickford (nee Le Masuriere), aged 18, who had only three weeks before married Mr Leslie G Bickford.  She was a member of Miss Geraldine Lamb's ENSA concert party and the daughter of Mr E P and Mrs K S Le Masuriere of 7 Kensington Gardens, Mutley, Plymouth.  She was buried at Efford Cemetery on Saturday January 18th 1941.  [6]

Two days later the Lord Mayor (Lord Astor) gave a statement of the statistics relating to this raid.  106 high explosive bombs had been poured on the City, three of which were delayed action ones.  Twenty-six people had been killed, 60 houses demolished, 400 houses seriously damaged, and 2,000 homes slightly damaged.  [3]

As an experiment, it was decided to provide hot meals for 1,000 people at the Guildhall on Sunday January 19th 1941.  Tickets, costing 9d for adults and 6d for children, could be bought at any warden's post.   The meal consisted of soup, a joint and a sweet and there were two sittings, at Noon and 1.30pm.  [7]

On Monday January 27th 1941 there was a terrific explosion of a different type, when an attempt was made to restore the gas supply from the gas works at Coxside.  Three men were killed in the gas works and five injured.   Several ominous bulges in the roadways were noted at Sutton Road, Notte Street, Exeter Street, Bedford Street and Union Street, caused by broken gas mains.  [3]

During the month of January 1941 Number 247 Squadron RAF, based at RAF Roborough, received its first Hawker Hurricane aircraft.  However, there is no evidence that the Squadron played any part in the defence of Plymouth from aerial attacks, reliance being made entirely on anti-aircraft batteries both ashore and afloat.   [43]

February 1941

There were by February 1941 about twelve girl porters working at Plymouth's North Road and Millbay Stations.  They worked in half-day shifts, loading and unloading trains.  [8]

On Saturday February 1st 1941 a new TOC-H hostel, for 47 men, was opened at 46 Union street, Plymouth.  The cost was in the form of a gift from the British War Relief Society of America.  [9]

Between 150 and 160 bus conductresses were now working for the Plymouth Corporation Transport Department and the Company in Plymouth.  [10]

It was reported in February 1941 that many ancient documents housed in solicitors' offices were being sent to the waste paper collection.  [11]

Plymouth experienced its 272nd alert between 3.40am and 4.20am on the morning of Thursday February 13th 1941.  Sadly, however, the bombs had already been dropped and destroyed three houses in Alfred Road, Ford.  Mrs Violet Susan Trotman, aged 32, plus her 7-years-old daughter, Pamela Violet Trotman, and 2-years-old son, Leonard Alfred Trotman, all of 23 Alfred Road, Ford, died in that raid.  Her husband, Able Seaman Alfred Ernest Trotman, was presumably away serving aboard ship somewhere.  Three others at the same address, Mr Richard Shears, aged 64; 66-years-old Emmaline Shears, and Mr Henry Reginald Baker, aged 41, also perished.  [3][4]

Black-out blinds cost from 1s 11d in February 1941.  [12]

The Post Office at Turnchapel, Plymstock, reopened at 9am on Monday February 10th 1941 as a result of protests about its closure back in July 1940.

Wednesday February 19th 1941 saw the City's 278th air raid alert, between 7.15pm and 10.50pm.  The German bombers were actually on their way to South Wales but dropped a few high-explosive bombs in the area of Valletort Road at Stoke and Stonehouse Town Hall.  [3]

The War Damage Bill passed its final stage in the Houses of Parliament on Shrove Tuesday, February 25th 1941.  [1]

Messrs F W Woolworth & Company Ltd were fined £2 at the City Magistrate's Court on Wednesday February 26th 1941 for serving too much sugar with their hot drinks.  Sugar was, of course, rationed at that time.  The Plymouth Food Control Committee stated that in the week commencing September 29th 1940 they had used 10lbs more sugar than they were allowed and that during the following three consecutive weeks the figures were 11lbs, 12lbs and 11lbs too much.  The Company was fined ten shillings on each of four charges for the four weeks.  The snack bar manager at their Old Town Street premises, Mr Ove Anderson, was summoned also as the person responsible for the offences and he was ordered to pay costs.  [12a] 

