See also "A boy aged 13 to 18 during WW2. Part 1" & 2.
I was born in London in September, 1926 at a nursing home, Streatham Common end of Leigham Court road. The Pilgrim family home, "Leigham Court", where I lived with my sister Elaine, was right opposite. We remained there for the next 6 years before moving to live with and look after my father's aging and long widowed mother, Fanny. She lived not far away at York House, Norwood road. In 1929 my father, an architect by training, bought an old and derelict farm house in south Cornwall called Budock Vean. It included very many acres of land bordering the Helford river and his intention was to convert it into an hotel and golf club. In 1935 the hotel and golf course were sold due to heavy losses during the depression years. The man contracted to buy the hotel died suddenly without leaving a will, so someone had to manage it. By now my grandmother had gone into an home and I was sent to board at St. Joseph's College, Crown Hill, London and my sister Elaine to "Ingsdon" Convent in Devon. My mother, free for the first time in years, went to assist in the hand-over of Budock Vean. She thought it would be for a few weeks, but it was very much longer!
When Granny died in April, 1937 her house and possessions were sold and we all moved permanently to Cornwall, where I boarded at Belmont School, Falmouth. After the war I worked in the hotel, until marrying Valerie Glover in 1953. Soon after we bought the hotel next door, Trelawne. In 1964 when Lady Worley died, "Meudon Vean", the property between, came on the market we bought it to convert into an hotel. During these years we had 5 children, Nicola, Tessa, Gaye, Bridget and Mark. All the girls married and each has 2 children. As of January 2005 Mark remains unmarried. Our children grew up with a good knowledge of WW2 and in 1965 we took the 2 eldest to London for Sir Winston Churchill's funeral. We queued in the cold and snow for hours to file past his coffin, lying in state in Westminster Hall. Standing on the pavement in The Strand next day we saw the cortege pass by. It was only a short walk through to the Embankment to watch the coffin carried up the Thames and witness the cranes all dipping their gibs in unison. From all this family and 8 grandchildren, the question is often asked of me, "What did you do in WW2"?
In 1938 my parents opened Nansidwell, South Cornwall, as an hotel, despite the many difficulties of the times. It was Sunday morning a year later and we were in St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Falmouth when Father John Fanning, parish priest, announced that we were at war with Germany. Although expected, few could have known what incredible and permanent changes lay ahead for us all, young and old. Mass continued to the end and we went home to decide what had to be done and how to do it. Orders of all sorts came from various Government departments, which my father carried out to the letter — including re-using old envelopes with special sticky ‘Economy Labels’. First and foremost was the need for efficient blackout in so many areas, including road vehicles. Before various ‘add on’ designs were approved and manufactured we were to paint headlamp reflectors matt black. This reduced the poor lights of those days to near useless! Vehicles had to be immobilized when left unattended and this was generally achieved by removing the distributor rotor arm. Most signposts were removed after Dunkirk and the few that were left in Cornwall often pointed the wrong way! One of the first visible signs of war in the country were the large number of green pastures ploughed up and everywhere looked brown. Our agreement with tenant farmer, Helier Tremaine, stated that no fields in sight of the house were to be ploughed. Government orders soon swept all such restrictions away and the countryside has never looked quite the same ever since. The horses too were replaced with a tractor.
I was 13 at the outbreak of war and a weekly boarder at Belmont School, Wood Lane, Falmouth. First thing on our return the headmaster, Major Holt, had us all digging zigzag trenches in the school gardens. At the end of that term I moved on to Downside School, Nr. Bath. There were many air raid warnings and disturbed nights as we all went down stairs to take shelter. The following term Dayrooms became dormitories and vice a versa. With massive sandbagging all around the ground floor we never had disturbed nights again. I say sandbags, but in fact they were mainly filled with earth dug by the boys! As the threat diminished and we had two other schools evacuated to us, sleeping arrangements reversed. I was unaware of any bombs dropping near the school, despite The Abbey Tower being such a fine landmark, especially from the air. It proved impossible to black out the Abbey Church, so it was agreed that suitably shaded lights would suffice. Sadly one of our own planes crashed onto the playing field during a major cricket match, killing 9 of my contempories. The 50th and 60th anniversaries were marked at the school and I attended both. Sadly very few were able to attend the last one. Downside were almost totally self-sufficient, they made their own electricity, had a large farm, slaughter house and extensive kitchen gardens. They even had their own coal mine and gas-works. Those not playing games were required to do “Ganging”. This involved working on the land in some way. One of our most notable days was a visit by Her Royal Highness Queen Mary, who came to present the Cornwell Scout Badge to a pupil from Worth, who were evacuated to Downside from Crawley. This badge is often known as “The Scouts VC”. The Oratory were also evacuated to Downside a little later on.
