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In August 2005, the Sawley and District Historical Society held a display in Sawley All Saints Church hall, as part of the Sawley Church Flower Festival, about the war years in Long Eaton and Sawley and surrounding villages. The material in this display was used later in an exhibition at the Sawley Community Hall on Draycott Road in Sawley. The exhibition was entitled "Home Front Day" and was held on September 11th 2005. This information has now been compiled into a book entitled "Memories Of The Home Front" by Judy Kingscott and Pam Mee of the Sawley and District Historical Society.
Some of the contributors to the book were local people who not only loaned photographs, but also gave personal memories of their experiences of what life was like at home during the Second Word War. The society was fortunate enough to have log books from the Sawley National School. The log books were rescued by a teacher, Miss Lorimer, when the school moved to new premises in the 1950's. This book can be purchased from any member of the society, or from Heaps Stationers in Long Eaton at a price of £5.50, or by post by sending a cheque for £7 (including P & P) made payable to: Sawley and District Historical Society, 138 Derby Road, Draycott, DE72 3NX.
We have used some of the information from the book to give a taste of the war years in Long Eaton and Sawley.
The outbreak of war had long been a possibility for Britain before Neville Chamberlain went to visit Adolf Hitler in 1938 and returned with the infamous message of "Peace In Our Time". The Air Raid Precautions Act had been passed in 1937, and as early as March 1938 the Long Eaton Advertiser (LEA) warned of changes to come, and that the Long Eaton Urban District Council (LEUDC) would play an important role in the preparations for the outbreak of war.
"No Cause For Panic. Long Eaton Council appeal for volunteers. Air Raid Precautions Scheme to be inaugurated." (LEA - 18th March 1938).
This was the first of many appeals to be made over the next few years for local people to volunteer and serve on the home front. An official notice from the LEUDC appealed for 700 volunteers (male and female) to serve in first aid, auxiliary fire service, gas, electricity and water protection, air raid wardens and road repairers. The LEUDC was linked with Shardlow Rural District Council to form one district that oversaw the arrangements for dealing with casualties, first aid posts, clearing stations and ambulance stations. They would also be responsible for clearing any debris from highways, streets and public places and dealing with damaged or unsafe buildings and the rescue of any trapped persons. They would also decontaminate any public places and buildings that might have been affected by poison gas.
On the 23rd July 1938 the LEA reported that Long Eaton would be taking part in its first "blackout" as part of an exercise organised by the Home Office. The LEUDC was asked to ensure that no lights be visible from the air between 1am and 3am on Sunday, 7th August. Reassuring information was also published on 5th August detailing how it would affect electricity supplies, the LMS railway, the Royal Air Force and other aircraft over the area.
When the local schools re-opened after the summer holidays in 1938, they began to receive information from Derbyshire County Council on how to take air raid precautions. In January 1939, another blackout had been requested by the Home Office. On the night of 26/27th January, all lights were again asked to be extinguished between 1am and 3am, but this time the Fire Brigade and the ARP services were to be tested as well. Fire patrols were sent to all parts of the town. Exercises were held at Birchwood Mills, the Co-operative Society's garage on Fletcher Street and smaller outbreaks at the Town Hall, Bethel Church and other buildings.
Plans were afoot to evacuate large numbers of the public from crowded cities to areas like Sawley who were considered less likely to come under attack, and in July 1944 the Sawley National School admitted 26 evacuees, 24 from Dagenham and two from Tottenham.
A new feature appeared in the LEA in February 1939 under the heading: "Defence of the town, AFS calling to ARP". This was to be a weekly column with a dual purpose. It would serve as information about the new defence forces to the general public and also as a newsletter for members of the AFS and ARP. In the second edition of the column it reported the distribution of adult gas masks to some households and that "gas bags" for children were still at an experimental stage (Everyone had to carry a gas mask, many of them survived the war and remained in cupboards for many years afterwards.) It was proposed to protect Mayfield House (then the Town Hall) with sandbags.
On 31st March 1939, the LEA said:
"People foot the bill for defence. Trenches and bomb proof shelters instead of parks and pavilions."