Disused bakeries in Commercial Road, Treville Street and West Hoe were to be taken over by the City Council in order to provide cooked meals to residents bombed out of their homes.  Ex-naval cooks and unemployed bakers were to be recruited at the rate of 1s 3½d per hour, plus a war bonus of six shillings per week.  There was double pay on Sundays.  [13]

At Messrs Spooner's premises on the corner of Bedford Street and Old Town Street, fourteen fire-watchers patrolled the building every night.  Each person did one night in eight and there were also four full-time, paid, fire-watchers.  [14]

The cost of a gents' haircut had risen from 1s to 1s 3d.  [15]

March 1941

The raids of March 1941 are dealt with in more detail in PLYMOUTH BLITZ.

In March 1941, just before the Plymouth Blitz, the Great Western and Southern Railways laid in a link between their lines at Saint Budeaux.   This enabled GWR trains to and from London to use the lightly-used Southern main line to get to Exeter if their own main line was damaged.  It also meant that Southern trains had an alternative route into and out of Plymouth in need be.  [16]

On Friday March 7th 1941 the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Lord Astor, accepted a mobile canteen from the English Speaking Union.  It had been donated to them by Miss Clara Harrington, of the USA, in memory of Mr Joseph Riter.  The canteen was painted in the Women's' Voluntary Service (WVS) colours of sea green and maroon.  [17]

"Blitz Soup" was being served in local restaurants.  It comprised beans, lentils, peas, carrots and macaroni.  [18]

The Duke of Kent arrived in Plymouth on Monday March 10th 1941 for a four days visit.  [1]

Between 8.30pm on the night of Friday March 14th and 12.37am on the morning of Saturday March 15th 1941 there were three raids, during which five people were killed.  Six bombs fell in the Royal Navy Avenue area of Keyham, where seven houses were demolished and 50 seriously damaged.   Some 300 more were slightly damaged.  Six bombs fell in Central Park, two near the Southern Railway at Devonport, five in Beaumont Terrace and a few odd ones in various parts of Stoke, Saint Budeaux, Crownhill, Plympton, Plymstock and Hooe.  Incendiary bombs were also dropped and started some 27 fires.  [3]

Those killed in these raids were: Mr Francis John Beare, aged 76, his wife, Mrs Emily Elizabeth Beare, 65, and their son, 36-years-old Mr Francis William Beare, all of 22 Royal Navy Avenue, Keyham.  With them that fateful night were their daughter, Mrs Olive Blades, 29, and her 2-years-old son, Derrick Albert Blades, of 15 Watts Park Road, Peverell, both of whom also died in the raid.  [4]

Thursday March 20th/Friday March 21st 1941 - The Royal Visit

Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Plymouth on Thursday March 20th 1941.  The Royal Train pulled in to Plymouth's Millbay Station at 10.30am and the Royal couple went on to tour service establishments in the City.  [3]

They left the City at about 5.30pm.  Sunset was at 7.12pm and at just after 8.30pm the alert was sounded.  At 8.39pm began what has subsequently become known as the Plymouth Blitz.  Between then and 11.20pm some 125 aircraft reputedly from Luftflotte 3 rained terror on the Plymouth end of the City.  336 people died that night, including 14 babies and three nurses at the City Hospital, Greenbank.  Overnight Plymouth became 'the most sorely blitzed provincial city in the country'.  [3]

It was during this raid that Police Constable Alan John Hill earned a British Empire medal for gallant conduct in an incident at the Southern Railway's goods yard adjacent to Friary Station.  [19]

The raid was repeated on the following night, and when the City awoke on the morning of Saturday March 22nd, if it in fact had ever slept, the only buildings left intact in the whole of the City Centre were the Westminster Bank in Bedford Street and the Western Morning News office in Frankfort Street.  Both were new buildings built just before the War started.  Unfortunately the part at the rear housing the photographic collection was not so lucky and was destroyed, taking with it thousands of valuable negatives and prints covering Plymouth's past.  [3]

Also spared destruction was the Synagogue in Catherine Street, where the minister, the Reverend Wilfred Wolfson, had removed the sacred Torah scrolls and, with the aid of a Mr Widdicombe, placed them in an adjacent cellar for safety  [20].