Never an ‘academic’ I loved science, especially electricity. You were expected to join the newly named Junior Training Corps. Later the Air Training Corps was added. Up until 1940 it had all been The Officer’s Training Corps - which was what my cap badge said. After passing my Cert ‘A’ I became a corporal in the signals section. All we had to start with were huge WS No. 1 sets. These were well out of date by then, took hours to set up and needed vast amounts of battery power, and when working at their best only had a range of about 2 miles! Soon after we were given several WS No. 18’s and some small WS 38's chest worn ‘portable’ sets. The 18’s were carried on your back, so needed someone else to set them up. Once ‘netted’ on frequency and using throat microphones - which we had - they could be used by just one. These sets needed a large battery pack, one of 150 volts. Our radio procedure had to be 'textbook', including the phonetic alphabet of the time - Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog Easy, Fox . . .. We had a switchboard with several field telephones and set them up for exercise, but it took too long for use on "Field Days". On those occasions it was simpler and more effective to rig up 'phone to 'phone connections, which required no operator. I always took a keen interest in the BBC engineers when they came to broadcast from the Abbey Church, usually live, but sometimes onto records! Being also mechanically minded I spent a lot of time in the armory and could strip and re-build a Bren Gun, Lee Enfield .303 rifle and latterly the Sten Gun. We were very lucky to have so much equipment, which the Home Guard thought they ought to have! The army took great interest in our training, especially on ‘Field Days’. Only when the army were there were we allowed live rounds to fire on the rifle range, although we did have some .303’s adapted to fire .22's.
Throughout the war I was the only pupil coming from Cornwall by GWR and always missed the school bus. Passenger trains often spent long periods in sidings to make way for more urgent military traffic. There was one other Cornish pupil of my age, Bob Byrne, from Bude but he went via Southern Railway. At Bristol I had to take a taxi, but as petrol became ever more scarce it was impossible to find one willing to go that far, which meant taking another train to Bath. It was so sad to see the massive bomb damage as the train wound its way slowly around Plymouth. I saw damage in many areas, but nowhere, including Bristol, was as bad as Plymouth. Briefly the school were denied fuel to mow the playing fields so it was done by horses with special boots, towing the gang mowers! Whitehall soon realized the importance of maintaining school playing fields and re-instated the fuel ration. Despite strict petrol rationing, it was always made available to those who lived a distance from their place of worship and had no other means of attending, after the withdrawal of the 200 mile Basic ration. A petrol ration was issued for express essential purposes and where possible for specific destinations. If off the designated route, or using it for other purposes, you were guilty of, “Misuse of Petrol”. Few of our suppliers had either the petrol or manpower to deliver to us. For heavy loads like collecting rail wagon full of anthracite from Falmouth good yard we used Charlie Eddy, who had one of the few tipping lorries. Fortunately we had a long standing contract with a pit in South Wales.
When war was declared many of our staff were called up into the services or had to do work of national importance. The first to go was our chauffeur, Brian Osborne followed by father’s secretary, Miss Lancaster. This was a big blow to him. My father, being used to a fully staffed office, was unable to make a telephone call! To the end of his life he would always ask someone to get the person he wanted on the line for him! Although only a one finger man, from then on he typed all the letters on his old and trusted ‘triple shift’ Corona portable. Today it is a museum piece owned by his grandson Simon, who’s father, Vincent Evans, was the first war correspondent to enter Belsen after it’s liberation. Our porter/handyman, Frank Rowe, was a stalwart all through the war. He was a local man retired from the Metropolitan Police, who joined the Home Guard and soon got promoted to Lieutenant. Our regular guests, used to an high level of service, found food and staff shortages difficult to cope with. My mother did manage to get some older retired staff, including the father of our headwaiter, a very stately — and slow — butler! Lady Worthington called him over one day to say she could not eat her meal as there were too many bones in it. He returned it to chef and said:- “Her Ladyship likes her oxtail filleted”! My sister Elaine got involved in the hotel, until she, like my dear late wife Val, joined the WRENS. Our chef of many years was Swiss, so never got called up. We did take on the ‘Mad Parson’, a murderer who had escaped from Broadmoor — but that was 1947 and another story! While at school I was sent to Bristol for a medical to decide if I would be fit for the services. I never found out why, but they classed me as C3 — totally unfit! On leaving school I had to do work of national importance and went to work for “The Cornwall Electric Power Company”, then owned by Edmondson’s. This meant a daily 5 mile cycle ride to and from Penryn. For the most part I went out as a mate to work on farms, many of which were getting electricity for the first time. Even in this essential service war shortages were evident. Before the advent of plastic most house wiring cable was covered in lead or rubber, both in very short supply. What we often had to use was called ‘War emergency Cable’ and covered in a red fabric. The individual wires were still insulated in rubber as no alternative was found.