The April 28th edition of the LEA informed:
"How conscription will affect Long Eaton. As far as one can estimate, over 500 youths in Long Eaton will be called up under the Conscription Training Bill. The decision reached involves calling up all youths aged 20 to 21 years."
As the year progressed, the threat of war was getting even more serious and there were several developments around the district. There was a public demonstration of the LEUDC's ARP services and the first batch of trenches would cost £600 and would only accommodate 300 people. The LEA on the 26th May 1939 reported that trenches had been erected on Midland Street in the town. The article also reported that a trench in St John Street had been condemned by the ARP committee, but it was recommended that trenches at the back of the Town Hall be completed to specifications, despite the risk of flooding. This proved to be highly unpopular, and was later replaced by surface shelters and private provision against air raids.
In July the chief Air Raid Warden resigned. Mr Fleming was responsible for the controlling and distribution of gas masks, but with increasing duties in connection with local administration Mr Fleming's decision had been made in the interests of the town. Despite this setback the authorities went ahead with another planned blackout exercise. The local people had been assured that normal lighting and power would not be switched off during this exercise. The editorial in the LEA on 25th August warned readers of the appearance of German propaganda in the district.
As the newspaper went to press on 1st September 1939 the outbreak of war was inevitable. The LEA informed Long Eaton people of food rationing, and should an emergency arise the Department of the Board of Trade may immediately establish a scheme of food control. If the plan was put into operation an issue of ration cards would be sent out at a moment's notice. At the time, Long Eaton had a population of 26,500 and each individual (including children) would have a ration card. Precautionary defence measures were to be speeded up and the LEUDC placed an order for 20,000 sandbags. Householders were urged to dig trenches. The Long Eaton Co-operative Society said at a quarterly meeting that they would provide £1,000 for the construction of air raid shelters to accommodate staff/customers at the rear of the High Street schools.
The majority of the Long Eaton public now had their respirators, but if there were any people still without them they should apply immediately to the depot on Midland Street. Long Eaton should have had 385 ARP wardens, but the actual figure fell a long way short of that mark. Two days later, England was at war with Germany.
The conflict was to change the lives of so many people. The LEA filled the whole of its front page with a Civil Defence advertisement, advising its readers to "do their bit" for the war effort.
"How Long Eaton heard the news. How did Long Eaton receive the dreaded news of war?... With a wonderful calm that had about it a feeling of doggedness suggesting that a stern decision thus taken must be worked out to a victorious conclusion."
Although the townsfolk were frightened, it seemed as though they accepted the situation with a grim determination. War had been declared on Sunday, and on the Monday came Long Eaton's first air raid warning. Although a false alarm, it was an indication of what was to come. The LEA printed an account of the alert:
"Long Eaton Prepared. First air raid warning. Passage of unidentified aircraft." (LEA 8th September 1939).
The threat of air raids continued and from early September advertisements began to appear for shelters, gas mask cases and trenches. Henry Orton and Sons Ltd., of Craig Street in Long Eaton gave estimates for air raid shelters, while F. Perks and Son Ltd., of Bridge Street provided gas proof shelters, ARP trenches and other defensive requirements.
The meetings of the LEUDC soon became dominated by discussions of ARP matters and about the provisions for shelters. On 20th October the LEUDC placed an advertisement asking for tenders to build public air raid shelters that were to appear around the district. Sport in the town was one of the first casualties in the early days of the war as the government considered the gathering of large crowds inadvisable. All foreign nationals were required to register their presence and failure to do so led to prosecution as an Icelandic woman who had come to stay with her sister in 1934 and had not gone back, found out. Both women were fined just four shillings costs and the police did not ask for a deportation order.
Local retailers seized the opportunity of probable shortages and many ran an advertisement in the LEA to urge its readers to "Buy Now And Save Pounds" at pre-war prices. On September 12th nearly all the local butchers met to discuss the rationing of meat. The LEA reported on 15th September that nearly 40 butchers from Long Eaton, Sawley, Sandiacre, Draycott, Breaston and Castle Donington assembled at the Empire Cinema in Long Eaton to discuss their position in relation to food control and to determine the manner in which they would receive their supplies of meat during the rationing period. Local shops were given the number of hours they could open and close for business. By October 1939 the Emergency Powers Act had been passed requiring all householders to register for coal and the fixing of prices to be charged.
