Island Life Magazine Ltd December 2008/January 2009 - Page 47

THE ISLAND AT WAR 1939 - 1945 children from the National School opposite, appeared throughout the Island. The cost of the shelters had to be covered by the council, not the government, and if a householder’s income was less than £250 per annum, they could have a free corrugated-iron Anderson shelter in the back garden. ‘Public Shelter’ notices were pasted on town halls, railway stations, offices and shops. When the air-raid siren sounded everyone had to go immediately to a shelter and stay there until the All Clear sounded. A Newport girl living in Whitepit Lane and signing her name ‘Bubbles’, wrote to her pen pal in Canada life on 15 October 1940, “200 air raids today, air raid shelters all over the town, guns, searchlights.” Concrete pill boxes, with a brick wall to protect the entrance, appeared at the junction of Castle, Trafalgar and Carisbrooke Roads. Nigel Harris, who was aged thirteen in 1939 and lived in Gunville remembers, “At first, it was like being in an another world.” Nigel was the ‘doughnut boy’ at Harvey’s bakehouse in Lugley Street, working for 2/6d. a week in the morning before he went to school. He and his friends used to see the fighter planes flying low over the town, waggling their wings or doing Christine and Peter Ferguson's wedding, 10 February 1945 Patricia Key and Petty Officer Ronald Calverley at Holy Trinity Church, Ryde a complete roll. “We would argue whether they were Spits or Hurricanes” Nigel says. The winter of 1939-40 was the coldest for forty-five years and in the February the clocks went forward an hour and summer time was kept all year round. Then in May 1941 double summer time was introduced for the next few years, the idea being that the long daylight hours would help to reduce traffic accidents, along with petrol rationing which was introduced in September to cut down the number of cars on the roads. Pre-war the words, “Thrift radiates happiness”, were emblazoned on a wall of a Victorian bank in Birmingham but it’s doubtful whether Britain’s citizens felt the same way when they were forced to cope with food and clothes The Island's new funky radio station rationing. But it seems that on the Isle of Wight for the first year in the war a shortage of food was unheard of according to a report by a Daily Mail journalist in April 1943. The headline ran, "Front-line Isle Flowing with Plenty” with the reporter going on to say he found the windows of the cake shops full of mouth-watering items like big fruit cakes, Chelsea buns, cream buns and cakes with real chocolate on top. The butchers sold prime Isle of Wight lamb and displayed notices with the words, “We have plenty of meat for emergency coupons.” A Food Control official told the reporter that the shops had expected a further six weeks holiday trade when war broke out, instead they were left with large stocks and no holidaymakers. “Bakers and 47