The period prior to D-day was particularly difficult as in theory at least the whole south coast was a banned area, unless you had special reason to be there. This prevented our normal guests from visiting, but we still had many military personnel. The Helford River filled up with huge strange structures which we later found were to become parts of Mulberry Harbour. Sadly some of them washed up on the shore close to the river mouth. New machines called “Bulldozers” arrived to push all the Cornish hedges back along the roads leading from Truro to the Helford River, closely followed by troops, lorries and tanks. Few of them could have fitted down our original narrow lanes. They all parked in pre-prepared areas among the trees along the road from Durgan turn to a newly cut road leading off Ferry Boat hill to Trebah beach - then a concrete hard with pier. All this was a great culture shock for an otherwise quiet country area. There were many air raids on Falmouth, mainly to lay mines in the Bay. We would see these blown up regularly by our mine sweepers as the hotel overlooked the Bay. The mines did sink an oil tanker and this resulted in miles of totally black shoreline and beaches. There was no anti pollution in those days and we were told it would take years for the oil to disperse — if ever. Nature did the work unaided in a matter of weeks! The nearest bomb to us was half a mile away at Carwinion. It blew our back door in and also badly damaged the house of spinster, Miss Eland. Bomb damage in excess of £100.00 required a special permit but she managed to get the work done within that figure! Such was the pace of life in Cornwall in those days that this retired teacher, who did not go out much, used Mr. Banfil’s bus to go to “Boot’s Book Lovers Library” for her book and do her Falmouth shopping. When she wanted him to stop she put up the Union Flag at her gate! One of the first bombs to be dropped in the war was on sleepy Gweek. The Helford River was made to resemble the Fal and a German bomber being chased up it dropped his bombs to get away.
Horticulture was not officially allowed during the war, unless it was coupled with prolific vegetable production. Our garden’s central feature was a group of four huge square flowerbeds around an ornamental pond. Much to the dismay of Mr. Taysom, head gardener at Nansidwell for many years, my father removed all of these and turfed the area. Despite reverting to a private house, it remains that way to this day. Cutting the lawns was a double handed job, one pushing and one pulling — usually me! We had no motorised aids until after the war. By the beach we had the Teak deck house of HMS Lion, which my father prepared for the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers) later called the Home Guard, to use. With the Dutch Naval College in exile at nearby Enys, we had many Dutch sailors to visit or stay. One night the Home Guard on duty pounced on Lieutenant Jerry Platerink, from the Royal Dutch Navy, convinced they had caught a German parachutist. As there were only two of them they were not willing to go up to the hotel to check, so held him there till morning! Jerry died some years ago, but his widow and family still keep in touch and visit on occasions. Jerry and Henny’s last visit here together was with all the family to celebrate their Golden Wedding anniversary in October 1988. Sadly they were separated through most of the war. Jerry was sent out to Curaçao to join HNMS “Kitsbergen" in February, 1940. Later he was promoted to Rear Admiral. Henny, left with one very small child, suffered badly in Holland during the war at one stage reduced to eating their valuable Tulip bulbs.
Having been inducted into the WRENS at Mill Hill my sister was sent to act as ‘writer’ to the Admiral, who’s offices were in what is today Trago Mills. She was billeted in the Carthian Hotel on Falmouth’s sea front. This was badly damaged by a bomb in May 1944 and is no more. Luckily my sister was not in residence at the time. Perhaps the most significant bomb damage to Falmouth during the war was the night the oil tanks at Swanvale were hit. The blaze could be seen for miles around. Night after night we could see the glow in the sky from the many air attacks on Plymouth, which I saw the devastating effects of from the train on my regular journeys from Falmouth to Bristol and back. When the Americans arrived in large numbers their Commander, Lawrence Snell, took over total responsibility for the base at Falmouth, both on land and sea. My sister was then put in charge of the base supply office. The day after issuing the Americans with their first week’s rations she got an urgent request for more butter. “I have already sent you your weeks supply”, she said. “Gee, we used that to fry the eggs this morning” was the reply. Only someone who lived through the war would fully understand this! All cooking fats and oils were in very short supply. Fish & Chips were available at odd times but always drew a queue too long to satisfy.