Lamp posts and telegraph poles were to be painted white up to a height of six feet from the ground. This would enable them to be seen during the blackout. As life carried on, more and more restrictions came into force and it became harder to go about their normal daily business. Transport was restricted and this created a knock-on effect for other services. Barton Transport, based at Beeston announced various emergency timetables. The LEA on 15th September reported that Barton's Long Eaton town service was suspended. It became increasingly difficult to travel because of petrol rationing and the blackout.
Many leisure activities closed at the onset of war, but after the first week or so local cinemas and dance halls re-opened to the public. Locally, the war was beginning to take away many of the young people of the area. Some were to serve in the forces, others had supporting roles. Some were destined never to return, and it wasn't long before the first casualty appeared in the LEA of 20th October 1939.
"Roll Of Honour. Miles - on October 14th, at sea, Arthur, son of Mr and Mrs Samuel Miles, of 34 Bonsall Street, Long Eaton. Aged 18 years."
Street shelters began to appear, but some families preferred to have their own, or share one. Not everyone had quick access to a shelter if need be. Sawley, apart from the land near the church is very low lying, so few houses in the area had cellars. Houses with cellars were considered to be one of the safer places to go during an air raid. Children continued to play outdoors, their activities only occasionally interrupted by the war. Many villages like Sawley still had a rural feel about them - this was to disappear forever after the war.
Towards the end of 1939, the LEA reported on the arrival of evacuees from Derby who were billeted in Draycott and attended the village school there. For some children, both nationally and locally evacuation was a short lived experience. By 1941, the need for accommodation for evacuees had become acute, and on 17th January the LEUDC placed another notice in the LEA appealing to the public to provide places. On 15th July, 1944 the newspaper reported that Long Eaton and district had received 525 evacuees, 311 of them were unaccompanied children and 71 were mothers with 143 children. It was reported that all had been found homes.
Most families did what they could to keep the family larder full without using too many ration coupons. If they could, they grew their own produce and even used anything edible from the fields and hedgerows. Occasionally, it was bordering on the illegal. Rabbits were a common substitute when other meats were short. The health of the nation was very important during wartime. Not only was nutrition carefully monitored and advised upon, but the prevention of diseases, especially in young children became very important. During the last few months of the war it was discovered that the children were taller and heavier than previous generations.
Because of the reduced school hours (at first) this led to a marked increase in juvenile crime. In the editorial of the LEA dated 12th December 1942 the newspaper carried reports of:
"Sabotage on Long Eaton's streets. Seats were wrenched from concrete bases and thrown into the canal. Safety lamps removed or smashed."
The majority of children and young adults were well behaved and were anxious for the enemy to be defeated. In the days before television, the radio was the focus of family life as were the gatherings of families. Going out together as a family in the evenings meant coming home in the blackout. Toys were very simple and in short supply. Occasionally gifts came from abroad, especially from America where their didn't seem to be any shortages. Very little confectionery was produced during the war, so it was a very special day when some arrived. One Sawley resident, who was born on the day war broke out remembers an American airman visiting his home and bringing lots of "goodies".
Christmas was another exciting time for the young in Long Eaton - but no doubt a headache for parents. Sheppard and Lacey of Station Road in Long Eaton placed an advertisement in the LEA saying:
"Don't disappoint the kiddies"
It listed all the goodies they could supply for Christmas. The editorial of November 5th, 1940's LEA commented on the need to maintain the entertaining of poor children at Christmas. They would have a film show at the Empire Cinema, a tea at the People's Hall, followed by entertainment, but only if people donated generously to Long Eaton's "Help The Needy and Kiddies Fund."