April 1941

The raids of April 1941 are dealt with in more detail in PLYMOUTH BLITZ.

Between 9.30pm on Monday April 7th and 3.35am on Tuesday April 8th 1941 there were three alerts.  During the third one, bombs fell at Hartley, Mannamead, Mutley, Lipson, Mount Gould and Friary and also at Swilly.  [3]

Monday April 21st 1941 saw another devastating "inferno" raid on Plymouth, in which Devonport was also devastated.  Johnston Terrace Elementary School was completely destroyed.  [3]

Early in the afternoon of Tuesday April 22nd 1941 a convoy of eight vans known as "The Queen's Messengers" arrived in Plymouth to help feed those who were able to stay in their homes after the Blitz but were not able to cook a meal for themselves.  Their kitchens could turn out 2,000 hot meals every hour and they began work just after 1.30pm in a heavily bombed area of the City.  [44]

The raid was repeated on the night of Tuesday April 22nd.  It was during this night (not the night of 21st/22nd as quoted by Pat Twyford) that the air raid shelter at Portland Square, Plymouth, received a direct hit, killing 72 people and wiping out whole families.  There was another raid on the 23rd/24th.  [3][4]

During the night of Wednesday April 23rd/24th 1941 it was decided to move the printing of the Western Morning News to the offices of the Express and Echo in Exeter.  Eventually new duplicated offices were brought into use at Tavistock and production and distribution continued from there until October 1944.  [3]

A month after the War Damage Act 1941 received the Royal Assent, an article entitled "What to do if your house is bombed" appeared in the Western Evening Herald.  [21]

As from Monday April 27th 1941 housewives in Plymouth had to pay cash-on-delivery for their milk.  Mr P Waldron, representing the Plymouth dairymen, told the press that it was being done because of the risk of records being destroyed and because so many people had now been evacuated and left no forwarding address.  [22]

By the end of April 1941 there were 19 food centres open in Plymouth.  At three of them a two-course meal was available between Noon and 2.30pm and again between 5.30 and 7.30pm for the price of 9d: Treville Street Elementary School, Number 40 Portland Square and Plymouth High Schools for Girls.  [23]

At a charge of 4d per person, a meal consisting of bread, soup, tea and potato stew, was available between the hours of 8am, Noon to 2.30pm and 5.30 to 7.30pm at: 30-31 Ker Street and Morice Town Elementary School.  A similar meal was available between the two latter times at Oxford Street School; Frederick Street School;  Keyham Roman Catholic School;  Saint James the Great School; North Prospect School; York Street School; Sutton Road School; King Street School, Devonport; Salisbury Road School; and Prince Rock School.  [23]

In addition, or perhaps alternatively, people made homeless by the bombing could obtain temporary accommodation at Salisbury Road Baptist Church; Saint Gabriel's Crypt; the Methodist Central Hall; the Victory Hall, in Victory Street, Keyham; Hope Baptist Church; and Compton Methodist Church.  [23]

Held in reserve and not at that time in use were the Presbyterian Church at Tor; Mount Gould Methodist Church; Mutley Methodist Church; Peverell Park Methodist Church; Saint Budeaux Methodist Church; and Keyham Methodist Church Hall, Admiralty Street.  [23]

The YMCA and some 30 other organisations were also operating mobile canteens, some of which ventured out on to Dartmoor to search out those taking shelter away from the City.  It was reported by the Western Evening Herald that to ensure a steady supply of milk to the City, farmers were calling their cows to milking much earlier than they used to.  [24]

Traders who had lost their stock could get advice and immediate financial assistance from the Board of Trade and the Chamber of Commerce at a new emergency centre in Cobourg Street, opposite the Education Offices.   Retailers and catering establishment owners were able to get similar facilities from the Saint Aubyn Masonic Hall at Stoke.  [25]

