Wartime Belbroughton

This article first appeared in Belbroughton Parish Magazine in December 2010.

With our 1940s themed Twelfth Night celebrations not far away, we thought it might be interesting to look back to wartime Decembers in Belbroughton.  In doing this, we have used a book of wartime newspaper cuttings collected, it is believed, by Mrs Mabel Watson, the Rector’s wife, who died in 1944.

9 December 1939

ARP Exercises  With a view to attaining a high degree of efficiency, the A.R.P. organisation staged another comprehensive series of exercises on Wednesday evening, eight incidents being dealt with in different parts of the village.  The scope of the exercises included experience of mustard gas and of incendiary and high explosive bombs.

Boy scouts acted as the casualties and the first aid section manned the centres.  All the cases were dealt with by the A.R.P. wardens who also acted as stretcher bearers.  Dr. Hicks (Clent) viewed the results of the work, which he said were highly satisfactory.

Woolies for Seamen  Up to the present, local people have forwarded to the North Sea minesweepers 30 pairs of socks, 21 scarves, 17 pairs of mittens, seven pairs of gloves, and a few other articles.  The cost of the wool and postage has been £13 14s and 8d., and the amount of subscriptions £14 19s 6d.  Further donations are asked for.

16 December 1939

Fire and Gas Damage at Belbroughton     The first display of A.R.P. work in Bromsgrove Rural District Council revealed that despite fewer opportunities than their Urban confreres, the country cousins have banded themselves into an effective body.  A call was sent out the bombs had fallen near the old Mill House in Dark Lane, Belbroughton, which seemed a most convenient spot.  Not only was a good supply of water available from the brook, but Rum Alley Bridge provided a grandstand view for the large crowd of spectators.  They saw Auxiliary Firemen (from Stoke Prior) arrive with a trailer pump temporarily stationed at the Highway Depot, and then followed a light rescue party and casualty services, besides special constables.  The “incendiary bombs” had done their work well for flames leapt up from the old house and the firemen had plenty to occupy their attention while eight casualties were being rescued.   The victims were taken away by ambulance, some going to the First Aid Post at the Church Hall, where there was a large staff of ladies engaged.  Finally came a most thorough piece of decontamination work, the party under Mr. J. M. Lomas, working from a water tanker, a necessary appliance in a rural district where water mains are not found in every road.

30 December 1939

Woolies for the Troops  On Friday week a successful whist drive was held in the Church Hall on behalf of the Comforts Fund.

28 Dec 1940

Home Guard Dinner  On Thursday week, at the Horse Shoe Hotel, members of the Home Guard were entertained to dinner by three of their officers, Messrs. A. C. Cope, Francis Nichols, and C. C. Brinton. …. Songs were rendered by Messrs H. Riste and A. Howley and the accompanist was Mr. J. Gilbert.

6 Dec 1941

Food Production Club  In the Working Men’s Club, a meeting was held on Friday week.   […] reported the club was rapidly growing.  Super phosphate (a free gift from America) had arrived and would be shared amongst the members.  The Club’s requirements of seeds, early and late potatoes, fertilisers etc. were discussed and plans were made to get supplies.

19 December 1942

Food Production Club  At a meeting on Wednesday week at the Workmen’s Club Mr. L. F. Clift (horticultural superintendent) gave an interesting lecture on “Manuring of Vegetable Crops” stressing the necessity for the introduction of organic matter, and its influence upon heavy and light soils.  He also dealt at some length on the uses of chemical manures.

4 Dec 1944

Defective Water Taps  The Surveyor stated at Bromsgrove Rural DistrictCouncil meeting last week, that several cases of waste due to defective taps had been discovered recently at Belbroughton, and he suggested a supply of leather and rubber washers might be provided at convenient points, free of charge for the use of consumers.  That might be some inducement to keep taps in proper order.

Messrs. Bradley and Hinkman thought the proposal a sheer waste of money, saying the washers would not be used.   Mr. Bradley added they would be the same as the set of drain rods provided in each parish years ago.  No one knew where they were today.  […] The Council approved the scheme.

11 Dec 1944

Youth Club Entertainment  An entertainment was given by the Youth organisation […] at the Church Hall.  Mr. G. Wright of Springfield gave a delightful film show “Friday, 13th” which was thoroughly enjoyed. [.. ] Members of the Youth Club gave three hearty cheers for Mr. G. Wright.

Home Guard and Prisoners of War Fund  A very successful whist drive was organised in the Church Hall […] in aid of the Prisoners of War Fund by the Home Guard.   […] A grand total of £44 was raised.

25 Dec 1944

Help for the British Legion  A sale and fun fair was organised by the British Legion in the Church Hall on Saturday evening.  A large number of people attended and all the stalls were well patronised.  […] The sum of £50 was realised.