There were just two building contractors in the Sawley area who saw a market to cash in on anticipated air raids. Not long after war was declared, they placed advertisements in the LEA about their services. Both JD Walker of Tamworth Road and CH Reedman Ltd., of Northfield Avenue could provide ARP shelters and trenches for people's protection. Wherever people worked, they soon found themselves doing additional duties. The fortunes of some businesses fluctuated. One local bakery appears to have flourished. Trent Side Bakeries, in Old Sawley advertised: "Trentside Bread" which you could buy for fourpence halfpenny per loaf. The also had a green van for making deliveries.
As the war progressed, things such as mineral water or "pop" were not considered essential, and the premises where they were made were taken over for other production for the war effort. The national government issued posters to encourage women to take up work and the LEUDC soon became aware of the need to provide day care for their children, although sometimes some women were able to take children to work with them. In May 1941, all women born in 1919 had to register under the Registration For Employment Order. A few months later, women in Long Eaton were being urged to volunteer for service in uniform.
On June 20th 1942, the LEA published the following story of which this is an extract:
"A fine tribute was paid to the women workers who have replaced men called into the forces from the LMS staff at Long Eaton station and goods yard by Mr B. W. Barker, station master."
These were not only jobs women did on the railways, some did much heavier and dirtier work. Other forms of public transport also had to be maintained or adapted because of the war. One example is of Barton Transport's gas fuelled buses. In March 1941, the LEA reported that three Long Eaton people were among a group of five who were taken to hospital when a single deck gas driven bus crashed onto its side after being involved in a collision with two other vehicles.
As far back as october 1939, The Long Eaton Advertiser was calling for the need of more allotments in the town. Nearly two years later, on January 17th 1941 the LEA told of "plots of land for everybody" and to "beat Hitler with the spade" Not only digging was needed. A national newspaper said that anybody could keep pigs, hens or rabbits as any order that local councils may have against this had been suspended. Cockerels were not covered by the order.
The county education authority and FW Perks, the builder, jointly refused to allow land on Longmoor Estate which was being used as a school playing field to be turned into allotments. Because of this, the council was forced to take the unpopular step of digging up parts of West Park instead. There was an incentive to gardeners to improve their plots, and under the Land Fertility Scheme allotment holders could apply for 1cwt bags of lime at a cost of two shillings per bag. People who worked on the land were generally exempt from service in the armed forces. Local women who joined the Women's Land Army did not know it but this service was to stay active until 1950, and many women remained in service until then.
Long Eaton's Invasion Committee in August 1942 gave advice to residents in case of an emergency. The motto is: "Be Prepared". The National Cyclists Union also offered their services, volunteering to look out for possible German parachute landings or any other suspicious circumstances while patrolling the highways on their bikes. However, one local volunteer felt Long Eaton had ignored his offer and wrote a letter to the LEA on June 14th to express his indignation. The LEUDC and ARP services felt they were fully organised in preparation for invasion. Residents who owned a vehicle would park them on open land to prevent enemy aircraft from landing.
During the war the Auxiliary Fire Service often worked in co-operation with other civil defence groups such as the Home Guard and sometimes shared premises. Small, local fire stations were set up at a number of locations in factories and outlying areas, so that trained staff would be on hand at potential targets for attack. Members of the fire service (both men and women) were mustered for roll call and inspection before each shift. The LEA dated October 11th 1941 highlighted the need for more women to assist in the "Battle Of The Flames".
The Sawley National School log book mentions that there was an ARP centre in a pair of old cottages next to the school. One Sawley resident once wrote a short note in the visitor's book at the Sawley Church Flower Festival recalling that the Home Guard used to meet in some old cottages on Tamworth Road between the Old Sawley Co-op and the Harrington Arms. She recalls that the commanding officer was Cpt Charles Lang, who taught History at Trent College. On one occasion, the Home Guard accidentally set fire to the cottages. These were demolished after the war. Even a small village like Breaston had its own contingent of the Home Guard. Members of the Home Guard, unlike their colleagues at the Auxiliary Fire Service were stood down towards the end of the war, and the LEA of February 10th, 1945, had an item which said:
"It has been decided that the Home Guard shall stand down. Long Eaton Home Guards perform historic duties."