On the afternoon of Monday April 28th 1941 the victims of the April raids were laid to rest in a mass grave at Efford Cemetery.  The grave was draped with Union Jacks and floral tributes ranging from humble posies of primroses to official wreaths and crosses.  Those taking part in the service included the Bishop of Exeter, the Bishop of Plymouth, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Plymouth and the Reverend W D Campbell representing the Nonconformist congregations.  A representative from the Salvation Army was also present, as were Officers from the three Services.  The Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Lord Astor, was prevented from attending by illness.  [26]

As the Western Evening Herald put it: 'Here, in a setting of beauty and peace, which looks out over  a wonderful panorama of the Devon hills, this company of Plymothians who were called on to make the supreme sacrifice rest together - men, women, and children.'  [26]

May 1941

Mr Winston Churchill, the Prime Minster, visited Plymouth and toured the blitzed areas on Friday May 2nd 1941.  [27]

Mr Winston Churchill touring bombed Plymouth.

Mr Winston Churchill  touring bombed Plymouth.

It was not until Saturday May 3rd 1941 that children were evacuated from the City.  Some 650 school children left Friary Station on as special train bound for North Cornwall.  [28]

On Sunday May 4th 1941 Double Summer Time started.  [1]

A party of children from Keyham Barton Roman Catholic School left for Camborne, in Cornwall, on May 5th 1941, under the evacuation scheme.  [29]

On Saturday May 10th 1941 some 2,000 youngsters between the ages of 5 and 16 met at their respective schools and bade farewell to their parents and families.   Then 41 Corporation motor buses transported them to North Road Station to board trains for Cornwall and safer places in Devon.  Some parents bought Platform Tickets and were able to see their children off on the Station.  Every ten children had a helper to look after them and the whole event was presided over by Mr E Stanley Leatherby, who had been Lord Mayor in 1933-34.  Included in this group were children from the Keyham Barton Roman Catholic School, under the leadership of Miss Duggan.  [30]

Another 400 children were evacuated on the following Tuesday, May 13th 1941 and a further group from the Keyham Barton Roman Catholic School left on the morning of May 16th 1941.  [29]

During the night raid of March 17th 1941 Montpelier School was destroyed  [31].

Compulsory fire watching orders were made on Thursday May 22nd 1941 covering Plymouth, Exeter and Penzance.  [1]

June 1941

War coupon trading commenced on Whit Monday, June 2nd 1941.  [1]

At Midday on Thursday June 5th 1941 another British Restaurant was opened, this time in a Nissen Hut outside the Albert Road Gate of the Dockyard's North Yard.  It was to cater for around 200 people at a time.  The Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Lord Astor, sat down to the inaugural lunch accompanied by Lady Astor, Mr W H J Priest, Food Controller and chairman of the Food Committee, Mr E Stanley Leatherby, chairman of the Education Committee, Mr C S Thomson, representing the Admiral Superintendent, and Miss K Harriman, the youngest daughter of Mr Averill Harriman, President Roosevelt's personal representative in England, who was a guest of Lady Astor.    The meals, which cost 9d, were served from a table at the far end of the Hut although Miss B M Duck, the Ministry of Food's organizer of Communal Feeding, waited on the party.  The tables were decorated with vases of flowers and foliage.  Almost 1,000 people were served that first lunchtime.  It was reported that some 4,000 meals a day were being prepared at cooking depots at Honicknowle and Tor (Farley's Foods canteen?) and kitchens at Portland Square, Treville Street, Ford House, Plymouth High School for Girls, and the Domestic Science School were responsible for an additional 500 meals each daily.  [31a]

HRH the Duke of Kent arrived in Plymouth for a three-day visit on Tuesday June 17th 1941.  [1]

