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THE WAR YEARS

This page is under construction but will be a space for all things related to the area during WWI and WWII.

Soldiers' stories, the War Memorials, newspaper clippings and so on

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Page under construction - I am currently working on the other war memorials and WW2 names.  More information to follow.  [Nov 2023]

World War One: 4th August 1914 - 11th November 1918

World War Two: Britain declared war on Germany on Sunday 3rd September 1939.  Ended 1945

The exact date of the end of WWII is not universally agreed upon. It was generally accepted at the time that the war ended with the Armistice of 14 August 1945 (VJ Day), rather than with the formal surrender of Japan on 2 September 1945, which officially ended the war in Asia.  VE day was the 8th May 1945.

VE - Victory in Europe.  VJ - Victory in Japan.

A WARTIME MISCELLANY

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Poem by Janet Sanderson

FIRST PLANE SPOTTED.

A SENSATION. – An aeroplane (supposed to be a military machine), which passed over the village on Monday at noon, created a good deal of interest, inasmuch as it was the first to pass over this district.

Penistone, Stocksbridge & Hoyland Express 22 August 1914

TWO GERMAN GUNS

Stocksbridge Council has somehow acquired a pair of German guns as war “souvenirs.”  One had been placed at Knoll Top and one at Fox Glen.  There was some suggestion that the guns ought to be incorporated into the landscaping around the Clock Tower, which took place in 1927.  Local Councillor Joseph Sheldon, who had done so much work into getting a war memorial for Stocksbridge, was vehemently against this.  Mr. Sheldon thought that the guns ought to be sold to the steelworks for scrap.  He remarked that there was plenty of evidence of the results of the Great War in the district, such as the disabled men who could be seen around the place.  The people did not need these guns to remind them of the War.  He even wrote to the local paper, and stressed that the guns were inevitably associated with the horrors of war, and no one could say for sure that they were not a means of death to some of the local brave men. 

Local historian Joseph Kenworthy had objected to the guns in a letter to the newspaper in 1925.  The council had (illegally, he said) fenced in common land at Watson House Green [I think he was referring to the triangle of land that is still there, off Bocking Hill, today], writing that, “the Council did a very unwise thing, in the estimation of many ratepayers, and something quite alien to the best interests of the inhabitants, when they put a fence around [Watson House] Green and placed thereon a hideous memorial of the Great War - a German gun - leaving the ground uncared for, ground that had been preserved to this generation from conscientious motives, so that neither old folks nor yet young people can have pleasure therein, as of yore!” 

In 1929 the Council was given permission by the Home Office to sell the guns, provided that the proceeds were given to the local branch of the British Legion.  They were finally removed in February 1929.

Below: the guns at Fox Glen.

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A VISIT BY THE YORK & LANCASTERS 1938

Just over a year before the commencement of WW2 a detachment of the 1st Battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment made a series of visits to Stocksbridge, Penistone, Wombwell, Darfield and Hoyland as part of their demonstration tour of the south of the county.  They arrived at Stocksbridge on the evening of Tuesday 3rd May 1938.  After passing through Deepcar in motor coaches and trucks, the men arrived at the Clock Tower, after which they marched to the field at Park Drive.  The men marched to music being amplified from a gramophone on one of the trucks (didn’t the needle jump?) and were met at Park Drive by members of the British Legion and the Council.  Weapons on view were the anti-tank rifle, mortar, and the Bren gun.  There was an anti-gas demonstration, while “A Platoon at Rest” was closely followed by the crowd [I am not sure what this entailed].  The demonstration also showed an anti-aircraft attack, how to map out a contaminated area, protection against gas, and combating infantry.  It was emphasised that the campaign was not for the purpose of recruitment but simply to show the public the modern army and what they were paying for. Union flags had been hoisted at various vantage points along the route.

The photos below show (top) the detachment of the 1st Battalion of the York & Lancaster Regiment arriving in Hoyland and (bottom) the band of the 1st Battalion playing in Wombwell Park.

Taken from the Penistone, Stocksbridge and Hoyland Express Saturday 07 May 1938

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WHEN THEY DROPPED THE BOMBS.