This tribute was paid at a "stand down dinner" at the People's Hall in Long Eaton.
The thing that most people had dreaded happened on August 28th 1940 when bombs were dropped on an area of Sawley and caused casualties. The first two bombs landed in fields at the back of Netherfield Road, but the third hit a house on Netherfield Road and killed two people. Due to censorship, the report in the LEA later that week was careful not to give anything away and was only allowed to say:
"One Midland town. Incendiary bombs over areas in the Midlands. Damage to residential property." (LEA August 30th 1940)
This tragic incident made a deep and lasting impression on many local residents. Stories were abound among local residents of how the people died. Some of the stories were said to be horrific. In the following November another report about a further raid had the LEA describe how lucky the inhabitants had been:
"House collapsed like a pack of cards. Husband and wife crawl from debris"
Apparently, the occupants had not heard the bomb or any explosion. The house came crashing down and undoubtedly they were saved from death by a heavy roof beam which held up some of the debris. One of the bombs caused damage to a railway track, but it was repaired quickly and the line was back in use again within a few hours. Other bombs fell in a field near to a canal and caused large craters. Again, in spite of censorship, it was easy to deduce that these bombs had fallen at Trent Lock. Often people did not know the true extent of the damage until the next morning.
It was possible to claim war damage for a property, and the following notice appeared in the LEA informing people how to do so if need be.
"Notice is hereby given that all claims in respect of loss of/or damage to property occasioned by the recent air raid should be delivered to the district/valuer. No claim should be submitted where the claimants total loss does not exceed £5."
Many of the public air raid shelters were left standing long after the war and became dangerous play places for children. Those blocking streets were obviously some of the first to go. A few shelters remain to this day, so well known for their present use that the original purpose is long forgotten. One example is a school shelter now used for storage at Draycott Primary School. A second example is the former air raid shelter on Wilne Road in Sawley which has been converted into public toilets.
At the beginning of the war people were expecting gas attacks and it was important to recognise the various signals in case of attack. No one knew what they would find when the "all clear" was sounded and they came out of the air raid shelters. After the Netherfield Road bomb the surrounding streets were blocked by sightseers causing more difficulties. Anti-aircraft guns were positioned at various locations. Petersham Road had a battery of these guns and were often fired against enemy aircraft flying over. Some more "ack-ack" guns were placed at the top of Wilsthorpe Lane. Another form of defence was to be seen in the skies over Long Eaton. These were barrage balloons.
The Long Eaton Advertiser frequently carried reports of court summons for people who ignored the blackout regulations. A fine of £100 could be imposed, or as an alternative a three month prison sentence. The LEA routinely carried notices of the official blacking out times, which of course varied according to the time of year.
The government began a series of campaigns to encourage residents to save all types of waste materials for re-cycling for the war effort. The local council played an active role in the same campaign with regular appeals to the public. Collecting salvage, especially waste paper was one way in which children could contribute to the war effort. The Scouts also picked up the challenge to collect paper. The Parish Councils of villages around Sawley were also commended for their effort in collecting scrap. An article in the LEA dated April 15th 1942 makes reference to local householders being asked to give up their railings, old saucepans and other metal items. A proposal to take down ornamental railings had first been made by the government in 1940, and at the end of the same year the local council had deferred a decision "Pending a careful review of the position". The council discussed the controversial matter again in November 1941. Many of these railings, although they had been removed, were found to be unsuitable for recycling and were left to rust away. This included railings removed from the side of the Erewash Canal along Tamworth Road and from around the Grammar School. Aluminium saucepans however could be recycled.
There were other ways of saving including home dressmaking and repairing shoes to make them last longer. One resident of Sawley remembers her father cutting strips from an old bicycle tyre and nailing them to the soles of her boots. Altering worn clothes of older children to fit their younger brothers and sisters was also encouraged.
The Ministry Of Food had the job of organising the system of rationing, and one of its first tasks was the distribution of ration books to local authorities. The LEA said:
"Don't worry, but don't be greedy. Plentiful food supplies."