It was reported on June 17th 1941 by the Bishop of Exeter that Plymouth had lost due to bombing or fire the Churches of Charles, Saint Andrew, Saint James the Less, Saint Peter, Saint Saviour, Saint George at East Stonehouse, and Saint Michael, Saint Paul and Saint Stephen at Devonport.  The Churches of Saint Aubyn, Saint James the Great and Saint Thomas would all be closed until further notice.  In addition the Mission Churches of Saint Anne, Saint Bartholomew, Saint Clement, Saint Luke (Richmond Walk), and Saint Philip (in the parish of Saint Andrew's) were also closed.  [31b] 

July 1941

The Clothes Rationing Order came into operation on Tuesday July 1st 1941.  Also on that day HRH the Princess Royal arrived in the Westcountry for a three-day visit that included Plymouth.  [1]

On Friday July 4th 1941 Britain's reconstruction chief, Lord Reith, advised Plymouth to 'plan boldly and plan now'.  [32]

Mr Vincent Massey, the High Commissioner of Canada, visited Plymouth on Saturday July 12th 1941 followed a few days later, on the 14th, by the Honourable Peter Fraser, Prime Minister of New Zealand, who visited local service stations.  [1]

The "V for Victory" Campaign opened on Sunday July 20th 1941.  [1]

On Monday July 21st the Lord Mayor opened a new pavilion on the Hoe to replace the one destroyed in the Blitz.  However, this one, which was a marquee, was to be run by the YMCA for the benefit of service personnel only.  Mr W G Soper was in charge.  [33]

August 1941

Following the destruction of the Congress Hall in Martin Street, the Salvation Army took possession of the former Baptist Chapel in Portland Villas on Saturday August 2nd 1941 as a replacement headquarters.  [34]

It was announced on Saturday August 9th 1941 that the General Post Office had made ready a fleet of motor vans fitted out as mobile post offices to be rushed to any location in the South West where the post office had been put out of action by enemy raids.  Also ready for use was a prefabricated building with more facilities and even spare sets of post office furniture that could be rushed anywhere it was needed.  [35]

The Royal Air Force opened Harrowbeer Airfield at Yelverton on August 15th 1941.  [36]

A major problem with writing about events during the Second World War is that because of news censorship many important incidents did not come to the public's attention until months after they happened and with no date specified.  One such major event was first mentioned in the press on Saturday August 16th 1941 although it had clearly taken place during the heavy raids in either March or April 1941.  It was the rescue of 14 scared horses from the stables of the Three Towns Dairy Company.  [37]

An ARP Warden by the name of Mr Percy William Lewis Waldron, who was assistant manager of the Three Towns Dairy Company and lived at 4 Holdsworth Street, Pennycomequick, Plymouth, saw a fierce fire burning in the vicinity of the Company's stables and garage.  Although the air raid was still in progress, he walked to the stables and there found the milk round supervisor, Mr Walter Nathaniel Arthur Downs, had been able to extinguish the large fire on the dairy premises but it was still raging above and alongside the stables.  The two men, who were not used to dealing with horses, led the fourteen, frightened animals to safety, along with the Company's eleven cats.  [37]

September 1941

Lord Halifax, the British Ambassador to the United States of America, paid a surprise visit to Plymouth on Thursday September 25th 1941.  [1]

The Plymouth Citizens' Advice Bureau was opened on Friday September 26th 1941.  [38]

October 1941

At 3.30pm on Friday October 10th 1941 a parade of tanks left Mutley Plain for the Octagon, where they went on show to raise funds under the banner of "Speed the Tanks".  The 25-ton "Waltzing Matilda" and the two 16-ton "Valentine" tanks plus scout cars and breakdown lorries were under the command of Lieutenant F J Turpin, who appealed 'for all the tanks you can give both ourselves and the Russians'.  They were later displayed in Central Park as well.  [39]

On Saturday October 11th 1941 King Haakon and Prince Olaf of Norway visited Plymouth.  [1]

Chief Superintendent William Thomas Hutchings (1892-1943) was appointed Chief Constable of Plymouth on Wednesday October 29th 1941.  He took up post on Monday December 1st. [40]