This recording was sent to me by Julia Tomson, and it is part of a much longer recording that her son, Will, made of her mother Phyllis Crossland's reminiscences shortly before she died in 2010. Will and his friend Danni selected this section and put it to music.

Phyllis was the author of several books including Echoing Hills, Years of Grace and On Active Service.

Phyllis was at a night class at Oxspring School at the time.

When they Dropped the Bombs, the first night of the Sheffield Blitz, 12th December 1940

When they dropped the bombsPhyllis Crossland
00:00 / 03:35

MESSERSCHMITT ON TOUR.

This downed German plane, a Messerschmitt 109, once made an appearance on land behind the Friendship.  This old postcard shows the plane on view at Barker’s Pool in Sheffield, but there are still people who can remember it being displayed in Stocksbridge.  It was shot down over the south of England in 1940 (apparently it didn’t have the range to fly as far north as Sheffield), and it was then put on tour around the country to raise funds.  Money was collected from people who wanted to see it or sit in it.  These photographs were taken in Barker's Pool, Sheffield.

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BLITZED CHURCHES APPEAL.

An idea was put forward in 1940/41 that churches who had escaped the malice of enemy bombers should assist those who had not been so fortunate.  The Congregational Union of England and Wales started a scheme to raise £500,000 for the reconstruction of churches that had been damaged or destroyed in air raids.  The scheme was to extend over three years.  I have no clue as to where this photograph was taken, but the reverse shows that the photographer was from Stocksbridge - Alec Scott of Cross Lane.  This group of people were trying to raise £2,000.  Fundraising went on for several years.  I cannot find any reference to Stocksbridge, but one example was printed in the Burnley Express of 8th May 1946, which reported that the Wesley Drama Group presented two one-act plays in aid of the Blitzed Churches Appeal Fund.

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WW2 AIRMEN.

This photograph comes from Julia Tomson, and it was among her father's aunt Fanny Crossland's papers when she died.  Fanny died at New Houses, Greenmoor in 1965 at the age of 80.  She had apparently lived in a "Victorian a bubble" and never married . She was a dressmaker when young and later worked at Clark's chemist shop in Penistone.  Not a lot was known about this photograph, but I posted it on a specialist forum where some military experts could tell me more about it.  

I was told that the men are wearing 1939 pattern boots:

From a specialist sales site: 1939 Pattern RAF Flying Boots: "These are perhaps the most scarce and desirable of all wartime boots. Introduced in 1939 as a leather saving option over the 1936 pattern, they were not successful operationally as moisture picked up on the ground was absorbed by the canvas and froze at altitude. Despite this they were favoured by fighter pilots and will remain synonymous with the Battle of Britain. This pair are an excellent example and while they are in issued condition, they clearly had a very easy war! The canvas leg section is very clean with only minor scuffing on the right boot. The leather uppers and soles are crisp. Inside the fur is good with only minor wear. The leather pull tags are in place and clearly marked with King's Crown, AM and the manufacturing contract number, indicating a production date of 1939."

The men are wearing 1930s Sidcot Flying Suits which were intended to be worn over normal uniform dress.  The 1930 pattern Sidcot suit derived from earlier patterns used towards the end of the First World War and was to become an all-purpose flying garment used throughout the 1939-45 war. To provide added warmth alternative linings could be added by buttoning them in internally. Another version was the 1940 pattern, of similar cut, but made of olive gabardine, improved in 1942 (1941 pattern) by having electric wiring fitted to provided heated boots and gloves (but not the suit).

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WELCOME HOME BOOKLET.

This booklet was produced by Stocksbridge Urban District Council to welcome home fellow citizens from Active Service with His Majesty's Armed Forces in the World War 1939-1945.  It contains 10 pages listing the names of those men and women who served (totalling 912) and a Roll of Honour dedicated to those who made the supreme sacrifice (41 names).  Click on the pdf button to view.  Note: there are 51 names on the Clock Tower.

This booklet belonged to John Vincent Challis - thank you to Richard Challis for donating this

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