The Advertiser reported that 26,327 food ration books had been issued to the residents of Long Eaton. Of these 24,107 to adults and 2,220 to children. The volunteers who prepared these ration books for distribution had worked at the headquarters of Food Control at the Town Hall annexe on Midland Street. At the time, the largest retailer in Long Eaton was the Co-operative Society and it was the first to advertise the necessity for its members to register with them to obtain their rations. The local council soon had to face a problem concerning the ration books. The LEA dated April 19th 1940 carried the headline:
"Charge for lost ration books? Long Eaton Food Control Committee's decision."
It was decided to impose a charge of one shilling for lost books, although in the case where a book had been stolen, the council would replace it without charge. The Food Officer reported that the Ministry Of Food had 25 films on food topics available for showing to adults. But the Film Officer said it was not possible to arrange to show them in commercial cinemas. People needing special diets were not forgotten, but vegetarians were not to be granted any extra fat rations. Placing a commodity on ration did not necessarily mean that it would be more difficult to obtain, as the local manufacturer, Sharp & Nickless Ltd., of College Street pointed out. The LEA of September 12th 1942 printed their advertisement:
"Brandy Snap and Biscuits. We wish to announce to their many friends of Long Eaton and district that they are continuing to sell these items."
As the war progressed people used various methods of getting around any shortages that were imposed by strict ration regulations. Food was not the only item that was in short supply. Clothes and household items were also rationed. In August 1945, all children under 18 years of age had extra clothing coupons. Of course, people could overcome the clothing restrictions as some clothes could be handed down or remade for other family members. As the country moved towards peace (in Europe) manufacturers began to anticipate an increase in sales their products. But the end of the war did not mean an end to rationing. In fact some food supplies got worse. Sweets remained on ration until 1953.
Because of rationing all housewives faced the problem of how to produce healthy food for the table when half the ingredients were rationed and some were no longer available at all. The Ministry Of Food, with Lord Woolton in charge broadcast hints on the radio and in newspapers and magazines of how to produce a healthy meal. A radio programme entitled "Kitchen Front" was broadcast as early as June 1940, using personalities of the time such as 'Gert and Daisy' alias comediennes Elsie and Doris Waters. Lord Woolton's team, who included well known cook Marguerite Patten, devised a vegetable pie with fatless pastry which was named 'Woolton Pie' after Lord Woolton. Cookery demonstrations were given by the gas and electricity companies. Therm House in the Market Place in Long Eaton invited people to attend cookery demonstrations from Monday to Friday at 2:30pm and 6:30pm.
As said, people were encouraged to provide as much food for themselves as they could. If pigs were kept it was a problem finding enough food to keep them happy, so pig swill bins were provided. These were galvanised dustbins but slightly differed from the ordinary bin, and any waste food could be put in there to feed the pigs. In the autumn children were encouraged to go out and about to collect rose hips and haws from the hedgerows, to help with jam making. Boy scout and girl guide companies organised parties to pick soft fruit such as blackberries from the hedges by the side of roads and fields. Any children would of course have to be accompanied by an adult to oversee that no damage would be caused to crops or fences. Bottling fruit, and sometimes vegetable was another way of preserving food for later use.
The local authorities at last had the idea of having community kitchens or eating centres. Beeston appears to have been the first local authority to introduce them. As the LEA of February 14th 1941 indicates:
"Communal Feeding Centre. Beeston's official opening next Wednesday. Meal for eightpence."
Long Eaton jumped on the bandwagon and in September that same year it opened its own facility with the more upmarket name of:
"Municipal Restaurant. Cross Street. Open to the public on Tuesday September 9th from 11:30am to 2:30pm each weekday." (LEA August 29th 1941)
When the war began some marriage ceremonies had to be hastily rearranged at churches throughout the district. The Long Eaton Advertiser became a regular "good news" feature, frequently covering several columns in the paper. One Long Eaton soldier and a young member of the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service were married at the Sawley Parish Church by candlelight because of the blackout. They were not the only couple to face this dilemma. Another Sawley couple took advantage of the bride's work with the fire service and used an AFS trailer as a wedding coach.