November 1941

Lord Astor was elected Lord Mayor of Plymouth for the third year running on Monday November 10th 1941, when the American Ambassador, Mr J G Winant, was guest of honour at a Civic luncheon in the British Restaurant at the Guildhall.  [40]

On Friday November 14th 1941 news arrived of the sinking of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal.  [40]

Only a few children living in the Plymstock area had taken advantage of the evacuation programme, it was announced on November 14th 1941.  Nineteen children had been evacuated from the schools at Oreston and 17 from Goosewell.  Five girls and two boys had been sent away from Hooe but one had since returned home.  [40a]

It was reported on November 16th 1941 that the first of three new villages for evacuees and essential war service staff was to be opened shortly.  These were sponsored by the National Service Hostels Corporation Ltd on behalf of the Government.  They comprised brick-built accommodation blocks, with electric lighting, kitchens, sick bay and even a police station with two cells.  The first one had provision for 3,000 people, with families accommodated in rooms with four bunks in two tiers and single women in dormitories of twenty bunks.  It had three large kitchens and eight 'feeding centres' that could seat 330 people at one sitting.  There was a staff of 80.  Accommodation was free for the first two weeks but thereafter single residents had to pay five shillings per week and families were charged double.  A rest centre for 320 people was also to be erected on the outskirts of Plymouth. [41]

Rationing of canned meat, canned fish and canned beans started on Monday November 17th 1941.  [40]

An inspection of Plymouth's emergency kitchens was carried out on Friday November 21st by Major G Lloyd George, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Food.  [40]

December 1941

It was announced in the House of Commons on Tuesday December 2nd 1941 that the age limit for compulsory military service was to be raised to 50.  [40]

On Wednesday December 10th 1941 HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were sunk by the Japanese.  [40]

Unmarried women were to be conscripted into the Services under the terms of the National Service Act, which was passed by Parliament on Thursday December 18th 1941.  [40]


[1]  Doidge’s Western Counties Illustrated Annual, 1942, Western Morning News Co Ltd, Plymouth, 1942.

[2]  Photo feature, "Coal Dump at Tothill Recreation Ground", Western Independent, Plymouth, January 12th 1941.

[3]  Twyford, H P, “It Came to Our Door”, Underhill (Plymouth) Ltd, Plymouth, 1946.

[4]  Imperial War Graves Commission, “Civilian War Dead in the City of Plymouth”.

[5]  "George Medals Awarded Two Plymouth AFS Heroes", Western Evening Herald, Plymouth, Saturday April 26th 1941 and "Two Plymouth Heroes Win George Medal for Gallantry" The Western Independent, Plymouth Sunday April 27th 1941.

[6]  “Plymouth Blitz Victim: Funeral of Mrs Bickford”, Western Independent, Plymouth, January 19th 1941.

[7]  “Communal Feeding on a Big Scale in Plymouth: Popular Sunday Dinner To-day”, Western Independent, Plymouth, January 19th 1941.

[8]  “Girl Railways Porters Go to it at Plymouth”, Western Independent, Plymouth, February 2nd 1941.

[9]  “America’s New Gift to Plymouth: TOC H Hostel Opened”, Western Independent, Plymouth, February 2nd 1941.

[10]  “Slacks or Skirts for Bus Girls”, Western Independent, Plymouth, February 2nd 1941.

[11]  “Ancient Documents go to Pulp Mills”, Western Independent, Plymouth, February 2nd 1941.

[12]  Advertisement, Reynold’s, 118/119 Tavistock Road, Western Independent, Plymouth, February 16th 1941.  One week earlier they cost only 1s 9d.

[12a]  "Snack Bar Offences: City Firm Gave Too Much Sugar", Western Evening Herald, Plymouth, February 26th 1941.

[13]  “Cooking Dinners for Plymothians”, Western Independent, Plymouth, February 9th 1941.

[14]  “Compulsory Fire Watching”, Western Independent, Plymouth, February 9th 1941.

[15]  “The Gossip of Plymouth: Dearer Haircuts”, Western Independent, Plymouth, February 9th 1941.