A battery powered wireless was our main source of entertainment and news during the war. Whenever Winston Churchill was speaking everyone would listen in total silence. ITMA (“It’s that man again”) was the unmissable weekly favorite. It was a quick fire series that was always bang up to date, often with public information messages. They were always inventing new characters, sometimes just to make an important point or ridicule Goebbels and Lord 'Haw Haw'. Reception in Cornwall was never very good, especially at nighttime and the powerful long wave station at Droitwich was put on reduced output. Transmitters would be randomly switched to avoid their being used for the guidance of enemy aircraft. Initially Cinemas were closed because of the risk of so many being killed by one bomb. This order was soon relaxed when it was realized their importance in maintaining public moral and information. Torch batteries were always, ‘under the counter’, especially the popular No. 8. The Government made sure that 120/90 volt high tension and 9 volt grid bias batteries were always available, as were ‘Utility’ radios built to a single simple design. Accumulators were re-charged by Dryden James, the local blacksmith and taxi driver. It was vital that as many people as possible could listen to their radios and if need be pass on urgent government messages to their neighbours. There were mains operated sets - we had one for our guests - and also adaptors, called ‘battery eliminators’, but these suffered from a 50 cycle mains ‘hum’. It really is not possible to compare a ‘portable’ battery set of 1939 with those of today. Valves had ‘heaters’ and drew a lot of current, compared to transistors which are near cold and use little current at low voltage. For dances we used a windup gramophone and '78' records. There were very good dance bands on the radio, but evening reception was too poor. Getting needles and the brittle records for it was not always easy. 'Ennor’s' was usually our best hope! We were very adept in those days at creating our own entertainments.
Rationing was not something I was too much aware of, apart from not being able to go out and buy sweets. I did find some un-rationed cough sweets, which made me ill! Margarine in those days was very very different from today, as was saccharine. At school we only got one pat of butter each day, served at breakfast. Identity cards and gasmasks had to be carried when we went out. My only real wartime privation was never having any parental visits while at boarding school, nor was I ever able to go home for half term holidays. Trains and stations all carried placards saying:- “Is your Journey really Necessary”? The shortage of fuel and coaches also meant we could play very few away games. There were many ‘fiddles’ in wartime and one that affected us greatly was the number of times a case of whisky or gin would arrive with broken bottles, despite being covered in bottle straws and packed with separators, in wooden boxes. The boxes it seems were held over a bucket while a tool was driven through a joint to break the bottle. Although there was compensation the contents could never be replaced. Our wine merchants were “Stokes & Harvey”, one of the main suppliers to the navy at the time.
Especially after Dunkirk there were very real worries about enemy agents having arrived with the refugees. Boat loads of mainly French Nationals arrived in Falmouth. My mother Alice and Godmother Germaine Griggs *, both fluent French speakers, went to help these lost souls who had arrived at the docks. Their baggage had been ripped opened as officials searched for evidence of illegal entry. They were tired hungry and very bewildered. Some my mother brought home and found beds for. She also went into the town to see what she could buy for them to eat; with rationing this was not easy. All she found were oranges which had just been delivered to M&S. We were already having problems with several of our guests, dissatisfied with the level of wartime service provided. When the French refugees arrived there was a near riot, some of our guestslinen did not want to be with the ones they blamed for letting us down and collaborating with the Germans. My father made it very clear that he did not want such narrow minded and uncaring guests in his hotel and asked those that felt that way to leave. A few left and we had no more complaints from then on!
My father 'Eddie', who lost his younger brother Henry Bastick from the same regiment in WW1, saw his role as making every effort to ensure we were as self-sufficient as possible and obeyed to the letter the ever increasing number of government regulations. One he was unhappy about — the need to paint a short black line 5” above the drain hole of each bath. To conserve water and fuel no one was allowed to fill their bath deeper than 5”. Many everyday items were unobtainable, so we were lucky to have a good stock of things like linen and crockery, having only recently opened as an hotel. We were not so fortunate with glasses and by the end of the war had few that matched. Spare parts for all our machinery were difficult to find. We were always being urged, “Made do and Mend” and did a lot of that. Father smoked his pipe constantly, but because of the blackout always turned it upside down if outside! When his favorite Africanda tobacco was not available he dried and smoked ColtsFoot!