People looked for their own amusement locally. swimming in the River Trent was popular but a bathing fatality in June 1941 prompted the LEUDC to be more flexible in the opening hours of its public swimming baths on Station Road in Long Eaton. Many entertainment and sporting facilities had closed at the outbreak of war, but soon began to re-open as it became apparent that the hostilities would not interfere. The re-opening of the greyhound track on Station Road, which had been closed for improvements, was a big event for the town. It re-opened on Tuesday November 21st 1941 with the admission fee of two shillings. The sports club of one local company, Lace-Web and Buoyant in 1942 decided to hold its annual sports day despite the war. The LEUDC, prompted by the government encouraged the local population to stay at home for holidays. The council was not the only body to organise entertainment. The Co-operative Society also had a very active social calendar as an advertisement in the LEA dated December 13th 1941 shows.
"Long Eaton Co-operative Society Ltd. Production of three act play 'Dear Octopus' by the Arcade Players at the People's Hall, Long Eaton."
The Swing Club - started by Neville Grummitt over the winter of 1941 had proved a popular event for a company of soldiers billeted in the town. When they left, the club carried on after it moved from the Empire Ballroom to the People's Hall. Armstrongs, who ran a funfair, even held an unusual "blacked out" funfair in Broad Street in Long Eaton in 1943, which was much appreciated, especially by the youngsters.
Troops stationed locally were blessed with the opening of a canteen, recreation and rest room at the Station Street Baptist Schoolroom. Other local groups rallied round including the Sawley Women's Institute. The Long Eaton War Comforts Fund operated throughout the war, and a notice in the LEA in August 1940 made an appeal for contributions for a "Christmas Parcel Fund" for the troops. It was estimated that 2,000 from Long Eaton were serving and that £1,000 would be needed. Many soldiers in their letters home said it was a comfort to receive copies of the Long Eaton Advertiser which were regularly sent to them by relatives.
The LEA dated October 15th 1942 carried this surprising report:
"Lord Kindersley, President of the National Savings Movement is closely watching Long Eaton. Particularly so at the present moment, when townspeople have achieved the remarkable feat of raising £1,000,000 in National Savings since the outbreak of war."
The Long Eaton Prisoner of War Relatives Association was founded not only to raise funds for the suffering of loved ones who were POW's in foriegn lands, but also to give comfort to their relatives left at home.
Europe celebrated the end of the war on May 8th 1945. People gathered in the streets to sing, dance and enjoy the freedom after so long being at war. Long Eaton celebrated VE Day in its own way with the street thronged with people wearing national colours and the children festooned with red, white and blue ribbons. The girls with hair bands and the boys with rosettes. People danced on the High Street to music from the Radio House loud speaker van. Streams of bunting reached across the streets and on Derby Road the flags of the Allied Nations proudly flew over businesses and houses. This was a joyous occasion and lacked any organisation. Street parties were organised, and many of the celebrations were arranged at short notice. Three months later, there were even more celebrations as the war finally came to an end with the Japanese surrender.
A thanksgiving service and victory parade was held in Long Eaton on August 19th 1945. Large number of ATS and members of the armed forces danced in the Market Place to music provided by a piano which had been carried out of a public house onto the pavement. A "snow storm" of torn paper fluttered down from windows overlooking the market. People gathered in groups in the streets excitedly discussing the news. Despite the announcement of peace and the granting of two days holiday, many employees went into work as usual.
The town was awash with parties, bonfires and other celebrations. The years of conflict were remembered in November with Long Eaton "Thanksgiving Week". Many private celebrations saw the gradual arrival home of many prisoners of war. A big party for family and friends was held at the St Andrews Hall in Sawley to welcome home two returned prisoners. Local businesses began advertising about a better future as the end of War meant they could resume "business as usual".
The people of Sawley had been thinking of ways to remember lost loved ones who had died during the conflict. All over the country people were adding names to existing memorials or thinking about creating new ones. Sawley did something quite different.
