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15 October 2014
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National War Savings Parades in Trowbridge: A Child's-eye Viewicon for Recommended story

by Stanley H Jones

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Stanley H Jones
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09 September 2003

The annual National Savings Week was a poor substitute for the usual pre-war carnival week in Trowbridge. Nonetheless, each year they provided that time of excitement so missing in our lives during the war. The week included special events, parades and military bands all intended to promote War Savings. We eagerly looked forward to the small, printed programme giving details of what was planned, and this always included a parade through the town.

As Trowbridge was the home of a military barracks (for the Royal Horse Artillery before the war) - and with various camps around the town - I remember the parade being led by a top-class military band. I remember thinking we might miss it and hurrying to get there early; I wanted to get a good position to see the band pass by. Contingents from the armed services, the local Home Guard, Civil Defence and so on, all took part. Each year the week had a different name: 'Salute the Sailor', 'War Weapons Week' and 'Spitfire Week' come to mind. 'Spitfire Week' was especially important as Trowbridge contained several works where many of the parts (except the engines) were manufactured. These were moved to Trowbridge following the bombing of factories in Southampton.

As the name suggested Savings Week was organised so that everyone would make an extra effort to save money for the war effort. A target was set and a large 'thermometer' display was placed outside the Town Hall. Everyday at one o'clock the Chairman of the Urban District Council would announce the total savings to date. A special exhibition was also held in the old St James Hall in Union Street, near to where we lived. My Mum usually managed to get the job of temporary caretaker and cleaner, and this gave us the privilege of visiting the exhibition out of hours.

One vivid memory from very early in the war is of a full military parade ending almost outside our house in Union Street. I was only a small boy and somehow became separated from my family in the dense crowd. I became tearful, even though I didn't have far to run home. Another memory: special wartime concerts were held in the Town Hall. We were sitting at the back and the host wanted some children to come onto the platform. He spotted me, a small boy at the back of the hall, but yours truly was having none of that and I disappeared under the chair. I came up when I thought all was safe only to see the children who had been braver than me rewarded with a bar of chocolate, a real prize in the days of sweet rationing!

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