We had a large and well established Victorian walled kitchen garden, our own borehole for water, also a plant for making gas to cook with and later added some gas lights when power cuts increased. We even changed our electrically run gas plant for an older weight driven model, which could be hand wound to maintain constant pressure in the gasometer. There were no emergency lights, but every room had candles and virtually everyone carried a torch. Unlike today, our electricity then was only used for lighting, pumping water, winding the gas plant weight, a refrigerator, vacuum cleaners and an iron. Water was the only vital item we could not get any other way, but there were 3 very large tanks in the water tower and the float switch was set to make sure they were always kept near full. Part of an adjoining field was ploughed to grow even more vegetables. Runner beans were salted in the large thick and deep glass containers, which had contained the lead acid battery plates when we made our own electricity. Eggs were preserved in Waterglass or ‘Oteg’ and fruit bottled in Kilner Jars. For hard fruit we used Camden Tablets dissolved in water and poured over the fruit packed in glass jars. A friend had large fruit orchards near Evesham and offered to send us some plums, but the Ministry would only allow them to be sent by full railway wagon loads, direct to a wholesaler — Rowes were delighted. Their arrival in Falmouth caused long queues and our driving up to take away a car load caused great indignation, so we never did it again! After that we sourced plums locally from Kea, but sadly no 'Victorias'! We did not get a deep freeze until after the war. Before the war my father had never grown or cooked anything, by the end he was producing fine fruit and vegetables and cooking many interesting dishes, all from unlikely ingredients! Like my mother he never took a holiday or day off for the duration of the war. Willy Zundle, our chef was a "Mrs. Beaton" and Auguste Escoffier man and never really got to grips with wartime cooking, so needed help and guidance. When powdered egg first arrived my mother made sure a few pieces of real egg shell were added! It was impossible to get all the ingredients needed for traditional Christmas puddings, let alone burn valuable brandy. A pudding was made of coloured plaster with an hole in the top for holly, then methylated spirits poured over. This flaming offering was paraded around the dining room before being removed to the kitchens for portioning! There was never a problem to decorate the hotel with evergreen at Christmas and one of our own trees always filled the stairwell through two floors! By the end of the war few of the fairy lights still worked and spare bulbs were unobtainable.
Throughout the war hotel and restaurant meals were free of ration — except that you could not charge more than five shillings — 25p today! Only after 72 hours staying in an hotel did you have to hand over your ration book. Other than that the establishment claimed the ration for the meals served. We were going to use our tennis court to keep both pigs and chicken, but the Ministry insisted the produce would count as our ration and any excess should be sent to the marketing board — despite intending to feed them on hotel swill and bread scraps!
There was no piped water in the Mawnan area and those that did not have their own well/borehole had to carry water from standpipes — the remains of some still exist. The army arrived close by in Church road to install and maintain miles of wire netting spread over a large field. It was an early form of radar, with a tall tower. Someone in Whitehall decided that Mawnan Smith was the nearest place to get water and ordered a 3” pipe to be laid. There was insufficient drinking water in the village even to fill such a pipe! This pipe was re-discovered when St. Edwards Catholic Church was being built in 1965. The whole of Latymer School were evacuated from North London to Mawnan Smith, using the Memorial Hall for their lessons. I used to go cycling with them and also played cricket.
In 1939 Mawnan Smith, like Falmouth and Stratton-on-the-Fosse, where I was at school, had manual telephone exchanges. All numbers were just two digits. By the end of the war this rose to 3 digits. ‘Trunk’ calls, which I made to home each week, were generally limited to 3 minutes indicated by pips. With so many manual connections there was always 'crackle'. Because it could take some time to connect a long distance call, telegrams were often sent instead. Falmouth had a telegraph machine that printed the message in a long strip. These were cut up and stuck on the form to produce the message. Mawnan Smith would have their messages relayed by telephone and then write them out by hand. As it became more difficult to find people to deliver the telegrams they would be passed by ‘phone to those that had one. Driving at night was very hazardous. Many rear lights consisted of just one small bulb to light both the number plate and red lens. There was no requirement for brake lights! Headlights were reduced in intensity and directed to the ground and there were no reflective road signs. “Cat’s Eyes” had been introduced on a very few main roads. Despite the small number of vehicles on the roads, huge numbers of pedestrians were knocked down and very many killed. The situation got so bad that a general 20 mph speed limit was imposed at night. We were then told to paint all the edges of vehicles white and the same was done to lampposts, telegraph poles, kerbs, even trees. To emphasize how few cars there were on the roads, we went to Falmouth each Thursday and always parked in exactly the same spot outside Liptons, our registered supplier - opposite what is now Tesco, but was then the Odeon cinema! The car park on 'The Moor' was largely coverd with air raid shelters and Static Water tanks.