"Memorial Hall For Sawley. Proposal to perpetuate memory of the fallen enthusiastically received." (LEA January 27th 1945)
A meeting unanimously agreed to the proposal and with the appointment of the organising committee, fund raising began, but it was to be 1953 before the hall could be built.
Of course new housing was going to be an enormous problem after the war. As early as February 3rd 1945 the LEA reported that the council was planning the erection of 50 temporary houses. Sites had to be approved by the Ministry of Health and it was hoped that the work could begin despite the hostilities not yet having ceased. The Advertiser of April 7th 1945 told of a display of post war housing at the Co-operative Society's "Emporium" and also in the High Street schools (situated next door). The paper states that large numbers of people attended to get an insight into the LEUDC's plans. A display of labour saving devices was placed in a kitchen layout staged by the electricity department of the council. A similar display was produced by the Long Eaton Gas Company.
Now that people could begin to look forward to the future, there was some argument as to whether the proposed new houses (later known as pre-fabs) were the right way to go - at least for Sawley. One councillor asked the powers that be to prevent the building of the factory made pre-fabs on a site near to the Nags Head Inn in Old Sawley. He contended that this type of dwelling would create an eyesore on the main road and clash with the old traditions of the village. However, the decision was made and the LEA displayed the headlines:
"Fifty factory made temporary dwellings may be erected by the end of the year. Start made at Sawley."
Another scheme was announced to requisition eight acres of land off Wilsthorpe Road to establish a Government Training Centre for building operatives. The council acquired land and built the housing estates on Draycott Road and Northfield Avenue. Pre-fabs were also placed between Plant Lane and Arnold Avenue. Removing the remnants of war became a priority, especially the air raid shelters in the middle of streets as traffic became busier. On September 29th 1945 the Advertiser carried a report about a fatal accident concerning an air raid shelter in the town. An LEUDC meeting stated that the demolition of the shelters could not begin until the estimated cost of the work to be submitted was reasonable.
A General Election in June 1945 saw the war time coalition be replaced by a Labour government. Although the people of Long Eaton and Sawley heaved a sigh of relief that the war was over and that things seemed to be moving slowly on, people felt that times were changing and they looked forward to a brighter future.
Early in 2006, a World War II veteran, George Williams of Sawley, cut the first sod where a new war memorial was planned to stand in Sawley. This was part of a special ceremony staged at the junction of Lock Lane and Tamworth Road. The new focal point was to include a paved area with raised flowerbeds, a village sign designed by Sawley school children, seating and the new memorial dedicated to those from the village who bravely gave their lives in the Great War, the Second World War and those in all conflicts since. The project by DISC, Sawley Parish Council and other interested parties was being funded by Co-operative Community Fund, Nottingham East Midlands Airport and lottery awards. Much of the materials were donated by local companies. It was managed and built by Westermans The Builders, of Chilwell.
On Saturday, October 28th 2006, some 200 people witnessed the blessing and unveiling of Sawley's new village sign and War Memorial. The 20ft long winged stone wall with a central column contains an engraved tablet to the memory of all those who fell in the Great War, the Second World War and all conflicts since. The column was draped with a large Union Jack and surrounded by half a dozen Standards. Three special guests from the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment witnessed the historic moment. The memorial was dedicated by the former Vicar of Sawley All Saints Parish Church, the Rev. Peter Henry. The monument was unveiled by Major Jim Turner. Both the "Last Post" and "Reveille" were sounded. Chairman of Sawley Parish Council, Coun Cliff Housley marked the occasion by saying: "The people of Sawley wish to thank all those who made this Village Focal Area possible by their generosity in time, materials and money." A red, white and blue flower wreath representing the Army, Navy, Airforce and Merchant Navy was laid by Margaret Beeson. A further presentation was made to George Williams (severely wounded veteran of the Anzio conflict in 1944) of the spade which he had cut the first sod for the site of the memorial earlier in the year.
Two bench seats will be installed at a later date, and a glass case to house a memorial book, which will be kept in Sawley All Saints Church which records the details of the 108 men the memorial commemorates, will also be added later.