[16]  Thomas, David St John, “A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: Volume 1: The West Country”, David and Charles (Holdings) Ltd, Newton Abbot, 1960, 1963, 1966 and 1973.  ISBN 0 7153 6208 9.

[17]  “American Gift to City”, Western Independent, Plymouth, March 9th 1941.

[18]  “The Gossip of Plymouth: The Topical Touch”, Western Independent, Plymouth, February 16th 1941.

[19]  E-mail correspondence from PC Hill's daughter, Mrs Julie Jackson, 2008.

[20]  E-mail correspondence with the Reverend Wolfson's grandson, Mr Ellis Pearlman, 2009.

[21]  "What to do if your house is bombed", Western Evening Herald, Plymouth, Saturday April 26th 1941.

[22]  "Milk Cash-on-Delivery from Tomorrow", Western Evening Herald, Plymouth, Saturday April 26th 1941.

[23]  “19 Food Centres are Now Operating in Plymouth: Two-course Meals for Ninepence”, Evening Herald, Plymouth, April 28th 1941.

[24]  “Cows Called Earlier: Ensuring Milk Supplies for Plymouth”, Evening Herald, Plymouth, April 28th 1941.

[25]  “Cows Called Earlier: To Assist Traders”, Evening Herald, Plymouth, April 28th 1941.

[26]  “City’s Blitz Victims are Laid to Rest: Poignant Scenes at Communal Burial at Efford Cemetery”, Evening Herald, Plymouth, April 28th 1941.

[27]  “Mr Churchill Moved by the Spectacle of Plymouth”, Western Independent, Plymouth, May 4th 1941.

[28]  “Children Leave Plymouth”, Western Independent, Plymouth, May 4th 1941.

[29]  Log Books, Keyham Barton Roman Catholic Primary School, in private ownership.  From notes extracted from the Books by Mrs Debbie Watson.

[30]  Source not recorded.

[31]  Memories of Mr Len Williams, related in "Looking Back: Classrooms destroyed as bombs rained down", The Herald, Plymouth, March 14th 2009.

[31a]  "Another British Restaurant: Devonport Dockyard Workers", Western Morning News, Plymouth, June 5th 1941; and "1,000 Pop in for "Square" Meal: Plymouth Newest "Restaurant"", Western Morning News, Plymouth, June 6th 1941.

[31b]  "Churches Lost: Result of Enemy Action at Plymouth", Western Morning News, Plymouth, June 17th 1941.

[32]  “Lord Reith on Rebuilding Plan”, Western Independent, Plymouth, July 6th 1941.

[33]  “Yesterday in the New Hoe Pavilion”, Western Independent, Plymouth, July 27th 1941.

[34]  "New Home for Salvation Army in City", Western Evening Herald, Plymouth, August 4th 1941.

[35]  “Post Office on Wheels: South-West Plans for Blitz Work”, Western Morning News, Plymouth, August 9th 1941.

[36]  The commemorative stone at Harrowbeer states when it was it was laid on August 15th 1981 it was the fortieth anniversary of the official opening.

[37]  "Men Rescue 14 Scared Horses As Fire Rages Over Stables", Western Evening Herald, Plymouth, August 16th 1941.

[38]  “A First Day’s Posers for Plymouth’s New Bureau”. Western Independent, Plymouth, September 28th 1941.

[39]  “Plymouth Sees Latest Tanks: Monsters Show Their Ease of Movement in City Streets”, Western Evening Herald, Plymouth, October 9th 1941.

[40]  Doidge’s Western Counties Illustrated Annual, Western Morning News Company Ltd, Plymouth, 1943.

[40a]  "Chid Evacuation", Western Evening Herald, Plymouth, November 14th 1941.

[41]  “Hostel Villages for Blitz Victims”, Western Independent, Plymouth, November 16th 1941.

[42]  "Turnchapel P. O.", Western Independent, Plymouth, February 9th 1941.

[43]  From research done at the National Archives by Mr David Penberthy, Isle of Wight, 2010. 

[44]  "Queen's Messengers are Here", Western Evening Herald, Plymouth, April 22md 1941.

©  Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK

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