Because of the problems of importing timber many mature woodlands were cut down, including the area between Maenporth and Pennance Farm. I can remember Fox Stanton coming from Penryn to totally clear all the trees and take them to their sawmill. Today it is woodland again. The advent of the magnetic mine meant that ships had to be “Degaussed”. This was done in the docks by passing wires around the hull. Just off Bream Cove the Navy laid cables on the seabed to detect if the process had been successful. Some years after the war the navy asked if they could re-use our property again to trial new measuring equipment.
We had many interesting and important visitors during the war, including Captain John C. Tucker, one day to become my brother-in-law. Although in the army he was attached to the naval S.I.S. (Secret Intelligence Service) operations in the Helford River - to find his story type G5TU into the BBC WW2 site. Broadcaster Quentin Reynolds, the man who told us Hitler was originally called Schickelgruber and of Jewish extraction. Cdr. Larry Snell, Falmouth’s American base Commander. Group Captains’ Guy Gibson and Leonard Cheshire — the latter met a guest, Margo Mason, who became his PA after the war. Daniel and Anna Massey came to stay just after his taking the part of Bobby Kinross in the 1942 film, “In Which we Serve”. We had to keep two registers, one for UK nationals and one for Aliens. The government provided special forms for the latter — which the Americans did not like at all! The resident local policeman checked and signed these registers regularly. Guests came at all times of the year, some just to get a rest from the bombing. This included the Lake brothers — owners of The Falmouth Packet Newspaper. Some guests insisted on sleeping in our extensive cellars, where we had installed beds, running water and cut through two extra exit ways. Two lady guests used this facility regularly. They had a real horror of being bombed, but worse, being buried in the rubble and no one knowing who they were. This prompted a guest, Major Etches, to write:- "There were two ladies from Leicester who went to bed with pinned to their chest’a. Name age and station and nearest relation, the name of their dressmaker too!
Our nearest Barrage Balloon winching site was close to Budock & Penjerrick. Most beaches had barricades erected to delay any easy enemy landings. On VE day my wife to be, then Valerie Glover, was still a WREN and in London. She joined the huge celebrations in Trafalgar Square then rode down The Mall on the bumper — anyone remember them — of Winston Churchill’s car! At this time blackout was replaced with ‘dim-out’. No one was too sure exactly what this meant, but in essence the general rules were relaxed, except that no outside lighting such as advertising signs were allowed, mainly to conserve coal. The need for scrap iron during the war meant the removal of things like railings. Many, including St. Mary’s Church in Falmouth, never replaced them. There was also a drive to collect aluminum to build “Spitfires” and an huge pile of old pots and pans built up on The Moor in Falmouth.
The introduction of petrol rationing in 1939 spelt the end of individual brand names, it all became ‘Pool Petrol’. Essential users like farmers were often given more coupons than they needed and these found their way to the black market. In 1947 the answer was found. Coupons for truly essential users allowed them buy only “Red Petrol”! We bought our petrol from Alec Pascoe’s pumps in Mawnan Smith. It was all pumped by hand by Clifton Williams. I learned to drive during the war, when tests and “L” plates were suspended. All I needed to do was fill in a form, confirm my age with identity card number and send it off with a 5 shilling postal order. In return I received a nice little red book authorizing me to drive all motor vehicles.
The ‘Petty’ branch of my mother’s family have lived for several generations in the Argentine, where she was born. They were mainly involved with raising cattle on huge “Estancias”. After the war they told us how our government buyer had been overcharged. Before the war a large number of buyers, each representing different companies, arrived unannounced and visited a variety of producers. When there was only one buyer - and they knew when he was coming - they all got together to agree the highest prices they dared. No mater where the buyer went the price would be much the same! It just goes to show, you can not interfere with normal established business practices!
* Her husband, Arthur Griggs, died early in the war. He was a gas engineer and designed the “Produca Gas” trailers used mainly to fuel buses during the war. Some were used by private cars, including his own. It is commonly thought that these turned coal into gas, not so, they burned only Anthracite. The gas, produced on demand by engine suction, was carbon monoxide.
Harry Pilgrim, Falmouth.